[Two Pronged] From soulmate to sex partner?
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,
I would like to ask help from you. I had this affair for 3 months. We both love each other, and are happy. We even think we are soulmates, but he has his family and I am single. Just last month the wife learned about the affair. Of course as expected the wife burst out, but now we are still communicating secretly. I don't know what’s the real score. For me I'm still hoping, and I really love him since he was my ultimate crush in our high school days (but we were not batchmates, as he is 3 years ahead of me). What should I do to bring him back to me, and if I want him as my sex partner? By the way I'm 40 and he is 43.
Thank you for your email.
Your brief account of your situation has given us a little guidance as to your issues. Your soulmate (let's call him Jim) is married while you are still single, your affair has stopped because his wife found out what was going on, you are still surreptitiously in touch with Jim, and you want him back as a sex partner.
Now Jim may have been your crush in high school, but given the age gap it is unlikely that he felt the same way. Were he to have done so, you would presumably have mentioned it and your story would have been different – you and he would have walked toward the golden sunrise of adulthood hand in hand. Twenty-plus years later, much has changed, but a future with Jim still remains tantalizingly out of reach; he now has the millstone of a wife and children.
Jim has a clear choice. He can cut his ties with you and stay with his current family, he can leave them for you, or he can find some way to see you while not leaving them. You presumably would favor option 2 but be willing to accept option 3, which is after all more or less what you have been enjoying these last few months anyway.
Your interest is to get him back as a sex partner. What is particularly interesting about this declaration of intent on your part is how you started off as soulmates and you are now looking at Jim "only" as a sex partner. This may be reading too much into your email or it may be simply that you have realized that while ideally you would like Jim to be your soulmate, with all that that implies, reality demands that sex partner is probably the best you can get (perhaps you are also imagining that after a while an upgrade to soulmate might be on the cards).
As to how you bring him back to you, it seems that if he has chosen to remain in touch with you despite his wife discovering your affair, then this is a done deal and just a matter of logistics on his part.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. More logically pragmatic observers like Mr Baer might wonder why you are still hanging on to him despite the fact that the rekindling of your relationship started out as two soulmates in love but as of now, has changed into two lovers surreptitiously meeting when Jim's wife doesn’t know.
Those who have even been "victims" of a similar scenario (married man, unmarried woman) may try to warn you off starting with the adage: "Been there, done that, so listen to me, cause, well,…I've been there and done that."
While it all might make sense, it is difficult to believe that what happened with all these "been there" advice givers is bound to happen to you. They do not know your Jim the way you do (though they did know their own "Jims" pretty well) and they do not know the strength and the power of being soulmates (though they may have also that their own relationships were two soulmates finally coming together).
No worries. I will not add to the sound and fury of the more pragmatic, perhaps even more "moral" and definitely more sensible voices you have heard. All I want to do is share some research findings which may partially explain the reasons you are so sure this love is worth fighting and waiting interminably for.
You are level headed enough to say in your letter that: "I don't know what's the real score. For me I'm still hoping, and I really do love him since he was my ultimate crush in our high school days" and that is yet another reason I am focusing on you, okay?
You were in your teens, probably early teens, when Jim was your ultimate crush, right?
This (your having fallen for Jim in your adolescent years) might explain the reason your present relationship with Jim is so strong even now. There is a groundbreaking book – Frances E. Jensen's 2014 book The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults – which details many of the differences between the adolescent and the adult brain.
What stands out most is that a person's brain does not stop physically maturing until its mid-20s. Your prefrontal cortex, that part of the brain most involved with planning, making decisions, reining in your impulses, was not fully developed when you first noticed Jim and realized he was your ultimate crush. And yet, it is also during this time that your brain is wired to develop your own sense of identity through relationships with others. This is the reason your earliest boyfriend encounters are particularly important. And it didn't matter that Jim was (merely) a crush, that he probably had no idea what you felt about him. What mattered is what you felt then, and that was that you cared for him more than any other.
In addition, adolescents' brains are primed for learning and making more vivid memories that last longer. This is probably the reason our (YOUR first love, Eva) can feel like the most important and most enduring one of our lives.
This is probably the reason you are still besotted by Jim, even if what seemed too good to be true (that your ultimate crush was now responding as you had hoped he would all those years ago) 3 months ago has paled into a seemingly typical sordid affair between a married man and his mistress.
I think I can relate to how you feel. "This guy must really love me or he wouldn’t be risking his marriage just to see and make love to me." Absolutely. This is how a teen brain would react.
But you are no longer 15 or 16, Eva, but a capable and fully mature woman of 40. And yes, in the same way a girl can dream, a grown woman can also fantasize and imagine how wonderful life would be if "Mrs Jim" just disappeared from the scenario.
But a grown woman also knows the difference between fantasy and reality, Eva. And she also realizes that while helping fool a woman into thinking her husband is no longer seeing you might seem worth it, until he steps up to the plate as a man (and not merely some horny teenager), all this is just rainbows and unicorns, lollipops and roses.
Because you feel he is your soulmate, you will, in all likelihood, be more than willing to show your love unashamedly in the present. But can he, Eva? Or is he still trying to relive the past?
As long as you know that, while you may be in it come hell or high water, he may just be enjoying a little detour, with its bumps and hiccups to give him the illusion he is being brave and fearless. As long as you realize that even if you are ready to love him as a mature adult he may be unwilling or, indeed, unable to do so. For this would require a refusal to lie, to sneak around and to feign affection for a woman he has no feelings for (or, at least, way less than he has for you).
If he can do that, well and good. If he cannot but you are still willing to live the fantasy (while fully realizing the reality), then well and good too… as long as it doesn't last forever and you don’t lie to yourself.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.