Enterprise-Record (Chico)

A secret friendship harms intimacy

- Contact Amy Dickinson via email, askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

DEAR AMY >> I had a brief romance with “Frederica” while on a business trip in 2019. Sadly, we weren't able to meet again due to COVID restrictio­ns, but we were effectivel­y in a long-distance relationsh­ip for about a year.

Ultimately, we concluded we are not longterm material. We have both been in relationsh­ips since our romance fizzled and have settled into a great platonic friendship.

Frederica and I text and call regularly, discuss our current partners, exchange birthday gifts etc.

We both work at the same (large) company and always have lots to talk about. Fast-forward to now — my current partner, “Molly,” does not approve of this situation (to put it lightly), forcing me to keep my contact with Frederica mostly secret.

The choice in front of me is to either cut Frederica out of my life completely or to keep my friend hidden in perpetuity.

Neither option sounds appealing. I don't want to lose one of my best friends, but I hate the deceit, which is mentally exhausting.

I also do understand why my current (and potentiall­y any future) partner would be suspicious of a close friend of the opposite sex.

What should I do?

— I've Got a Secret

DEAR SECRET >> Your romantic relationsh­ip with “Frederica” isn't exactly ancient history. “Molly” would justifiabl­y be curious about the past relationsh­ip and your ongoing close friendship; your choice to give in to her (and your) anxiety about the friendship by keeping it a secret is hurting all of you.

That's the root of the problem, and that's on you.

You should be transparen­t about this friendship, with the goal that your current partner will get to know Frederica well enough to accept the friendship and trust both of you. The two women do not need to become besties (or even meet). But the more natural you are about this friendship, the less threatenin­g it should be.

Do not leave the room if Frederica calls. Saying something as simple as, “Can I call you back? Molly and I are just sitting down to dinner” will help to open this up.

When Frederica texts you and Molly is around, say, “Frederica is texting me about a work thing,” or “Frederica just sent me a link to an article. You'd like it. Let me forward it to you.”

You and Frederica have a pre-existing friendship. That's your right. But if you are going to be in a close and intimate relationsh­ip with Molly, then you will have to make it clear to her that she is at the center of your universe; Frederica is one of many friends who will be in your orbit. Your secrecy is flipping that script.

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