Is it wrong I want to continue the relationship, even though I know he has a girlfriend?

Tell Me About It: My problem is he is still in a relationship with someone else

He has been in contact numerous occasions since and I finally relented. Photograph: Getty

He has been in contact numerous occasions since and I finally relented. Photograph: Getty

 

I met someone through online dating and we clicked but had stupid argument and stopped talking. He then got back in touch and dropped a bombshell that he had a girlfriend. I was so mad and told him not to contact me again. He has been in contact numerous occasions since and I finally relented and met him. He wants to continue our relationship, but I can’t while he is in relationship with someone else. Is it wrong to want to be with him after everything?

Answer: This is a really important issue: one where we have knowledge of something but act as if we don’t. There are always consequences of this and perhaps the eventual suffering is not worth it. You initially got on well with someone you met on-line and it is probably true that you have many things in common and there is even a spark. But the second time you were in contact (i.e. that you replied) you knew he was in a relationship and was therefore not free to be with you. He is clear: he is on-line looking for a buzz or sex and he told you of his status.

You are responsible for your choice to follow this up and engage with him. You are the ‘other’ person in his life and no doubt this will become intolerable to you very quickly. Even if he leaves his girlfriend for you at some stage, do you think you might be worried that he has a pattern of committing to one person and then chasing another? They say the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour and if there is any truth in this, you would need to be very careful.

We now see people who are on dinner dates swiping on their phones while their date has gone to the loo. The need to check our attractiveness and marketability has turned into a habit but as always, habits have consequences and are hard to break. Imagine what it is like to be out for dinner with someone and they are (virtually) looking over your shoulder to see if there is someone more attractive behind you.

You know that you are causing unseen hurt to another person and this is your burden to carry

It would make us feel dismissed, unattractive and rejected. In a way this is what your guy’s girlfriend will experience should she find out about you and whether you like it or not you have some responsibility in this. If you had gotten into the relationship without any knowledge of another partner, you could be excused somewhat but you know that you are causing unseen hurt to another person and this is your burden to carry.

A confident person is able to be honest about their behaviour and attitudes. What will the inevitable hiding and deceit do to you? Will you be able to introduce this guy to friends and family, take him to events etc. without fear of getting caught or fear of judgment? Perhaps at this early stage you can either remove yourself from this situation (because you deserve better) or demand that your guy end one relationship before beginning another.

There are numerous possible partners to chose from on-line, so choose someone who is happy to be seen with you in public and choose someone who has the maturity to take responsibility for their relationships. (A tip from a woman who does on-line dating is to ask to meet up for coffee in the area where the potential partner lives. They will refuse if they are married or in a relationship.)

From the partner’s perspective in this situation, he would do well to have a look at what he is creating and how this affects him in the long term. He could date as many people as he wanted if he were single, but he is choosing a relationship and also seeking a single life. We teach our kids that this does not lead to a successful life (‘to have our cake and eat it’ as the old saying goes) but that happiness and contentment comes from having some self-discipline and being able to like who we have become.

It would be interesting for him to wonder what is at play in his life that he gets something he wants and his response it to lose interest and dismiss it by seeking the thrill of the chase somewhere else.

It may well be that in this situation, he is the one who should be asking for advice and seeking help.

- Click here to send your question to Trish, or email tellmeaboutit@irishtimes.com

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