advice needed: he married someone else


I had and still have feelings for one man, but he secretly got married this year. I fear that is now the end, and I’m afraid to let him go. In him, I had found my best friend, and now I feel alone, lost and confused not knowing where I stand. Can you help me?

straight up advice

"Secretly got married," you say. Does that mean he tried to keep it a secret from you, or from everyone? I’m going to put this piece aside because I don’t think it matters as it pertains to you. Other than to say if you seriously referred to him as your "best friend," you’re delusional. In most cases, you confide in your best friend. You’re honest with your best friend. Your best friend doesn’t go and run off to secretly marry someone without telling you. I say in "most cases" because once upon a time ago, I was that someone who ran off and secretly got married, without telling my friends or family, but that’s an entire book of crazy. So I’m going to be as gentle as I can with this: you sound like a crazy.

I know what I should say here. We all have that gut instinct advice, where we dole out the textbook answers, reminding you that he made his choice, and you were not it. I could then highlight the fact that you use the words "fear" and "afraid" when facing the realization that you have to let him go, as if he were ever yours to hold. Then I could emphasize that you know exactly where you stand: on the sidelines, out of the picture. If I were to give you the textbook advice, I’d tell you that you’re wasting your time, and every time you pine over him you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. You’re pouring energy into a situation you have no say in, and for what? For someone who didn’t even choose you. You say you’re "afraid to let him go" as if he were ever yours to hold, but the question you should be asking yourself is "What am I afraid of?" You say you feel alone, but he wasn’t ever yours. You were alone the whole time.

Thats the rational textbook advice, to get the fuck over it, you’ve been knee-deep in a fantasy of a relationship. But from me, from the deepest, most childlike place I can find in me, all I can say is that I’m sorry. I know what it’s like to miss, to ache, to want something you can’t have. To regret. To wish you could take things back and do them over. I know what it’s like to hope that there’s a future, to hold onto the idea of "us" when you maybe never really were. I know what it’s like to still dream about him, to want to see him, even though you know nothing can happen. I know what it is to get all strung out crazy over a guy. The fact is, we don’t know what the future holds. I can’t tell you not to hope or hold your breath. But what I can say is that all the hoping and breath holding won’t change your reality now. So whatever the future has in store, it’ll be there. In the meanwhile, you’ve got to face today and live it like there’s no tomorrow.

go ahead, ask 

If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address.



  1. Stephanie,

    I like how you weave in the straight up “textbook” advice (the exhortation to move on, embrace reality for what it is, to let go of the fiction) with a more raw and human and imperfect understanding of this situation. We have all been there on some level, haven’t we? Hoping that the future is a bit more whimsical and uncertain than it is. Hoping that someone who has shown his true colors can change and will. Hoping that by lingering in a place of what-if and longing, we might be able to change the way things actually are. Your words are compellingly laced with both hard-nosed reason and life-earned sympathy.

  2. Dang, girl… looks like some of that self-help stuff you’ve been reading stuck. I love your advice above. I think facing reality creates less suffering than the dirty pain of our delusions. Truth can be doled out bluntly when you connect from the same inner child place that is the one who is scared.

  3. Great advice.

    Maybe I’ll throw in my 20 cents, too, although I don’t know if this helps.

    Having had the same kind of thing happen to me, I can honestly say I’ve been there – my best friend also got married to someone else. He did make one grand gesture before getting married: they broke off their engagement for a while, and he asked me out. And I was living abroad at the time, so he wanted to fly over to see me so he could take me out on a date. Talk about grand gestures, relatively speaking.

    And you know what? I can’t say I wasn’t moved, but instead of seeing that gesture as romantic or emotionally honest, for once in my life I sobered up quickly, and what I saw was just a last ditch effort to try out something he’d been wondering about for years. The upside was all his: had things magically worked out between us, great (very unlikely, given the distance and other circumstances) – had they not, at least it would’ve finally set his mind at ease.

    No matter how great he was, I also realized that my girlfriends were getting engaged to men, who would plan elaborate proposals in treehouses in France or on sandy beaches in Mauritius, and this guy, my supposed best friend, never so much as shared his feelings. He only inferred to them when he was feeling really low with nothing to lose.

    The last I heard from him was a wedding announcement in the weekend paper (they got back together in the end.) And even though I still think about him, out of habit and too often than I’d like, I know that he wasn’t the one for me. There were no treehouses or rings under rocks. There weren’t even words. Just lots of good times and flirtation, followed by awkwardness and confusion.

    And maybe that’s what I was afraid of: admitting that whatever I looked for in him, whatever I thought was there, somehow shrouded in mystery, actually never really was. It didn’t exist. He wasn’t taking anything away from me; he never gave “it” to me in the first place. Indeed, he never was mine, to quote Stephanie.

    Of course, over the years I let go of guys who literally climbed mountains (with me, not for me) and gave the shirts off their backs (to me.) And I think it speaks volumes that I didn’t show gratitude for what was, even though that should be the most important thing of all. Fantasies may be appealing, since you’re free to make yours as wonderful as you want, but in the end what matters is how you deal with the here and now.

    So be brutally honest, starting with yourself. (If you refuse to trust your five senses, what else CAN you trust?) What is, is, what isn’t, isn’t. Simple, right? Believe in the present moment. Confront it with courage.

    And when someone actually does give you the shirt off his back or a bouquet of flowers, be thankful, and if you find yourself comparing, wondering if X might’ve done the same, realize that he never did and that’s that. Mourn a little if necessary.

    Know that you deserve good things in life. Go towards those. Make them your reality. Expect the best (engagements in treehouses are a good place to start.) Good luck.

    PS. Apologies Stephanie, this is probably longer than your actual blog entry. Hope that’s okay, I rarely comment, but this subject moved me.

  4. I think what i love about this post is this: it’s so easy to judge from a distance.

    but you didn’t. You showed empathy and gave great advice.

    It’s hard to tell people that you can never tell what the future may hold. Few of us think we’ll be the ones to win the relationship lottery.

    And yet, having remarried my ex (who divorced me almost 30 yrs ago) I can say that I never in my wildest dreams imagined anything like this happening.

    Life is amazing. You just have to show up.

  5. I absolutely feel for you during this terrible time! My relationship of 8 years has just broken down and he chose someone else as well as admitting to sleeping with 5 other women. With this I have been diagnosed with severe depression, put on prozac and now seeing a psychologist. Seeing a psych was the best decision I ever made and she has made me realise that he never was a proper boyfriend and that there is someone out there for me with whom I can have a fulfilling relationship. If he was your best friend he would never of done this to you and you need to come to terms with this. All I can say is he’s not worth it and why would you want to be with someone who wouldn’t choose you in the first place.

  6. Boy, that was some great advice. Hope it helps. We have ALL been there (to one degree or another).

  7. We’ve all been in situations where someone for whom we still carry a torch walks into the sunset with someone else. It happened to me this summer – an old flame got married…and I found out on Facebook! But what I realized (after running through the streets crying for 3 hours) was with my life since him, not my life without him.

  8. I can completely understand how you feel. Today the guy I’ve been “knee deep in an imaginary relationship” is getting married. I broke up with my boyfriend after six years because he cheated on me. And the one guy I wanted to make things work and whom I’ve never let go because I’ve always wanted to be with him (a friend I’ve known for over 7 years) is now forever “taken” out of the picture. He never told me he was getting married, I found out on facebook. When I confronted him about it, he told me that he couldn’t tell me because he still had feelings for me and didn’t know how to tell me. That should have made me feel better but instead it made me feel worst.

    I guess what made it worst is the feelings of regret. What could have been, and what I should have done differently. I broke up with my boyfriend 2 months after the other guy proposed to his wife. Timing can be a b*tch. If He had waited 3 months more to proposed to his wife, or if i had broke up with my boyfriend earlier, would things be different? That is what makes it hard. In the end, what is meant to be will be. I have no hope on something happening in the future. This is reality. And you have to let go, even if you don’t want to. If someone wants to be with you, then there is no other place he rather be. If there is another person (the wife) then why waste your time. Marriage is serious, if he can spend the rest of his life with someone else, then why should you settle for second best? You deserve better. You deserve to be with someone who chooses to be with you first, not second, or third. That guy will come, and when he does, he will be your best friend. He will be the man who wants to share his life with you and only you.

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