I Am In Love With a Man Who Wants Me To Stay With Him While He Dates Another Woman.

couple in martini bar, girl annoyed due to boyfriend taking on his phone

Dear Evan,

I guarantee my question has never been asked before.

I threw myself into my career for 25 years and didn’t date until I was 48 when I met a wonderful man that I fell deeply in love with. We had a wonderful 2 ½ year committed relationship and then he cheated on me. I found out because the woman kept calling the house at all hours of the day and night. When I found out, I was crushed and walked out the door.

He begged me to stay and told me he wanted to see both of us. I waited so long to meet him I couldn’t give him up. I had made a lot of mistakes in the relationship having never dated before. I love him so much. We have been in this love triangle for 7 months now.

He keeps her a secret from family and friends, and has sex with both of us. I continue to entertain, and am having his family for the holidays. He does spend more time with her now than with me. She has taken over most domestic duties for him that I used to do but does not live with him, nor do I. He claims he wants me to focus on my small business that is causing me financial problems.

My support group says that he views me as a friend now and has moved on with her. I would start to believe my friends, except that if he really loved her, why has he kept her a secret for so long? I have tried to leave him 5 times, including writing him a letter telling him I can’t do this, and he has begged me not to give up on us yet.

We were having relationship issues, and he was vulnerable. The woman is extremely manipulative – she totally stroked his ego among other things. Still, I know he is to blame for his choices.

Is there hope for us to be back to just the two of us again? I hate what he did to us, but love how he treated me for those 2 1/2 years.

Thank you,


You need a few gallons of self-esteem.

Dear Terri,

I don’t know how much I have to say that isn’t plainly obvious to everyone but you.

So I’ll say it succinctly and without judgment.

No. There is no hope for the two of you.

You need to leave the relationship.

You need to let go of him.

You need to get therapy.

You need a serious reality check.

You need a few gallons of self-esteem.

I acknowledge that it’s much easier to say this than it is for it is for you to live it, but the first step is in taking stock of your own decision-making. And, to an objective observer, you’ve put yourself in one unusual position.

What’s particularly unusual about it is how deeply in denial you are about what’s going on. Now, denial is not unusual among women — if it were, He’s Just Not That Into You wouldn’t have made a blip on the radar. But given that most people indulge themselves in some sort of wishful thinking, your refusal to look at the facts of this situation is staggering.

Here they are, restated to you from another point of view. It may be hard to hear, but, well, I don’t know how else to do it:

Your boyfriend was cheating on you. He may have been cheating on you for 2  ½ years, but you didn’t find out until one of the women spoke up and ratted him out. Paging Tiger Woods.

Naturally, he begged you to stay. He wouldn’t want to lose anyone as blindly devoted as you. You bought this, as if this was a sign of his love for you. Nope. It was just a sign of his selfishness, and your cluelessness about his real intentions: to have his cake and eat it, too.

He may have been cheating on you for 2  ½ years, but you didn’t find out until one of the women spoke up and ratted him out. Paging Tiger Woods.

Your “love triangle” as you call it is really about as close to bigamy as it gets. Except your boyfriend is smarter than the average Mormon. He didn’t have to marry either of you! He gets to set the terms of both relationships and see you both when he wants. She has “taken over domestic duties?” You entertain him for the holidays? You both sleep with him? This guy must be charismatic enough to be a cult leader.

Somehow, Terri, you’ve remained willfully blind to the fact that any man who would cheat on you behind your back, ask you to accept it to your face, and keep you as his booty call for 7 months after finding a new girlfriend… is probably not the best choice of partners for you.

And that’s to put it mildly.

He’s kept her a secret because everyone he knows will think he’s a scumbag for doing what he’s doing. Everyone, apparently, except you.

At this point, my dear, your predicament is no longer your boyfriend’s fault, nor is it the “manipulative” other woman’s fault. It’s entirely, 100%, no-questions-asked YOUR fault.

This insanity will only end when you have the courage to walk away.

Otherwise, your amazing boyfriend will continue to be the property of someone else — namely, his girlfriend.

Please take care of yourself and ditch this loser today.

Join our conversation (64 Comments).
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  1. 21

    Reading this made my heart hurt as your situation hits home.

    I totally agree with #16 Kenley. He’s keeping you around for purely selfish reasons. I, too, was very flattered when he kept coming back to me thinking that he had feelings for me, but yet he continued to date other women. This on & off relationship went on for 1 1/2 years. I had a guy friend put it plainly to me and saying that the guy just wanted a full roster.

    There comes a time, when enough is enough and believe me, I KNOW it’s easier said then done. Just do it. You will feel so much better leaving him and this drama behind you.

  2. 22

    That’s a good scam he has going. He isn’t even lying to her and she’s going along. wonder how that works. personally i couldnt do it, but i just wonder how he does it.

    1. 22.1
      Jennifer Knight

      Man I was with was beyond good at it. I have been conned before by someone and believed I could see if it happened again.
      This guy has been working on these skills for years, he’s 53.
      Never would I have thought he was lying. He was! He was seemingly vulnerable and yes I pushed him away often, yet for him to go to someone else and wanting us both, was just plain sad.

  3. 23

    This is far from a story that hasn’t been told before. Something like this (or worse) happens every time a woman with low self-esteem meets a guy who knows how to manipulate.
    This is psychological abuse. He may be able to spend hours justifying his actions and fake-apologizing, but in reality he cares about no one but himself. He knows Terri feels like she may not be able to find another guy (which is ridiculous) and he knows that by planting a strategic “I love you” or “we have something special” he can get away with a vast quantity of garbage.
    And it isn’t the other woman’s fault at all. Of course he blames her for putting him in some kind of mojo spell. Of course he has half a mind to leave her at any moment. Standard Operating Procedure.
    Run, Terri. Run fast. Take comfort in your friends. No man at all is a better option than a man who abuses your insecurities, your emotions and your trust. It’s abuse.

  4. 24

    Oy Vay. In my (humble) opinion, Evan was actually too easy on her….. Cut the cord Terry. He’s treating you like dirt because your letting him.

  5. 25

    I do agree with Evan’s remarks – right on target. We women tend to be so blind when it comes to relationships. It is a red flag when you start to question the dynamics of the relationships and close friends are telling you what you don’t want/refuse to hear. There are so many good men out there. Don’t waste your time on someone who will only bring you down.

    P.S. Mormons are NOT bigamists/polygamists. They are often confused with Fundamentalists who are polygamists.

  6. 26
    A Reader

    Terri is being played. The guy is a jerk. But I have to disagree with Evan that this other woman is his girlfriend. I don’t care why he’s keeping her secret, the fact is, he IS keeping her secret and has been for months. I don’t think she’s getting such a great deal either.
    I hope I am never so desperate that I put up with nonsense like this just to say I “have a man.” Ain’t no man worth all this. None.

  7. 27

    I suspect your need to believe you are loved, is causing you to ignore pretty much every warning sign ever given to you. As such, you may want to take the advice Evan has given you and submit yourself to some therapy. Not for your relationship but for you.

    The fact that you write this letter, is an awesome step in the right direction. There is a problem, you know it and hopefully you will at least slowly start to extricate yourself from this situation.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, we all make mistakes and it can actually take some time to learn to believe in yourself enough to walk away.

    As a woman that has actually been in that same situation(almost), I understand that walking away is extremely difficult. So rather than walk away immediately, take small steps to become more independant. Start refusing to see him when he wishes, and make other plans. Start telling yourself you deserve more and behave as though you do, even if you don’t feel it in your heart.

    Slowly as you do the things that are better for you, you will feel better about yourself and hopefully will eventually find the strength to walk away.

    I can’t tell you what you want to hear and you won’t change this man. So recognize what other’s are saying to you, as they probably have your best interests at heart. Women can be very emotionally vulnerable, and it’s a shame so many of us have had to “toughen” up as a result of people that have taken advantage of us. Just try one step at a time to improve your own life and view of yourself. You will leave when you are ready.

    And yes, you will be strong enough to handle it 🙂

  8. 28

    Oh god. This is so painful to read because I’ve been in your shoes before (in college), Terri, and understand exactly the struggles you’re going through.

    You’re thinking that having someone is better than having no one at all. You’re thinking how lonely you’ll be without a man who occasionally gives you affection. You know that if you left, you would have some painful nights alone, crying and regretting everything. You know that even if you break things off completely, you’ll be tempted to contact him again, begging to come back.

    What can we say to give you faith that if you break things off completely, it WILL get better despite the initial pain? You will fill your life in affirming and wonderful ways. You will make friends if you want, pursue hobbies if you want, even enjoy your time alone in your home. After a few weeks (or even less) alone, you will wonder how the he** you ever put up with him in the first place. You will be angry, but you will be so relieved to be free.

    You can have a wonderful life, Terri, if you have the courage to cut him off completely. It will be much better than what you have now, I guarantee it. You WILL be happier in the end.

  9. 29

    There’s nothing wrong with not dating, but it sounds like Terri needs to find out what self-esteem issues kept her from dating until she was 48. Unfortunately, the first guy she chose is not a winner. The relationship may have been wonderful for over 2 years, but that’s exactly at the point where things would be most likely to lead to marriage, and it was at this point that her boyfriend bailed.

    His new girlfriend may be a secret for now, but eventually she won’t be, and Terri will likely be out of the picture. He is in the process of phasing Terri out once he makes sure that the new relationship can last and he can go public without looking like a total sh-t.

    This man might seem extra-special because she waited so long to meet him, but he is not. Just because she’s older and had little dating experience is no reason to settle for such an insensitive jerk. Move on.

  10. 30

    I also want to say that manipulative men are the worst! They are masters of knowing just what to say and do to keep a woman hooked. But you’ve got to look at their actions, not their words, since they will always tell you what they think you want to hear.

    1. 30.1

      I know I’m going to sound harsh but I think we forget that we are responsible for every situation we are in. Period. Men can be manipulative yes. Women can be manipulative yes. The issue here is the OP is allowing this behavior and there is no one else to blame. Therapy is needed. It’s not impossible to build a self esteem at age 48. Do it! You deserve it!

  11. 31

    It seems like dating a guy like this is a rite of passage for every woman new to dating, as so many of us can attest. Meeting and throwing over your first manipulative a-hole is the beginning of your education in the world of romantic relationships!

    But I say to lay all the bad stuff at his feet: He’s the one who is doomed to a life of deception and chaotic emotions. (Why would anyone choose THAT and what self-esteem issues cause THAT kind of useless behavior?)

    But he didn’t write in. Our letter-writer is in much better shape than he is, and now that she’s lost her naivete she is ready to go on to bigger and better things. My suggestion is that you get into how satisfying it is to dump someone like this. More good news: You usually get to reject guys like this repeatedly because they keep coming back, trying something new.

    Yes, it can be fun to dump a rotten person, and the calmer you are when you do it the better the fun. No tears, no self-recrimination, no compromising–just a closed door.

    So very, very satisfying.

  12. 32

    No, need to comment on this one. You say it so well!!

  13. 33

    What Evan said x2

    And no, you didn’t meet “a wonderful man,” you met someone who means you harm.

  14. 34
    Xander Kisses

    My suggestion is that you get into how satisfying it is to dump someone like this.

  15. 35
    Dot LeSage

    Terri! You poor thing. This guy really has you in knots. On my site we do a date or dump poll and this guy is DEFINITELY a dump. Tell him it’s only you or not you at all. If he really loves you he’ll stop seeing this other woman. If he won’t leave her then you HAVE to leave him.
    Good luck Terri!

  16. 36

    I just keep shaking my head at the “she’s taken over most domestic duties” line.
    Like its some honorary rite of passage or privilege that she no longer gets to wash his dirty underwear???? WTF????
    We can only feel sorry for her to a certain extent if that is her mentality.

  17. 37
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach

    I applaud your honesty Evan! You put it out there in black and white. You didn’t sugar coat anything – you made it blatantly clear so there can be no misunderstanding. That was brave and well done from one dating coach to another. I hope Terri can take in this advice and move forward in her life with some newly found self-esteem.

  18. 39

    “While no discipline seems pleasant for the moment, in time it yields the peacable fruit of righteousness”. Sometimes the right thing to do is the thing we don’t want to do and we listen to our emotions. The pain of leaving this situation is much greater than the pain of staying in it is and will be. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

  19. 40

    When a guy begged me to stay I was flattered too until I realized what was really going on. He didn’t want me to stay so that he could love me. He wanted me to stay so that I would continue to love him.

    Wow, this is deep. I never had this situation happen to me, but this should be, like, tattooed in every woman’s brain – it’s so profound and true.

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