I have a friend whose former relationships were homosexual. I guess he’s now bisexual because he fell deeply in love with a young woman (she’s 23, and he’s 60), and she with him. He says he is devoted to her and can’t imagine his life without her, despite the difference in their ages, race, religion (he is an Episcopal priest) and ethnicity. I have told him I’m happy for him, but I am cautious because I don’t want to see him hurt. Still, I feel guilty. I guess I hoped if he ever wanted to be with a woman, he might think of me. I am stunned by the hurt and jealousy I feel. I feel like I’ve lost something I never had. I’m almost 41, but I have no previous experience to help me through this. How can I move through these feelings? I want to celebrate his happiness.
You obviously care deeply for your friend and are generous-hearted enough to want to stretch beyond your disappointment and jealousy. My advice is: Don’t hurry the process. Slow down and try to understand how you inspired the feelings that now disrupt you. For example, you chose to harbor romantic fantasies about your friend while accepting that nothing could transpire. By not confronting your feelings (asking yourself why you were so interested in someone who was not available to you), you neglected them. If you have not been tending your emotions, it’s natural to feel cautious while facing a situation that could force self-examination. Although you attached your caution to your friend’s news, it’s really your defenses that created caution.
So, let’s translate: When you say you don’t want to see your friend hurt, you really mean you don’t want to see yourself as hurt. Why? Some people believe that being hurt implies they were vulnerable, which they believe is negative. But we can’t really love another unless we drop our defenses.
I don’t think you should tell your friend you dreamed of a relationship with him. But I do believe you should admit to yourself that you desire a loving, committed companion. Treat that desire with tenderness. This will eventually transform those feelings of jealousy and loss into the urge to create the right romantic relationship for yourself.
As a man, I was interested in your response to the woman who wrote about her boyfriend ogling other women. What do you think about women who check out other women? I’ve never met a woman who didn’t do this with an attitude of jealousy or comparison or, sometimes, love. Would you also consider this an obsession?
Yes, if women are ogling other women, it’s an obsession born of insecurity. By the way, that column generated curious reactions from men. Some, like yours, were thoughtful. Other men freaked. They were not able to comprehend the difference between admiring a well-dressed woman or appreciating her attractiveness and the act of “ogling a woman.” The latter, of course, is driven by an ego debilitated by sexual insecurity and power issues.
Thomas Lynch, a Catholic priest, once said, “Sex is a celebration of an intimate, committed relationship.” Ogling, then, is an attempt to stave off intimacy and to keep interactions controlled and superficial. Yuck!