Should I Stay with a Married Man Who Still Lives With His Wife?

Should I Stay with a Married Man Who Still Lives With His Wife?
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I met a man online, we had an immediate connection, chemistry, romance, physical connection. My first date after 8 years of break after marriage (emotionally abusive marriage). However, he is still married on paper. They live together for the kids but in separate rooms. He was broken by her cheating. He has told me he sees us together in the future. But recently also shared he was thinking of long-term dating, scared to combine homes etc. I am feeling like I may need to move on but I don’t want to do something that I should be trying to work through. Do I listen to my gut and just know that I can do better!! My heart is open and ready for love and learning. I have put my past behind and I am ready for fun and happiness in my life. Is it time to let go of this? Thank you!!!

Amy

There are a few primal drivers in our life, Amy: to seek pleasure and to avoid pain.

Why do women stay with men who aren’t making them happy? To avoid pain.

Why do women leave men who aren’t making them happy? To seek pleasure.

The end of your letter tells me you’re ready to seek pleasure, and, from my experience, listening to your gut is rarely a bad idea, Amy.

The gut tells us what the brain and heart won’t: “I don’t feel safe here. Something is off here. I don’t think I can be myself here.”

I sum that all up into a neat quote: Believe the negatives, ignore the positives.

Of course, you’re going to have chemistry, romance, physical connection with a guy – that’s exactly what STARTS pretty much every relationship.

Well, dating a “broken” married man sounds, to me, like the opposite of fun and happiness.

But you’re playing the long game here – trying to find a lifetime partner, presumably – and your decision-making criteria has to change when you’re considering a future.

I think of a former Love U student named Kelly. Late 40’s, never been married, a long history of accepting poor treatment from men.

Finally, through coaching, Kelly sees the light and finds a guy who is smart and kind and funny and interested and treats her right. That’s the positives.

The negatives? Her boyfriend had a kidney disease and was missing a kidney. Because of complications from his disease, he had the bottom of one leg amputated. Because of his health issues, he was depressed and suffered from erectile dysfunction.

Eight months in, Kelly was starting to feel guilty – she appreciated that he was a kind man who was treating her well, but she didn’t have the “normal” love life she sought – one filled with fun, travel and sex.

When she turned to me for private counsel, I’m sure she was expecting me to tell her something about character and communication and valuing how well he treats her.

Instead, I said this:

“Kelly, I promise you that you can find another man who treats you well that has two kidneys, two legs and a working dick.”

I meant it. She can feel bad for him. I can feel bad for him. But that’s not a reason to stay in a relationship, especially if the relationship isn’t making her happy.

So, I say to you, “Amy, I promise you that you can find another man who treats you well that is not married, living with his wife, and not scared of intimacy.”

You claim to want fun and happiness.

Well, dating a “broken” married man sounds, to me, like the opposite of fun and happiness.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Selena

    From the letter: ” They live together for the kids but in separate rooms.”

    How long do they plan to live together for kids? Till they reach a certain age? Leave the nest? Have they even talked about it?

    Depending on the ages of kids they could maintain this living arrangement for quite some time.

    “My heart is open and ready for love and learning. I have put my past behind and I am ready for fun and happiness in my life. Is it time to let go of this? ”

    Yes. And you can find someone as ready as you are. Man living with his wife for the sake of the kids isn’t there yet.

  2. 2
    KK

    Amy,

    Have you met his wife? If so, did she confirm their marriage of convenience?

    If not, I highly doubt he is telling you the truth; and if by chance it is true, why would you put yourself in this position in the first place?

    Ladies, love yourselves first BEFORE getting into a relationship.

    1. 2.1
      Emily, to

      KK,
      “Have you met his wife? If so, did she confirm their marriage of convenience?”
      Yeah, I agree. Something tells me they are not sleeping in separate rooms and that the wife would be surprised to learn they are just “together for the kids.” I’ve heard men use that “we’re in separate bedrooms” excuse before for the reason they are still living in the marital home and it always sounds like complete malarkey.

      1. 2.1.1
        Marika

        Nah, I disagree. When you break up and you have kids, you don’t magically have enough money overnight to finance two households, and you don’t want to completely disrupt the kids’ lives, even if the relationship is completely over for the adults. Which it probably is if she cheated.

        That being said, how long since the cheating/separation? How old are the kids? Lots of unanswered questions. I’m not saying he’s a good boyfriend prospect, but the financial realities of life are such that this is not necessarily a lie. He’s obviously also openly internet dating, so I would give him the benefit of the doubt in that respect.

        1. Lynx

          Yes, agree. When I first separated we lived in the same house for 9 months, each of us alternating living there 2 weeks on / 2 weeks off until I found a new home.

          I would think the bad boyfriend issue s more the newness of his separation. While many of us do jump straight from one long-term relationship into the next, it’s often not the halthiest move.

        2. Lynx

          Geez…what’s up wth my spelling this morning? “s”? “halthiest”?

          Sloppy writing is not the fish.

        3. Emily, to

          Marika,
          “I’m not saying he’s a good boyfriend prospect, but the financial realities of life are such that this is not necessarily a lie. He’s obviously also openly internet dating, so I would give him the benefit of the doubt in that respect.”
          He’s a horrible prospect. He shouldn’t be dating. Even if it is true that they are separated, they live together and still are too entwined in each others’ lives. He probably won’t be able to go through the divorce grieving process until he is out of the house and on his own. Why would any woman want to sign up for that? It’s too messy.

        4. Sandra

          Sorry, but for the man in this scenario, it is the classic wanting his cake and eating it, too.
          The OP has nothing to gain from this. Too bad if he is unhappy. His choice to stay, so he has to live with the sacrifices.
          Whether someone should or should not stay because of the kids or financial is a personal decision, but why would any woman want to fulfill his his desire for intimacy when he offers nothing in return.

        5. Marika

          Note to self: spell hulthaest with any vowels you like 😉

        6. Jeremy

          Lol Marika and lynx. I just realized that I got autocorrected from medicine to “medecine” in another post. Can wr all just agree that we all know what we meant? 🙂

        7. Meriku

          Jarami, Linx

          My vote is, puck your favourite vuwel and use thet.
          (Any kiwis reading…? 😉

          Ef by ‘agree we know we meant’, Jurema, you mean ‘not hilariously make fun of each other’, then my enswer is a bag fit NA!

        8. Lynx

          Hih huh hoh, Meruky. Fonny.

          Tangentially, have you ever read Ladle Rat Rotten Hut? If not, search for it.

      2. 2.1.2
        Clare

        The more I think about it, the more I wonder why any woman in her right mind would get involved with a man still living with his wife. How much perfume do you have to pour on the bull before it smells like roses?

        Even if we assume separate bedrooms and a purely “convenient” living arrangement between him and his wife, how on earth are you, as the incumbent girlfriend, going to persuade him to move out? If he is perfectly happy to start dating again while still living with his wife, presumably he will be perfectly happy to continue dating while still living with his wife for an indefinite period of time. The man never has to be lonely or go without any kind of domestic comfort. He has his kids and doesn’t have to pay child support or alimony.

        What possible incentive would there be for him to change things? The only incentive I can think of would be that emotionally healthy women with good self-esteem would run a mile from him, which brings me full circle to my original point.

    2. 2.2
      Clare

      For interest’s sake, I actually briefly dated a guy exactly like the one the OP has described.

      Separated a couple of months, lived in separate rooms but still in the same house as his wife for financial reasons and so he could be near his kids.

      In this case, the guy was not lying. The marriage was over and they were divorcing, and she knew that he was dating. However, this situation was a bad idea for so many reasons:

      * If all parties have absolute maturity and integrity, then there need not necessarily be lying, but I think far too often there is a lot of dishonesty. In my case, the guy admitted that he had slept with his wife a month or so before meeting me. How was I to know it would not happen again? And would he even feel any guilt? They were married and had kids together, after all.

      * The bit about staying together for the kids and for financial reasons – To be honest, if you are determined to move out and start again, you can. It does not have to be fancy or expensive. I think a lot of the time it boils down to not wanting to give up the lifestyle, rather than not being able to afford to move out. And I don’t think it’s better for the kids. In the case of the guy I was dating, he and his wife fought constantly. How can it be good for the kids to be around that? If you ask the kids what they want in that situation, most will make peace with mom and dad splitting up just so the fighting will stop. (I was one of those kids growing up.) I personally think that in these situations, the husband and wife stay in the same house for selfish reasons.

      * People who are separated, recently divorced or, you know, still LIVING with their spouse are not in any way, shape or form emotionally ready to have a relationship with someone new. It takes a good year or two of being on their own to heal from the ending of a marriage, and particularly if it was something as hurtful as cheating. A man in the OP’s situation who is seeking someone to date is doing it purely to soothe his own hurt and pain, to distract himself, fill a void and probably to get back at his wife. This will end in tears. I’d bet all the money I have on it.

      1. 2.2.1
        Selena

        Clare: ” I think a lot of the time it boils down to not wanting to give up the lifestyle, rather than not being able to afford to move out.”

        I think so too. I think sometimes a couple drift into leading separate lives. They become accustomed to the lack of physical and emotional intimacy, but the lifestyle isn’t uncomfortable enough to make a drastic change like moving out and starting over. Doesn’t have to be about kids or finances.

        1. Paula

          I live in the SF Bay Area; based on anecdotal observations I believe this dynamic is widespread here because of the incredibly high cost of living. And it really shows (not in a good way) in the dating pool.

        2. Marika

          Agree, Paula, anyone who lives in a crazy expensive city would believe this guy’s living situation is legit. That being said, don’t start picking out your China patterns, but no need to call the dude a liar.

        3. Clare

          Mureko,

          “anyone who lives in a crazy expensive city would believe this guy’s living situation is legit. That being said, don’t start picking out your China patterns, but no need to call the dude a liar.”

          I don’t think the guy is necessarily lying. In the case of the guy I dated briefly, he *genuinely* was divorcing his wife and definitely a large part of the reason they were living in the same house was financial. So I think it can be true.

          But my point was, I think this is one of those situations where there are shades of truth. Can he truly not afford to move out *at all*, or does he just not want to take a significant knock down in terms of lifestyle? Anyone can understand someone not wanting to move out of a three bedroom house with a garden into a poky studio apartment at the end of someone’s driveway, or to go from having home-cooked meals to eating two minute noodles and spam, but does that truly mean he can’t afford to move out?

          I was just saying there’s a difference between “cannot afford to move out. full stop” and “cannot afford to move out without a significant drop in lifestyle.”

        4. Marika all the right vowels

          Maybe, Clare. My experience of people divorcing (maybe your parents aside) is they tend to be wrecked with guilt and anxiety over their children, and want to minimize any disruption to their children’s lives, financially, practically and emotionally. Rightly or wrongly, however misguided. They still have ‘adult needs’ though.

          I also think on this blog we can get a little gossipy. Ohhh, maybe he’s lying! Maybe he’s living a double life!! A spy? Maybe he’s actually from the planet No Vowels….yeah, there’s no need to introduce added dimensions of weirdness and intrigue which is not coming from the OP’s description, but our own imagination. IMO.

        5. Mrs Happy

          “..no need to introduce added dimensions of weirdness and intrigue which is not coming from the OP’s description, but our own imagination.” (M with the vowels)

          Au contraire, mon cheri – what happens inside the commenters’ minds is the best thing about these comments sections. Imagination is il pesce.

        6. Màrikà

          Haha, good point Mrs H!! I just like being generally silly in an off-topic way myself. ..

          I’m just imagining being the OP and reading some of these comments, thinking ‘omg, I wasn’t even worried about THAT…but now I am..’ 😉

          Someone’s feeling very French on this warm ‘winter’s’ Thursday afternoon. Champagne at yours after work?

      2. 2.2.2
        Emily, to

        Clare,
        “A man in the OP’s situation who is seeking someone to date is doing it purely to soothe his own hurt and pain, to distract himself, fill a void and probably to get back at his wife. This will end in tears. I’d bet all the money I have on it.”
        ITA. He’s not ready and not capable of seeing the OP as something other than someone to service his needs. He may not know that, but he’s just not there yet.
        “It takes a good year or two of being on their own to heal from the ending of a marriage, ”
        But how many men do this?

        1. Selena

          “It takes a good year or two of being on their own to heal from the ending of a marriage, ”
          But how many men do this?

          How many men don’t leave an existing relationship until they have established another one to slide right into?

        2. Emily, to

          Hi Selena,
          “How many men don’t leave an existing relationship until they have established another one to slide right into?”
          I didn’t mean so much that as how many take the time to heal from a previous relationship before diving into something else? As Steve Harvey says, “Men don’t do ‘me time.'”

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily

          “But how many men do this?”

          Very few!

          That being said, the length of time that it takes to heal from a divorce is multi-factored. Plus, we have to factor in the reality that majority of men are incapable of processing sorrow due to the way that men are socialized, at least here in the United States. Barring infidelity, more men than not hit the ground running after they separate from their spouses. Why? Because men do not receive the kind of emotional support from their male friends that women receive from their female friends after a failed marriage. A common male-to-male response is “stop your belly aching and go get laid,” which appears to be the cure-all for men. Now, an unfaithful wife is an entirely different story. Most of the men I know who divorced cheating spouses lost their edge for a long time, one has remained celibate for over twenty years. A well-known relationship-oriented author wrote that while infidelity is an attack on a woman’s dignity, it is an attack on a man’s manhood. I know that that claim is not universally true, but it holds more often than not.

          One thing that does not sit well with me is married people who reside in the same home referring to themselves as “separated.” That arrangement does not meet the legal definition of “separated” in my state. What these people technically have is an open marriage. As Clare mentioned, they remain together because they do not want to live a diminished lifestyle. If a couple is remaining together for their children, then they should remain celibate until they truly separate for the purpose of divorce. Nothing is more damaging to a child than discovering that his/her parent is/was in a intimate relationship with someone other than his/her other parent while they are/were still married. That kind of stuff does not remain a secret forever and it leaves a lasting scar if it is discovered before a child is emotionally mature enough to handle it.

        4. Emily, to

          YAG,
          “More men than not hit the ground running after they separate from their spouses.”
          I just don’t understand that. Even if it’s a bad marriage, it should take some time to process a separation and divorce. Unless the man in question isn’t capable of deep attachment. Another person is just there to fulfill his needs, and now he must immediately find another need-filler.
          “Why? Because men do not receive the kind of emotional support from their male friends that women receive from their female friends after a failed marriage. ”
          Well, you have sisters. Female friends. There are other ways for men to get support aside from sex and using another person as a human band-aid when the man is clearly not yet ready to date.
          But some women hit the ground running, too. I had a female friend trying to get out of a 20-year marriage. She had a jump-off lined up (she wasn’t physically cheating but had definitely developed a way too friendly friendship with him, which IMO is just as bad). He didn’t step up, and THE WEEK she left her husband and moved out, she was on match.com. And there was even a short period in which she was still talking to the estranged husband as a backup. The husband moved another woman into the former marital home within 4 months, so he was no different.

        5. Marika

          Emeleeee

          Lots of reasons. They’ve gone without sex for years and are horny AF. They’ve gone without validation for years and need that. They liked marriage, it just didn’t work with that person, so they are trying to find that one who does feel all wonderful to slip in as new partner. None of this is rational, but how many of us are rational in our approach to relationships (other than Big J)?? Also, who actually wants to sit, alone, processing their pain?

          I have a brother who went through a horrible divorce. The only reason he even mentioned it at all was because by the time I got divorced he was still trying to get her to agree on the settlement. So we sort of bonded over pain. He told me his ex, the kids got counselling. He was the only one who didn’t. The only thing that made him feel better was finding a woman who wanted him for him.

          Not justifying any of this. Just saying, as someone who has gone through a divorce, seen my brother go through it, worked with families going through it…I get it. I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow over pretty much anything someone did post-divorce. Pink hair? Cool. Threesomes? Yep, seems fair. Remarried in a year – happened to one of my friends with her Dad. Sad, but true. Big plans to move/join the seminary/travel/buy a llama, cool cool. Some of it ends up happening, some not.

        6. Mrs Happy

          Emily to, regarding “Well, you have sisters. Female friends. There are other ways for men to get support aside from sex…”

          I think some men put all their emotional eggs in one basket (their wife’s) and never really develop the skills to have emotionally-enriching relationships with other females. They conflate close emotional connection with sex. After years of doing this, it’s hard to break the habit.

          It’s understandable that for such men, when the wife has gone, they don’t have a network of supportive relationships (given their male friends don’t offer decent support), and, floundering, they decide the easiest way to get emotional connection is re-partner up. Since they are yearning and hurting, they re-partner fast.

          To be fair it’s not always only the man’s fault he has few close friends. Male-male friendships are often competitive or practical, and male friends don’t tend to prioritise being terribly supportive (I’m talking averages here) or seem to make men feel that good. Married men usually work full-time, and after you add time for the home, wife, kids, a bit of exercise, and commuting 10 times a week, free time can be very short, so it’s easy for friendships to slide. Also, some wives aren’t comfortable with their husband having female friends, and if a wife says, you can’t have female friends, and the man’s male friends are hopeless w.r.t. any real connection, it’s easy for the man to end up pretty friendless.

        7. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “I think some men put all their emotional eggs in one basket (their wife’s) and never really develop the skills to have emotionally-enriching relationships with other females. They conflate close emotional connection with sex. After years of doing this, it’s hard to break the habit.”
          I remember YAG saying he has female friends he has no interest in sexually so I think it is possible but probably not the norm. Or would a man suddenly develop sexual interest in a female friend after a divorce?
          I think we’ve discussed this topic on other posts, but I don’t want to be someone’s sole emotional support.
          Mariks,
          “The only thing that made him feel better was finding a woman who wanted him for him.”
          Am I right in remembering your brother married this woman? But as a general rule, (and this is just my opinion) I try to stay away from getting too much … what? validation, for lack of a better word … from a relationship until you know it’s going to be permanent, given the fleeting and short-lived nature of most relationships.

        8. Emily, to

          Mariks and Mrs. Happy,
          I was thinking more about what you said about men needing emotional support from women, but what about young guys (early to mid-20s)? They usually don’t want a relationship. Their friends are usually more available to hang out with at that age but you said male friends don’t provide emotional support. So who are they getting it from? Their mother? (no sarcasm intended)

        9. Yet Another Guy

          @Marika

          ” He told me his ex, the kids got counselling. He was the only one who didn’t. The only thing that made him feel better was finding a woman who wanted him for him.”

          What your brother and millions of other divorced men experience post-separation is due to the inability to process sorrow. Women are always complaining about men being emotionally unavailable. However, being emotionally unavailable is by societal design. It is socialized into us, starting when we are very young. Think about how many times all of us have seen a woman openly weep. Now, compare and contrast that with how many times we have seen a man openly weep. There is no comparison. We could claim that the difference is gender-based genetics, but how can we explain little boys openly weeping?

          The reality is that we cannot expect a man who has had the ability to process sorrow beaten out of him since around the age of six to behave the same as most women post-marriage. Why? Because he just lost the only woman with whom he felt safe enough to be emotionally vulnerable. Like a deer caught in the headlights, he seeks another woman to fill that role because he sure as hell cannot be emotionally vulnerable with his male friends (men see emotion as weakness in other men). I believe that the need for a man to have someone in his life with whom he can be emotionally vulnerable is the reason why men remarry faster than women on average.

          Emily brought up a men turning to their sisters for emotional support. That dog does not hunt for most men above the surface level. Why? Because brother-sister relationship is usually a protector-based relationship and a protector never wants to appear week to a protectee. It is that socialization thing that is referred to as “toxic masculinity” rearing its ugly head.

        10. Jeremy

          YAG, I think that an inability to process sorrow is definitely part of the problem, but I don’t think it’s the entirety. I think that the issue is quite multi-factorial.

          Emily asked a good question – if men rely on women for emotional support, how do young men manage? I think the answer depends on the young man. Some, the extroverted ones, might get enough from their close friends. Some get it from their family. But I remember that I was extremely lonely as a young man. I had no emotional support, and that fact was extremely damaging. But I did have 2 things that partially masked the lack – the first being a typical young man’s sexual desire – a masking of loneliness for horniness. A drive to find a girlfriend, the notion that having a girlfriend would provide a balm for my scorched emotions – having a goal. And the second thing that masked the loneliness was hope. The notion that things might be bad now, but they will improve. The idea that I’m on track, that my star is rising, that I’m drawing closer to obtaining my wants, not farther from it.

          I think that divorced men are generally older, and while they might still be fairly horny, their testosterone levels have dropped enough that their sex-drives no longer mask their loneliness and lack of fulfillment. And they lack hope, lack the notion that they are on the right track – their track having been pulled out from under them. And yes, Mrs Happy is also right that they have lost contact with the friends of their youth, have lost their free time to nurture friendships, have not been able to make new female friends other than their wife’s friends, for fear of infidelity.

          Such men often go from one woman to another because they don’t perceive that life holds anything else for them otherwise. No human connection, no relationships, no physical touch – nothing to give them anything that means anything to an emotionally frayed human being. Time to “process sorrow” won’t necessarily be helpful to them if their dominant feelings are loneliness and hopelessness.

          I think that many divorced women feel lonely and hopeless too, but I think that more women than men have irreversibly obtained their marital prior to divorce, giving them more ability to be happy and hopeful despite their lack of a partner. For most men, the main thing they wanted from their marriage was simply their partner. For many women, despite their lack of a partner they can take solace in all the things they do have, their children, friends, connections, lifestyle. A lack of a partner is far less catastrophic for them, since their wants are far more diverse than mens’.

        11. Paula

          ‘Women feel hopeless and lonely too…’

          Based on personal observations the difference between divorced men and divorced women is that more often than not women embrace it as an opportunity to live their lives for themselves and on their own terms. Men on the other hand wonder who will take care of them.

        12. Marika

          YAG

          “Because brother-sister relationship is usually a protector-based relationship and a protector never wants to appear week to a protectee”

          Obviously I have no idea whether/ how men process sorrow, but this bit above is definitely true. My brother is the eldest and the only male with three sisters, and thinks his role in life is to protect and provide for everyone. When I’m at his place I make a conscious effort to thank him, ask him how HE is, ask him if HE’s eaten, encourage his kids to thank him. He’s an accountant and does the whole family’s taxes for free. I sent him a thank you gift basket for mine and he was so grateful. His wife took me aside and told me how touched he was – and that my brother in law didn’t even thank him. We forget he has feelings and needs too. His first wife certainly did.

          Em The Emmest

          I’m less on the whole ‘male friendships don’t provide support’ bandwagon. Maybe it’s cultural? There’s a mateship here I envy. Men (including strangers) very often call each other ‘mate’ – ‘thanks mate!’. There’s no overall term like that all women can use with each other….although I am definitely going to try to get ‘Doll’ nationalised. Keep an eye on Google alerts for “Australian women bring ‘Doll”ship Down Under!”.
          My brother has way more friends than either of his wives did /do. Including a best friend – STILL his best friend ongoing from early childhood. He has support, but it’s not the same. You want to feel validation from the opposite sex – we all do. He wasn’t one for running around with a bunch of dudes, though, even in his 20s. He is like Jeremy: worked hard, built himself up, married young, had kids. He was with his first wife from age 22.

          Apart from me, fleeting relationships don’t really exist in my family. EVERYONE in my EXTENDED family pretty much married their first, second or third boyfriend/girlfriend. This is why I had zero clue how to date, remain detached, blah blah. I’m learning. But it’s a steep learning curve.

        13. Jeremy

          It’s great that you expressed gratitude and admiration to your brother, Marika. Because the answer to the question, “Who takes care of the person who takes care of everyone,” is too often, “No one.”

        14. Jeremy

          Btw, happy Aussie Friday, Marika. This one’s in honour of your being a pirate with all Rs:
          What did the pirate say on his 80th birthday?
          -“Aye Matey!”

          A man walks into the doctor’s office with a leaf of lettuce hanging out his back side.
          “Oooh, that looks nasty,” says the doctor
          “You think that’s nasty?” says the man, “That’s just the tip of the iceberg!”

        15. Emily, to

          Mariks,
          “My brother … STILL his best friend ongoing from early childhood.”
          Bless his heart, a man who values friendship!. 🙂
          “He wasn’t one for running around with a bunch of dudes, though, even in his 20s.”
          What else is there besides hanging out with your posse? 🙂 It sure bets the hell out of the anxiety of dating.
          “This is why I had zero clue how to date, remain detached, blah blah. I’m learning. But it’s a steep learning curve.”
          I have a friend who told me she was going on a FOURTH date with a guy and I asked her if she was getting attached to him. She said no. How is that possible?

        16. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          Niobe Way explains how men become disconnected from emotion as they move through adolescence to adulthood in her book entitled “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.” Men lose their ability to be intimate with other men due to the highly competitive world in which they live. Women talk about the male patriarchy, but men know it is as the male hierarchy, and most men know exactly where they land within it. I have lost count of the number of men I know who have said, “Why is it so hard to make new male friends these days?” It is pretty darn simple once one strips away the surface veneer. Men spend their entire lives trying to move up the male social hierarchy (or at least not move down it). The pressure to compete is so strong that men become distrustful of other men. It is difficult to make new friends when a man is worried about if he is going to get screwed because men have absolutely no problem throwing other men under the bus if it will advance their position within the male hierarchy. This pressure intensifies as a man moves from his teens through his twenties and thirties. By age forty, it is kill of be killed for many men, especially in the professional world.

          Let me give you an example of something that recently occurred in my life. My girlfriend and I were at a local festival when a guy she casually new, but had not seen in a while eyeball fucked her right in front of me as we were passing him. He was over the top blatant in his visual objectification of her (I have been working with her since me met and she has lost 20lbs and toned up quite a bit). Later, we were standing with our friends when he came in for the kill. I had no choice, but to demonstrate dominance. I learned over and kissed her passionately to the point where one of her female friends said, “Wow! Can you do that again?” With that gesture, I clearly demonstrated dominance over him due to the way she responded to me. We ran into him the following week at a local club and he ran off like a deer caught in the headlights. That is the kind of crap that men often have to do to other men.

        17. Marika

          Thank you, Jeremy. TBH, the gift basket was a fluke. My sister and I always used to try to think up nice and thoughtful birthday and Christmas gifts to give him, and he was never very impressed.

          When I ask him how he is, if he’s eaten (when he’s encouraging everyone else to eat), he sort of brushes it off. I’m not sure if he likes it or finds it weird/annoying. So each year I keep sending the gift basket, as I know it’s something he does actually really appreciate. I think if you want appreciation and care you have to be receptive to it.

        18. Jeremy

          Do you think he’d internalize Chapman’s book on Love Languages if he read it, Marika? Might give him some insight into his own needs if he’s the sort of guy amenable to that sort of thing.

          Funny story – when my wife and I were newly engaged, her father and grandfather invited us out for dinner at a fancy restaurant. I had just graduated from my program and was about to start working. And as we sat together at dinner, her dad said, “Jeremy, I know you just graduated, and we’re all so proud of you, so we got you a little something to help you celebrate.” And he reached into his pocket, pulled out an envelope, and handed it to me. Her grandfather also reached into his pocket and pulled out a similar envelope. “We know you’ve worked hard to get where you are – congratulations!” I opened the envelopes….and inside each was a card saying that “A donation has been made in your name to the Human fund.” Well, not literally the Human fund, but you know what I mean.

          Perspective – At that time, I hadn’t a cent to my name. I had set up work in a remote office to try to make some money, requiring a 2 hour commute each way of 2 buses, a subway, and another bus. Couldn’t afford a car, couldn’t pay rent. Both of these men were millionaires. When they pulled out those cards and I read them, I thought they were joking, that they were having a laugh at my expense, that the real gift was yet to come and we’d all laugh about how I fell for the joke. Nope.

          When we left the restaurant, my wife could tell that I was upset and asked why. And when I told her, she didn’t understand. “Isn’t giving to charity a lovely thing?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, “but don’t give to charity and call it a gift to me. It isn’t.” “But doesn’t it make you happy to see that needy people get some relief?” she asked. “WE are needy people,” I replied. “Well,” she said, “I still want you to call them both tomorrow and thank them.” “How about I send a card to each of them, telling them that the Human fund thanks them in my name,” I asked. She didn’t find it funny. My family did when I told them about it, though. We laughed our heads off about it.

          Words….words are bullshit to everyone whose love language isn’t words. But they’re gold to the word-people. Oh, a card, with a donation in my name, how lovely! SMH.

          Your story about your brother made me remember this, Marika. You tried thanking him, tried inquiring as to his health – but he wasn’t receptive, wasn’t appreciative….because those things aren’t his language. What is his language? IDK. I wonder if he knows…

        19. Marika

          Jeremy

          The Human Fund! Haha!! Oh dear. I’m a words person and would find that gift odd under the circumstances. Also, isn’t thanking them at the table enough? What a bizarre thing. I don’t think that family are humour people. I think they are like the parents- in- law in Meet the Parents. Did you milk a cat in front of them?

          There’s no way my bro would read the book, or even understand why I gave it to him. Maybe he’s quality time. He wakes at the crack of dawn to be at work by quarter past crack so he can be home early to be with his wife and her kids at night. I’ve forgotten the 5th though (time, words, gifts, touch…)?

          Btw, spot on with the time difference and Friday funnies. Hopefully this gets approved in the next few hours:

          (continuing the lettuce theme): A lettuce and a celery walk into a bar. The lettuce gets served first because he was a head.

          (at the risk of getting a religion lesson): A Buddhist walks up to a hot dog vendor and asks him to make him one with everything.

        20. Mrs Happy

          The Human Fund – Ha – I did this once – for Xmas gifts for my parents and brother, I donated money to a charity, and handed them each a card re such, and got blank stares. (They also received from me lots of other presents for themselves.) I now realise, ahh, that’s why they have never ever said anything positive about or to me at all – they do not value words. Really sucked growing up in that environment.

          J the rest of your post confuses me.
          1. Is it a cultural thing that women in North America and Canada tell their fiance what to do socially and he does it? I see that in American movies but tend to disregard it as just drama. I don’t think I have ever told my husband, or any adult male, to thank someone. Or brush his teeth, or get dressed, or look when crossing the road. Given, you know, that he is a grown adult.

          2. I’ve learnt over the years not to do the double thank you (i.e. say thanks when handed the gift, and then at a later stage, unsolicited, say thanks again) unless I really liked the gift. As someone who has received many more gifts then you have, let me share my wisdom why, dear man: people will keep giving you the crappy-type thing if you thank them repeatedly for it. You’re setting yourself up for a charity gift card every year with that double thank you malarky. See Marika’s story with the gift basket – I really hope her bro actually likes them, because that is what he is going to get every year now. Only do the extra thanks if you’re really feeling it. Sort of same theory re why young women with inexperienced boyfriends shouldn’t fake orgasms – because then he’ll think, ah, that works, I’ll keep doing that in future.

          3. If you were setting up a practise surely you had presumably just trained in a paid job in a hospital for years – why couldn’t you afford a car? Owe the mob? Expensive drug habit? Smuggling diamonds enterprise had low cash flow? Or do you mean graduated just from uni? Or does your country have some sort of cowboy attitude to your profession?

        21. Jeremy

          Ha ha! Ok, more religion lessons :

          “And the lord said to John, come forth and ye shall receive eternal life!”
          – but he came fifth and got a toaster instead.

          I did not milk a cat in front of them…. But I might have if I’d had one handy.

        22. Marika

          Mrs H

          The gift basket could have been filled with skittles. My bro has heaps of money and could easily buy his own wine and chocolate. He cared that someone recognized that doing the whole family’s tax for free is a nice gesture, and is usually just another annoying thankless task in his long thankless day. Until he was thanked with a nice surprise at his office. He probably gave the contents away to his staff.

          Although maybe I should change it up as it’s been the same thing for three years. I’ll ask his wife if there’s another way to show gratitude.

          The Human Fund was the opposite of that. The in laws gave no thought to how appropriate that was under the circumstances or how it would make their son in law feel that even though he was struggling financially their ‘gift’ was to give money away elsewhere. The ethics aren’t the issue (yes, charity is great), the underlying lack of thought is. Who was that ‘gift’ really for?

        23. Jeremy

          As to your points, Mrs H,
          1) it’s less a Canadian thing than a Jewish thing. That is not to say that it’s a good thing, just a common one

          2) my maternal grandfather demanded a triple thank you for each gift. One prior to purchase, one at purchase, one the next day after use. If one component of the trifecta was missing, there’d be a conniption. I agree with your point about effusive thanks for gifts you don’t like. Encourages reruns.

          3) Your assumption is incorrect. Not only was I not paid to do my training, I paid to do it. That is how it works in my specialty. I was dirt broke, and in debt to my eyeballs.

          Oh, and btw, just because one does not have words as a love language does not mean that one should not be adept at wordsmithing or be an emotional miser to his loved ones. I give love with words often. With care to choose the right ones for the right people. Words just aren’t how I receive love. Lol otherwise I’d be like the guy trying to use Canadian quarters in an Australian vending machine.

        24. Mrs Happy

          CB – You paid? !!!??? What?? How long did it take?
          Aw come on my curiosity is now boundless. Tell me indirectly in some way that I can work it out if you don’t want to risk your anonymity. Please. I googled “what specialty in Canada do you have to pay to do” without any luck and am now at a loss.

          That grandfather saga would have made me NOT thank him, except briefly when handed the gift, out of politeness only. I cannot stand people like that.

          Marika – yes, I know re The Human Fund. Maybe your brother would like socks? I have a bit of a sock thing and give people weird socks all the time. Can’t have too many socks!

        25. Marika

          Mrs H

          What are you confused about? All higher degrees are expensive. My Master degree cost $55K. I’m assuming they don’t have HECS.

        26. Jeremy

          There’s no hint I can give that wouldn’t smash my anonymity to bits. Everything I’ve said about myself is true.

          It’s frustrating, actually. Because by far the best story I could tell about myself, the one that would be most helpful to Evan’s audience, is how I chose the profession I did over what I had wanted before. How I was shocked to discover, in my early 20s, that what I actually wanted from my life wasn’t what I thought I did in my youth, that being rational required me to take a hard look at what I wanted and what I didn’t want, and to realize that the goals of my past did not match those of my present or likely future. To strip away from the expectations of my profs, peers, family…. To take a blindfolded leap into the future clad in nothing but my own reasoning.

          What do I need? What do I want? What can I live without? What am I better off without, regardless of what I might think? Should the goals of my past remain the goals of my future, or am I allowing my past to dictate my future without consulting my present? In what way is my major fear preventing me from being happy? These were questions my 21 year old self had to answer with sweat and tears, with abnegation of ego. And answering them was the best thing I ever did, hardships notwithstanding.

        27. Jeremy

          Oh, and Marika, you asked, “time, words, gifts, touch…. And what was the fifth one?” Acts of service. The one most important to most men. The one with which most men both show and receive love. With the huge caveat that we receive love through the acts that WE value, not that others value, and through the genuine emotion with which they are given. The act is the riverbed, the emotion is the water. Without the emotion the act is empty; without the act, the emotion has no direction and so misses the mark. No one wants a half hearted handjob, at least not as an expression of love. And no one wants a partner who lovingly seems him cards to the Human Fund and then rolls over and falls asleep.

        28. Emily, to

          Jeremy
          “Acts of service. The one most important to most men. The one with which most men both show and receive love.”
          So what acts of service — NOT SEXUAL and nothing domestic — can women do for men in which men feel loved? What can a non-domestic women (no cooking, no cleaning, no arranging a home, no arranging of social opportunities, no remembering of other family members’ birthdays) do?

        29. Jeremy

          Do for whom Emily? One can’t dictate the acts a person “should” interpret as love. A woman can’t expect a man who interprets sexual and domestic acts of service as love to also interpret OTHER acts as love because she doesn’t like doing the domestic and sexual ones. Her goal should be to find a man whose love language is something she would happily give. Not to try to guilt or shame a man into wanting something else. You asked “what can a woman do?” and I answer that the answer will depend on the man.

          Seriously, I recently read an article by a new mother, an open letter to her husband (and the world) as to why she is going off sex. Because she’s exhausted and doesn’t feel sexual, and because if her husband was mature he would be satisfied with her just telling him that she loves him. You know, with her words. The article was followed by hundreds of comments agreeing with her. Like lemmings off a cliff.

        30. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “A woman can’t expect a man who interprets sexual and domestic acts of service as love to also interpret OTHER acts as love because she doesn’t like doing the domestic and sexual ones. ”
          Well, what am I supposed to do? Wear a sign on my forehead if I meet somebody I like saying ,”If you receive love by sexual or domestic acts of service, I’m not your girl”? Because I don’t enjoy the domestic stuff at all and at some point the sex probably will get less frequent once newness wears off. At least that’s what I’ve experienced.

        31. Mrs Happy

          I’d categorise sex under the ‘physical touch’ love language rather than the ‘acts of service’ love language. Making sex an ‘act’ or ‘service’ seems like prostitution.

          Emily to, I think most long term relationships see exactly balanced love languages given less as time goes by, and everyone seems to cope. Part of any long-term relationship is adjusting expectations of your partner downwards from your romantic or fantasy ideal, and the people who can be flexible and do that, are the ones who stay together.

          Oh and CB no worries, I worked it out. I’m surprised. Wasn’t on my top 5 guesses, but that makes sense given what you decided to prioritise. All good. Also shocked at the no car in late 20s/early 30s but got engaged – that doesn’t seem like your sensible reasoned careful self. But what do I know.

        32. Jeremy

          Took you long enough, EW, what with the hand-holding and breadcrumb dropping. I thought you had it months ago. One small point – you wrote, “Wasn’t on my top 5 guesses, but that makes sense given what you decided to prioritise.” What EVERYONE decides to prioritize eventually, and if they don’t, their families do. We all think we’re different until we’re not. I recall a list of reasons you once posted of why certain people make poor partners – would you believe I thought about that too? Rational, not Idealist.

          Now, to my real point of contention with you, you wrote, “Making sex an ‘act’ or ‘service’ seems like prostitution.” In what way is it prostitution? If one provides an act or a service out of a sense of love and a desire to please, that act is an act of love. If one provides said act in exchange for money, that act is a mercenary act. The difference is not in the act, but in the motivation for the act and the outcomes of the motivation. My wife and I are constantly doing various acts to please each other, and prostitution does not enter into the mix. Sex is no different from any other act in this sense. To believe otherwise is to fall victim to what I call the “magic vagina fallacy” 🙂

          Ever thought about why men love blowjobs so much? Probably not, but I have. I mean, the physical sensation of oral sex is simply not as intense (for men) – not as deep, not as vigorous, not as pleasurable in the purely physical sense. Yet most men really love oral sex – WHY? I think it’s because of the meaning of the act rather than the physicality of it. Exactly as you wrote, sex is about physical touch – about being pleased but also pleasing….and having the anxiety of having to please. The need to hold back so as to ensure that your partner enjoys the act, the knowledge that in some sense you are being judged on your performance. Whereas oral sex is an act of service, not an act of physical touch. It’s about your own pleasure, no judgment, no performance. It’s a supreme act of acceptance by your partner, to accept you with all of her senses and to enjoy having accepted you. It’s about the meaning, the act of service and the motivation for that act, the emotion with which it is conveyed. And most (decent) men are happy to reciprocate that for their partners, to provide an act of service themselves out of love and reciprocation. Not out of mercenary prostitution.

        33. Jeremy

          Oh, and BTW, I didn’t get a car at that time because I’m not an idiot, not because no one was willing to float me a loan for it. My peers did not understand – so many of them bought fancy cars when they graduated, knowing they’d not have trouble repaying the loan in a few years, knowing that the banks would give them all the money they wanted with no collateral other than their degree. My “sensible, reasoned, careful self” prefers to live within its means unless forced to do otherwise.

          As far as the engagement goes, I timed the wedding to take place 6 months after my practice was set up, so that I’d have at least some income by the time we moved in together. Seemed the reasonable thing to do, and she’d just started working as well. Spent the first year of marriage living very frugally, but things since then have unfolded….pretty much as I expected when I planned them out early on. Because that plan was made with both eyes open.

        34. Mrs Happy

          @ Jeremy above,
          The real point of contention is simply our different opinions on why we want our partner to have sex with us. I don’t want someone sleeping with me as a gift, an act, a service, to prove their love or devotion, because I want it (when they don’t), or to get something (including an emotional state) from me. I don’t need a person to do sexual acts with me, for me to feel worth, value, attractive, or cared for. I only want my partner to have sex with me because he wants to have sex with me for the pleasure of sex. If I were one to give advice, I’d say, be careful your motivation theories don’t lead you in never-ending circles of confusing mental masturbation.

          Also – Hand-holding! Seriously there was no need, I was there long ago, just resisting the obvious. You have the advantage of me and it’s quite unbalanced. If I were a child, I’d even say unfair. In your control to rectify, of course. Anyway after your breadcrumb comment I’m going back to my original theory, ignoring the paying red herring, which led me to an unlikely end.

          And given you live in the cold and snow, if you were catching 6 public transport vehicles a day instead of taking out a modest car loan, we also disagree on the definition of idiotic behaviour. In a friendly manner, of course. If you could afford a hunk of coal, you could afford a car, you turkey.
          Until next time, amigo.

        35. Jeremy

          This was an awesome comment. Only one question – what makes you think I afforded or provided a “hunk of coal” at that time? Just because that’s what everyone else does? Perhaps a forward-thinking person might have done things a bit differently and made up for them later…..being somewhat of an idiot, but not a standard one.

        36. Jeremy

          PPS: The hand-holding comment was meant to be gentle teasing as I’d tease my sister, but perhaps it was ill-conceived. Words. The fact that they had no kind words for you all those years, the fact that they couldn’t value what you were, had to grow up like a young sapiens among the apes – infuriating. The fact that the men who followed after valued everything except who you were…no wonder you felt alone among the masses, like a sailor on a boat, surrounded by water, dying of thirst. I’m familiar. Or am I just projecting?

          Regardless, here are my words to you with no teasing. The person you are, your intelligence and spirit, are clear to me through paper and pixels, across the ocean, like sunlight through clear water. I like talking with you because I sense in you an equal. Your comment about life not being a battle still reverberates in my mind, weeks later, though I disagree with it, have known no other life. I didn’t want you to think I was blowing you off, though being so direct makes me feel like a turkey indeed. Gobble gobble.

        37. Mrs Happy

          I know you were teasing and I know how you feel and think and I know. Seriously, just email me once with your email, so I can explain my proposition. I’ll only write once if you want. It is insane to not grab true friendships, they are too rare.

  3. 3
    Selena

    ” He’s obviously also openly internet dating, so I would give him the benefit of the doubt in that respect.”

    If he is staying in the marital home “for the kids” he may not be open with them about dating other women. He may not want his wife to know either, lest it create more conflict and she tells the kids.
    Even if he is above board about his dating, it’s still a messy situation that could get messier and last indefinitely.

  4. 4
    Britt

    Amy, I say this with love – but run the hell away. If your gut is already giving you stop signs, there is a reason.

    I just (3wks ago) got out of a 4mos relationship with a man who was “married but getting divorced.” Except he wasn’t. (Talk about believe the negatives and ignore the positives…I did not and I’ll never make that mistake again.) It took 4 months of red-flag logging, and ignoring my gut feeling because he was so wonderful to me, and treated me so well, and said and did all the right things, wanted a future with me, etc….only for me to find out that he was NOT in fact getting divorced. Nor did he intend to. Still living at home. Still fully married. Hadn’t been cheated on by this terrible wife of his. EVERYTHING was a lie.

    Sound familiar?

    I’m not saying your guy is a sociopath like mine was, but I am saying if this situation is already incredibly un-ideal, AND your gut is saying “no” …it’s a NO, girl friend. Run.

  5. 5
    Lynn

    Out of respect for his “wife” you need to back away. Let the two of them be mature adults and end one relationship before beginning another; especially when children are involved. Let him get his healing started and he might be a viable partner way in the future. Do NOT accept crumbs from anyone, there are high-quality men out there!

  6. 6
    Yet Another Guy

    My girlfriend has a divorced girlfriend who is involved with a married man. She keeps saying that he is going to move out by such and such date, but when that date arrives, he just moves goal post. My girlfriend and I know that the probability of this guy leaving his wife is very slim because he has not even broached the subject with his spouse. My girlfriend has attempted to get her girlfriend to see the light, but she is just too blind to see the truth. From my understanding, she has been waiting for this guy to leave his wife for a couple of years. She will not even consider dating other men.

  7. 7
    Michelle

    Girl, you got the oldest line in the book “we are staying together for the kids and sleep in seperate rooms.” I get hit on constantly by married (and many other) men and married men ALL say that. Trust me, he’s still sleeping with his wife and has things just the way he likes it; doesn’t need to break up his marriage and you on the side. No need to over analyze this; make excuses, try to “interpret” his motivation. He’s married, he’s still sleeping with and living with his wife and he’s using you. You deserve better. The longer you stay, the more time you waste and harder it will be to leave. You will regret it deeply later on. And even if he does get a divorce, he will not end up with you; you will remind him of all those sad times just after his divorce and he will move on with someone fresher and part of his “new life.” Put on your big girl panties and move on.

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