Dear Paulette,

I’m seeing a woman that I’ve been friends with for more the 20 years. We kept in touch with each other; she’s married, but in the process of getting a divorce. I’m falling in love with her and she tells me that she’s falling harder for me… but she does not want to be in a relationship right now because of her situation.

What do I do? It really hurts that I can’t have her like I want to. Please help?




Dear Lovesick,

I’m sorry that you are hurting.  It sounds like after 20 years of friendship you have deep feelings for this woman, but she is still married and has clearly told you that she does not want to be in a relationship right now because of her situation.

If you two are right for each other, and she makes a clear choice to get divorced, you may be able to make it work later.  Sometimes timing is everything.

Often it can take a year for a legal separation and another to divorce, not to mention those two years to work through any emotional baggage with her spouse and gain completion to move on in a healthy way.  She may feel that she needs to do that work first — to have closure — in order to move on to another healthy relationship.  We also don’t know if she is torn about her marriage and might decide to make it work.

For those reasons, it may be wise to give this some time and space so you can both go into a new romantic relationship with clarity.  As her dear friend, this is best for her. It is probably healthiest for you as well.

Resuming things later would also help you to begin the romantic relationship based on a foundation of trust so you could both fully invest your energies on moving it forward then.

If you choose to wait the year or two for things to resolve before becoming romantically involved, I would suggest you use that time to work on yourself.  You can write out the goals you have for your life, and put your energy into what you can control and what is healthy right now, such as loving yourself and creating the life that you most want.

You may also choose to date others in the interim (up to you) and you’ll need to decide whether you’re strong enough to be there for her and to continue to be friends while she is deciding whether or not to separate from her husband.  Is it healthier to get some distance and take a break? Or can you agree to just be friends for now and to honor the realistic situation as it stands?  I would guess the former, but you need to consider this and decide.

Lastly, I have actually known people who were friends for two decades and then tried to make things work romantically.  It sounds like a great love story, but in that case, things worked better as best friends than as romantic partners.  Sometimes it can be ‘the idea’ of something or someone that compels you, but the day-to-day experience of it is quite different.  This may not be the case with the two of you, but I am planting the seed that maybe you wouldn’t want to put your life on hold for two years when you don’t even know what it would be like to be in a romantic partnership with her long-term.  If you both fully live the lives before you now, and are available down the road, maybe you’ll have the chance to find out.

Meanwhile, keep loving yourself and making choices that are healthiest for you both right now, even if it’s hard.

My Best in Love,


Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is the award-winning author of ‘Dating from the Inside Out’ and ‘When Mars Women Date.’ A relationship expert and a licensed psychologist/dating coach, she specializes in singles and couples therapy. For more than 20 years, Paulette changed the lives of thousands of clients, and shared insight with millions more through expert commentary on 77WABC radio and over 30 media outlets including MSN, USA Today, The New York Post, The New York Times, Crains, Newsweek,, More, Fox News, Fox Business, Better Homes & Gardens, Reader’s Digest, Redbook, Glamour, Forbes, Woman’s Day, Every Day Health, Metro newspapers, Men’s Health, True Story, Seventeen, Elle and Complete Woman’ magazines and The Huffington Post. She lives and works in Manhattan as a psychotherapist and offers dating coaching by phone.
One Comment
  1. Hi, I’ve been a JDater, and I wanted to offer some perspective to guys who are on the site. Although I’ve deactivated my account, I still get regular Secret Admirer messages coming in to my gmail account. I feel terrible for the guys who are sending these notes and never getting a reply. I just wanted guys to know that if you are sending Secret Admirer messages and not getting replies, it could be because the women you are contacting are no longer actually on JDate.

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