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 has worked on 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 writing with a heavy heart and confused mind.
I was crying last night, and this morning and I bumped into your Facebook page’s post in my feed and I was hooked to write my story too. Just call me Chandra, 32 years of age, ghosted before, and was falling in love with a 25-year-old guy.
I met him online through a dating app and I was enjoying his company when we met personally. We hang out in our free time, and I enjoyed every second of it. Little did I know that I’m falling for him. We’re already over a year now with a “no label relationship”, but damn he made me feel like I was his girlfriend during those times. Those moments we had couldn’t compare with my previous boyfriend who ghosted me. He made me feel loved and valued at the same time.
After two months of hanging out, he opened up to me that he already had a son and a live-in partner. I was badly hurt that I told him to stop what we have. The thing is I cannot resist him when he calls me, and our relationship lasted this long. How many times have I cried and wanted to stop this thing but every time he calls/visits me I couldn’t resist him? I confessed my love for him last January 2023 and he told me the same thing. That makes it harder because even though I wanted to be with him, I couldn’t because he already has his own family.
I have a hard time controlling my emotions, and last night I decided to end things with him but I’m afraid that he will not listen, again. What should I do? I’ve tried a lot of times to end things with him, but he didn’t cooperate. I don’t want him to leave his family, either, because he already has a son and I know he loves his family too.
I couldn’t continue this thing because I fall harder the longer time we have. I also want to move on, even though it hurts.
Please, I need your advice.
Perhaps it is time to start viewing this relationship in a different light. This guy (let’s call him Dan), living in with a woman with whom he has a son, knowingly befriends you online with the intention of having sex with you and with no intention of revealing he already has a family until he knows you love him, or of progressing beyond a “no label relationship”.
He later reveals his true family situation, not to show you the extent of his love for you but to ensure that the relationship cannot develop further. His double life is after all ideal: wife and son in one corner, doting mistress at his disposal in another. As the saying goes, “Why buy a cow when the milk is free?”
So what are you to do? First is to recognize how he has betrayed your trust, disrespected you in every way and wants to continue doing so. Second is to realize that a lying hypocrite of this sort is not the man to spend any more time with. Third is to block every means of communication he has with you. Fourth is to start looking for new relationships. It all sounds easy on paper but of course it is difficult in practice. Dr Holmes may be able to give you some tools to aid your endeavors.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter and for sharing with us the depths of your devastation.
Many people agree, and have been comforted by Tennyson’s words: “Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
It is far more difficult in your case because part of you believes (and Dan is encouraging this belief) that you need not lose the love you have with him. Alas, that is because on the one hand, that is true. On the other hand, however, this is not a love that will allow you to keep your self-respect intact. If you want love that will not chip away at how you view yourself (a woman who does not continue to be with a man who already has a partner and a son) this love for Dan is not it.
True, he should have told you from the start what his circumstances were. I feel he is like many men I have heard of in my clinical practice: committed to other women and not willing to share that until they are sure the unsuspecting women they work on to fall for them are in too deep to change course. These men hope the women will feel it is too late and that they are in too deep to say goodbye to such men. And many times, they have read their women correctly.
You are on the cusp of this. And it is not too late. BUT, dearest Chandra, it will be difficult. It will, in fact, probably be the most difficult thing you have done in your life. Dan made you feel safe and valued. In a world as tumultuous as ours is now, that is no small feat. If all you focused on is what you want, of course there is nothing you’d like more than to be with him forever. It is only when you also consider his current partner and son that you realize you must part.
Dearest Chandra, I suggest you see a therapist to help break the strong ties that bind you to Dan at the moment. You need not see her/him/they for a long time. Maybe a few sessions will be enough.
Your therapist can explore other possible reasons it may be even harder to break up with him, which may include but not be limited to:
- Subliminal messages that by 32, you better realize it may be too late to find a man. Happily, many women disagree with, realizing that no age is “too late” and many don’t want a man to begin with -and many don’t want a man anyway to start with.
- How wonderful Dan looks when compared to your former boyfriend. You may misconstrue Dan’s finally admitting he had a partner and a son as a far more courageous act than your previous boyfriend who didn’t have the guts to face you and instead merely ghosted you.
What your therapist can do is what Dr Viscott says every good therapist does: “…help patients to cope with what can’t be changed, accept their own limitations, and not to shrink from their own humanness” to which I might add: Accept your own limitation like not being able to say goodbye to Dan finally and definitively… UNTIL you finally can… which I hope and pray you know you can do. It’s only a question of when you can finally cut the ties that prolong this agony.
Perhaps you can get inspiration from what the character Sydney Carlton told himself in A Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.”
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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