I'm drawn to both of them but don't want to ruin the friendship.

Q: My singing teacher, Greg, is charismatic and kind. When he met Ann, he introduced us, and I was happy he'd met such a lovely woman. We've all become friends. Ann's supported me with my depression, and Greg's given freely of his advice and encouragement. They take me out, and see me individually, have taken me into hospital, and done things beyond mere friendship. Ann's said she loves me, and Greg once wrote, "You are a wonderful, if occasionally nutty, person, and it's lovely to have you as a friend". I'd love to be intimate with them, even just cuddling, but don't want to ruin the friendship. Should I keep this to myself?

A: I think it is wonderful that something that started out as a commercial arrangement has evolved into a genuine friendship. It is great that you have also embraced Greg's relationship with Ann, rather than indulging in possessive jealousy and resentment, and that she has also opened her heart to you. It sounds like they are both offering you friendship and companionship in the good times, and practical help and emotional support when times are tough.

Elsewhere in your letter you admitted to having a crush on them both, and your fantasies about sharing physical, as well as emotional, intimacy with them are very natural, but I would advise you to proceed with caution. It would be a pity if you said, or did, anything that might embarrass them, or cause them to put distance between you.

In the field of psychology there is a concept called "transference", and this might be what you are experiencing. This is defined by goodtherapy.org as "a situation where the feelings, desires and expectations of one person are redirected and applied to another person. Most commonly, transference refers to a therapeutic setting, where a person in therapy may apply certain feelings or emotions toward the therapist”. Greg and Ann are not your therapists, but they have played a similar role at times, and it could be that emotions from your childhood are being projected onto them.

 
"transference a situation where the feelings, desires and expectations of one person are redirected and applied to another person.”

"transference a situation where the feelings, desires and expectations of one person are redirected and applied to another person.”

 

It is very common for a person to believe that they have fallen in love with their therapist, doctor or teacher. These people are professionals whose role is to help, support, heal, encourage and be kind to you. When they are in that role they are not expressing the full range of their feelings or personality. There is also a power imbalance in these relationships, and the onus is on the professional not to exploit, or take advantage of, this vulnerability. It is for this reason that there are sanctions in place to punish teachers who date their students, and medical professionals who engage, sexually, with their clients. If such a breach occurred between you and Greg, he might feel ethically obliged to stop teaching you.

You have explained that you have ongoing mental health issues. Are you getting professional treatment for this? If you are seeing a therapist or counsellor, it might be useful to tell them about the dynamic that has developed between the three of you. Explaining your feelings to a neutral third party might help you to get the situation into perspective, and they might offer strategies to help you to behave in a way that is appropriate, and best for your mental health and wellbeing.

They other thing to do is to avoid becoming too dependent on Greg and Ann. If you become too needy, or demanding of their time and attention, there is a danger that they could feel smothered and overwhelmed, causing them to resile from you. It is important that they have the time, space and emotional energy to focus on developing their personal relationship as a couple. Try not to cling to them, or cause them to feel guilty if they do not see you sometimes. Guilt, and a sense of obligation, can lead to resentment, and avoidance.

Ultimately, this needs to be a relationship of equals in which you use their support and encouragement to become an autonomous, independent being who is her own best friend.

About Last Night

Date: 21-04-2019

About Last Night Blogs are written by Maureen Mathews, published by Fairfax media. Maureen is the original owner of Bliss for Women. The current Bliss Team is excited to Maureen share her knowledge on our new site. It is fantastic to have Maureen as one of our regular expert contributors. If you wish to ask Maureen a question you can can send an email to hello@blissforwomen.com.au using About Last Night in the subject of the email.

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