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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
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.