Reader Q&A – Two Guys – Pick One? Or…neither?

By Hitori

Hitori

K Asks:

Message Hi, girls (and BD), thank you for creating this portal. If I may, I would like to ask for your input / opinions on my situation. The description is almost 2 A4 pages long, I hope you´ll have an understanding for the reasons.

Today I am 29. 8 years ago, I met the “love of my life“. He is just 2 years older (but back then already had 2 children with 2 different women in 2 different countries). I´m from Prague, Czech Republic, he´s from Belgium. From the moment we met, the mutual attraction was extraordinary. We ended up in bed together a few hours after meeting. Considering his age, good looks and leadership personality traits, I thought it would be a one night stand. For me he was worth it nonetheless.

He turned out not to want a one-night stand, wanted to meet my parents and appeared to be falling harder and harder for me over the following 2 months. I figured he´d stay in love with me for a year or so, then go look for other pastures. After those 2 months, however, he disappeared (without any previous indication).

After a short pause, we started communicating again – at first just using song lyrics and quotes. Then we started sleeping together again. Long story short, an on/off relationship continued, even while he officially dated another girl (for about a year), plenty of lying, bible quotes and drama involved, then he moved back to his home country.

I went to study in the Netherlands to be close to him but I cracked there and started dating someone else too, although I still loved him. He also told me he loved me, about a year into the relationship, and repeated it several times after. After a while he moved back to my country and we started sleeping together again. I was 26 then and thought I had to get a commitment from him or cut it off. I was about to graduate from university and told him I would move to the Netherlands for work unless he wants me to stay with him.

He didn´t express himself and I moved. He was shocked and couldn´t believe it. After a few months, he met a girl who was significant enough for him to date officially. He missed me, too, however, and I was really unhappy without him.

You see, I love him regardless of who he sleeps with, I can just see his face and I smile and feel warm and happy. He and the girl broke up after a while and I returned to Prague (not only for him, also for a better job opportunity and my family). He then told me he didn´t love me, he and the girl found a way back to each other, she was ok with an open relationship, he wanted to keep sleeping with me. I didn´t want to be the second one and wanted to give myself the chance to recover and meet someone I would fall in love with again and had a chance of starting a family with (later on). I cut it off. For a year.

During the time, I met my current Czech boyfriend. The first 2.5 months, I was telling him I didn´t want to date anyone and needed time to recover. He didn´t pressure me and I found myself falling in love (lust?) with him. In the end I seduced him and he immediately proceeded to offer me a monogamous relationship with a perspective of marriage and children. He is 4 years older and very family-oriented. Also highly structured (at work AND in private life) and somewhat possessive, which causes problems in our relationship occasionally.

Our sex life works, though. Even though I sometimes dreamt of my Belgian love (I mean both day- and night-dreaming). Then, 9 months ago, my Belgian reappeared. I was down in bed with a flu and we talked for 2 hours but when leaving, he said he was addicted to me, I figured he needed help – well, getting his sex life back on track. So I slept with him. 3 months later, he and the girl broke up, he said he loved me and would like to be with me.

A few days later, my boyfriend asked me to marry him. 2 days later my grandmother died (I was her only direct relative). I was a mess but somehow managed to cope. Meanwhile, my employer decided to send me to Italy for training for 3 months. I decided to use the opportunity to take a detached view on things. Result of long considerations: Rationally, any kind of relationship with my chaotic Belgian doesn´t stand a chance, but I can´t live with the thought that I didn´t give it a chance. He still says he wants to try. I deeply hate the idea of hurting my boyfriend who doesn´t deserve it in the least and has done a lot for me, throughout our relationship and especially after my grandmother died. I´m also really content with him.

If I didn´t know my Belgian, I would even say happy. Apart from the situations when his controlling nature overtakes him. I think I will want children one day. I don´t want them in the next 2 years. My boyfriend wants to have children in 2 years at the latest. My Belgian is not sure now whether he ever wants to have any more children. He often brings up his unhappy childhood (his dad was a criminal and left when he was a baby, his mom was an entrepreneur and didn´t have time for him, he grew up with his grandparents, at weekends, his mom would lock him up in his room so that he wouldn´t disturb her while she continued working; he was five, there was a storm outside and he was scared of the shadows).

Keeping both is impossible. I love sex, but I can´t bring myself to sleep with many men. Also, while sex is one thing (an important one!), the sort of lovemaking I experience with my Belgian, the one that takes you to another world, is something else and even more special. While I am currently financially ok, I come from a poor family, who need my support. My boyfriend is very well-off. My Belgian is capable but as you can see, rather unreliable and mainly expecting me to be perfectly independent. I´m scared of what might happen if I fall sick and can´t work. Already had a bad case of repetitive strain injury in both hands in the past.

Can you give me your view(s) on my situation, please? I gave you more than I feel comfortable about because I didn´t know how to make story comprehensible otherwise. Thank you very much and good luck with this and your other projects!

Hitori’s Response

My views on your situation, you say? Well, alright.

Let’s start with basics: any decision you make right now is going to be useless if you don’t get real with yourself about what you’re doing. Your letter was two A4 pages (by your own count), but I had to re-read it and play detective just to figure out the basic order of events. You used all those words to talk around what happened, as though it would somehow change the facts.

I think you should try to imagine, in your own head, how a neutral stranger might describe your behavior. Don’t be judgmental, just honest – and don’t make excuses. For example: “I saw him for the first time in nine months, and it brought back how strongly I feel about him, so I decided to sleep with him even though I am still with my boyfriend.”

Not saying it doesn’t change the decisions you’ve made, and saying it gives you valuable information you can use. For example: “In the heat of the moment, the intensity of this feeling matters more to me than the risk of creating problems with my jealous boyfriend.” Right? That’s something you know about yourself that you might not have before.

Being honest with yourself will help you make decisions that match your priorities, decisions you will stick to.
So, which guy to pick? Boyfriend or Old Flame? My suggestion is: neither.

You’re approaching this like it has to be one or the other – jealous, possessive, commitment-heavy boyfriend or unreliable, hot-and-cold commitment-phobe Belgian. But it doesn’t.

Here’s why you should ditch your boyfriend: you’re not ready for that level of commitment right now (kids, marriage). And even if you were ready for that level of commitment, this is not the guy for you – you just told me that he asked you to marry him and didn’t bother to mention what you answered. I think being out of a relationship that’s moving faster than you’re ready for will help you dial down the relationship-sabotaging behaviors that you’re using as an escape hatch here. The practical reasons to stay with him (money, long-term stability) don’t matter if you’re not going to stick to that decision, and – remember, we’re being honest about your behavior here – you probably won’t.

You’re at a point in your life where you need to feel passion even at the expense of a sense of being tethered, grounded, and secure – but it’s not impossible to have both of those things. You just can’t have both of them with either of the men in your story.

There are many other men.

Now, as for your Belgian: you have two options here, as I see it. The first, and the wisest – lose his number. I’m not kidding. Delete him from your phone, block him on all social media. Cut contact, and stay out of contact. Don’t think about him when you masturbate, either. In this scenario, here’s when you’re allowed to talk to him again: when you can honestly say that you wouldn’t sleep with him, or get back together with him, given the opportunity. No “unless.” No “until.” Just, “I wouldn’t do it.”

Your second option: buckle in for a bumpy ride.

I think you know, deep in your heart, that this isn’t going to work out. I think you know you’re setting yourself up for another 2-month rollercoaster. You know that this guy is a user. You know that the subtext of “I’m addicted to you” is “I want to quit you.” You know he says he loves you, you know he’s said it before, and you know how long it lasted – and how it turned out. If he does love you, and maybe he does – who knows – it doesn’t change the fact that he can’t handle having you, only getting you.

In spite of that, and this is something you won’t hear anywhere else – it could be that the right decision is to go for it. Not because it will work out – it won’t – but because the experience is worth the pain to you. That’s your choice to make, right? No one else gets a say. Just go in with your eyes open. You’re perfectly within your rights, in a relationship, to like the taste of broken glass – but you must expect indigestion. Chase him, get hurt, walk it off. But make this the last time. And if it doesn’t work – this time for real, because you’ve had your last dance – lose his number.

-Hitori

Hitori

5 comments

  1. Wow, I wonder how this is going to turn out? If she decides to delete his number and cut contact with him…….this is going to be such hard advice to follow if she chooses to do so! To try to go against those crazy feelings. Especially as it was said, “the experience is worth the pain.” Oh, it is totally worth it!!! Thinking about someone day and night and not wanting to think that you’ll someday never see them ever again, especially if you yourself initiate ending things.

    “You see, I love him regardless of who he sleeps with, I can just see his face and I smile and feel warm and happy.”

    This is tough, but I can so relate to that feeling!

  2. I’m with Hitori when she says “neither”. If you aren’t ready to settle down with the boyfriend, don’t suckered into it or you will always feel trapped. When a man asks you to marry him, you should feel SURE before saying yes.

    The other guy, the Belgian, well, he sounds like more of a fantasy than the real thing, you know what I mean? On some gut level you have to know that this will never work out because you express FEAR and concern about his unreliability. He is good for flings, but not a serious long term “forever” thing.

    You have all this time between meets with the Belgian guy to build him up again in your head, but just keep in mind that its mostly fantasy. Day to day life with him would change that quickly. I’m not one to tell you to give him up.. Personally I would keep seeing him as long as you can NOT commit to him and keep in your mind that this is fantasy fun and not reality. If that’s too difficult, then yeah, dump him too.

    Either way, I wouldn’t feel you have to “pick one” for now. There are other men that will be able to give you a better future out there, when you are ready.

  3. First let me agree with Hitori and LoverGirl on the two main points:
    1) You will not be satisfied with “ProviderGuy” in a long-term, monogamous relationship
    2) Trying to settle down with “ExcitingGuy” will be an epic disaster

    But please humor me and let me help you look at the glass 1/2 full for a minute. “K” has been able to find one man that wants to provide for her and protect her and another man that she has mind blowing sex with that has lasted for 8 years (albeit on and off). Both of these things individually are not trivial to find and she has found both. My only real concern with the advice given is that your advice seems to imply that finding both of those things (an amazing provider and mind blowing passion) can be found in the same person. Finding both in one person is practically a unicorn and even if found, we all know it is not sustainable for the long-term.

    K is 29 years old and has 1/2 a dozen years in which to have children before she introduces significant risk to having children. While “financially ok,” unlike someone like KryptoKate who doesn’t need a provider, K cannot provide for herself financially (or her family or any children she might have) in the manner she would be comfortable with. This, unfortunately, presents her with a real dilemma.

    As I see it her options are:
    1) Take the advice here and “next” both guys. This leaves her without a provider or a once-in-a-lifetime lover and she has to start over from scratch to find a unicorn.
    2) Marry ProviderGuy and make the best of it. If K’s desire for stability and a family are strongest I would argue this is the right option.
    3) She doesn’t marry ProviderGuy (and probably not have children) and enjoys ExcitingGuy on and off for as long as it lasts…which might actually be quite a while if she can re-frame it properly. This is probably the best option if her wish for passion in her life is stronger than her need for a family and financial stability.

    What K MUST NOT DO is option 4. Option 4 is to use ProviderGuy as leverage in an effort to try to get ExcitingGuy to settle down. THIS IS BY MILES THE WORST POSSIBLE OPTION. It will result in misery for everyone involved…and sadly is the option many women would choose in this situation.

    Ks options would be different if her financial situation were different, but they are what they are. Regardless of which option you pick, be honest with yourself about what you are doing both for yourself and the others involved.

  4. My original message included a polite request to conceal the details that make the characters in the story recognisable to those who know them (or themselves) but I guess your choice not to do so serves me right for burdening you with such a long story.
    Here´s an update: Upon my return from Italy, my boyfriend and I broke up. It hurt like hell, more than I had expected, turns out the bond we had built was strong. The pain surprisingly diverted my attention away from my once-in-a-lifetime lover. Then I rationalised the situation and identified – after a long conversation with my ex about whether we should get back together – the 2 main differences (next to the 100 minor ones) that made us incompatible: In his view, a) life partners should make effort to improve each other and b) as in his family his father made the 5 main decisions (while the 1000 less important ones were made by his mother), he would also make the important decisions for „us“. Whenever I start to miss him now, as the only man who has ever had such strong feelings for me, I remind myself of these 2 points and confirm I am ultimately happier alone.
    The breakup pain has unexpectedly brought about a catharsis in my long-term on-off no-relationship. At first I just felt numb, then I quickly figured the value this boy was able to add to my life wasn´t worth the wait. For 9 months he insisted he wanted a relationship with me. After I broke up with my ex, he still claimed he wanted us to be together (exclusively!) but in his world this meant seeing each other once per week or two and replying to a message now and then 😉 When I finally said I had no further motivation to see him, he was relieved. Not ready for such a commitment – „yet“  Sure, I said, but why did you insist on it so much then? „Because sometimes I just miss you…“
    After 8 years, I can now see his pictures and be happy for him, without missing him or wanting him back in my life. Fantastic!
    So when finally free, like a proper addict, I immediately proceeded to fall in love with someone else. Yes, I know how idiotic this sounds. It´s just that this time I was even rationally quite sure it was a good idea. He is highly responsible, highly intelligent (in my ways) and always thinking of other people´s good. Socially appropriate age gap (I´m 6.5 years younger). On the lookout for a girlfriend/potential wife. I had known him quite well for 9 months from work. Found him attractive before but suppressed the idea every time in the past because – well, he´s my direct superior and I really like my job. But one day I realised I cared for him more than for the job. I would quit and go seek another one to be able to be with him. There´s only one catch: Due to my long stays abroad, I failed to realise that he can´t handle stress very well. Not so much at the expense of my co-workers, who noticed his tendency to make himself more stressed than the tasks at hand justify a long time before I did, but mainly at his own. So after the first 3 weeks of shared bliss, he has put me on a backburner to focus on his MBA thesis. If you ever read a description of a Virgo man, he´s a perfect embodiment of the stereotype (I´d have never thought this was possible, though I am a stubborn Aries myself). Sex with me has suddenly become „an hour of hard work“ (quoting) and seeing me would require that he stops writing „for 3 hours at least“. We can see each other in 2 weeks (I am on another business trip abroad in the meantime). When I say it´s obvious he doesn´t miss me, he says it is not true. But he would never say „I miss you“ himself.
    What would you do in my shoes?
    Thanks & best regards,

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