The Unknown Guy

Q: I have been looking for a serous, long-term relationship. I am seeing Al, who is 35, once a week, but nothing really serious so far. At the same time, I've been chatting regularly for about three months with Ian, whom I know from an online dating website. Ian is coming to visit me in six weeks, the first time I will meet him in person. Al seems to want something more serious between us, but I cannot make any decision before I meet Ian in person. I know it's not fair to keep Al waiting till I meet Ian, but how can I tell him that I still have to meet someone else before I decide? -- Katie, 27

Dr. Susan: Fair is good. I deeply believe in fairness in relationships. However, fairness doesn't mean agreeing to get serious about someone when you're itching to meet another man. The essence of fairness in a situation like yours is simply to be honest and let all the parties make their own decisions based on reality. It's perfectly all right to let Al know you're not sure yet whether you want to commit to him exclusively. You haven't told him you're still looking, still chatting with other guys? Now, that's not fair.

I'm a little troubled that you're limiting yourself to these two guys, one you've only been seeing once a week, "nothing really serious," and one you've only chatted with and not even met yet. Why does it have to be one of those two? I'm not hearing you say anything that sounds like love. So I suggest you slow down, get to know Al better before making any definite decisions, and be honest with him that you need more time before committing to a serious relationship. If he asks if you're seeing someone else, you need to be honest. And by the way, the way things are, I don't recommend you sleep with both of them. Neither is likely to trust you after that.

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