A couple of years ago, my ex-husband and I met up at a business event. We work in the same industry, so we’re likely to keep running into each other. Anyway, we had sex, and it was amazing. Since then, we have continued to have sex whenever we meet up. Recently, I discovered that he is engaged, but he still wants to continue our relationship; he says it’s not really cheating if it’s with me. What do you think?
There is an easy way to decide whether you and your ex having sex is cheating or not: ask his fiancee. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting you do this, I made the statement to make a point. Of course, it is cheating. Since this column is limited because of space, I can’t go into all the reasons why I believe you should not have sex with your ex, so let me just highlight some of the main points. First of all, sex with him is not safe sex. You know for sure that he is being sexual with at least one other person, and with his denial system, who knows how many others are involved. Secondly, there’s really no such thing as ongoing detached sex. There’s no way you can keep having sex with him and not get attached. Sex is a bonding experience — yes, it affects women more than men, but men get involved too. My hunch is that is one reason why he wants to keep the contact going. The third reason is that, while he has obviously gone on with his life, it doesn’t sound as if you have done the same. As long as you’re having “amazing sex” with him, you will probably not be available to any other person. And last, but not least — is this what you want for yourself? Do you want to be a part of a triangle that can cause hurt to other people? Even if you don’t know the other woman, you’re not an innocent participant. Affairs don’t happen in a vacuum — there is collateral damage. You are the knowing accomplice in deceit. If nothing else, move on for your own self-respect.
How do you know if you’re really in love and if that love is likely to last? Are there signs to look for, or some way to know if it’s “for real”?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to relationships. The short answer is that time will tell. Even though this sounds like a cliche, truth is, research backs it up. Couples who have a long courtship, who know one another for a long time before they make a commitment, have a better track record when it comes to creating long-lasting love. One of the reasons is that the more time you spend together, the more likely you have passed the altered state of consciousness known as infatuation or romantic love. Marriages that base commitment solely on romantic love and attraction have the highest divorce rates. Long-lasting love takes more than the initial excitement. Four definite signs to look for in real love are compatibility, flexibility, altruism, and exclusivity. Compatibility is more than simply getting along and liking the same things: it’s the willingness for both of you to put the health and welfare of the relationship before individual needs and preferences. Flexibility is a big part of true love because it requires each of you to try new approaches, which will keep the relationship exciting. Altruism means that you get joy from pleasing one another; this attribute will take love to infinite heights. And finally, exclusivity means that you protect the relationship by confining your love energy, attention, and deepest intimacies to interactions with one another. This means no flirting with others, no divulging private information about your partner to friends, and saving a significant portion of your energy for the care and feeding of your love.
I am an outgoing, attractive, divorced woman. I’m successful and self-confident at work, where I manage over 80 people and millions of dollars. However, I have a tendency to become a bit of a doormat in my personal life: in all my relationships, I have ended up letting my partner take advantage of me. Why am I so different at work and at home? Am I just choosing the wrong type of men?
The difficulty you describe may well begin with the men you choose to spend time with, but it can’t continue without your cooperation. You teach people how to treat you: men and women alike will take advantage of you if you let them. One way to begin to turn this pattern around is to look at how you make it easy for a guy to treat you like a doormat. Do you expect him to treat you fairly because you treat him fairly? Do you carry the lion’s share of work believing that he will feel uncomfortable and reciprocate? Do you tolerate rude and inconsiderate behavior believing he will change? Do you avoid expressing your discontent, fearing his anger? Do you go out of your way to be kind and thoughtful in an effort to teach him how to be in a relationship? Do you drop hints constantly, only to have them ignored? Do you withhold your dissatisfaction until you finally blow up? Or do you smolder in silent disappointment until you have no recourse except to leave? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may have the first clue to a cure for your “doormatitis.” All of these methods are passive and represent the path of least resistance. They also invite disrespect and make you less attractive.
You obviously have a different method of operation in your workplace. Therefore, you might begin to change your approach by examining your behavior in that setting. My hunch is that you are anything but passive at work. All relationships — personal and business — require clear, direct, specific communication with a follow-up of accountability. Any failure to meet the commitments agreed upon has consequences. When it comes to love, you have to use your head as well as your heart.
I have joint custody of my three kids, aged 5, 7, and 12. I’ve met a great woman who has never been married and she has no children. So far, I’ve kept it pretty casual, and I haven’t introduced her to my kids. The fact that she has never lived with anyone, or had to share her space or possessions, worries me. Do you think a relationship with her could work, or should I look for someone with more relationship experience (ex-partner and kids)?
What stands out to me initially about your inquiry is that you seem to be going about this dating process in a thoughtful manner. This makes so much sense, especially since you have children. Some might say you’re jumping the gun and thinking too far ahead, but I disagree. Studies show that relationships that include children from a prior relationship only succeed if the new partner can get along with the children, so looking at this issue early on makes sense.
I assume the woman you are dating knows that you have children and share joint custody with your ex. If this is the case, it may bode well for the relationship — especially if she has expressed an interest in being involved with children. However, keeping your children separate can portray an unrealistic picture and feed the fantasy that she has you all to herself. You won’t really know the answers to your questions for sure until the romantic high passes. I say continue to take it slow and keep your eye on the children as your priority.
As to whether a relationship with her could work: sure it could. The presence of children makes it more complicated. Anytime you add more people to the mix, life gets more complex — however, it also gets more exciting. The most important job in the world is raising children, and your kids are at a delightful age. A woman would be privileged to be a part of their lives, and I hope you will make sure that any woman you invite into your life has this point of view. There are millions of stepfamilies living together and creating a rich history; there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.