He loves us both, but he has to choose!
I met Jason through mutual friends, but I didn’t date him because we were both involved with other people. Over time, we realized we had a deeper connection, and eventually we became lovers. It wasn’t long before I realized I was deeply in love with Jason. He said he loved me too, but wasn’t in love with me. That was a warning I ignored and I continued our relationship. Jason told me he could see a future with me and that he planned to tell his other woman that he was leaving (when the time was right). But that time has really never been specified. I’ve begun to get frustrated as I want a committed relationship with just one man. We are both in our late 40’s and I believe that by now Jason should know what he wants. My judgement tells me that if he isn’t in love with me after more than a year, this is something that may not happen. Furthermore, Jason’s lack of urgency to move our lives together forward upsets me as I’m not getting any younger, and I’m waiting for Jason to get issues settled in his own life. When I get frustrated, I push him but then he distances himself even more. The last time I pushed him he said he was falling in love with me but he stopped, because I was making demands. If I break up with Jason now I lose someone I love without giving him a chance to sort things out, but then I wonder how long I can wait to get Jason off the fence ? Can this love story even have a happy ending? Most of the advice I’ve read elsewhere would indicate that I should insist upon a deadline or break things off, but I already know if I give Jason an ultimatum he will run and we both lose. What would you two suggest?
Tony’s Take: Katrina, as much as we hate it, in any relationship there is always a scorecard running. Good times where you connect and talk and are intimate increase the score, bad times which stress the relationship decrease the score. You desperately do not want the score to go below zero, because it is at that point when the other party decides the relationship is more trouble than it is worth.
Your problem with Jason is we have two scorecards going. Yours with Jason, and Jason’s with the other woman. It would appear that Jason’s relationship with the other woman is in decline and it will hit zero. So your goal is to boost your score high enough so that Jason really prefers being with you and you have spare points if you screw up and put stress on the relationship.
What gives you these mythical points are good experiences or fun experiences or things that bond you. It is showing him that you appreciate him and that you care for and about him and that you are fun and interesting to be around. So for example, you pick up points for even little things like hugging him or kissing him on the cheek , running your hands through his hair, laughing at his stupid jokes, having a nice supper, or walking arm in arm, talking about nothing, just holding hands, or spending quality time being together.
Ultimately (his choice) it will be about the quality of the experience of being with you. Life is a fight against boredom. You have to keep yourself interesting. And you have to keep up the social calendar. Arranging to go to a cultural event, or out with friends, or for a day trip. These are the things that make your and his life, interesting (and give you lots of points).
Alison’s Take: I agree that makes sense for a man or a woman to choose one partner over another based on good feelings vs. bad ones. But “keeping score” is a bad way to love someone. There are plenty of times when the bad outweighs the good, and those bad times might last a long while. If you are committed to someone you stick with them even when the meter runs on empty because you that person has qualities you cherish, and you believe you will have good times again. However, if the time comes that you realize that you are in a relationship that no longer satisfies you in the most basic ways and these issues cannot be remedied, it is time to leave. Sitting on the fence is a passport to a relentless lifetime of misery. And sitting on the fence is where Jason is right now, and therefore, where you are too.
What I see in your letter, without knowing all the details, is a man in conflict. Jason is torn between two women and he would like to have them both. He doesn’t know how to drop one for the other. Things are obviously rockey with the woman he is with, but the idea of a messy breakup is probably holding him back from leaving her. On the other hand, he likes the idea of being with you, but he says he isn’t in love with you because he is bonded to someone else. Right now he has the love and devotion of two women which must do great things for his ego. However, he mistakenly thinks his life is relatively stable. While he can continue to get whatever benefits he believes the other woman offers him (probably familiarity and comfort, if nothing else) and from you he gets the joy and excitement of romance, good sex and companionship, he also has to juggle to two women. Apparently, this is not really an issue for Jason, and as long as neither women pushes him to the limit, he’ll keep them both and stay on that fence.
As I see it, everyone gets a little something from the current arrangement, but everyone is getting cheated, too. This doesn’t make for a positive, normal situation. Frankly, both of you created this, but it’s selfish Jason at the heart of the issue. You are ready to love him with your heart and soul, but Jason isn’t ready to give you 100% in return. He doesn’t have to be in love with you to love you, but he has to commit one way or the other, and you have to accept whatever his limits may be. Can you do that? And consider: neither woman gets Jason’s heart because he is not giving his all to either of you. Jason expects both you and that other women to shower him with love, attention and devotion to keep their “score” high but does he do the same for you? The only potential downer (that I see) for Jason is that he will have to continue to lie and cheat, and handle two women who will become increasingly upset with the arrangement as they begin to realize what that arrangement is.
You can take control of this and you should, for the good and well being of all of you. You have chosen Jason, but Jason needs to make a choice between the women he cares for, no matter how much it makes him squirm. He must decide that you are the one he wants the most, or there is no love story here. My advice to you is to enjoy Jason’s company but don’t be a fool for love. You must gather your courage and self esteem and remind Jason you are not a child and time is wasting. You want him to set goals for moving forward in your relationship and there must be actual drop dead dates for doing so, or his “score” will drop to zero, and you will move on without him.