[Two Pronged] Relationship status? I don’t know where I stand

'I am happy when I'm with him and I don't know if that's something I am willing to give up soon.'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,

Hi! I’m Mara, 29.

I’ve been single for almost 2 years. I’ve previously dated a guy who also happens to be a close friend, but it didn’t last for very long. We never had “proper closure” because he refused to talk to me in person. I spent my entire year (last year) trying to move on.  That past relationship made me feel as though I was not worthy.  I did try to reach out several times, only to be ignored. 

So, I tried my best to move forward. I quit an old job and started working in a marketing company where I met new friends including a new guy. Let’s call him “Sandy.” Sandy is one of the seniors in our team. So, he’s the “man” who’s also in charge in training the newly hired.  We’d spend time together and I got to know him quite well. He had a girlfriend. They were in a long distance relationship until some months ago, they decided to call it quits. He told me about everything and how the girl also cheated on him (there were pictures).

Due to this, we became closer as we can relate with each other in terms of having our hearts completely broken. We went on a quick getaway with some our colleagues. We all spent the night together. Having too much to drink we ended up having sex.

I have to admit that I missed that feeling – that feeling of being wanted and needed. Days passed, as if nothing happened, we went back to work and talked like the usual. We never really talked about it. I had no expectations. 

But then, he started asking me out on dates. He would send me messages every day. We would talk for hours. He would tell me his whereabouts. And would refuse to hang out with other colleagues unless I am also going. He introduced me to his closest friends (as in kababata) but only as an “officemate.” Although we treated each other as if we were a couple.

Then his ex sent him a message asking for a favor. He told me about it and said they just ended up fighting again. But despite everything, he also told me that he still wants her back… even though the girl refuses to get back together.

I am completely lost. We still continue to hang out. He still treats me as if I am someone special but would tell me otherwise. I don’t know where I stand anymore. I refuse to think that he is only using me as a distraction, or worse as a rebound. 

But I know that he is better than that. At this point, I don’t know if confronting him would be the best route. I am happy when I’m with him and I don’t know if that’s something I am willing to give up soon.

Thank you for your time. More power and God bless! 

Sincerely,

Mara

————- 

Dear Mara, 

Thank you for your email.

Your account of your relationship with Sandy is perplexing. On the one hand, you say you treat each other as a couple, hang out together, talk for hours. At the same time, he introduces you as his office mate and readily admits that he would go back to his ex-girlfriend if only she would take him back. All this you seem to accept and yet you then say you don’t know where you stand, you’re completely lost, you’re happy when you’re with him and perhaps unwilling to give him up.

Maybe you need to decide whether the old saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, has some application to your situation. After all, you are happy with Sandy when you are with him. Alternatively, you may feel that this bird in your hand is decidedly inadequate, take a risk and go out to find a future boyfriend who actually treats you publicly as such, not as a mere office mate, and who has also actually let go of previous entanglements and does not say he would leave you at the drop of a hat if his ex deigned to take him back.

It seems the choice is between the fact of an imperfect present relationship and the hope of a future better one. But there are other possibilities, too. Since emotional fidelity is absent from your relationship with Sandy (as he pines for his ex), there is no reason why you cannot continue to see him while at the same time keeping an eye out for better prospects. A man who introduces you as his office mate is after all scarcely in a position to complain. 

All the best,

JAF Baer

  

Dear Mara,

Thank you very much for your letter. It seems that your last statement “I don’t know if confronting him would be the best route. I am happy when I’m with him and I don’t know if that’s something I am willing to give up soon” is what Mr Baer and I haveused as the basic guideline on which to base our answers.

Like him, I also feel the saying “a bird in hand is worth two in bush” is an excellent perspective from which to view your problem.  However unlike Mr Baer, I do not see Sandy as your bird in hand. If I did, I would suggest you strangle him. Should be easy, with a little bird-like neck (koking only!). 

No, I see Sandy as a bird in the bush, perhaps together with your former boyfriend (let’s call him Mark).  These two seem to have no compunction about hurting a girl.  Sometimes pain is inevitable: for example, when love no longer exists for one, but still does for the other.

However, there is pain (like love inevitably lost) and then there is pain (like your partner behaving like a pr*ick).  The latter is not inevitable; the latter can definitely be avoided or, at the very least, diminished. 

In lacking the courage and/or empathy to provide closure, Mark behaved like a pr*ck. But there is a case to be made that Sandy is behaving a lot “pr*ickier” 

Think about it, Mara: 

Sandy behaves like a boyfriend and yet refuses to say this publicly.  Sandy behaves as if he truly cares for you, and yet has given himself the perfect excuse should his behavior prove otherwise. After all, he warned you didn’t he? And if you chose to misinterpret his actions as love, well, that’s not really his problem, is it? He’s covered his bets by warning you that you really aren’t special to him.

See Sandy for what he is, Mara.  He is someone like Mark, who flew away when the going got tough; he hurt people willy-nilly because he doesn’t mind living a life without integrity.  If you keep this in mind, you’ll be relatively ok.  

Yes, you will be hurt when he flies away – as he inevitably will (…and the sooner he does so, the better for you) but you will get the closure you need. No, not from him – as men like him do not feel they owe it to women they’ve warned in advance they don’t care for – but from yourself. 

So, until you have that bird in hand – a strong and stalwart man who will say what he means and behave as if he means them – keep on enjoying those birds in bush, enjoy their singing and their plumage, but do not be seduced by them. 

One day you will find one who wants to do more than tantalize you with promises he need not fulfill. One day, you will find one who willingly flies into your hand and into your heart.  

All the best,

MG Holmes 

– Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED.Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response. 

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