Ok. There are two guys. One is named Ethan, the other, Paul. (This is going to be long, but please bare with me. I appreciate it.
Let's talk about Paul first. We met about four years ago through shared passions of art & poetry. Both of which are extremely important to us. Him and I collaborated on a lot of projects and we brought out the best in each other creatively. He was in a committed relationship when we met and I was actually happy for him, keeping our connection strictly just friends. As time went on, I started to develop feelings for him and I had a crazy feeling he liked me too, but figured that was just wishful thinking. For about three years straight, we would talk (mostly online, sometimes on the phone) and hangout at group events. Our conversations were always so deep, but after a while things were getting a tad bit flirtatious (ex: we'd send romantic songs to each other back and forth). Mind you he's been in a relationship the entire time. Once I got into a relationship as well, Paul and I didn't talk as much, but a few months into that relationship I was very unhappy and realized all I ever wanted was to be with Paul.
Out of the blue one day, he tells me that he's interested in me and feels like I get him like nobody else does. Even his girlfriend knew and could see why he'd want to be with me instead. I shared my feelings with him, but we both ended up feeling so guilty because we were betraying our partners. Despite the information we disclosed, he said he would never leave his girl friend because he loved her very much (which seemed like BS to me... how can you truly love someone when you're into someone else as the same time?) I however couldn't take it and broke up with my boyfriend at the time. I was devastated and felt like I lost two people.
Well, time went on and Paul and I talked less and less (mostly because I tried to keep my distance and would decline a lot of event invites). Thoughts of him were still there, though. I'd even have vivid dreams and there were so many odd coincidences (that I won't get into right now). I realized that cutting off all ties with him would be for the best, so I can fully move on and have a healthy relationship with someone else. I wrote him an email basically saying goodbye and letting him know I had fallen in love with him at one point, but it was too painful to even be friends. I got no response. For nearly a year straight, there was complete silence.
During that year, I met Paul. We had a very intense connection and everything flowed so well. I didn't feel like I had to twist into a pretzel to be in a blissful relationship with him. Everything felt natural; it was wonderful to be with someone emotionally available. Now we've been dating for nearly two years and even started a life coaching business together. We may not share the passion of art/poetry, but we still have a lot of commonalities.
Around our one year anniversary, thoughts of Paul flooded in. I was doing so well for a while, but here's what triggered it: I had a vivid dream with him apologizing to me about everything and the next day, I not only heard from him (as if by magic), but I also found out that when I had sent that farewell email, he broke up with his girlfriend because she slept with his best friend. A part of me died inside because I felt like I missed my chance with him again, but I also felt so bad that he got cheated on in such a way.
Him and I emailed back and forth about our lives, projects, etc. Harmless, right? Until I couldn't take it anymore and asked him if he was messing with me all those years and didn't really have a thing for me. He expressed that he always felt capable of a romantic relationship with me, but when things were getting rocky with his prior relationship, he was selfishly testing the waters with me. The more he became himself, the less connected he felt with his girlfriend and the more connected he felt to me.
Well, I told him it would be nice to get coffee sometime just to catch up and he agreed only to change his mind hours later saying he didn't want to be the guy that comes between Ethan and I because even though he doesn't know him, he respects him and knows what it's like to be in his place. What really hit me hard is when he mentioned that I was selfishly testing the waters too and he didn't want to be used like that because I'd more than likely go back to my current partner if things didn't go how I imagined they would. As much as I hate to admit it, he was right. So, he told me to figure things out with my boyfriend and not to worry so much about the men in my life, rather, to focus more on balancing myself. He was enjoying being single anyway and wasn't looking to date me or anyone else anytime soon (that relationship he was in lasted 4 years).
Despite what he said, I still wanted to see him so I invited him to a writer's meet up (with 5 other people) and to my surprise, he came out. It was nice seeing him again, but it probably wasn't the best idea because my feelings came back full force.
My relationship with Ethan is suffering because of this. But if I were to take Paul out of the equation... our relationship is still suffering. Basically it's 50% amazing, 50% bad. Even though there's a lot of communication, we just don't get each other as much as we think. I love him, though. In a way, I never could have loved Paul (a bit contradicting--I know). But I feel like I love Paul in a way I could never love Ethan. If you ask me, Paul has been more of a fantasy than anything else all these years; an unfulfilled desire. But I've actually been romantically involved with Ethan; it's so much more real and I'm so scared to lose that. Especially over a guy who may never be emotionally available. We almost broke up about 2 weeks ago, but we had a long talk and Ethan tells me he'll put more effort into our relationship and stop being such a workaholic all the time. So far so good, but the old patterns are slowly coming back.
Paul and I still talk from time to time, but it's strictly about art now. I invited him to a writer's meetup again and he said he'd be there, but didn't show up the next day. That made me mad because that isn't what a good friend does, so I almost decided to give up completely and stop wasting my time. But I could understand why he'd want to keep his distance. This is a complicated situation.
However, we're planning an art outing for the summer... with a group, of course. Seeing him one on one when I'm in a relationship is out of the question. But it's still wrong, I know... it's an emotional affair and I don't know what to do, really.
All I do know is I refuse to cut off Paul completely like I did in the past... that was so painful. Losing Ethan would be too. And I really don't want to hurt anyone (too late for that!!) Ugh, this is a mess!
A part of me just wants to be single for a long time, and maintain a closer friendship with Paul and see what happens in the future. Or just start from scratch. I fear I may be a little to co-dependent.
What would you do in such a situation?
Thank you so much for reading this!