Monday, December 29, 2008

Email from a guy with relationship difficulties

Just over two weeks ago, the following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I have been reading your blog and I've wanted to write to you for advice but haven't had the chance. Now I am so heartbroken and I need a third party to tell me what they think I should do.

To start with, I am a 28 year old oriental guy living in NYC. I am working in the financial industry like you, but not a banker so my job is pretty safe in the current situation. Anyway, I am dating an American guy who is just over twelve years older than me. That is not an issue with me but the problem is that he is in a situation like you were before. He is living with his ex because the ex can't stand on his own feet. This is what he told me which I sort of believe. But the problem is that I really like this guy and I am the type of person who is really paranoid and needs to do things to confirm what he says. I feel like he is telling me the truth, because he even tells me that they sleep in the same bed, with one duvet but with a pillow in between them. They don't cuddle or kiss and those things. But how would I know. That makes me paranoid. And every time he comes over to my place he has to go home. If he stays he needs to tell his ex that he has an office function so that he has to go to a hotel or something. This makes me feel like he has to go home for his ex not to think that there is something going on. We spend a lot of time together though. He comes over after work if he is not going to the gym and he stays until around midnight, so he doesn't really spend time with his ex. Except when he gets home and his ex is there. On weekends, he wakes me up with a call and he comes over and we have breakfast then he goes home to do some stuff then we meet somewhere. This makes me feel a little bit confident about our relationship but still there are doubts.

Another problem I have is that every time I ask him what we are, he won't say we're boyfriends or in a relationship, instead he'll say that we are "dating". This makes me feel like he is not over with his ex, or that he is embarrassed by me. By the way, we started seeing each other last February. At that time I had just broken up with first bf who I was with for over 6 years. This guy that I am seeing has now been living with his ex for almost 7 years, but he tells me that they haven't been boyfriends for the last two of those years. What he told me was that they just fell out so they don't spend time together any more. I think he is in a similar situation to what you were before your ex moved out. But you could afford to buy your ex a house but my guy is not doing that well. I am happy to move in with my guy. We actually almost live together. But he won't take the risk. I don't think he trusts me that well yet, and he's lived in the same place for years.

Now I am sulking because I recently found out that he lied to me. He organized a party at the favourite restaurant of his ex in TriBeCa, I wasn't invited of course, and I asked him several times where this party was but he lied a couple of times. This really annoyed me off because the party was also on his ex's birthday. So I don't know whether the party was also a birthday party for his ex. I am really confused and need third party advice. I told him not to call me ever again when I told him that I know all about their party. I don't know if I was too paranoid in making some calls to find out if he was telling the truth, but the point is that he lied to me several times. I found out because I am just so resourceful. So I don't know what else he's lied to me about. This email now seems very long but I am having a drink with this and I just want to give you all the details. I am going to send this without reading what I wrote. Hope to hear from you and good luck! I really enjoy your blog and get excited when my RSS tells me there's a new posting from you.

Many Thanks,

The situation that this reader describes is indeed similar to the situation that I was in with boyfriend P and ex-boyfriend S. Although I lived with ex-boyfriend S, I spent time with boyfriend P whenever I could. However there are some differences. I only started calling ex-boyfriend S an ex-boyfriend once he'd moved out of the house that we shared, whereas the reader's guy already calls the guy that his lives with his ex. Also, in my situation both ex-boyfriend S and boyfriend P knew of each other's existence, however it's not clear whether "the ex" knows about the reader or not.

My best guess is that the guy is fond of both the reader and his ex-boyfriend and can't decide which is more important. The reader faces the classic problem, being in love with a guy who's already got some kind of partner, so his hope is that the guy will eventually leave his partner and start living with him instead. The current situation is clearly unsatisfactory for the reader, so I think he should try and move ahead in two distinct ways. Firstly, the reader clearly loves this guy so I think it's worth trying to deepen the relationship with him. However, I think he also needs to start looking for someone else, in case the relationship with this guy turns out to be a dead end.

To deepen the relationship, it strikes me that the next natural stage would be to start meeting each other's friends and family. They've been "dating" for almost a year, so if this hasn't happened yet then it should start soon. In particular, if "the ex" who lives with the reader's guy is really now a flatmate rather than a boyfriend, then there's no reason why the reader's guy can't introduce the reader to him. If a meeting with "the ex" is initially too difficult for whatever reason, no doubt the reader's guy has other friends that he could introduce the reader too. In any case, if the reader's guy is telling the truth, two years should be sufficient time for "the ex" to have accepted the break-up and to have accepted that his former boyfriend will be looking for someone else. Indeed, one can envisage a situation where the reader is fully integrated into the guy's life as his new boyfriend, and where they socialise with each other's friends even though the guy still has "the ex" as a flatmate. The key difference between "fuckbuddies" and boyfriends is that one never introduces a fuckbuddy to one's friends, so the reader needs to get the guy to move beyond the fuckbuddy stage! However the reader must be aware that for the relationship with this guy to work, it'll be important for him to get along with all the guy's friends including "the ex".

In terms of looking elsewhere, I don't think the reader needs to break-up with his guy, or to start looking for a boyfriend behind the guy's back. Instead, there needs to be some kind of discussion between the two of them about the future. When I first got to know boyfriend P and regarded him as a part-time boyfriend, I would always encourage him to try and find a full-time boyfriend because I wanted him to be happy. We still saw each other when we could, but I was aware that the situation might change if he did find a full-time boyfriend. I think the discussion between the reader and this guy should be along the same lines. There's no reason to break their connection, but the guy needs to understand that the reader will be trying to find a full-time boyfriend, assuming that the guy himself isn't available. It'll be a difficult discussion, but open and honest communication is vital in any relationship, so whatever happens they need to be able to discuss these kind of matters if their relationship is to last.

One last thought is that the reader probably needs to relax a bit, and try and become a bit less paranoid. It sounds as though he's come a bit too clingy and needy, and that's never attractive. If he does ever start living with this guy, I get the impression that he'd constantly be worrying about where the guy is, and what he's doing. That won't work. Instead, the reader needs to reach a point where he's confident and happy about the pivotal role that he plays in the guy's life, so that he can let go of any anxieties related to the whether the guy loves him or not because he'll know for certain that he does :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?


Anonymous said...

i really dont understand you guys..sometimes you make me wish to turn straight and having a nice and happy familly..why putting you in such situations when everything can be perfect, nobody can break so many years of relation..the feelings stay and when they are gone this feeling can turn into hate and revenge, i dont work into the finance industry at all, and sometime i feel sad for some of my clients who i used to served but cant afford it anymore, being fired its horrible and this kind of things can happen to anyone of for youre reader i think he have to ask himslef some questions, can he make forget to his new boyfriend the love he use to have with his ex and make him love himself more, cause i really dont believe in open relationship AT ALL, and find it frankly quiet a shame but am not here to judge good luck..
P.S i heard last week a conversation in the place where i work between six clients wish i know very well talking about wish one gonna get fired or not in the bank near where i work, not far from the bank of england in january..poor guys i find it disguisting and again good luck..M

Sir Wobin said...

Lots of trust issues there. Not meeting friends after years, hiding events from each other and deceit. Does sound like a boyfriend relationship at all. If the older guy can't say any more than "we're dating" then I wouldn't take the relationship seriously. Maybe see him for some bedtime fun from time to time and find someone else. Hanging out together after decide he's messing you around may hurt you move in the long run. Sounds like this guy collects people to use but when he's done doesn't walk away cleanly.

You don't have to be angry or bitter to move on. Better to part as friends if you have to part at all. I wouldn't stick around. Good luck!

The Honourable Husband said...

I'm with Wob. It's almost a year of "dating". Some clearer understanding needs to be made.

It strikes me, GB, that your relationships with S and P were far more open, honest and fair than the situation your reader describes.

I wonder if your reader, perhaps, confuses the length of his relationship with it depth.

Does he actually know that his lover intends to leave his current boyfriend at all? Or do the many months of seeing each other lead the reader to think that understandings have been reached, where they haven't?

Now, I am the last to perpetuate cultural stereotypes, but I might suggest that there may be acultural difference afoot.

We learn the art of negotiating with our intimates at home--it's one of the first things we learn about interaction with others. These lessons and expectations are hard to shake.

In my experience, eastern cultures have quite different ideas of personal and social obligation. Let alone what should be said, and what left unsaid.

Even after eight years, my husband and I misread each other's cues in this regard--he's Japanese.

Do I suspect that your reader needs to leave less unsaid? The business of "resourceful" sneakery causes me to worry.

NaijaScorpio said...

"with one duvet but with a pillow in between them" Yeah right!

Why do pple always tell such lies?

Didn't finish reading the rest of the post.

A said...

I don't think the reader needs to relax at all. Sounds to me like he's already been more than patient and very generous, given the circumstances. If I had been 'dating' a guy for that long and they were still undecided on whether or not to make it official; I'd take that as my answer. Sounds to me like if the reader continues on with this guy, he's just going to find himself getting hurt.

Anonymous said...

Ahahha sting that is soo funny! And btw very true!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the American is just having a hard time deciding what he wants. Does he want to stay with something that is comfortable, yet less fulfilling, or does he want to go with something exciting and new? And while he may be a good guy, he's a bit selfish in the way that he is playing both fields. He isn't a bad guy per se, just knows he can get away with that type of behavior because both men in his life are enabling it (don't tell me that the ex isn't suspicious... please).

The ex is also probably trying his best to make sure they don't break up and it puts the American in an awkward position.

Which leads me to the reader... it really depends on what he wants. If he is ok with being the hidden mistress, then all is good. But it sounds like he wants more and unfortunately, the American just won't be able to give it to him, at least not while he is living with his ex.

The really sad thing is let's say the American does eventually kick the ex to the curb and is on his own and decides to explore something with the reader. There are still going to be major trust issues on the reader's part, just because he's been lied to over and over. It's not so easy to forgive and forget and sometimes those doubts have a way of manifesting themselves. Yes I agree that being too paranoid is a very unattractive quality (something I have had to learn the hard way), but the reader probably has good grounds to have such doubts.

My best advice is to kick the American to the curb because eventually, the reader will just get hurt. The American isn't getting rid of his ex anytime soon and the lies will only continue and so will the doubts of who is really No. 1 in the American's heart.

It's difficult to let go, but if the reader is truly searching for love and romance, and not just a booty call, then he's got to let the American go.

Sir Wobin said...

I don't think it's helpful to analyse the situation as whether one is number 1 in someone else's eyes. That point of view will give one a nasty and jealose existance. It's about the reader an his lover and whether that relationship is serious. Clearly the reader wants it to be serious. Talking about their situation is crucial but I don't think this sort of situation will change in the reader's favour.

There are lots of fish in the sea. No need to fixate on one person. If it works and there's good communication then great. If not, move on. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I think the American is lying to the reader... and more than just about the party.

Obviously there is still something going on if he hasn't introduced the reader to any of his friends after a year.

Odds are the American is still in a relationship with his 'ex' (and quite possibly it may even be a straight marriage... you know you've all been there), and is using the reader as his bit on the side.

The reader needs to decide what's more important to him, whether it be to stay in this quasi-relationship, or to move on (fully or otherwise) and find someone who can be as open with him as he is.

Anonymous said...

Oh the complexities of relationships...I'm with sir w, it doesn't sound like a relationship as this includes as others andy ou have said openness and honesty. I think the guy should accept that this is not a long term thing as the american obviously has a different agenda, and he seems to be geting the better deal with live in ex and a date to go out and play with... be true to yourself writer and move on and fnd someone with less maybe painfull at first but your happiness is more important..
ayway GB hope yu had agod new year

Ken Skinner said...

Oh crap, as usual I have a 'personal experience' to share.

I broke up with one boyfriend and, as we were living together at the time he took a while to move out of my flat.

It was awful. Truly awful. Yes, we did start off sleeping with pillows between us but then I gave in to his 'needs' and we started having 'sexy time' together (infrequently). I also met someone new and tried dating them but that didn't work out as the situation at home got exponentially worse.

Ugh. I shudder to think about those months. I can't imagine two years of it, let alone dating someone for 7 months with them in that situation.

Whilst you owe it to any partner to be understanding, you do have *some* rights.

I think you just need to sit yourself down and figure out where exactly where all this is realistically going and then either decide to stick with it, knowing full well what the consequences may be, or choose to move on.

From the letter is sounds like moving on is the smart thing to do, but only you know for sure.