Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] Is this a pattern? Men I date end up in happy relationships after we break up

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer
[Two Pronged] Is this a pattern? Men I date end up in happy relationships after we break up
'When I date someone, I tell them that I only have three dealbreakers – if they lie to me, if they hurt me, or if they cheat on me. Well, they all did either of these...'

‘If you are sure you want to do it, then finding partners becomes a matter of mere logistics’

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 three 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 am 40+ years old, with two kids, and have been separated from my partner (not legally) for 21 years.

I have been in and out of several relationships since. Every guy that I have been involved with is either now married happily or at at least in a stable relationship with the person they dated after me.

So am I that “muse” that they need to experience first in order to get into that “better” relationship? I hope not. But it’s something that my friends would “marites” about.

When I date someone, I tell them that I only have three dealbreakers – if they lie to me, if they hurt me, or if they cheat on me. Well, they all did either of these, after 1-3 years of me being with them.

Sex, I think, is not an issue (I’m a Scorpio) as I sometimes get text messages from an ex/exes asking for “one last dance.” Ulol nila! Pardon my French.

My positive traits, according to my friends, are that I am loyal, I know how to commit, I know how to compromise, and I am trustworthy – and I make the best baked mac.

My negative trait, according to one of my ex-boyfriends, is that I “tend to be perfect” and don’t know how to forgive and forget.

That’s partly true. Or maybe just true.

Does that mean I won’t ever get to have that steady relationship?

Your advice, please. The last time I was in a relationship was in 2019.

Today, I actually met this wonderful guy (he’s a Leo), but I am hesitant to be romantically involved with him as I might end up as his “muse” again and he finds his “happily ever after” after me.


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Dear Rose,

Thank you for your email.

You have analyzed your past experience and concluded that your three dealbreakers make it unlikely any relationship will last the course.

However you also believe that one of your positive traits is a willingness to compromise, which some might think a contradiction!

Perhaps instead of concentrating on yourself, it would be more helpful to spend time thinking about the characteristics of a potential partner. You list the negatives (lying, cheating, hurting) but say nothing about your ideal positives in a future boyfriend. This is definitely worth some reflection, particularly if in fact all your past choices have gone on to have greater success with your replacement.

Bear in mind, also, that if you worry about being what you call a “muse,” then it would be helpful to consider what, if anything, you can do to minimize the chance of this happening again, remembering that you can change yourself far more easily than you can change others. Some self-modifications plus a clearer idea of what you truly want in a partner may prove the key to future success.

Best of luck,

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[Two Pronged] Should I settle for him?

Dear Rose:

Thank you very much for your letter.

First, I do not think your three conditions – honesty, non-violence, and fidelity – are too much at all. For a deep relationship, these three are vital. In fact, your three conditions – not to lie, not to physically hurt me, and not to be unfaithful – are much easier to meet when expressed as negatives. Not to lie could mean not actually verbalizing untruths, but being economical with the truth e.g. keeping secrets from you that you have a right to know. Not to hurt you could mean simply mean not being physically abusive, but what about emotional and/or verbal abuse which can oftentimes be disguised as mere teasing or “joking?” Not being unfaithful could again mean merely physical infidelity, but what about emotional cheating – would that be okay? And being physical with someone else but not including penetration?

No, your conditions are not onerous at all, and if any of your previous partners broke any of those conditions, in my opinion, you were right to get rid of them.

As for their wanting “one last dance” even after you have broken up, you are absolutely right: ulol sila (they’re nuts)! Relating to an ex intimately, whether physically or not, would be “ulol-ie.”

Maybe you could consider whether some of your behavior could also be ulol-ie. For example, knowing the relationship status of your exes, hypothesizing whether you were merely the muse to jumpstart their next (serious) relationship, and now even hesitating to get into another potentially serious relationship because you don’t want to end up merely a muse because of what’s happened in the past.

All these exes are, well, exes, Rose, and you need to consider them as exes in every way. Not only never sleeping with them again, but also not allowing them to take up a lot of your time and energy wondering if (or wondering why).

Mr. Baer has suggested ways to diminish the probability of your next relationship winding up like all the others. I agree with all of them. 

Perhaps the only thing I might add is that, in the same manner that many things on social media are not as wonderful as they seem,  the relationships your exes have with someone after you are not necessarily what they seem.  

Yes, your exes may have “improved” after being with you, and there may be three possibilities (among many others) for this: 1) Their next partner’s dealbreakers may be easier for your exes to live with; 2) Said partners may be willing to put up with more; or, indeed, 3) Your exes may be better partner material now, for a variety of reasons. 

So be it. With any luck, you too will find a better partner and possibly be a better partner yourself in the future. 

Hoping that is exactly what happens,
MG Holmes


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