Living together without marriage is still a commitment
Dear Neil: I told a male friend I had sexual fantasies about him. At the time, he was living with a woman. I persuaded myself that if a man is a partner/boyfriend with a woman and not her fianc or husband, he is actually available. I figured that if a couple isnt married within two years of meeting, especially when theyve spent almost every day together, that they arent going to marry even though they are having sex and living together. I was hoping he would drop her and be with me. I got swept up in lusty text messages, especially when he said he wanted me. But then he said he just wanted me for a physical thing. When I said no, he got angry at me and accused me of leading him on. I wanted to be loved, and I loved the attention. I felt wanted. Yet his actions told me that he didnt want me as much as his text messages told me. How do I go about getting love more healthfully in the future? How can I ask for what I need without pressuring someone, and how can I inquire what the other person needs? Disappointed in Wellington, New Zealand
Dear New Zealand: Who said that two unmarried people living together are not in a committed love relationship? It is pure self-deception and self-sabotage to think that a man who is living with a woman is really available for another relationship, simply because they arent married. Although marriage is still very popular, it is less so these days than in the past, with more and more couples opting to live together sometimes for decades without marrying. If you make the assumption that theyre not really in love or committed to each other, you do so at your own peril. (Monogamy is a whole different discussion, however.)Some people flirt with everyone, and its far less personal than you think. Its a way of trolling, looking for what they might attract. (Fishermen sometimes throw a baited line in the water, accelerating their boat slowly just to see what might bite.) You cannot confuse flirtatious behavior with someone actually wanting a love relationship with you. Flirtatious is the package, not the product.Heres my advice: Dont go after men who are taken. Youre likely to be rejected or treated purely as a sexual object because his real emotional connection is with the woman hes built a shared life with, and therefore its going to be very hard on your ego. Find a man who is completely unencumbered and emotionally available. Thats your best chance for a happy, fulfilling love relationship. Then be direct and clear about what you want and need, and invite him to be just as direct and clear about his needs. Also, perhaps telling a man you have sexual fantasies about him is not the best way to attempt to start a relationship, unless you just want a sex with him. A man will think hes being propositioned, and of course theyre going to interpret that as a sexual come on. Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder. He can be reached at 303-758-8777 or by e-mail through his Web site, http://www.heartrelationships.com.
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