Dear Prudence

Help! Ever Since My Childhood Best Friend Moved In, Our Relationship Has Taken an Unexpected Turn.

I can’t say I mind it.

Two men drinking coffee next to each other. A question mark stands between them.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. For this edition, Shannon Palus, a Slate senior editor, will be filling in as Prudie. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

My childhood best friend “John” moved in with me (Nick he/him) and my girlfriend “Meg” after getting evicted. We were always close before, but living with him has been a whole new experience.

He’s very touchy-feely, constantly finding reasons to grab my hand or lean on me. When we’re playing a game or watching something, he and I end up cuddling on the couch, too. The weird thing is, I can’t say I mind it. I’ve found myself picturing what would happen if he leaned in a little closer, or if these touches were more than just friendly. I never thought I’d think this way about a man, especially since I love Meg dearly.

I’m not sure if what I’m feeling is just misplaced platonic affection (I’ve never had a best friend other than him before, so I wouldn’t know how it feels) or if I actually like him. And what about Meg? She doesn’t deserve any of this. I don’t want to ruin the friendship between John and me if I say something, nor do I want to implode the relationship between Meg and me. Then again, I can’t keep living in limbo like this. What should I do?

—Love-Triangled Out

Dear Love-Triangled Out,

I don’t think you should say anything to John for at least three reasons: He is your best friend, he is your roommate, and you have a girlfriend, whom it sounds like you would like to stay with. Any one of these factors would make breaching the line of intimacy from friend to hookup/romantic partner tricky, although certainly not impossible; I think if you go for it in this case, you risk blowing up a significant portion of your life. Enjoy having your crush—it is clear that you like John at least a little bit, though you’re telling me it’s mostly a physical thing, not that you want to run off into the sunset with him. I think you could also take these feelings as a cue to branch out a little from your usual alone-time habits and explore different types of porn or erotic stories.

I also wonder if there’s something going on in your relationship with Meg that is bothering you. I could be completely wrong, but … sometimes when I have the urge to blow up my life, it’s because I have some kind of smaller need that I’m not voicing, and it feels like it might be easier to just escape into a fantasy life than have a difficult conversation. (To be clear, this doesn’t diminish any feelings you might have for John; it just means that acting on them might not be the best way forward.)

Perhaps over time, you will come to realize that you really do want to get more physical with John and that you can accept whatever fallout proceeds from voicing that. But I think it’s even more likely that you’ll look back on this as a period of time when having this crush prompted you to learn more about yourself.

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