Dear Carolyn:

I have a guy friend whom I've known for a couple of years. This friendship evolved briefly into a romantic relationship. I realized this was a mistake and broke off the romance, but we remained friends. Soon after, I met someone else, fell in love and it quickly blossomed into an exclusive, committed relationship. My "friend" wants to continue to see me and expresses that he still has feelings for me. I want to keep this friendship. When we go out it is always just us two, but he is clear I want only friendship. Is it okay to continue to see him and in what context? For lunch or long walks? A movie and conversation? What about going to his place or having him over to mine? My S.O. and I disagree on the propriety of these actions and we would appreciate your advice.

Looking for Perspective

Lunch, yes; your place, yes; his place, no; movie, depends: matinee, yes; midnight movie, not in adjacent seats; long walk to conversation about lunch at his place, no, except on Sundays before 4 and on days that start with a T.

That'll be 35 cents.

There is definitely a propriety issue here; you can't rationalize around it. However, it has nothing to do with your being in a committed relationship -- assuming, of course, that you aren't sharing intimacy with your "friend," physical or emotional, that rightfully belongs with your S.O. In fact, I'd advise your S.O. to back off and trust you.

It's the poor "friend" who deserves better. And you both could use a spritz of delusion repellent. He understands that you want him only as a friend, check. But do you really understand what it means for him to want more? It means he's hoping one of these long walks, movies, conversations, evenings at your place or his, will become his breakthrough performance.

It means you're letting him nurture hopes, apparently false ones, in the interest of maintaining the "friendship" -- i.e., your steadfast source of attention-on-demand. No fair.

You have tremendous power over this person; please wield it with commensurate care. For him to be "clear I want only friendship," your actions need to be just as clear as your words.

Dear Carolyn:

To save money after graduating from law school, I've moved back into my parents' home while I look for a job. Do you think it's best to put off going out and meeting new people in this city until I've found a job and my own place?


Definitely, and I'd suggest also that you don heavy robes and leave the house only by moonlight. And you should try to be tougher on yourself, though I'm not sure you left yourself room.

Look. You're staying with your parents while you take the last steps toward independence -- you're not bleeding them white while you hide from anything that resembles independence. So, be not ashamed, and get out there. I'm sure your parents could use time alone.

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