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Hi Ms. Aileen,
I am romantically involved with a married man. I’m only 25, and the guy is 28, and we met through a common friend. The first few months we were together, I didn’t really care if I heard from him or not, but after things got serious between us last December, everything changed. He made me feel that he would leave his wife for me but I was wrong. On my birthday, he told me that he would go back to his family. I was mad, but I was also proud of him since he chose to step up and be responsible. I walked away quietly, changed my number, and blocked all possible means of communication. But one day, a common friend asked me if I had time to talk, and it turned out that this friend had arranged for the guy and I to meet so we could settle things. Call me stupid, but I agreed to be his mistress simply because I didn’t know if I was strong enough to let him go. Right now, I’m struggling with my situation. Every time I try to walk away, he woos me back with sweet words and gestures. I am very aware that I am doing something wrong and that my parents will never approve of this relationship.
Ms. Aileen, there's something about him that I really can't resist. Believe me when I say I really want to let him go. I tried to go out with other guys, but it doesn't work for me--it’s him I still long for. I would like to ask for your help on how I can let go of this guy. He’s the kind of guy I’d want to spend my whole life with except that he is married. We've talked about the situation over and over again but I feel so stupid every time I hear him say "Dalawa lang kayong mahal ko. Babae kita (I love both of you. You’re my girl)," and I feel like I don’t have a choice but to agree with him. What am I supposed to do? I want to start right, and I want to be with someone who deserves my love. I feel so down and ashamed of myself for letting myself become someone's mistress.
A tip from the Relationship Coach: Feelings are just feelings. You can choose to be in charge of them or you can allow them to take charge of you.
First of all I want you to realize how strong you are. I can tell from your letter, from your honesty about your real feelings and frustrations, from your courage as you hang on to hope in the midst of your struggles, and from your willingness to do what it takes to rise above a situation that has been pulling you down.
Today, Cristina, I want you to decide on a few important things. This means that you have to choose one option and completely let go of the others. It's good that you are very clear about not wanting to be anyone's mistress. But today you'll take it even further and decide exactly what it is that you want for yourself.
You want to be in a relationship with a man who can love you completely and freely, a deserving man who will love only you. And while it may be true that this married man you’re involved with has the qualities you're looking for in a partner, do not think that this means he must be the only man for you.
Realize, instead, that this can only mean two things:
1. You already know the qualities you're looking for.
2. If this guy has these qualities, then it's very, very possible that a number of other men (out of the roughly 3 billion males on the planet) have these qualities too. It means that more guys like him exist and you are likely to find someone who is more worthy and deserving of your love.
Also, you will want to remember a few things about relationships with married men:
1. Most of the time, these relationships never reveal the guy’s true character.
Because of the very nature of a hidden relationship--limited time together, limited interactions with other people as "a couple," plus the excitement of "overcoming obstacles" just so you can be together--there's a tendency for one or both partners to keep on putting their best foot forward whenever they're together.
The true realities of daily life--with all its boring details, its mundane problems, and the growing pains that come with true relationship--never really become part of their interactions, so it never fully reveals each partner's true self.
2. Women who tend to become attracted to unavailable men have a desperate need to protect themselves.
In regular, legitimate relationships, there are absolutely no guarantees. You can give it your best shot and try hard to work through your issues, but it can all end abruptly. And that will always affect your sense of self because, if there wasn't anyone else and he left you anyway, you may start thinking that there’s something wrong with you.
A relationship with an unavailable man, on the other hand, carries a sort of guarantee: If he does ever leave you, it will never be because there's something wrong with you. Instead it'll always be because he's unavailable--which leaves your self-esteem more or less intact.
You're protected from the intense pain of "not being good enough," and even though this is all happening subconsciously, it keeps you stuck choosing this kind of relationship, which never really brings you real happiness in the end.
3. It was a famous mistress who once said this about married men: "They never leave their wives."
And even if your guy was one of the rare few who do, chances are, you wouldn't really want to stay together long afterward because the exciting and boredom-free nature of your affair would be gone, and all you'll have left is a guy who has a proven track record of cheating on the woman he supposedly loves.
Cristina, I just want you to remember that you are strong and worthy of being loved completely and freely by a guy who will want to be with just you. It’s very obvious that this married guy has learned to control your emotions with sweet words. It’s time you decided that you want more than that--that you want consistent loving and faithful actions--and you have to accept that he’s never going to be the man who will give this to you.
Realize that it’s also time for you to take back control of your own emotions. Emotions are important only when you can learn from them, but you’re not supposed to be enslaved by them. If you don’t learn to manage your emotions, they will end up managing you.
But the bottom line, Cristina, is that you have to make a decision. Leave no room for "what ifs" and no small crack or opening that will lead to another trip down a road whose dead end you already know.
Yes, it’s going to be very hard, but it’s not impossible. This doesn’t mean that you’ll stop loving him or no longer be emotionally affected by him. This simply means that all the emotions he triggers won’t matter anymore because you have decided to love yourself more. You can still love him, but you have to do the right thing.
It’s like all those times you didn’t want to go to school or go to work--but you did it anyway because it was the right thing to do.
If you’ve ever been able to do that--get yourself out of bed, get dressed, leave the house, and do the right thing, even when you didn’t feel like it--then you can follow through on this decision to cut him out of your life, no matter how you feel about him. Just take it one day at a time. And yes, eventually, your feelings will follow your actions.
Finally, Cristina, I want to reassure you that he is not the last man who will love you, and neither is he the last man you will ever love. You’re only 25 years old. You will meet many more men, fall in love with a few of them, and find the one who will love you to the point of asking you to marry him. And, if you chose well, he will continue to prove his love by being the husband you need him to be.
But the rest of your love story cannot happen if you’re still holding on to this old chapter. Decide today, Cristina, to make yourself available for the love you truly deserve.
*All names and some details have been changed.
(Photo by Hammonton Photography via Flickr Creative Commons; photo used for illustrative purposes only)
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I'm sorry I can't respond to your email personally, but I will absolutely read your letter. I would also love to answer your questions in detail in this column (and maybe even in articles & books) so that we can both help many other women who might be in the same situation. Please do let me know, though, if you just want me to read your letter and not answer it here; otherwise I'll change the names and some details and go for it.
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DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this column is an expression of opinion and is not to be construed as legal, medical or professional advice. This material may only to be used for personal entertainment purposes.