She Wants to Believe a Liar
Q: I am a 38-year-old woman in a relationship with a guy five years younger. Come to find out he's living with someone else. When I tried to break it off with him, he said he would fix it. Six months later he has not done anything yet, but he keeps on saying he will. He tells me he is not happy at home and he's worried about his kid, who is a normal child. I have grown to love this guy after a year together. I want to believe him but I'm not sure what is holding him there. What do you think? -- Hannah, 38
Dr. Susan: I think a better question for you is "What is holding YOU there?" This man has been lying to you for many months. He is living with someone else, and since he has a kid with this person, let's call it a marriage. Same difference. You are having an affair with a good-as-married man who is not in any hurry to leave his family. You may not know this already, but the research has found that it is rare for affairs like yours to "work out." Even if he someday decides he's ready to walk out on his mate and kid, the odds are he won't come to you for a permanent commitment. Really. So you need to work on yourself. Don't "try" to break it off with him--just do it. Tell him you've lost patience and until he moves out of the other woman's home, you won't be seeing him anymore. He can certainly continue to see his kid as a good father should. If he is not happy at home, he needs to be upfront with his partner and work that out, one way or another. Right now, he is living a life filled with lies, and you are allowing him to have his cake and eat it too. Though I've always hated that saying, it works here. He gets the stable wife-type of person with whom he shares a child, and he gets to have a separate sexual relationship with you, the ever-patient doormat. No offense intended, but you need to face the truth.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.