Posted by fxckfeelings on June 13, 2011Share This Post
Very often, love gives you tough decisions and charming clichés. For example, better an old man’s darling than a young man’s fool. Or, to make one up, better a fascinating man’s lover than a dull man’s one-and-only. These days, the dilemmas apply equally to men and women, but the answer is the same. Accept the facts of age, character and biology before making your decision, remember that love doesn’t change people, you can’t get all that want, and clichés exist for a reason.
Is infidelity a sign of some problem in a relationship or just a natural and inevitable part of relationships? I feel it as a betrayal and my partner feels it has nothing to do with us and has no effect on our relationship. Is it possible to have a relationship between two people who feel differently about this issue?
There’s not much point in having a partner if you can’t count on him (and we’ll assume it’s a him); what doesn’t work for cops doesn’t work for civilians, either. First, however, you gotta figure out what you want to count on him for.
There are partners—admittedly, they’re rare—who have compulsively wandering weenuses but are reliable when it comes to covering the kids, the bank account, and your back. They won’t keep secrets from you, other than the tales of their penis’s travels.
It may be humiliating to be married to a guy like that, but the lifestyle and dinner table conversation may be worth it, particularly if he’s rich and famous. It’s fun to be king, and fun to hang out with him (at least until the press catches on to his shenanigans).
At least you know, from what they do, that it’s not personal. Your partner, for instance, is telling you that he is who he is, not that you’re not lovable. For you, relationships include monogamy, and for him, they don’t, no matter whom he’s partnering with.
So, as usual, the person you really need to consult is yourself. You want to know whether your heart can stand the strain, not to mention the ability of the rest of your body to fend off STDs.
The trouble is, the more vulnerable your heart, the more likely you are to fall for the guy because you love him, regardless of the fact that you probably knew, right from the start, that he is a wanderer. Your heart is also more likely to talk you into the false hope that that he’ll change, or you’ll change, and it will be OK. If that happens, the betrayer isn’t him or his parts, but your own little heart persuading yourself that you can get him to change.
The other risk of partnering with a wandering guy is that they often forget the facts of life—their penises have about the same brain-power as your heart—with the result that there’s another unexpected kid out there with a legitimate (or illegitimate) claim to your family resources. That’s a surprise that can send the wanderer on the lam for good.
If you’re honest in presenting yourself with the risks and benefits of your decision, you’ll never be a victim. Know your heart, however, and remember that he’s not going to change, and neither are the facts of life. Trust your ability to decide.
“I’m angry and hurt by my partner’s infidelity, but it’s a waste of time to argue, with him or myself, about whether he should change or be ashamed, because the real question is whether I can stand him the way he is, accepting that he’s not going to change and that there’s a price to be paid for loving him.”
I was pleased at first when the middle school principal took an interest in my 12-year-old daughter—he ran into her every day at the crosswalk in front of the school, and he liked her for all the right reasons—but now it’s 7 years later, she’s in college, he’s 45 and divorced with 2 kids, and their relationship has become serious. As a father, I can’t tell her to drop him because he has a reputation for being a good guy and makes no secret of the fact that he loves her. In any case, she won’t listen and will just pull back from me, which will reduce my influence even more. My goal is to get her to drop him before she gets trapped in something that really won’t be good for her.
As always, if you want to have an impact on your kid, don’t blurt out your fears. You’ll go from being a knowing authority to the scared party that needs convincing, instead of the other way around.
If you imply she’s too easily influenced by a guy old enough to be her father (it will be hard for you to avoid that phrase, but avoid that phrase), she’ll show you you’re wrong, by defying her actual father. If you talk about his baggage—age, ex-wife, child support—she’ll see a man in need of love and a family that she can heal.
Instead, put your protective emotions aside, treat her like an adult, and ask her how she sees the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of partnership. Respect the obvious advantages, i.e., he’s a guy who seems solid (although you want to know more about what happened to his marriage), probably makes her feel safe and secure, and has a lot to teach her (no snideness intended).
Then make sure she considers the obvious drawbacks, as if you were discussing a business deal. If the attraction is fueled by the normal admiration a young person, uncertain about her gifts and independence, feels for an accomplished person who knows the ropes, or by the pleasure it gives the old guy so admired, there’s a risk. After all, things will change as she grows older, acquires more confidence (partly thanks to him), feels more like a peer, and wonders whether they really have that much in common any more. Both of them have a lot to lose.
Unless she makes a good living and saves up some money, there’s also a risk she’ll help take care of his kids without there being enough left over for the two of them or for starting a family, so advise her to watch how he manages his competing obligations. He should do right by his kids without being overly responsive to his first family with time, money, or emotional reactivity.
If he has credit card debt, or doesn’t manage his money carefully, her admiration will disappear the moment they have to pay for something big together, whether it’s upsized digs or a hospital bill. She’s thinking love, but you need to channel Jane Austen and think money.
Don’t expect to change her mind. All you can do is alert her to possible roadblocks and disappointments while making it clear that your main interest is her best interest and that you accept her, regardless. Then you’ll make it clear that if she’s interested in a man who really is like her father, he’d want her to do what’s right for her and not bind her to premature or crippling commitments.
“I’m sad and worried about my daughter’s relationship with an older guy, but I’ll make clear that the risks I see are not due to her being foolish or her boyfriend’s not being a nice guy, but to the fact that life is hard and that their age difference puts horrible stresses on relationships as time goes by.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname