Doc Joe is a psychologist and attorney who has consulted with and advised people of all ages. Katy Ann is a licensed marriage and family therapist, who, like Doc Joe, has counseled and advised people of all ages. The discussion and advice offered in their column is not offered as a clinical recommendation or as a substitute for clinical treatment. Rather, Doc Joe’s and Katy Ann’s comments are intended to stimulate thought, often with a sense of humor. Sometimes they agree; sometimes they don’t. So, read on…
Dear Doc Joe and Katy Ann,
I know that you often say “follow your heart.” But, lately, my heart is leading me in two opposing directions. Here’s what’s going on.
I’m a college senior. I broke up with my girlfriend, Ginny, last year, after she graduated and moved to Southern California. We had been together since high school, but we both started to become restless, and so we decided that it would be best to separate after she moved. Since then, I’ve dated a few times, but haven’t really been interested in starting a relationship with anyone. I’ve been pretty lonely.
Last week I ran into Carla, who was my best friend Jonathan’s girlfriend until they broke up about a month ago. It wasn’t his idea to break up, and he still brings her up when we talk. When Ginny and I would hang out with Jonathan and Carla, Carla and I would often talk and laugh with each other. She had a good-natured way of teasing me. It seemed that it was Carla and I that had the chemistry. One of my friends commented that it seemed like Carla and I were the real couple of our group. But I never even considered making any moves on my best friend’s girlfriend. I’d never do that.
So, when Carla saw me in the quad, she ran over and gave me a big hug. She told me that she had missed seeing me, and said that she’d enjoy “hanging out.” She said that she always thought that I was “awesome.” That was really nice to hear.
After that, I asked Jonathan how he’d feel about my hanging out with Carla. He didn’t look happy; he just looked down. He said, “We broke up. She’s free to see who she wants.”
I can tell that Jonathan wouldn’t be happy if I started seeing Carla. Jonathan is my best friend, and I don’t want to hurt him. But I haven’t been excited about dating a girl since my last break up.
As I said, my heart and head are confused. I could easily call up Carla and get things started. But my seeing Carla would probably drive a wedge between Jonathan and me.
Seamus, in California.
Katy Ann: I know that it’s hard to get over a breakup. It really does take time to grieve over that loss, and then, it can take time to meet someone who you’d like to befriend or date. It is totally understandable that you would be drawn to someone that you know and like.
Doc Joe: Seamus, let’s talk statistics. It’s estimated that California has 1,200,000 women between the ages of 20 and 24. Allowing for 25 relatives, women you have previously dated, and girls who kicked you in the shin during elementary school, along with Carla, there are still 1,199,975 women in California who might be available for dating…
Katy Ann: … Not counting those who are in committed relationships.
Doc Joe: Yes. Not counting them. Well, that still leaves a lot of women for Seamus to meet that were never his best friend’s girlfriend.
Katy Ann: I’ll take the friendship perspective. Seamus, I’ve known many people who stayed close to their best friend for their entire life. Best friendships are a joy to maintain. Usually, they need a little bit of shared time. But, they also need loyalty.
Doc Joe: Guys really don’t feel right about their friends flirting with their girlfriend, or dating their ex.
Katy Ann: I agree. Seamus, I can tell that you like Carla, and that you sense a good connection with her. But your loyalty is to your best friend. You sound like you are a nice, caring guy. For the sake of your friendship with Jonathan, I think the right thing to do would be to let Carla know that your friendship with Jonathan has to come first. I’m guessing that she’ll respect that.
Katy Ann: And having a best friend to walk through life with is truly a gift from heaven.
Doc Joe: Sounds like we agree. So, there you have it.
The above letter is from our archives.
Four years later we heard from Seamus. He’s married to Rebecca and has a child on the way. His best friend, Jonathan, and his wife, live in the same neighborhood.
He thanks us. DJ and KA.
If you’d like to get Ask Doc Joe & Katy Ann advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, state of residence and your question, along with a brief description of the situation.