Cheating Guy Has Two-Timing Girlfriend

Q: I've been dating this 39-year-old woman for about two months and we've grown close and have passionate sex. Recently I found out via her email that for the past year she's been carrying on a relationship with someone in another state. When I ask her if she's seeing another man she tells me she isn't, but when I was out of town, he flew in to see her. Now he'll be flying in again in a week, so I'm wondering what story she will use to spend time with him. Why didn't she tell me about this guy?

The other piece of the story is that I've never told her about another woman whom I've been dating for more than a year. Are we serious or scared of losing our other person? I'd like to keep seeing both women. When I first started seeing the newer one she asked me about an "open relationship." What is an open relationship and does it mean you can have sex with any partner? -- Jason, 47

Dr. Susan: What a cad you are, Jason! Face it: You're not interested in having a stable, intimate relationship with one woman. What you have are not open relationships, since the partners should be honest with one another at the start to make this work. "Open" can mean that everyone agrees that they can date others, and sometimes it means that they can sleep with others. Though of course these days, that's very risky, with AIDS and all. And a lot of those kinds of relationships end up with hurt feelings on someone's part. What you have is a weird kind of four-way going on, and you don't even know if either of your girlfriends has more than one other boyfriend.

You could tell your short-term girlfriend you know about her other guy and also tell her that her other relationship is okay with you, since you have one too (although I can see it's not okay with you!). Or you can just leave town and not let her know that you know about him. Otherwise it's going to come out in the open that she's been lying to you. And you don't really have any right to complain, since you've been lying to her too! Lying, in fact, to both women.

Neither of you is ready to make a commitment to one person. So you go around behind the back of your main girlfriend or boyfriend and try out other people at the same time. The thing is, if you're afraid to commit, you'll never find out if the main relationship has the potential to be a terrific monogamous relationship. When you're hedging your bets, always trying out new people for fun, the main person doesn't get your best self and that relationship is doomed to fail.

Do you want to keep lying to so many people? Do you intend to keep juggling women until you're 60? Or forever? Do you want to have kids someday and then do you want to know your wife is faithful? Don't you want to be honest with her and have a life that's based on honesty? Maybe not! But only you can answer that. Meanwhile, how can you sleep at night?!

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