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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 3191
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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Just over a year ago I started work and developed strong feelings

Resolved Question:

Just over a year ago I started work and developed strong feelings for one of my colleagues. He has a girlfriend. It seemed to me (and still seems to me) that he had feelings for me too, always paying a lot of attention to my appearance, telling me he thought I was attractive and fascinating, and, as we grew closer as friends, increasing physical contact such as stroking my hair when we watched tv, kissing the top of my head, long and intense hugs when we said goodbye. On top of this, we developed a strong emotional connection. Although we are quite different in many superficial ways, we are very similar emotionally and intellectually. We think about intellectual topics in similar ways and have similar intellectual interests and we both feel that we understand each other on an intimate level - conversations we have had on this subject confirm this. After about eight months I changed departments so I am no longer working closely with him but we continue to see each other at least three times a week, usually outside work now that we have become such good friends. I say "friends", but I have never known a friendship like this. He talks to me as if he is in love with me, telling me how wonderful and beautiful I am and how he would do anything for me. I know that we are both physically attracted to each other from the way that he touches me and holds me when we are together and the way that I feel about him, and I feel for him in such an intense way.

He lives with his girlfriend and they have been together for four years. They own a flat together. When we first met he would talk about her a fair bit and indicate that he was planning to marry her at some point. Since then he has mentioned that they argue about whether they are actually going to get married and that he doesn't know if he will get married and that it depends on whether he meets the right person , but they are still together, though I know she wants to get married and have children soon. I have met his girlfriend and we are very different. It leads me to think that he feels for us in very different ways.

I have spoken to him a couple of times about our relationship, although I've never admitted the extent of my feelings. I've just said that I think our relationship is too emotionally intense, we are too touchy-feely with each other and we spend too much time together given that he has a girlfriend. He gets very defensive and maintains that he is not trying to sleep with me, and that he doesn't feel he's betrayed his girlfriend.

I love our friendship and the connection we have and I love spending time with him. I never have the feeling of being "second best", and I feel very loved by him but I feel so sad whenever I see him with his girlfriend or hear him mention her - which is not often at all - or even when I think about it. I'm always left wanting more. I would be devastated if he suddenly announced that they were going to get married or have a family. I don't think that's going to happen in the near future but I don't think they're going to break up either. I feel confused and frustrated but don't want to end our friendship as it is. I want to tell him how I feel but I think he may not admit his feelings for me and I couldn't stand that. I am not sure how to feel better about this situation.

I should just mention as a postscript that this is not the first time I have fallen in love with someone who was already in a relationship or otherwise off limits. It has happened four or five times now and the feeling is always very painful, and also somehow quite addictive. I think this may be a problem in itself. I would be grateful for any advice.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 3 years ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I think I can support you with it.

Customer:

Who can see it?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Anybody getting an account here, unless I block it.

Customer:

OK. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX a minute

Customer:

no problem

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Thanks.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about this challenging situation.

Customer:

thanks

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I can see why you feel this concern and afraid of what could happen in the long run...

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Siec what you already know and have been experinencing shows you that is what he is working on.

Customer:

what is what he is working on?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I do think he is being selfish and insensitive by fueling this relationship the way he does

Customer:

i think so too, which is strange because he is not that kind of person in general

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

On one hand, he is clearly working on deepening the commitment in his relationship with his partner, while on the other hand, he has been leading you to get more and more attached and hopeful about him and what you have

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

which is not the relatiosnhip you seem to hope for, but this kid of romantic friendship

Customer:

do you think it's true that he is clearly working on deepening the commitment in his relationship with his partner?

Customer:

what makes you say that?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

That's very concerning, since it woudl show in such inconsistency how real and open he truly happens to be.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

If you were in her shoes I think you would not like nor trust h him or his love at all, would you?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

His actions.

Customer:

his actions in staying with her and continuing to live with her?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

That's what tells me he has been doing that, and you have said you do not see any concrete and strong sign they are doing the opposite.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right, that's what I meant.

Customer:

I think probably I wouldn't trust him, no

Customer:

but then, i think i probably expect a different standard from what she does

Customer:

i mean, she knows about all the time he spends with me

Customer:

if i were in her place, i'd try and stop him from doing that

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

He is obviously being dishonest and betraying his partner's trust, love and commitment, what shows you he is not trustworthy at all. At the same time he denies anything but a friendship between you, while it is obvious he has been working on getting you more and more attached to him, feeling the way you feel, and that's abusive in my opinion, because he disregards XXXXX XXXXX needs, expectations and reality, making it appear as if everything was OK. It is for him, no doubt, but not for you.

Customer:

you think he is doing it on purpose?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right, but this is not about her, right? But about you and him, and you have wisely acknowledged that this is not an isolated episode but a pattern you have presented, which is very concerning, sine it shows your tendency and vulnerability too get into these relationship, attracting people like him.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Absolutely, since he is not an infant nor has any serious cognitive deficiency. He knows very well what he's doing.

Customer:

why would he want to hurt me like that?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am afraid you could suffer of what is known as Love addiction, you were very accurate when using this word o describe your experience.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

When people are immature and distorted in their ways they think and feel, in their personalities, they would do everything in their power to please their ego, no matter who wrongly they use and abuse other people, and for sure, the more distorted they get, the more manipulative they become portraying a nice image of themselves and intentions.

Customer:

do you think his love and care for me is all just an illusion?

Customer:

or do you think it's possible for him to be like that but still also love me?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You have been into this vicious circle for 5 times now, then people with any distortions welcoming this type of dynamics, would get right direct to you and work on finding out how far they could get.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I think he does not love you at all, or if you want to call it love, it is an unhealthy and destructive love, since it is selfish and does not even respect you, nor cares abut your feelings, integrity, health and well-being, but uses you for his own gain.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Does it make sense?

Customer:

it does make sense but to accept it is so hard

Customer:

i really did think he loved me and i loved that feeling

Customer:

and thinking that maybe he never loved me at all makes me feel sad and worthless

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Absolutely, it is tough! Acknowledging it could be overwhelmingly painful, but it is necessary or you would continue self-sabotaging exposing to more abuse and extra pain you would have to afford sooner or later.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Just think how much more vulnerable and wounded you end after each one of these relationships, have you got more empowered, happier and fulfilled, stable and healthier with them?

Customer:

i don't know really. i don't think I feel any more or less any of those things

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What do you feel from those previous 5 relationships?

Customer:

in a couple of cases I believe they were a waste of time

Customer:

and in others, I remain very good friends with the people concerned

Customer:

perhaps better friends for how i felt for them

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I see. Was it your plan and expectation to build a friendship only with these people, or you had hopes around love and romance, commitment in the future?

Customer:

do you think it's possible to move this relationship into a "safe zone" where we really are just friends - because I do think we could be good friends and I do think we both care for each other - and where I don't get upset by him?

Customer:

I only had that expectation with one of them. With the others I knew it wasn't possible.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I do not know, no way to know for sure but from experience, but based on your story I'd say that I do not think that would work, being realistic, because of the way he denies his own actions and what he's been doing, justifies them, and manipulates you to get even deeper into it, trying to make you feel guilty if doing anything but enabling it even more.

Customer:

the fact that he's managed to stay with his girlfriend as well suggests to me that he must have been quite manipulative with her as well

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

These behaviors show me this person does not even respect you, and that's why I do not think a healthy friendship could grow from it. Your vulnerability and addictive tendency to engage and enable those relationships would undermine your plans for a healthy friendship too, it would be like self-sabotaging to believe that.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You bet

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

This does not look good at all

Customer:

ok. so - next steps?

Customer:

also, where does love addiction come from? do you know?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I do not know if you have had counseling or psychotherapy before, but I strongly suggest you to consider consistent individual psychotherapy in order to work on yourself, to effectively cope with this situation, to heal and grow from it, and to be able not to get deeper into this addictive pattern.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Attachment, sense of self-worthiness and self-image issues.

Customer:

i have had therapy before, but for anxiety. not for this.

Customer:

i didn't really know this was a problem

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Most times from bonding/relationships with parents/caretakers

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Codependency is a core issue always present there in these situations, fear of abandonment, loneliness, rejection and more. Past experiences shape this distorted ways of thinking and feeling about yourself and of developing relationships, that'w why you need professional support.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Denial, avoidance, repression, justification, secrecy and other core issues are very serious and present, deeply undermining the person'a ability to change for better, this is why we talk about rehabilitation as a process, that requires a good support system and professional help.

Customer:

secrecy?

Customer:

how is secrecy related to it?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Addictions use to lead people to hide their feelings, relationships, plans, for them not to be obvious to those around them, since that would not help them promote and perpetuate what is obviously dysfunctional or unhealthy. Does your family know about these relationships, your close friends? They know the impact they have in your life, do you trust them to talk to them about it?

Customer:

yeah, i've spoken to lots of people about it

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What have they told you?

Customer:

most think that he is in love with me but doesn't have the courage to leave his girlfriend

Customer:

but they also think that the way he has behaved is bad

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I see

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

That is a simple way to see it, but without much insight about it

Customer:

do you have any suggestions for how i should end it with him? what you say sounds really plausible, and if it is true then i agree that i should stop seeing him, as painful as that might be. however, just in case we are wrong about him, I want to end it in a way which shows precisely why I feel I need to get away from him and how he has made me feel. if we are wrong and it is the case that he truly loves me and wants to have a healthy friendship or relationship then he has the chance to put things right

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

A good friend would know very well how destructive this pattern has been and never reinforce it.

Customer:

yes, but not that many people know the full extent of the pattern, they just know about a couple of the individual cases

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Do you see then what I meant when I mentioned the "secrecy" -denial issues? This is what I am talking about and only you can break this circle with the right support.

Customer:

yeah

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

If you expect him to approve or feel fine and content with your decision to end it, it will not happen. I think he will do his best to manipulate you, to make you feel responsible and guilty for everything, using the emotional and psychological power you have given to him, what would make it so easy for you to relapse and self-sabotage even more. You should rather be very clear and objective, letting him know that you feel this is no healthy for you, nor something that is consistent with your core needs and expectations, that he is in a committed relationship, living with his partner, and that it is incompatible with you to keep fueling more attachment to him, while he denies it.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Many times people in your shoes re not able to effectively break the addictive circle alone, and have to end it by a latter or email message, making it safer for them, since aware of how easily they would engage in the addictive process.

Customer:

i can understand that

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Good

Customer:

this discussion has been helpful, but i must admit it's made me feel terrible about myself. why can't i cope with relationships?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Apparently the chat did not sent my last input

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Can you still read my words?

Customer:

hi, yes!

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

The core of your work should be about learning to unconditionally respecting, understanding, loving and supporting yourself, in gentle and compassionate ways, since it is from there that you will know how to take good care of yourself, set and keep healthy boundaries and limits, and build fulfilling relationships.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I will continue to be here to support you as possible, but please look for professional individual psychotherapy to work on it.

Customer:

thank you!

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You're very welcome.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions and to follow up, Thank you for your trust. Take gentle care and consistent action.

Customer:

how do i contact you?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You could directly use this link: http://www.justanswer.com/relationship/expert-rafael-morales-toia/ and include or direct your questions to "Rafael", and i will reply in an hour.

Customer:

thank you so much! i really appreciate it. your answers have been so useful.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You're welcome. I am very glad to hear that.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

If you ever want to try online confidential counseling, just let me know, since I am willing to support you that way too.

Customer:

is there a charge for that?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Yes, this is a new program that JustAnswers just started, which allows a few experts to offer this services not limited to JustAnswers public interface. Thus it would be a charge for confidential counseling session using face-to-face Skype or though a secure and confidential chat interface.

Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 3191
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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