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You could courageously strike up a conversation with a stranger at your neighborhood bar or you could ask a friend to set you up with one of their friends—but if you're like most people, you probably turn to the online dating apps. Some are great choices if you're looking for a long-term relationship, and others are ideal for something a little less serious. The bottom line?
My best friend is getting into an LTR, and I'm feeling lost. We've known each other for 10 years, and our friendship is unusually close. When we met in college, our relationship was flirty and couple-y at first, but we drew clear boundaries over time and there are no romantic feelings between us anymore. There is a lot of love, however—true, unconditional love—and we make sure to show each other this love often. I can't stress enough how much this friend means to me.
In turn, she often tells me that she'd be completely lost without me. I feel physical pain at the thought of not having her around. Well: my friend is starting to date a new boyfriend, and my spidey sense tell me that he might be The One. Suddenly, I'm finding myself in crisis mode.
I mean, complete and utter despair, to the point of being unable to function, that I might actually be alone for the rest of my life. A bit about me. I'm an extreme introvert, and though my friend frequently tells me how charming and lovable I am, I just don't form bonds with people, even ones who I've known for decades.
This friend is the single exception to the rule. By freak chance, she actually managed to get inside my bubble, which no one before or since had managed to do.
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She's pretty much the only person I talk to outside my family and coworkers. She's the only person I'm comfortable spending indefinite periods of time with. I've had roommates, lived in communal housing, and traveled through hostels, and it's all been the same: people just don't seem to stick to me. I've never had a ificant other. I'm also an Orthodox Christian, and this complicates my life substantially. In effect, I can't date. There's no premarital sex in our religion, and birth control is basically prohibited, so any dating is just a fast track to marriage and starting a family.
I certainly want companionship, but I don't think I want children. Complicating matters is the fact that while I try to stay true to my faith, I basically live in a state of perpetual doublethink from living in a liberal society. I can't reconcile my two disparate value systems, and I don't think I could ever be with someone who didn't feel the same kind of insurmountable internal conflict. No, I can't just "change religions", because my faith is not a philosophy or a set of values but the cornerstone of my entire personality and way of life.
At this point, it's basically wired into my DNA. Back to the problem at hand.
In truth, I've been using my friendship as a sort of relationship proxy. As I said, our bond is unusually close. She shares her bank s with me. I gladly go and get her snacks or medicine when she needs it. Sometimes I spend the night at her place and we cuddle and watch TV. Trust me, it's not sexual.
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She sometimes buys me presents for no reason. Sometimes she holds my hand when we're walking around.
We talk for hours about our successes and failures. We're always each others' plus-ones, and our mutual friends are used to thinking of us as an inseparable pair. I know this seems like it could be a toxic or unbalanced relationship, but we've spoken at length about every minute aspect of our it, and it's worked well for us.
We comfort each other through the difficulties of life. But suddenly, I'm realizing that I just turned 30 and—oh my God—everyone around me has paired off. I don't know why I didn't notice it before, but I'm going to be the last person standing, and it's going to last forever. My friend and I joked that if things didn't work out in our love lives, we'd start a cat colony together. In the back of my mind, though it was mostly a joke, I kind of pictured this as our future.
She has also said that even though guys will come and go, I will always be the most important person in her life, and this has been proven time and time again for as long as I've known her. Her friendship is unshakably loyal.
But I sense that marriage will be different. Eventually, I expect that while I'll still be a person she deeply cares about—in the back of her mind—her life will be ultimately focused on her partner and maybe? She will have her own cozy world separate from mine. I won't be the person who brings her comfort when she needs it the most.
Meanwhile, I'll go home to an empty apartment, microwave a TV dinner, watch Bojack Horseman for the hundredth time, and think about how lucky I was to have what I had for those 10 warm and loving years. I've talked to her about all this, of course. She tells me that no matter what happens, I will never stop being an utmost priority to her, and she has even told her new boyfriend as much. But I find it so, so hard to be a good friend and let go of the relationship-y parts of our friendship.
It's sad: I've had a lot of success and good fortune in my life, but I think the happiest I've ever been is when we would huddle under blankets and watch our favorite shows together.
That trivial bit of physical companionship simply beats out every bit of career success, professional acclaim, and creative fulfillment. Obviously, this is something that will go away with a long-term partner. It's incredibly unfair to her that I feel this way, but I do.
I know. I've painted myself into a corner.
I'm not in love with my best friend, but it would be easy to flip that switch, and I fear I'm going to spend my entire life wondering why I didn't shove all my religious wiring into a corner and ask her to be my girlfriend. It took me 10 years to get this close to another human being. I know almost everything about her.
Her life is inseparably part of mine. Her mom adores me, and my parents adore her! How could any other relationship possibly live up to the depth of our friendship?
Maybe this is my one chance to actually be happy, and I'm going to blow it for reasons that would seem absurd to any secular person. How can I be the best friend she speaks of so lovingly, and be really, truly happy for her? How do I have faith in the strength of our friendship and not feel jealous of her ificant others? What do I do with myself to ensure that I don't get eaten by cats, cold and alone, in a trash-littered apartment?
Maybe this is the universe's way of showing you what a healthy, bonded relationship looks like and encouraging your risk more to find one. You don't need to shove all of your religious faith aside, either.
No, you can't have sex but yes, you can date - you have just been making excuses so you didn't have to date so you could invest all your attention into this woman. Go date women who are actually appropriate potential partners. Go date a lot of them. I just wanted to address one aspect here.
I know you think these things are set aspects of your personality, engraved into the hard bedrock of your fundamental self, that you can never, ever change these traits no matter what life throws at you or how old you grow. But you will change. You just don't know how yet. Be open to change, be open to seeing all the richness and kindness of life, be open to the fact that you can be a different person, or learn to enjoy things that may have been foreign to you.
And then you won't be so scared or anxious of change anymore. I think this statement says it all Perhaps if you addressed that side of things, you could feel more joy and ease at her finding her "one". And you could move on too. Oh anon, my heart aches for you. But, your friendship is going to change. Life is changes. So, how will you fill your time? Are you currently seeing a therapist? If not, please do so. Have you tried dating? In earnest? I would think there must be orthodox Christian dating sites.
Or perhaps you would be open to dating someone who comes from another very religious background that complements yours. So, worst case scenario?
What do you want your life to be? How will you make it meaningful? You will need to find another path. And find some new causes, or delve more deeply into ones you have already.