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,
Please call me Gemma. I am x years old and single by choice. I just ended a relationship with a man whom I feel was avoiding me because he couldn’t handle his feelings. Around the time I did the excising, I made new friends from TUPDKK (Taga UP Diliman Ka Kung…).
Chats lead to meet ups so I eyeballed with the TUPDKK guys. One of them (“Ian”) was unable to join so he so we met another time, but it was just me. He said that hindi kami makakapagkuwentuhan ng mabuti (we cannot speak freely) if others joined us. We met at Starbucks and spent eight – yes, EIGHT!!! – hours talking, until 3:30 am.
From the beginning I knew he is married.
As usual, because I breathe (sorry to sound mayabang here) he was attracted to me, especially when he met me in person. This led to daily chats.
Rarely was there a day we did not chat – from the silly to the serious.
I knew of his attraction to me. I realized I was attracted to him too about 5 weeks after. He knows that I don’t have affairs with married men. We’ve chatted about it.
Ian’s feelings for me are getting in the way of our friendship. He is insecure because he does not know where he stands in my life and he doesn’t want to bring it out into the open because he can’t do a thing about it anyway. But because of that he inadvertently takes it out on me.
Honestly, we can never have a sexual affair. The most we can have is an emotional involvement. If we want sex then he goes to his wife for it while I go to my partner.
I do hope that our friendship can hurdle this turbulent storm.
What do you think? Is there anything I can do so he will not let his feelings for me get in the way?
Thank you for your letter.
It seems that mutual attraction was an important ingredient in your relationship with Ian from the very start and the fact that it was understood that he was married and that yes, you do not sleep with married men merely defines the expected parameters of the relationship.
It is, of course, quite easy to lay down the law when beginning a relationship but if, as it develops and the parties become closer and closer, one or both wish to reframe their involvement, this would be perfectly natural.
The problem arises if only one wishes to reframe or if it turns out that one party had misrepresented their position and the truth of the matter – that they are looking for a greater degree of intimacy than they had previously suggested – is later revealed.
The main options then are to terminate the relationship, to continue with both parties accepting the imbalance of expectations or the less committed to match the other’s commitment.
What can you do, Gemma? You have a choice: pass the buck to Ian or be proactive.
Since Ian is the one bringing unwelcome feelings into your relationship, you can transfer the initiative to him to get things back on course failing which it’s over. Or you can finish things now if you have no faith in Ian succeeding in bringing the relationship back to where it used to be.
Caveat: you say, “He is insecure because he does not know where he stands in my life.” Yet according to you it is very clear — he is a friend with an emotional attachment to a woman who will not have sex with him.
Have I missed something? All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter.
I have chosen to not back up my statements with research, because right now not a lot seems to have been studied about the issues I will discuss here. Literature and art are more comfortable about undercurrents in relationships, expressed motives that are far from the truth, rationalizations, suggestions which seem merely pragmatic but suggest something quite painful for your respective partners, etc.
First, Ian’s falling for you should not come as a surprise. You said it yourself: “As usual…he was attracted to me,…”(and, previously) I have just ended a relationship with a man …because he couldn’t handle his feelings (for me).”
So you already know how attractive you can be. I say this with no malice whatsoever. I admire the way you matter of factly said “as usual, because I breathe… he was attracted to me.”
You knew this and yet you did not refrain from doing more things to ratchet up this attraction, like daily chats. Surely, it is quite disingenuous to now complain of the result you knew would inevitably follow?
It seems to me that the best answer to your final question: “Is there anything I can do so he will not let his feelings for me get in the way?” is “Yes. Make sure your actions don’t encourage such feelings in the first place.”
Your behavior would encourage unkind people to call you a prick tease.
But perhaps you are merely incredibly naïve? You say: “The most we can have is an emotional involvement.” I cannot imagine a man having daily chats with an attractive woman, having an emotional affair with her, and not wanting to sleep with her. I would think your experience would have confirmed this. And yet…you seem to do the same thing over and over again.
Finally, your suggestion that: “If we want sex then he goes to his wife for it.”
Frankly, I cannot think of a more cruel suggestion—asking him to have sex with his wife NOT because he loves he, but because he can’t have you, thus making her a mere substitute for you.
So there you have it, Gemma. If you really want a less complicated life, be straightforward, especially with yourself.
However, if you enjoy the fun and games (and why not? You are, after all, single by choice) then by all means continue as you are. My only hope (and this is personal, rather than “professional”) is you refrain from making suggestions like the one you just did.
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.
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