[Two Pronged] In love with my married boss... and my boyfriend
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 Mr. Baer and Dr. Holmes,
I am a 27-year-old corporate lawyer in an 8 year relationship with my boyfriend. I became a lawyer and, despite my setting up job interviews for him, among other things, he is still unemployed.
I’m now involved with one of the married bosses of my company. Older, married men are often attracted to me, but I never reciprocated — until now.
My boyfriend and I never had the stimulating conversations my boss and I do. He’s handsome, very intelligent, and mature. He is 17 years older, while my boyfriend is 2 years younger than me.
My boyfriend got suspicious about our relationship and once even demanded I hand in my resignation. I admitted I was attracted to my boss but reminded him that I am not the type to destroy a family or jeopardize my career.
I told my boyfriend that my boss and I rarely talk now unless it is work-related, but that is not true. We have not stopped seeing each other. I am head-over-heels in love with my boss and cry myself to sleep because what we have cannot last. I do not expect him to leave his family for me, though I wish he would.
I love my boyfriend, but I cannot stop comparing the two of them. I often rant about how “immature” or “unstable” my boyfriend is. Yet, I can’t leave him.
I can’t let either of them go. I am in love with my boss, which is wrong on so many levels. I cannot have him completely, but thinking about not having him at all tortures me to the core.
My boyfriend treats me well, but I don’t want to just “settle” and marry him just because our families presume we will.
But I can’t leave him because I don’t want to break his heart. Help!
Dear Atty B,
Thank you for your email.
On the one hand you have your boyfriend of 8 years (let’s call him Nic), 2 years younger, not the world’s greatest conversationalist, unemployed despite your efforts but someone you cannot leave for reasons you choose not to mention (random guess: good in bed?).
On the other hand, you have your boss, “Ramon”, 17 years older, presumably mature and urbane, but unfortunately married.
You seem to think your choice is either to maintain both relationships or settle for second best with Nic. Yet the facts are that you are a fully qualified lawyer with a fine career ahead of you, you are only 27 and there is plenty of time for marriage and children. This is not to say you have to aspire to these but merely to point out some of the enviable options available to you.
Your current relationship situation is the very antithesis of enviable. Nic cannot seriously be considered a desirable life partner if he is as work shy, immature, and unstable as you suggest. To stay with him “so as not to break his heart” will simply exacerbate the situation.
Your alternative, Ramon, is equally flawed. Affairs with married men seldom end well. Frequently, men who promise to leave their wives conveniently find a succession of “plausible” reasons not to do so while in the immortal and oft quoted words of the late Sir James Goldsmith, on marrying his mistress, Lady Annabel Birley, “When you marry your mistress, you create a job vacancy.”
Perhaps instead of trying to juggle two flawed relationships or settling for second best and a life devoid of intellectual stimulation with an unemployed man child (imagine if your children were to inherit his intellectual genes), you should get rid of both and set your sights on a relationship much the way you have managed your career.
Just as you did not choose to join a law firm with legal/corporate constraints equivalent to those you have with Nic and Ramon, so as an ambitious lawyer making a career for herself you can instead look for a partner worthy of such a person. You say “I am not the type to destroy a family or jeopardize my career” – now is the time to act on these words.
All the best,
Dear Atty B,
Thank you very much for your email. I am at a loss for words but not worried about it at all. Mr Baer has saved the day by saying most of what I wanted to say.
His last sentence: “You say 'I am not the type to destroy a family or jeopardize my career' – now is the time to act on these words" really says it all, doesn’t it? He has laid down the gauntlet, and I hope you pick it up and prove yourself the capable, disciplined and honest person you know you can be.
By honest, I do not only mean telling your bf about your other relationship, but more importantly, telling the truth to yourself.
The most glaring example of this dishonesty: Three of the final four paragraphs of your letter have the sentence “I can’t leave him (your boyfriend and/or your married lover).” It sounds more dramatic and less selfish when you say “can’t” but of course you can. It will just be harder, far less exciting and much lonelier.
The first step is to take off your rose colored glasses and tell yourself: “Atty B, stop kidding yourself. The only reason you are not leaving him (boyfriend or lover) is because you are not willing to leave the excitement, drama, and security (yes, security) these relationships bring. You are not some helpless damsel in distress, so do not behave like one.”
The second is to do as Mr Baer says: act on your choices.
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.