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.
Hi Dr. Holmes and Mr Baer,
I met a guy online through a gaming app. We became friends and later on, we became lovers. At first everything seems so right until I found out he’s in a relationship. Until now we still talk to each other.
This friendship is almost 5 years, though we both know that we love each other. As of now, it’s like we are someone whose shoulder the other can cry on. Sometimes it is getting difficult for me because I don’t know what I am in his life. Because for 5 years never did he attempt to meet me again.
Do you think it’s real love that we feel for each other because we are still there for each other until now? Your response is much appreciated.
Our situation is a bit more complicated and unusual. We talk everyday through chat. He even calls sometimes, but I am the one that speaks first. I have so many suspicions why he doesn’t want me to hear his voice.
But we have been in this situation for a long time now, so I got used to it.
I tried to leave him many times but I cannot understand it that every time he is around and speaks to me, I cannot help but succumb. To make my story more complicated, I have a husband and he has a girlfriend. For 5 years, I have been hiding our situation because I doubt anyone can understand what I feel.
I know in my heart I really love him. I can now leave everything behind for him. I know you can help me with this.
Thank you and God bless.
Thank you for your email.
So you met through an app, then in person, became friends and subsequently lovers. All was going well until you discovered he (let’s call him Carl) was in a relationship. You yourself were apparently not just in a relationship but actually married yet interestingly you found his status a problem while yours was not. Then you downgraded the relationship with Carl to one of mere friendship again, except that you speak to this “friend” every single day and cannot resist him when he calls.
If one is leading a fairly humdrum and unfulfilling life, which seems your case – marriage to a man with a girlfriend is not the stuff of most romantic dreams – an illicit relationship, even when downgraded to friendship, can do wonders to spice up one’s life, to give each day new meaning. In fact, it offers up the possibility of imagining all sorts of outcomes and interpreting the smallest things as positive signs for the future. This can, however, lead to a disconnect between reality and fantasy, particularly if the other party is not clearly sharing in the game plan.
Another downside is that it inhibits the healthy growth of one’s principal relationship, in your case with your husband. Though you can legitimately argue that a marriage to an adulterer is perhaps not worth any further investment of time, energy, money and emotion, the illicit relationship can suck the oxygen out of any possible improvement in the marriage anyway because improvement could require a diminution in the attraction that the illicit relationship already has.
You say “I know in my heart I really love him. I can now leave everything behind for him.”
Yet even if this is true, what do we know of Carl? He hasn’t seen you for 5 years, he keeps in touch daily yet you never hear his voice. He is also presumably still in a relationship with someone else which was the reason you decided to downgrade to just friends with him and not lovers in the first place.
There is nothing to suggest that Carl is ready to forsake all and follow you, therefore I strongly advise that you establish that he is truly interested in taking your current relationship to the next level before you “leave everything behind”.
All the best,
Thank you for your letter. You ask us “Do you think it’s real love that we feel for each other because we are still there for each other until now?”
I cannot really answer for Carl as I do not know him and he has not confided in us. All I can do is hypothesize the following:
- He probably cares for you since he is there even after five years, willing to be a shoulder to cry on and reassure you that he is there (even if he doesn’t speak when you answer his calls).
- I am unsure if what he feels is “real love” since he has not taken any risks of the sort that one is willing to take, but only for people one really loves.
- As for being in love with you, sadly not. I do not sense the passion and throwing his cap over the windmill recklessness that sometimes accompanies being in love with someone. If anything, his not speaking even after you answer the phone seems overly cautious.
However, all of the above does not really matter where love — love that does not expect reciprocation which, in my mind, is a loser’s game at the very end — is concerned. But it is not a loser’s game in the beginning. Definitely not in the last five years, when you drew strength and solace from his friendship.
However, things seem to have changed.
You now want something more than a relationship where you each knew you could cry on the other’s shoulder. You seem to ready to leave your husband for him, even without knowing if he is ready to forsake all others for you. Frankly, I do not think that is a good idea.
By all means, leave your husband. Your marriage seems to be at a dead end anyway.
But do not leave him for Carl. Rather, you can leave him if you realize your secret five-year relationship with, and strong feelings for, Carl would not have been possible if you were committed to your husband. But not if the only reason you can is because Carl will be waiting for you on the other side. Because he won’t, Dina. Not at this stage. Perhaps, not at any stage.
Does that mean your love was a failure? Definitely not, Dina.
Perhaps it would be better if you both changed in the direction you hope for, but sometimes that is not the case… and alas, that seems to be the situation you are in right now.
Dr Ethel Persons is a psychoanalyst who wrote many books on love and relationships. In 1988, she wrote her first book Dreams of Love and Fateful Encounters: The Power of Romantic Passion, where she states that people tend to measure the reality of romantic love in terms of how long it lasts. Not a good idea. Even love that does not last can be romantic, passionate, and yes, real.
What makes it real is that it gives the lover the courage to change. It allows her/him to dare make his dream a reality and to not only fantasize, but to actually go for it, and try and attain, a truer, more honest life.
That is what your love for Carl has done to you. And I hope, no matter whether you tell Carl your hopes for a life together (and no matter what his response will be) that you will honor that love and the strength it has given you.
All the very best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email email@example.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.