Here’s my real issue: My current boyfriend (48), lover, partner, however you want to describe him was also in a relationship when we began our affair. He has been dating a woman for six years who is sixteen years older than he and who happens to have lots of disposable income. She is basically his sugar mama. He admits that he’s never been in love with her, but he respects her and feels guilty and some kind of obligation to her because of all the “gifts” she showers him with. I should also mention that my lover went through a horrific divorce from the mother of his four children after finding out she was having an affair with my lover’s uncle. (The uncle’s wife was dying of cancer at the time to add insult to injury.) My lover never wanted the divorce and struggled for years to have any kind of relationship with women. He is a very attractive and charming man but doesn’t want a relationship unless it involves love and mutual respect. His sugar mama has known about me for at least six months but refuses to give up on the relationship.
He tells me he loves me and that he loves me as much as he loved his wife, maybe even more. He promises me he wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but he continues to accept gifts and go on “dates” with his sugar mama. He tells me to be patient, to let it work itself out, saying he feels too guilty to hurt her because she tells him how much she loves him. She has threatened to kill herself on more than one occasion. His family also tells me to be patient — that they know he and I will end up together and that eventually the sugar mama will go away.
I am torn to pieces by this and want this man all to myself. I understand his guilt; we are not talking small gifts here — she has purchased him property that he and his family live in, vehicles, clothes, trips, you name it she buys it for him. He swears that my waiting will not be in vain and that eventually he will end it, but he’s trying to figure out how to do it gracefully. I love this man and want to make this relationship work. I am not prepared at 47 to start “dating”; it’s not even on my mind. If only we would have met sooner!
I feel like this woman is preying on his vulnerability and has been from the beginning. He is a very soft-hearted guy and feels like his word is his bond. At one time he did promise her that he would never leave her for a younger woman. Meanwhile, I am a smart, attractive, reasonably level-headed woman with a good job and so far have done okay supporting myself. I love him and don’t want to give him up, but am I playing a losing hand? — Love sick in Texas
Yes, you are. You sound completely blinded to this guy’s many flaws because he’s attractive and charming and you’ve convinced yourself you’re some sort of star-crossed lovers who simply met at the wrong time. Meanwhile, this guy is playing you and his sugar mama. He’s got you convinced he’s a “soft-hearted” romantic who respects you and the woman who’s bankrolling his life in exchange for companionship and sex. Well, guess what? He doesn’t respect either of you. This is not what respect looks like. He’s lying to you and he’s lying to her. He has no plans to get off the sweet gravy train and commit to you. Why would he? You’ve given him all your love despite the fact that he’s openly involved with someone else. What incentive does he possibly have to leave this woman and give up all the gifts? None, whatsoever.
And so what that he had a horrific divorce and was so wounded he just couldn’t bring himself to have a relationship with anyone for years? You think that excuses his atrocious behavior now? You believe that he can’t have a relationship with anyone “unless it involves love and mutual respect”?! Are you fucking kidding me? This is delusional thinking. Neither of his current relationships involve love and mutual respect. They involve deceit and greed and sex and guilt, but I see zero evidence of love and respect.
You’ve got two failed marriages under your belt and clear evidence of questionable decision-making when it comes to your personal life. Change the course of this path you’ve been on for most, if not all, of your adult life and start making wiser decisions when it comes to relationships. You must know on some level that this guy’s a loser and your relationship with him is going nowhere or you wouldn’t have written to me asking if you were playing a losing hand. You KNOW you are. So get out before you lose more than just a hand. It’s not too late for you to find the real love of your life. He may not be slick or charming or super attractive like this current guy. He may be subtle and sweet and have a quiet strength, and you might just miss out on him if you continue chasing these damaged guys with the magnetic power of persuasion.
Take your life back from these kind of men before you’re licking the wounds left from yet another emotionally abusive relationship.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.