Candice, a married woman has a casual friendship with a French man she met at a industry conference. Over the last three years, she says, that she has seen him about a dozen times. She writes, “So he has said he is like the honey badger, a loner. That is just the way he is. I accept. He always keeps his promise, he says it as it is, and he is a gifted scientist. It’s at a level where he possibly thinks I ask him out whenever I need to be amused. What do I want out of this? I would like to just end this ridiculous crush. Nothing sexual has happened, sometime close but always kept at a dignified distance. It’s always tender. If anything comes out of this, it is a wonderful collection of memories, and silence moments. Common interest in songs, activities, impression of a same observation, and books, both foreign and fiction. We have little in common but we GET each other. He said he understands why I can’t leave my marriage. He understood why his mother did not leave till they were all grown up. Not sure how this will end. Would you give me a few possibilities? I know I leave for a one-year overseas assignment in a few month, and he too will be a visiting professor for a year but leaves a few months after I do, so we will not be able to see each other for a good two years. So I need to untangle this within me. As always, whenever I do contact him, he invites me out. But never texts the day after to say anything, even a comment about our evening together. He waits till the next time I contact him. A woman values romance, no one wants to leave for a man who is so unemotional. In him, I have re-discovered my passion, I have written, painted, read and searched technologies. He propels me with fuel. We would be discussing a topic, and the next day I would have read the whole history of it. Sometimes about a political character, others about musicians. Then sports. Plays, actors, scientific fields, the future. Parents, friends, brothers, holidays.. I don’t think he knows this. I would like to give them to him one day as I think he should at least know. Tell me, how can this end well?”
What do you want out of this? It is okay if you don’t know but as an outsider, my sense is that he fills a hole in your life that no one else currently can. I admire this about the French that they can honestly admit to themselves that their spouses cannot be everything. Here in America we are so afraid of admitting that. People are so paranoid that wives get offended if their husbands even look at another woman and while a husband might hate reading, a book loving wife cannot possibly imagine having a male friend who is passionate about books. I am not sure at all that he would make a great husband; he does not seem to be husband material. He will always be like this even if you were to marry him and if you are the romantic type, it will be a huge disappointment. You might regret breaking up your family and being unhappy with him.
I see no reason for you to do anything different than what you are doing now. You need him, the way you need your family and friends. Each person in your life serves a clear purpose all the way from going shopping with you to just sharing drinks at a bar to helping you stay motivated. What I am suggesting is that you cannot accept one person to provide you with everything you need in life. If your husband is a good man, a great father, and whatever else that is good about him, do not expect that he can also engage you in art, literature, science, and music. Similarly, Mr French maybe the fuel for your intellectual fire, he may turn out to be an awful husband or father. Always keep him for what he is good at, for what he gives you, and don’t make it any more complicated than that. Falling in love with him is futile because he is not the one to value traditional romance.
I can understand why you would just want to end it all because he is terrible at romance, but that would be a mistake. He appears to be special and you wouldn’t be the same without him. You can still get the best out of him if you stop expecting him to sweep you off your feet. So even when you two cannot be together physically, it is nice to be able to stay in touch via phone and email. It is possible. You two have a beautiful friendship in the form that it is; just keep it this way.