Wednesday 28 June 2017

Dear Patricia: My lover is married but says he wants to leave home

Patricia Redlich

I've been seeing a man for more than six months now. When we met, I was under the impression he was single.

Not having much experience in relationships, and never having much confidence in meeting men, I suppose I just trust too much. I changed aspects of my life over the past 18 months which gave me new-found confidence. And falling for this man more or less straightaway, I didn't ask him if he was in a relationship. Nothing he said or did gave me any reason to suspect he was.

He did, however, come clean after our second meeting, told me he was married but wanted to finish with his wife and that he had been unhappy for over three of the five years he'd been married. There are no children involved. At first, I was very upset when he told me, and made my feelings known. I was ready to stop right there and walk way. Obviously, I didn't. I am still seeing him and he is still married! I trust him a lot and feel he is being very honest with me. And I know it was my decision from the beginning to keep seeing him, even though I knew it was wrong.

I love spending time with him. But it's never long enough, and as he is not separated fully, it's hard to try to act normally when we go anywhere, or spend time together. I don't put pressure on him to leave his wife and he doesn't pressure me into waiting for him. If anything, I am the one who is doing the chasing, although he has told me his feelings for me are strong. I am very happy when I am with him. But I do sometimes feel I'm putting my life on hold. When I'm out with friends socialising, I am aware that there may be a man there whom I could really come to like, so I'm possibly missing my chance with someone who has no other ties.

I'm confused but happy. I know in my heart that even if this man's marriage does officially end anytime soon, he still cannot be there for me full-time as he has other work commitments and we are a good distance apart. I try telling myself that I don't need more from him than I have now, but I'm lying to myself.

Patricia replies:

LET'S edit your introduction, drop the excuses, go straight to the point. Second date, basically right at the beginning, your lover came clean. Well, he told you he was married and then gave you the usual line about being unhappy and in the process of leaving. You fancied him. Of course you were upset, because you had got your hopes up. You also decided to stick with it when you heard the truth. And, inherently honest woman that you are, you admit that you now do the chasing.

It's a classic, isn't it? He "confessed" and then continued to do as he pleases, running the relationship exclusively on his terms. Sometimes I wonder if these men are married at all. It's the perfect opt-out clause, isn't it? He has free rein to be totally selfish. Look at what you're telling me.

Even if he does ease himself out of his marriage, it will then be his work which stops him from giving you a say in the relationship. And the great bonus is that he need never feel guilty. He holds his hands up and says he told you all. It was your decision to stay. Marvellous, isn't it?

You're right. You are lying to yourself. What you're getting from this man is not enough. You took the plunge and fell in love, after battling difficult times. He liked you back. And you found it hard to let go.

We understand how it happened. Now, however, is the time to walk away. This relationship is not just wrong because he's married. You're selling yourself seriously short. This man promises you nothing and will deliver nothing. He's told you so. You're right to feel you're putting your life on hold, because that is exactly what you're doing.

Of course there are other men out there. And of course you are missing them because your head has been messed about by this man -- with your active connivance, naturally. Stop hanging on to this emotional hoodlum. Set yourself free, and be ready to meet a really decent man when he crosses your path -- which he will.

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