It seems people write in to you often with their various romantic conundrums, so I thought I’d give it a go.
In short: a guy I dated back about 20 years ago in college got back in touch with me. He has been married since his early 20s – met the woman almost right after we had dated – and basically things are not completely happy in marital land, particularly when it comes to the physical relationship.
When he got in touch I was wondering, OK, the guy is married, what does he want… It turns out they have agreed to have an open relationship meaning both are free to pursue romantic liaisons with others. They do have two almost grown children and have been through their ups and downs. But it was clear he was committed to staying with her. I happen to be 40, single and seeking a committed, loving relationship and maybe the possibility of a family. So…
We did end up meeting once for coffee, and then decided to have a visit. It turned out to be very emotionally and physically intense. We got along very well and were extremely attracted to one another. Now, I am left wondering, why did I do this… In fact I have fallen a bit in love with the guy, given the fact he is just about all that I want in a partner – smart, intellectual, kind, sexy, warm, down to earth, worldly, sensual — except for the married part.
My feeling is that you probably would unequivocally steer good, kind, smart, sexy women away from this scenario. After all, what I want is the partnership, someone to give me their total attention and commitment. And here I am in love with a married guy who seems to be trying out seeing other people. A clue is the fact that he has expressed the fact this is probably “not healthy for either of us” to do on a regular basis. Which indicates to me either it was also emotionally intense for him (I know it was good in other ways), and he is not ready to jeopardize his marriage.
For myself, I am wondering why a guy would stay married to a woman who is clearly not meeting his needs. I mean, the fellow seemed starved for contact and a real erotic connection. So I am left feeling puzzled, a bit hurt, and a bit angry at myself for getting myself into this sticky wicket in the first place.
So I am curious to know what your take is on this.
First of all, Desiree, just want to say how much I appreciate your writing a letter devoid of spelling and grammatical mistakes. I’d fax you a piece of Godiva if the technology existed.
Second, I’d like to commend you on predicting my response. Your guess that I would “unequivocally steer good, kind, smart, sexy women away from this scenario” is right on.
Imagine this: you’re on the market to buy a house. In the meantime, you’ve stumbled upon a really nice place that you just love, love, love. Except that the owner has made it very clear that it’s for rent only. But you think, “Hey, I really like this place. Why don’t I just move in and see what happens.”
What happens is that you really do like this place. And after a few months, you ask the owner if he’s willing to sell. Nope, he says. And you realize that you have to do the search all over again, and go through the pain of moving all over again.
Did you know that place was for rent only? Yes you did. Did you go ahead and do the imprudent thing and move in anyway, even though you were in the market to buy a place? Yup. Got anyone to blame but you? Nope.
To end the extended metaphor, you’re looking to buy, Desiree (that’s when you said “what I want is the partnership, someone to give me their total attention and commitment”). He’s looking to lease (aka fooling around).
This is simply not going to work out in your favor.
It’s cute that you’ve ‘fallen in love’, as you put it, but not very helpful. And you’ve grown up to become a 40yr old woman — not a girl — so you have the capacity to resist self-destructive impulses like this. Exercise that capacity.
Also, when you were in your twenties, you could afford to blow five years or ten on a mediocre relationship. Without putting too fine a point on it, you no longer have that luxury of time.
So you need to start looking elsewhere. Immediately.
Now this may not be what you want to hear, ’cause you’re having so much fun! You feel so alive! (Incidentally, that’s exactly the kind of thing a novice heroin or coke user would say.)
But this is what I want you to focus on: the amount of frustration, pain and puzzlement you’re feeling right now is nothing compared to what you’ll feel if you continue this dalliance another few months. You need to bail immediately, for your own good and his. Once he’s properly divorced, single and not a swinger, then you can talk again. Maybe.
I think it’s great that you are clear on what truly fulfills you: “what I want is the partnership, someone to give me their total attention and commitment.” So go for it! Go talk to some of the other 3 billions dudes on the planet. I bet there are a few hundred million of them who are more available than this fella and less toxic for you. You’re in a vulnerable state, so the best way to make sure this doesn’t go any further is to start hanging out with other guys.