How Can I Change Her Mind?

Dear Deb,

Ok. I am a 43 year old woman with a 17 year old autistic daughter. I have been married for over 20 years now but I am in love with my best friend. Tasha has also been married about the same amount of time I have and has kids of her own. We have been friends for almost 15 years.

My husband doesn’t have any idea that I like women and I have never cheated on him even though he has cheated on me at least once that I know of. But I am really in love with Tasha and if we ever got together I feel like I could stay with her the rest of my life and be content.

The problem with this isn’t that she doesn’t have feelings as well. In fact we have talked about it many times and she has admitted to them. But she is a minister and feels like if she were to start a relationship with me, it would be hypocritical to what she was taught to believe and preaches.

I am starting to get to the point that I think I might leave my husband and I want to advance my relationship with Tasha but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t want to wreck our friendship but she says the feelings are there.

How can I change her mind?

And I’m not at the point in my life where I want just a physical relationship. That ship has long since sailed. I want to be committed to her. What can I do or say to maybe at least make her focus long enough to think twice? I really need some advice on this because I’m just not sure what to do.

Carolyn

Dear Carolyn –

This sounds like a complicated decision for Tasha that has all kinds of consequences for her career. While deciding to leave a marriage of 20 years is a huge step for you, you might be asking Tasha to make an even larger break with the past. Choosing to enter a relationship with you might well involve a virtual change of identity, because she has a bond to consider with an entire congregation of people, instead of a husband or a family.

If you have talked to Tasha about this before, she has probably given this more thought than you would imagine. If she has told you she has feelings, but she considers it a matter of conscience, that’s likely to be a large obstacle. As a preacher, if Tasha decides that living a different lifestyle would compromise the message she preaches, then contemplating a new living arrangement might also involve other life-altering decisions like a change of career.

Given that consideration, you might face an uphill struggle to convince your friend to become your life partner. I’m not saying it’s hopeless, but more complicated than most romantic situations you’ve probably seen in your life.

In the end, if you want to be committed to Tasha and you want Tasha committed to you, you’re eventually going to have to lay it on the line. It sounds like the two of you already have a special relationship, so, knowing your friend, you should decide what the best way to approach her might be. The best way is likely to be open and honest about your feelings and expectations and tell her exactly what’s on your mind. Do so in a way that she knows how serious you are.

I would ask you to examine this closely before you take this step. Given your history with Tasha, such a step might not risk your friendship, if she declines. But many times, a friendship becomes strained, when one friend wants to take it to the next level and the other friend doesn’t. You’re going to have to be prepared to hear the word, “No”, because that’s a real possibility. Put yourself in Tasha’s place.

Consider the thoughts that have kept you in your marriage, despite your growing discontentment with it. Given your statement that you aren’t at a point where you want just a physical relationship, you’re no doubt mature enough to understand that people make relationship decisions based on all kinds of motivations, beyond merely the pleasures of the moment. You certainly have reasons that have kept you in your marriage, whatever they might be.

Now consider that Tasha has an entire congregation full of relationships, built up (many of them) over years of preaching and advising the people of her church. Consider that Tasha’s beliefs (right or wrong) tell her that a preacher can’t be involved in a same partner relationship. Like the relationships and commitments that keep you in your marriage, but to a less extent with each one, Tasha has a whole building full of relationships and commitments that will make her resistant to such a major life change. She doesn’t want to disappoint the people in her church. She doesn’t want to break faith with them.

Whether you believe that’s a good reason to avoid a fulfilling relationship or not, this might be the mindset of the person you care so much about. It’s part of what makes Tasha the person you admire so much, so you have to be prepared to respect that. And if she says yes and wants to start a life with you, you have to be prepared to face the life changes this is going to bring to both of you. Whether she chooses life with you or not, remember what you’re asking her to give up to be with you.

Best wishes,
John Clifton