Waffling Married Man
Q: For two years, I've been seeing this man who has been married 30 years. He plans to divorce his wife soon. He loves me and I feel the same. We have a long-distance relationship. I didn't date anyone for 15 years until I met him. He has not been intimate with his wife for 12 years, and the wife has dated several guys. He spends more of his time with his kids when I'm traveling. He said he does not love his wife, but he has time to fix her car or buy her coffee and run some errands. I wanted him to come on a few vacations, but he cannot even leave his home. I give so much but he won't go on trips with me, take me to fancy restaurants or buy me nice gifts. Should I continue seeing him or let go while the relationship is still early? I have mixed feelings lately. I'm educated, but I'm not wise enough to answer for myself. -- Nancy, 54
Dr. Susan: I think the fact that you're even asking this question means your gut is telling you that this is too much of a one-way relationship. What you see is what you get, and what you're getting now is likely to be all you ever get. This man's family comes first for him, and he doesn't want to shake things up by leaving his home. Nor does he want to spend money on you or spend any more time with you than he already does. I can't see any reason why he would change the status quo after getting his own needs met with you for the past two years. I most definitely would not count on his divorcing his wife in the near (or even far) future. His wife is still his wife, and you're his mistress. And he's fine with that. I don't know how strong your intimacy needs are if you didn't date for 15 years before meeting him. Only you can decide if you want things to stay exactly as they are, or leave him and try to date others. There's always a risk of being alone again, but with this fellow, there are no guarantees at all. Certainly you ought to tell him exactly how you feel, but don't set an ultimatum unless you are ready to follow through and walk away.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.