Friday

the Semi-Married Man


QUESTION: I am so glad to have found your blog!!! I have been wanting to ask this question of a neutral party . . .

I have been divorced (after 8 years of a tumultuous marriage) for the past 7 years. I am now 38 years old and have been dating a 49 year old man for the past 5 years.

I knew that this man was married at the inception of the relationship. He is also separated (living in a different state) from his wife. As a matter of fact, they have been separated by a 10-hour drive 3 years before I started dating him. Initially, it didn't matter much because I was not interested in a serious relationship - I did enjoy the companionship.

He did explain that he was staying married for the children. His youngest daughter just graduated from high school this past May. He told me (in July) that he would be divorced in 3 months.

I have not asked any more questions about this since the statement was made, and he has not volunteered any statements.

Just give me your overall impression of this relationship. . .
* Am I silly for holding on? I started REALLY liking him about three years into the relationship.
* Do I wait until the 3 month period is up??
* Should I believe that I am being strung along??
* Have I wasted my time??
* What (most likely) does this man think about our relationship? about me?
* Do I bail out, now??

-Bewildered

CHUCK: Bewildered, Thanks for the question.

I'm going to tell you something you may already know. Some people, despite the fact that their marriage is over, like to maintain their separated status, largely because it keeps potential suitors at arm's length. "I'd love to commit to you, sweetheart," they say, "But I'm still married. Someday... I'm gonna straighten this out." Suuure.

I gather you are looking for a more stable, committed relationship with your boyfriend, but you seem wary of being played. And I also gather that he has made promises to you that you two will be having that relationship when his divorce is final. Do you believe him? That's a key question here. Just because something sounds like an excuse doesn't mean that it is.

He wants you to wait three more months after being with him for five years. I don't know. I think you should call his bluff. It's just three months. Unless you already suspect that he's a liar, and you want to spare yourself the pain and embarrassment you suspect is coming.

What I find a little hard to believe is his assertion that he's stayed married all these years "for the children." If he's stayed in a different state from his wife for an appreciable amount of years, I'd hardly call that staying together. But people define things different ways, I suppose.

If it's any consolation, him being with you for five years means , at least, he doesn't consider you a jump-off. But as to whether he wants to make any further commitments to you remains to be seen. If you give him the three months, get back to us and let us know what's happened.

GARLAND: Hello Bewildered!

Are you silly for holding on? No, not at all - as long you are realistic in what you want and are [or are not] getting out of this relationship. If all you wanted was companionship, someone to spend time with, someone to hang out with - then no, holding on met your needs.

Should you wait for the 3 months to be up? I assume, since you've been with him for five years, three more months shouldn't be a big issue. But what do you REALLY expect to happen after the three months is up? Are you expecting a ring? Honestly, that has about a 1 in 1000 chance of happening. From what you gave us in your question, your friend doesn't sound like someone who truly places a high value on the institution of marriage, at least not the same way most people think of it. I think, with this fellow, you've signed on to be the girlfriend indefinitely.

Are you being strung along? If you expect this guy to propose, marry and stay with you, then I think you MAY be being strung along. Please note that I said "MAY" and "MARRY" and "STAY" in that first sentence. Now, I could certainly be wrong but then, when it comes to him, it would be nothing for him to propose to you and then drag out the wedding for years and years. My gut feeling is that this guy isn't pressed about the role of husband and once he's done with it, he's done with it for good.

The whole "staying together for the kids" has me scratching my head - most people do that for very young children and they tend to stay under the same roof - not 500 miles away and not for high school aged kids. He hasn't divorced his wife for OTHER reasons - whether they involve you or her I don't know, but if he WANTED to marry you - I think he would have settled the divorce years ago, especially considering the ages of his kids. No teenaged kid is saying, "Yeah, my Dad who lives four states away is happily married to my Mom! Things are great!" These kids KNOW Mom and Dad are NOT happily married - this excuse fails the sniff test with me.

Have you wasted your time? If you're looking for a second husband - probably. If you are just looking for someone to spend your time with - absolutely not!

What does he think about you and your relationship? He's dating a woman over ten years younger than he is - he's probably happier than a bag of smiley faces! Aside from that, I don't know. You were willing to spend time with him even though he told you he was married - so I'm sure that puts you on his good side. And, after five years you haven't pressured him to divorce his wife, so HE is probably not unhappy about that either.

Should you bail out now? I'll leave that one to you. You know that one.


Thank you for your question and thanks for asking for our two cents. Chuck and I certainly hope that hearing a second [and third] opinion will give you the insight you need.

4 comments:

TJ said...

Great, timely advice! A lot of people are pursuing long-term relationships these days with the "semi-married".

MadPOetic said...

I luv this site! I just happend to stumble upon this and I'm glad I did. I started my blog for the same reason...to let the voices of men overcome all the estrogen that has poisoned the premise of black men. Keep up the good fight!

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