Dear Dr. Hedda:
I’ve been seeing a married man now for three years. We get together once a month, sometimes over night, sometimes not. We don’t go out to shows, take long walks or eat out with friends. This has been our secret all this time. I have told him many, many times if it ever comes to choosing between me and his wife he should pick her.
Our relationship is 80% sexual and 20% mutual interests. I like him a lot, enjoy his company and I love the sex. But occasionally guilt rears it’s ugly head and I think about ending the relationship.
In some ways I think of myself as an unpaid hooker who has a regular John but doesn’t get paid. Once he brought me flowers and frequently we do go out for dinner.
But this is not a love relationship. I don’t want more from him. I certainly do not want him to leave his wife of 30 some odd years. He is only allowed to call me 3 times a month and he can on rare occasions send me an email. I think I would go crazy seeing him more often.
A few weeks ago, for the first time, I told a close friend about this relationship. And her response startled me. I expected to be read the riot act. Called all sorts of names and maybe even end the friendship.
The response I did get was “What a way to go girl”, “this is what men have been doing to woman for thousands of years”.
And suddenly I felt good about the relationship (if you can call it that).
I date other men. Have had a few long term relationships but no one I wanted to make a comittement to.
I have a very good career, get paid well and live comfortably. I don’t need a man to take care of me what I want is occasional companionship. Between my steady once a monther and the men I more openly date I think I’m fine.
Am I fooling myself ? Do I really have a fear a committment? Am I a bad person for being some woman’s “other woman”.
I’ve been feeling confused, not sure whether to continue my “Cheating” relationship or not.
The other men I date are nice people. I could easily choose one and pursue it to a real committed relationship. But I’m not sure if I want to. I kind of like to slightly sinful aspect of this affair.
My friend said the only negatives she saw is: I’ll be alone in my old age, I’ll never have children, I’ll be a pitied old maid or even worse his wife will find out and make my life and his miserable.
Cheating in style
Dear In Style:
This is a complex issue. There is the issue of old values verses new ones. And what values you hold most dear.
Cheating is always cheating and the odds of someone getting hurt is high. You’ve had a good three year run with this guy and you say you like him a lot. Is this the kind of man you really want in your life. A man the lies and cheats on his wife. Do you really think this is the best you can do and no one will get hurt ?
The new rules now include the option (without stigma) of not marrying. Being a serial monogamous person is now acceptable. Dating more than one person at a time is acceptable, having a relationship that is more sex based than anything else is acceptable.
The problem I see is that you are not happy with your life. You are afraid to reveal your secrets to anyone and you are very afraid of rejection so that you reject them first or put them in a controllable role in your life.
This is really not a moral issue, it’s more of a psychological issue. You need to feel more in control of your life, not fear changes, not take the easy road each and every time. The only person getting cheated is you.
Should you end this three year sexual relationship. I think so. It’s holding you back by keeping you in place. You’re getting you basic sexual needs met so you are more casual with other men. You need to explore life as an adult without a steady lay. Shake it up and see how your new life falls. You may wind up alone and horny or in love with some perfectly nice new man.
Who knows for sure. What I do know is that this affair is not really doing you any good. And even though you believe only three people know (you, him and your friend) everyone knows.
Face it, deal with it and get on with a life that is less fearful of rejection and more open to change.