I’m Falling in Love With A Woman Who Has a Long Distance Boyfriend. What Should I Do?

Evan,

A few months back, I met a woman online and we hit it off immediately via email. We met in person and found that there was definitely a lot of chemistry between us. We quickly became romantically involved, and things have been pretty amazing every since. There is one catch however… She has a long-term boyfriend who lives out of town whom she sees every other weekend or so.

I should mention at this point that I knew that she was involved with someone else from the get-go. She told me that she and her boyfriend have some significant relationship issues, which is why she decided to look for something else, but she doesn’t seem ready to take any specific action about it. The truth is that when we met, I was coming out of a 10+ year marriage, have primary custody of my two kids, and also have a very demanding work schedule. I had done my fair share of dating, but wasn’t really looking for a LTR. I was perfectly content keeping it casual and getting together when our schedules synced up. She seemed to be looking for basically the same thing. It seemed like a good match.

The more time we spent with each other, the stronger I felt about her. We’d spend all weekend together, talk on the phone for hours each night, and text each other periodically throughout the day. She’d even text me during the weekends when she was with her boyfriend.

My not-so-deep take on the world: People do what they want.

While the whole thing is complicated and a bit strange for me, I’m also a realist. I knew what I was getting myself into in the first place. I feel pretty strongly that her relationship with her boyfriend is her business. I would never ask her to make a choice between us, but to be honest, I would definitely date her exclusively if she were to end it with him.

Right now, I don’t really have the desire to see anyone else given how great our relationship is, but I wonder whether I should push myself to do so? We’ve talked about it in general terms, and she recognizes that the current situation is not fair, but she also expressed that she would feel somewhat jealous if I were to date other people. I certainly didn’t rule it out, but I told her I wasn’t seeing anyone else currently.

On the one hand, I’m incredibly happy when I’m with this woman, and from all indications, the feeling is mutual. Some days I feel like I should just look past the obvious complications and enjoy the amazing times we have together. The path of least resistance is to just keep things as they are, and avoid all of those lackluster first dates and issues that come with looking for someone new. Other days, though I wonder whether I’m making a mistake by focusing on her exclusively. I’m grateful for any advice you can give me.

Thanks,

Bill

Dear Bill,

My not-so-deep take on the world: People do what they want.

While we can come up with difficult machinations to explain human behavior – “He has a bad relationship with his mother… She has abandonment issues… He’s waiting to become more financially stable…” it usually comes back to the same principle.

People do what they want.

When a woman asks me, “Why would a guy act like he likes me if he doesn’t want to take me out again?”, or “Why do men act like they’re interested if they’re really not?“, my answer will be the same: Because he wants to. Because he likes you enough to flirt with you or sleep with you, but not enough to commit to you.

We can use this formula for pretty much any dilemma

Why doesn’t the fat guy start working out and cut his portions in half? Because he would rather suffer thru obesity than make the sacrifices necessary to lose weight.

Why doesn’t the woman leave the boyfriend who has dated her for 7 years without proposing? Because she’d rather stay in a dead-end relationship than break up to look for her future husband.

Basically, if someone is acting a certain way, it’s because, somewhere, deep down, they’d prefer to act that way than choose an alternative path.

Which brings us to you, Bill. You’re self-aware and you don’t want to put any blame on your girlfriend (Mistress? Lover? Mistake?) for having a boyfriend. All you want to know is what you should do now.

So I’m going to give you the best/worst advice that any advice columnist can possibly give you:

Do what you want.

Just know that “people do what they want” also means that your cheating girlfriend is doing exactly what SHE wants.

You already are, anyway.

See, you’re aware of the risks of falling in love with a woman who has a boyfriend. You know that your time with her may be enjoyable, but could amount to nothing in the future. And, if that’s a risk you’re willing to take – because you’d rather have 50% of her than nothing at all – then go on, keep seeing her.

Just know that “people do what they want” also means that your cheating girlfriend is doing exactly what SHE wants.

She’s having her cake and eating it, too. She gets to have the security of the long-term, long-distance boyfriend, and the attention and affection of her shorter-term fling, and she doesn’t have to give up anything in the process. So what’s her incentive to do anything different?

That’s right. There is none.

That’s why these affairs rarely end well. Not to mention the obvious red flags of dating someone who is, well, a cheater. Not a great track record for someone you want to be your full-time girlfriend, is it?

You know (and she knows) that if she wanted to be your full-time girlfriend, she could.

Yet, for whatever reasons, she chooses not to. She chooses to stay with her guy, despite their problems, and despite the fact that it breaks your heart to share her. She’s selfish, but no more than anyone else.

So your choices, Bill, are to stay, and get exactly what you’re getting now, or go, and look for a relationship that is building towards something else.

All I know is this: you’re probably going to do what you want. And so is she.

Good luck.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Karl R

    Unless her long-term boyfriend is also aware that she’s dating Bill, then she’s cheating on him (even if it’s just emotionally). Even if Bill gets an exclusive relationship with her, how can he trust that she won’t do the same thing if/when they have relationship problems in the future?

  2. 2
    elleajay

    Evan – your advice may be simple…maybe not even advice so much as an observation really…. but it is definately accurate – I can tell you that from my own life experience – i was THAT woman – not in a long distance relationship but as the one with a committed relationship (husband to be exact) a very lonely marriage and empty heart, looking to fill it with a love on the side – knowing deep down that regardless how great he or it was, i was never leaving my situation at home.. for a multitude of reasons, all basically coming down to: because i didnt want to. Or at least didnt want to bad enough. Its his choice to accept to live this way, or to not. And as long as he’s accepting what shes offering and continuing to stay with her, her situation wont change…its human nature and though people will argue this – most would have their cake and eat it too, at least until they got tired or it, bored of it, or realized how unfulfilling it is, until forced to ACT on a choice (by this i mean if he walked away and said to her “call me when your single” – and even then its taking a chance – she will call or she wont. He’d have to want to be exclusive with her – have conviction and want it badly enough -that he was willing to take the chance at not being with her at all.

  3. 3
    Steve

    Bill;

    There isn’t anybody you can’t get over and you can find someone else to light you up. It is just a question of time, effort and persistence.

    There is no reason to settle for being the guy someone else’s girlfriend is cheating on him with.

    Break up with her.

  4. 4
    casualencounters.com/blog

    My advice is to simply embrace the nature of what you have chosen. It’s only a mistake if you decide that it is. If you want something more, pursue that. If you don’t, chill with what you have.

    Evan’s advice/analysis here is solid, if a little on the bleakly-flavored side. I don’t think there’s anything to stop you being happy with your situation except for you. Generally, what’s to stop anyone being happy with whatever except for the voices in their head.

    I hope it works out for you, Bill. I also have a feeling it won’t. Take care.

  5. 5
    Zann

    Uncanny! I am in almost the exact same situation, except that both me and the other woman are out-of-towners.

    But, Evan, we don’t know that she’s a CHEATER, do we? Unless I missed something, it’s possible her long-distance guy does know about Bill. But I’m assuming the same advice applies, even if all parties are informed and consenting.

    “Do what you want” sounds so beautifully simple, but these situations are never that simple, at least for me. I may know what I want ultimately (for my man to be exclusive with me), but it’s easy to justify putting up with what is, being a little uncomfortable with it, in hopes of getting what I want, down the road. Am I delusional?

    The most important thing I got from Evan’s response is this: ..”That’s why these affairs usually don’t end well.” Because in my gut I know he’s right, and actually my gut was waiting for that confirmation all along. And I find that much more useful than “do what you want,” because for me, it’s just never that simple.

  6. 6
    Maria

    I realize that these situations happen to single people, but I have no experience with it. If I date someone I enjoy alot and it leads to a sexual realtionship, I respect it enough to not sleep with others. I give the man and the relationship a chance. I don’t do casual. I don’t think sex is casual. I don’t know how you rationalize it, or deal with it. Perhaps the reason you are falling for her is because you still find it challenging with the OTHER man still periodically in the picture. Maybe you have an issue with intimacy and commitment. Or, Maybe you don’t think you DESERVE a good one man woman.

  7. 7
    Julie McDonnell

    Excellent advice Steve
    You seem really level headed
    I’m envious of you
    I’m not good with relationships
    therefore I avoid them
    I know I have a history of just not doing well with
    them. But I really like how you look at it.
    Maybe I can learn to think more like you

  8. 8
    Julie

    To casualencounter.com/blog
    I find your answer interesting as well
    i can see steves answer and respect it
    i can also see your answer and have equal
    respect for it
    Both Approaches require a lot of self-confidence
    when it comes to relationships
    i can be an outgoing funny person on a more superficial level
    do you think a person be happy and not be in rltps?
    curious

  9. 9
    Julie

    Maria
    You have an Interesting answer to the dilemma stated
    You sound really strong and sure of yourself with
    regards to relationships!

  10. 10
    Julie

    Zann
    Do you think maybe Evan was trying to show Bill how peoples motives tend to work. And then maybe in this way Bill can learn how to proceed in a way that becomes in his own best interest?.

  11. 11
    hunter

    Almost seems as if Bill has a part-time lover. Isn’t that the perfect scenario for a busy man?…although he doesn’t say if the relationship is sexual, he mentions getting romantic.

  12. 12
    casualencounters.com/blog

    @Julie

    Sure, you need self-confidence to take my suggested approach; that simply comes from knowing who you are and what you want, which I’ll admit is easier said than done.

    I absolutely think someone can be happy alone, but it takes some uncommon personality traits. Ones that obviously I can tell you if you have or not.

    Virtually no one serious will disagree that humans are social animals.

    casualencounters.com/blog´s last blog post…Casual Encounters Web TV Show, Episode 6

  13. 13
    Selena

    Bill, sounds to me you have gone where many intrepid daters have gone before: The Booty Call You Came To Want More From.

    Great if it becomes mutual, but it seldom does.

    “All I know is this: you’re probably going to do what you want. And so is she.
    Good luck.” …Evan Marc Katz

    Brilliant in the simplicity.

    Sums it all up.

  14. 14
    thomas

    It could also be a possibility that she is playing head games, trying to get his attention. He is busy trying to juggle a number of things. I would day that it is a cry for attention. “If you will not give me attention, someone else will.” I have known a number of ladies that use this type of manipulation.

  15. 15
    hunter

    Selena, you are a genius, Bill has a booty call!…Bill must be a nice guy, any other man would just continue getting what he can.

  16. 16
    Cilla

    OK, this may sound a little mean, but am I the only woman who read this and thought, “Finally, a guy experiencing what women go through all the time!”?

    I know this happens on both sides of the fence, but given the basics of biology (oxytocin, etc.) that we all talk about here, it seems like most of the time it is a woman who is in Bill’s shoes. What does that say about Bill’s booty call/girlfriend and her ability to bond with more than one man, by the way? What happens to all that oxytocin-induced bonding when a woman is sleeping with more than one man? Does she bond with both? Does a woman who only gets pleasure from toys bond with her vibrator?

    All right, I’m kidding…sort of. I guess my point is we can blame biology and try to neatly compartmentalize all sorts of relationship issues, but in reality each one is different. Bill obviously sees enough of something in this woman that makes him not want to leave her and pursue other relationships. His girlfriend may not be playing games (and we don’t know if her other boyfriend is aware of the situation or not). She may simply like things about both men and not be able to choose between them.

    Bill, my advice to you would be: 1) ascertain whether the woman you’re seeing has advised her other boyfriend about her relationship with you–that will settle the cheating issue, if you haven’t already; and 2) keep seeing her, AS WELL AS other women, even if it’s just for a movie or a drink. You don’t have to have an either-or situation any more than she does. While the effort around those first dates is exhausting, force yourself to do it.

    My experience tells me it will help you on several levels. 1) You will feel like you are dating with the same ground rules. 2) You will get a break from thinking and possibly obsessing about your current girlfriend. 3) You will be in a better frame of mind to make a decision about the disposition of your relationship, because you will have better perspective about your dating options. 4) In very subtle ways, you will give off a different vibe to your current partner. If you are seeing other women, you will come across as more confident and less desperate to her.

    Just try it as an experiment. It’s the same advice I would give any woman who is dating a player. Expand your options, level the playing field, get perspective, and see where you both land. She may dump the other guy for you. You may dump her for someone else (or no one in particular). You may both continue the way you have been. But at least your decision to continue seeing her will be as fully informed as you can make it. Good luck!

  17. 17
    Who Needs Cupid

    Tell her how you feel and if it’s meant to be…it will. At least it’s in your advantage – long distance relationships are tough.

  18. 18
    casualencounters.com/blog

    Any other man WITHOUT A SOUL, maybe.

    casualencounters.com/blog´s last blog post…Casual Encounters Web TV Show, Episode 6

  19. 19
    Julie

    Really!!?!

  20. 20
    A-L

    Cilla, your post sounds like it could have been written by Rori Raye (the circular dating idea). Are you one of her followers?

  21. 21
    Selena

    Cilla,
    In his letter Bill states his booty call/girlfriend was having “some significant relationship issues, which is why she decided to look for something else”. I interpret that to mean she was shopping around before/instead of ending it with the other guy. Since she only saw the other guy every other weekend, she had some time to fill.

    Right or wrong? I guess that depends on how honest she is with the other guy. At least she was honest with Bill. I don’t know about bonding – from here it doesn’t sound she is particularly bonded to either one. And how does Bill know if she’s not still shopping around even with him on the side?

  22. 22
    Cilla

    A) Never heard of Rori Raye.

    B) Correct, no one knows if she has other guys in addition to Bill and the long distance BF. I suppose Bill should ask her that.

    C) I brought up the oxytocin/bonding thing because it seems to be the constant topic of conversation in Evan’s blog commentary and the reason so many women are told not to have sex outside of a committed relationship. It was an aside to illustrate a point that all relationships are unique, regardless of the hard and fast science we like to try to apply to dating. We really have no idea what Bill’s date’s level of bonding is to either guy, because we only have Bill’s perspective on the situation.

  23. 23
    starthrower68

    Awwwww Evan! Here I was, all set to do yet some more deep analysis on why we do what we do, and you stole my over analysis. We do what we want. I can’t argue with it, LOL!

  24. 24
    Selena

    I’m question the validity of the oxytocin/bonding theory. I’ve had some *relationships* that lasted anywhere from one to 12 weeks I ended because the I felt the guy wasn’t for me – mostly due to personality – even after having sex with them. Oxytocin didn’t bond me to them. Sometimes women sleep with men a time or two and just think “ugh”. Where is the oxytocin there?

    Now chemistry…might be a different story. Everyone seems to feel higher chemistry towards some people over others. And chemistry could be a sexual attraction/personality combo. You can feel intense chemistry for someone you’ve never slept with. So chemistry wouldn’t be the same thing as oxytocin correct?

    I think when women feel they’ve bonded with someone because they had sex with them – and the guy bails – it’s not because of oxytocin, it’s likely because of chemistry. They are still feeling it, and it’s a bummer when the other person does not.

  25. 25
    Cilla

    Selena,

    I completely agree with you. I think there is some oxytocin release going on for some women, but to apply that science blindly to all sexual encounters is ridiculous. That was my (apparently oblique) point in my comment LOL.

    I contend that the oxytocin theory is a nice excuse women use to avoid having sex or by people who don’t think sex should be indulged in outside of some sort of committed relationship. It’s another way people try to apply scientific data to something that can’t always be scientific, another way to try to bring rules into dating.

  26. 26
    A-L

    I don’t have the time right now to find all of the links on this subject, but from what I’ve read oxytocin is produced via orgasms in women. I would imagine that if the sex is only so-so, then no orgasm (for her) is produced, therefore there is no massive release of oxytocin. As to the OP’s girl and what’s going on with her…I have no idea.

  27. 27
    Selena

    A-L,
    Well, I’ve had orgasms with men I wouldn’t want to run into these days, but there may be something to that theory. In hindsight, I’ve sometimes felt I stayed in relationships passed their expiration date possibly because the sex was good even when other things were not.

    Also, having some lackluster sexual experiences (in a row?!) can make you appreciate how good you had it with a particular partner.

  28. 28
    Selena

    Cilla re: #25,

    See, I contend the oxytocin theory is rather a way for women to *Sometimes* make excuses for not taking responsibility for their own sexual choices and attempting to make men accountable for them instead.

    How well do you actually know someone after spending 3, 9, 15, 21 hours with them? If you choose to have sex with someone you’ve spent less than half the time you spent on your job in a week, why do you think you should be “owed” something in return from them? Seriously.

    If you want to have sex on the first date, or the third, or the fifth – who cares? But if you find yourself hurt and disappointed because you did…Maybe?…you should spend more time getting to know the person, more hours, more talking, before that kind of intimacy. Old fashioned idea? I guess.

    Just one I like , because it involves personal accountability rather than trying to twist “science” to pass the blame off yourself and possibly someone else.

  29. 29
    Cilla

    My point was not to hijack this thread with a discussion of oxytocin chemistry. As I said before, I used it as an example of how difficult it is to quantify and make relationships scientific. Wish I had never mentioned it…

  30. 30
    hunter

    …..and to add to that, women over 50 no longer get oxytocin bonded….from then on they can decide, if they want to stay or leave.

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