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Should I cool it with my long distance friend until he leaves his girlfriend?
September 17, 2012 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Divorce from abusive ex almost final, unexpectedly slept with a friend. We have loads in common but he's not (yet?) available. Cool it, or enjoy?

I've been separated from my abusive husband of nearly 10 years for over 9 months. Recently I spent some time with a male ex-coworker and ended up sleeping with him. We've known each other for years but have never been remotely more than friends: for my part, I know it didn't cross my mind as we both had partners.

My separation involved me moving away for some time. My then coworker unexpectedly reached out to me during that time and confided in me some disturbing details about his relationship, which had some remarkable similarities to the one I'd just got out of (his partner is also abusive). I was happy to offer support (and yes, flattered and happy that he trusted me) but I was deep in the throes of heartbreak and thought nothing of it beyond genuine concern for a friend.

I discussed our friendship with my therapist who alerted me to the danger of transferring my codependency from my husband to my friend in distress, and I was very conscious of enforcing boundaries and not getting too emotionally caught up in my friend's problems.

After several months, I returned to my home city and usual workplace, but as it turned out at that exact time my coworker took a job on the other side of the country, so we no longer work together.

When I got back to work, I was conscious of missing him - as a friend - but we have stayed in contact online. He came back to my city for brief visits a couple of times in the last few months, to finalize his move, and on both occasions we saw each other, but as the result of a group invitation to a number of his old friends. As it happened, one of those times we ended up dining alone, but there was nothing non-platonic about it.

Recently, he was back in town once more, and once more I saw him, with a number of other friends. This time, he seemed to pay me special attention and we wound up deep in conversation and drifting away from the group. He shared even more information about his current relationship and I was shocked and dismayed to find out that the abuse he was being subjected to was in some ways worse than what I had experienced.

At some point in the evening, I wrapped him in my arms and we just held each other. It felt really right, but I had only intended the hug as a friendly hug of support. And then he kissed me.

We looked at each other and there was this feeling of electricity. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but there seemed to be no doubt for either of us than that we needed more privacy. So we quietly, mutually, agreed to go back to his hotel together.

We had a wonderful night, staying up all night talking. And making out. And making love. But mostly, hugging and talking. It felt sooo good to feel safe enough to be intimate again.

I had not felt ready to date again AT ALL - in fact, I almost kind of hoped that my romantic life was over. My lack of sexual/romantic feelings in general were making me sort of uneasy - worried about what would happen if they ever came back. But with my friend it felt so natural, because I do really trust him. So it was a huge comfort and a huge relief. We agreed that whatever else happened, we'd stay close friends and not have any other expectations.

He left for his new home city very early the next morning.

Since then, we've been in touch a little by phone and quite a bit by text/IM. I get a real thrill every time I hear from him and I miss him and worry when time goes by when I don't hear.

Given that he's still living with his abusive gf, and additionally is thousands of miles away ... I'm thinking that this crushy kind of thing I'm feeling is probably not appropriate. Even if I am "ready" for a new relationship - he's clearly not. It may be that he is just trying to find a way out of his existing relationship - since our night I've deliberately avoided bringing it up - but even then, even if he got out right now, I guess he'll still have some serious healing to do and it probably wouldn't be smart of me to expect anything whatsoever from him.

So, I think I should probably just reduce contact and try to distract myself. BUT ... it's so nice to feel this way. I know that some of it is just me being flattered - he really knows me, and he really likes me! and some of it is distraction from the pain of my divorce - but on the other hand, it's kind of a like a door was finally opened, or a switch flicked ...

I never seriously ever thought of other men while I was married, so even though this friend was right there in front of me, I never looked at him in that way, but I always really really enjoyed his company. I remember feeling disappointed on the days he wasn't in the office, and happy whenever i got to sit close to him and talk. He's incredibly intelligent, creative and passionate - but also sensitive and kind. We have an enormous amount in common - similar views on religion, politics, family, food, music ...

I want to do the thing that will be least hurtful for everyone involved, and my brain tells me that's to back off. But my heart wonders "what if?" .. what if this is just the wrong way to meet the right person?

We've both been pretty open and honest about our feelings of excitement and confusion and I think we're both committed to trying to maintain the friendship. As a friend - I wanted him to tell me all about what was going on in his relationship - but now - I feel - more worried, a bit jealous, guilty ...when he tells me details of his personal life. I've suggested to him that it would be better for him to talk to someone other than me about that, and he's indicated he's both looking for a more neutral friend to confide in, and seeking therapeutic help.

What should I do? I guess if it's meant to be, it will be ...
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
What should I do? I guess if it's meant to be, it will be ...

Exactly. Until he extracts himself from his own bad situation, he can't emotionally be available to you in the way you probably need. Your thought that he should talk to someone else, given your situation, is well thought-out and I think the more distance you can put until he works his own life out, the better any future you might have will be.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:07 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know this feels nice, but you need to let this man sort out his relationship. It wouldn't be good for either of you to be romantically involved right now.

And absolutely heed your therapist's advice.
posted by Specklet at 7:15 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


My 2 cents:
You are very vulnerable and this new relationship is like a drug. Be careful, you are becoming addicted to the "high" and the withdrawal is not something you need right now.

Take this very, very slowly. You need recovery time.
posted by incandissonance at 7:23 AM on September 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


At some point in the evening, I wrapped him in my arms and we just held each other. It felt really right, but I had only intended the hug as a friendly hug of support. And then he kissed me.

We looked at each other and there was this feeling of electricity. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but there seemed to be no doubt for either of us than that we needed more privacy.



People with this level of romantic fantasizing are ripe for exploitation by somebody who knows how to manipulate it. I'm not necessarily saying this is you, but it sounds like you're not making conscious choices about whom to sleep with - like you enjoy the feeling of being swept along and letting things "just happen." That effectively makes you very appealing bait for any predatory guy out there.

If I understand this situation correctly:

1) Your friend - who hadn't made special efforts to stay in touch prior to this - reached out to you as soon as you were no longer involved with your husband. Coincidence?

2) He claims that he is being abused (in a way that is coincidentally very similar to the way you were) but you have not verified that in any way through third-party sources. The only confirmation of this is what your friend tells you. For all you know, she could be the sweetest person alive, and he's just making up abuse to gain your sympathy so that you feel like it's okay for him to cheat on her.

3) He is currently living with his girlfriend and as far as you know has no plans to break up.

Based on this, I'd say you got played. My hypothesis is that he'll keep trying to hook up with you whenever he visits, but I think that whenever you discuss him actually leaving his girlfriend, something impossible for you to verify will come up that makes it just impossible for him to break up with her right now. Maybe her dog will have died, or her father will be sick, and it would simply be too cruel for him to leave her right now. Of course, somebody as sweet and thoughtful as you will totally understand... right?

Honestly, I just feel bad for the girlfriend who's getting cheated on.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:24 AM on September 17, 2012 [38 favorites]


What should I do?

You should take care of yourself and learn to and avoid getting involved with people whose words and actions don't match up. Continue with your therapist, and pay close attention to your therapist's very good advice about not transferring your vulnerabilities from one relationship to another.

I'm sorry but regardless of whether your friend's relationship is with someone abusive or with someone he is telling tall tales about, the fact is he is living with someone else and therefore not in a position to give you what you need and deserve in a romance or in a friendship. You deserve better.
posted by headnsouth at 7:26 AM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I had not felt ready to date again AT ALL - in fact, I almost kind of hoped that my romantic life was over. My lack of sexual/romantic feelings in general were making me sort of uneasy - worried about what would happen if they ever came back.
Well, now you know that, with a partner who feels safe, you can have those feelings again and it's okay.

For now...take some time to yourself and focus on healing from the abusive relationship you were in. It sounds like both of you are in vulnerable places, so it's probably best to keep away from any romantic entanglements between you two (or, IMHO, with anyone else) for a bit.
posted by xingcat at 7:28 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Backing off is the right decision here. It sucks, I know, but it's the best thing to do. The best-case scenario here involves you waiting an indefinite period of time, nursing a crush all along, until he maybe decides to leave his girlfriend. And then what? Well, then he's on the other side of the country and he's fresh out of a long-term abusive relationship. Not exactly great, that.

Take some time and space and be kind to yourself and work on your stuff. The good news is that you know you can feel this way - what's next is getting to the point where you feel this way in a situation where it's a good idea. This is not that situation.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:34 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You did get played. Be careful. Cut off contact with him if you have to. It may have felt magical, but the whole not having expectations stuff is so classic and gross that it makes me cringe.

Be careful about your feelings. You're going to want him more soon. This was not a good thing to do. He isn't a friend. He wanted to cheat on his girlfriend and use you to cheat with.
posted by discopolo at 7:42 AM on September 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


You want to get involved with someone for the first time after leaving your abusive husband who not only is physically unavailable as he is living thousands of miles away but is also emotionally unavailable as he is in a relationship with another woman. This is not a recipe for a healthy start to a romantic relationship. This is a recipe for heartbreak...and this is in addition to the fact that he slept with you while he was in another relationship. Regardless of whether or not his relationship is as in dire straits as he claims it is that isn't really a sign that someone is in a healthy place (or a trustworthy person IMO) to start another relationship.
posted by teamnap at 7:45 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it possible that his unavailability is part of the attraction?
posted by endless_forms at 7:55 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's OK to see this as two friends taking comfort in each other and a nice gift from the universe to let you know there are better things than your marriage out there. That's totally fine and okay. But take it for what it is and heed the advice about how this is not a good recipe for a relationship and that if you try to make it one, it may harm you.

You don't have to cut him off or anything, you just need to know your own boundaries and keep your communications within them. It was a one night stand with a friend. Take it for what it was, be grateful for it, and move your own life ahead.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:02 AM on September 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


It dounds like you have already learned a lot from this experience. You did not consciously decide in advance to enjoy the sexual company of this man. As you say, you're not even sure how it happened and it was not even discussed in the moment.

Please discuss this with your therapist, and watch the video on YouTube, "sliding vs deciding" which is very good, though it focuses on the relationships of younger people. The message is that just as decisions have consequences, so do "not decisions" or just going with the flow.

You are a strong woman, with practice you will develop the skill of saying no and being more active about what you want (instead of relying on The hope that your romantic life is over). You can learn to prioritize your long term goals over the pleasantness of physical involvement with a man who is not currently partner material.

If physical attention is what you crave, use therapy appointments to discuss appropriate measures for achieving that.

Also practice setting and defending boundaries, not just around romantic and physical activities, but in all corners of your life. Being confident in saying no or slowing down or in actively saying yes will do good things for you.
posted by bilabial at 8:13 AM on September 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Truthfully, I think you need to back off. As long as he is making the choice to stay in his relationship but maintaining a type of intimate contact with you, you are doing yourself a disservice by becoming more emotionally invested in someone who isn't available (who in my opinion took advantage of your vulnerability, or at the very least, crossed some inappropriate boundaries). Take it for what it was, a nice intimate moment between friends, and leave it be. It sounds like the two of you already laid the boundary down (close friends and not have any other expectations) and while I'd suggest that you re-think the "close friends" part, I really think it sounds like you are starting to build expectations and "catch" feelings, which is why I'd advise backing off somewhat. The "what-if" part of your scenario involves him taking a different course of action than going back home to his girlfriend and it doesn't sound like he's interested or ready to do that.
posted by sm1tten at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2012


During my divorce, I had a string of mostly very long distance, mostly online relationships, mostly with men who were, like me, not really free to commit 100% to the relationship even if they wanted to. (For example, one was in the midst of a long standing separation but not divorced.)

For me, it was a good way to meet some of my emotional needs and get on with life. I was clear I did not really want a "serious" relationship yet. Distance and other factors allowed us to be very expressive, emotionally, without worrying too much about the consequences. For example, admitting I was in love and wanted to marry one of them could not, whoops, lead to some drunken Vegas wedding type situation.

However, I was careful to bring things back to reality at times. For example, I periodically told one man whom I was nuts about that, because of my respiratory problems, his smoking was a deal breaker for me and we likely would never have an in person relationship. I was also clear I would not do anything nutty like uproot my life and move elsewhere to be with one of these men with no means to support myself and a de facto assumption that he would take care of me/ we would live together. That is a recipe for disaster.

So I was okay with a somewhat similar situation. For me, it had built in safeguards. That was good for me. Of course, YMMV (and probably will).

Best of luck, whatever you decide.
posted by Michele in California at 8:20 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Over the past year or so, you've had to exercise an unusual level of strength and ambition and fortitude in your personal relationships. Of course, it takes a lot of courage to survive a decade of abuse. But it takes even more courage to leave and to stand by your decision to leave when there are likely heavy forces pulling you back. You had to uproot your whole life, and if your life is like most people's lives, there were people in it, your ex included, trying to convince you that you were doing the wrong thing. There may have even been people trying to tell you that you were overreacting or behaving badly and that you should go back to your marriage and try to work things out. It takes a huge amount of strength to do what you did, and you exerted a huge burst of effort all at once to escape that relationship.

All that is to say, you must be exhausted. Stress like that can affect you both physically and emotionally, and it would be completely normal for all of that to be hitting you like a ton of bricks right now. In fact, some experts hypothesize that PTSD is the body's reaction to having to plow through a lot of stress without time and energy to process the emotions, and then when the external stressors are over, all those feelings and fears and reactions hit you all at once. And it's okay to be overwhelmed by all of that now that you're safe.

So, after all of that stress and pain and need to be courageous, along comes your coworker. I don't have a strong opinion about whether he's telling the truth about his abuse or whether he really plans to leave his partner for you. That's irrelevant, because this isn't about him, it's about you. And he comes along, and you're swept away by this tide of feeling for him. You describe the excitement and the attraction between you, but mostly, your story is not about you making conscious choices about your own actions. You say you "can't remember" how it happened, and you describe feeling rather than thinking about what you want to do.

There's nothing wrong with all of that. But to me, it fits in with your experience. You're emotionally exhausted from having to make all of these difficult plans and choices all on your own, and then here comes this man with whom you don't have to make plans or choices and with whom you don't feel alone. Plus, there's this big impediment to this relationship ever moving from that fantasy dream world into reality, where you would have to make choices about how to proceed. And that's really attractive to you, above and beyond your attraction to who he is as a person. It makes a lot of sense. But, I'll say, it's not a great basis for a relationship.

If you haven't been to counseling post-marriage, I would go now. Talk with someone about what you've been through and process some of those complex feelings and figure out how you can exercise agency in your life going forward in ways that are healthy and don't leave you feeling burned out. I suspect that, once your life has calmed down, you'll realize that this experience wasn't about this other person, it was about you and your needs and your feelings. And again, there's nothing wrong with that. But you need to figure out how to live your life now, making your own choices, not just being carried along on waves of emotion.

I know I've engaged in some pretty heavy armchair psychoanalysis here. Feel free to disregard anything that doesn't mesh with your experience, but I think I recognize what you're going through, so I'm going to forge ahead despite the risk that I may be overly presumptuous. I hope that at least some of this is helpful to you.
posted by decathecting at 8:22 AM on September 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Since then, we've been in touch a little by phone and quite a bit by text/IM. I get a real thrill every time I hear from him and I miss him and worry when time goes by when I don't hear.

This is really dangerous because it puts you in a cycle where you eventually start relying on him for your happiness. The rest of your life is tough and a huge mess, and you really need something exciting and romantic. To get that thrill, you will eventually start trying to figure out what makes him want to contact you, start noticing his habits and preferences, start becoming extra conscious of little signals from him. Does that sound familiar? It seems like a good way to get in the habit of molding your behavior around someone else's wants and preferences, just at a point when you're trying to get out of that habit so that you can make an independent go at it. That takes this from an exciting distraction to a problem.

In terms of contact, I have been in this sort of situation, and I will tell you what has worked for me. None of these have to be permanent and you don't have to be perfect. God knows I've blocked and unblocked some people hundreds of times. But these things really, really do help you reduce the desire for contact if you give them an honest try:

--No phone. Delete his number from everything.
--No IM. Not only does it keep you sitting there wondering if he's on or not, spending a lot of time thinking about him, IM doesn't give you time to think/edit
--Delete his emails and IMs/texts. Otherwise you will go back over them to reminisce, overanalyze, obsess
--If he emails or texts you, either don't respond, or respond once with as little info as possible
--Try to wait as long as you can before responding while distracting yourself with other things, you will feel the urge to respond lessen
--Don't ask him questions
--Don't tell him things that are emotionally significant for you
--DON'T DON'T DON'T talk about how you feel about him, your relationship with him, your crush on him, your special connection to him...just don't. If he talks about them don't respond.

All of these things will really help you keep from focusing on him and that thrill will fade over time.

On a related note, don't talk to him about his relationship. At this point, it should be more than a suggestion from you--it should be a strict and firm boundary. Whether or not he means it, any information about his relationship will be read through the filter of you wanting to be with him. You'll find hope in little dribs and drabs, or be disappointed if things seem to be going well, or...it's a roller coaster and it does nothing for you but make you miserable.

If he is in an abusive relationship, that is very sad for him, but there is no way that continuing to be emotionally intimate with you will help him. Rather the converse, it will be bad news for him and bad news for you.

You can be independent. You can do this without him. I believe in you.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:32 AM on September 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


Also discuss 'decision fatigue' with your therapist. As decathecting points out, you've spent a year making exhausting decisions. This most recent event is not evidence that you don't know what you want, nor does it suggest that you are bad at setting boundaries.

It does suggest that you need to get some rest and talk with your support system about making your life look the way you want. Keep up the good work!
posted by bilabial at 8:36 AM on September 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, I'm sorry I used the phrase "a big mess" to talk about your life, it sounds a bit demeaning and I didn't mean to downplay the impressive accomplishments you've made thus far. I meant it in the sense that I think your life is probably in one of those phases where lots of things are changing and all over the place, not that there is anything wrong with it per se.

Also, this:

We've both been pretty open and honest about our feelings of excitement and confusion and I think we're both committed to trying to maintain the friendship.

I'm sure that he has warm feelings towards you, but you and this guy are not in this together, and there's not really a "we" here. There is you, and there is him, and your needs and desires are going to be in conflict moving forward. There is no way to work together on this because feeling like you are working together towards a shared goal is a kind of emotional intimacy that is not healthy for either one of you right now.

These kinds of metarelationship discussions are what I was talking about above as being something to avoid, if you can. Even when they're about how it won't work out or whatever, they perpetuate this idea that you have a relationship to discuss and that perpetuates the feeling that you have a special, intimate connection.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:39 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]



I had not felt ready to date again AT ALL - in fact, I almost kind of hoped that my romantic life was over. My lack of sexual/romantic feelings in general were making me sort of uneasy - worried about what would happen if they ever came back.


The good news is that you realized that you can feel these things within the framework of a trusting relationship. I'd recommend backing off:

1. so you can work through the stuff from your old relationship and divorce
2. so you can be ready and available when someone who is also ready and available comes along with whom you can have a true relationship.
posted by RogueTech at 8:40 AM on September 17, 2012


Finally (sorry for the triple post!) I'm sorry that this happened to you. I'm glad you got the temporary enjoyment out of it, but in my experience it will be a bit of a sore spot for quite a while and that sucks and is not something you should have to be dealing with right now. You deserve to have a romantic interlude with someone who is available, in a stable place in his life, and able to dedicate the time and energy towards you that you want and need. I believe that that can happen for you and that you can have a great, mutual, and healthy relationship. Don't give up hope or assume that this is the best you can get--it's not. Even if he's a great guy, there are great guys who are able to be great guys to you, in a relationship with you. Hang in there, and you will find one.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cut off contact with him until and unless he's out of his relationship.

"My SO hurts me and doesn't understand me but you TOTALLY GET ME" is pretty classic cheater-talk. The Simpsons even had a parody country song about it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:47 AM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


3) He is currently living with his girlfriend and as far as you know has no plans to break up.

Based on this, I'd say you got played. My hypothesis is that he'll keep trying to hook up with you whenever he visits, but I think that whenever you discuss him actually leaving his girlfriend, something impossible for you to verify will come up that makes it just impossible for him to break up with her right now. Maybe her dog will have died, or her father will be sick, and it would simply be too cruel for him to leave her right now. Of course, somebody as sweet and thoughtful as you will totally understand... right?


Even if the reality is less cynical than this, the next most likely possibility is that he doesn't know how/want to leave one relationship with something else lined up. The "something else lined up" is usually just a springboard, not necessarily anything specific to you or indicative of any intentions towards long-term commitment.
posted by availablelight at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


[should have been, "leave a relationship WITHOUT something else lined up"]
posted by availablelight at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2012


I'd say you need a year to be alone. You've been separated for almost a year but that's not the same. You need one full year from the date your divorce is final, whenever that may be. Take that year to take care of yourself and only yourself. Discover the things you like and don't like. Work hard at your therapy and come out on the other end as a stronger, whole person.
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:22 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given that he's still living with his abusive gf

Stopped reading here. This is not a good idea for either of you. If he's in a bad relationship, he needs to get out, first. If you're still healing from a bad relationship, you need to not be getting entangled in someone else's relationship problems right out of the gate.

Back off. If there's real potential here, it'll still be there once he's available.
posted by kagredon at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2012


unexpectedly slept with a friend ... unexpectedly reached out ... At some point ... had only intended ... I can't remember exactly what happened next ...

You are undergoing a major life change and disorder is expected. But you probably want to give this guy a wide pass ***and*** work out your issues with volition.
posted by rr at 1:00 PM on September 17, 2012


Keep in mind that even though he has an abusive gf, he is not the victim currently, he is the one CHEATING on her right now, physically and emotionally. You do not want to be with a guy who cheats, who is dishonest to his current partner (even if his partner sucks). Maybe if the guy breaks off his abusive relationship, you'll want to be with that guy, the single guy who had the courage (like you!) to end his abusive relationship. Until then, do not get excited about communication with this cheating, cowardly guy, no matter how kind ornsensitive he makes himself seem to you right now. Let him know nicely but firmly that you would consider a relationship once both of you heal, but leave it up to him him contact you if he gets himself out of his situation and if he really does want to date you after some time passes. In the meantime, do not wait for him, take time to be good to yourself. Good luck with everything, and I hope that whichever way the situation works out will be the right thing for you, even if this guy doesn't end things with his current gf.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 3:17 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given that he's still living with his abusive gf, and additionally is thousands of miles away ... I'm thinking that this crushy kind of thing I'm feeling is probably not appropriate.

That's the understatement of the year. There are thousands of single men out there that can give you these feelings of empathy and affection, knock boots with one of them, instead; you'll be much happier over the long run.
posted by smoke at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2012


What you need, I think, is for this to have been a lovely night that you took a lot of enjoyment out of, and nothing more. In fact, I think moving forward you need it to be less: whatever else, he is not even remotely available, and taking on whatever problems he may be having is creating a level of intimacy that isn't good for you.

You didn't do anything wrong! You shouldn't attach negative feelings to that night. It's just, you need to move on.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:52 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, these people are being super harsh to you based on almost no facts at all. Geez louise. If he hooked up with you while still in a relationship with someone else, that was a bad decision and needs to not be repeated. BUT it doesn't necessarily mean he's the scum of the earth or that there is and will be nothing between you ever.

You're welcome to talk to him and tell him you like him and say that if he's single, you'd consider him. However you are not really allowed to fuck him while he's living with his girlfriend and not formally and officially and completely broken up with her, plus a month or two to get over it, probably. If you do that, you're an idiot. Keep ye olde pants on while he's in a relationship with someone else.

You probably need empathy and affection (emotional and physical) at this stage in your life. Seeing as how this guy is not available, and that you should NOT be sleeping with someone in another relationship, as a rule, you should find one ore more lovely and available people in your area.

This guy may or may not come around. You telling him straightforwardly that you like him but won't sleep with him while he's in a relationship, and you dating others, won't change that decision on his part.
posted by kellybird at 9:38 AM on September 18, 2012


I am going to ask you to take a step back and look at the basic facts of what happened here. You got out of an abusive relationship and someone you'd known for years told you he was experiencing abuse remarkably similar to what you experienced. This built a great deal of rapport between you and led you to go back to his hotel with him. You parted ways and are now waiting for him to break up with his partner, but nothing he's said or done, other than confiding that he's being abused, gives you any indication that he intends to break up with her.

The things he said about being abused intensified your feelings for him and also led you to believe both that cheating was excusable, and also that you had a future together. You have no verification that he actually was abused other than his word.

Is there any way he could have found out details of the abuse you suffered? Did you tell anyone who knows both of you? Did you talk about it online under any username he could have remotely associated with you?

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes" or even "yes, but," I think you need to consider that some people will stoop very low for very little and that this man might be one of those people. You need to be careful what information you give him. I don't recommend that you confront him.

Supposing though, that it's all true and he's just emotional and confused. He's still gone off and left you hanging and hasn't had an honest conversation about where you stand with him, even if just to say "I'm confused and under threat in my living situation and I need space for the foreseeable future," or just "I don't want to take this further." That's not very good of him. Anybody knows that treating you like that is likely to hurt you. Even if his partner has him key logged everywhere - and she won't be able to do that at his workplace will she? or he doesn't want to leave written evidence, he could call you on the phone. A work phone or pay phone, if he has to. You're being very considerate of his situation and feelings and he's not showing you any consideration in return. (No, he doesn't get to assume no strings unless otherwise stated.)

If I thought it would be good for you, I'd encourage you to think of it as a brief encounter kind of thing, but I'd be lying to you about what I think is really going on here. I guess he could be a good guy but he's not being good to you, and I think he could be manipulating information in a way that suggests he's an unsafe person to know.

I think you should very carefully alter your privacy settings in a way that won't draw his attention. Fade and then block.

You didn't do anything wrong by believing him or by romanticising this, any more than you'd be wrong to drink a cup of cold water offered to you after being lost in the desert. Whatever the explanation here, there's nothing wrong with you. It's not a sin to be vulnerable, it is a sin to play on someone's vulnerabilities (if that's what he did).
posted by tel3path at 10:50 AM on September 18, 2012


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