When you’re torn between two imperfect romances

Tshilidzi asks: I have a boyfriend and we have been dating for 8 months now. 2 months into our relationship he was way too busy for me and even canceled our dates. I knew he was a busy man before dating him, but I thought he’d compromise for me. I was so lonely and sad cause he reminded of my failed relationships and felt as if I didn’t deserve to be happy. I am a student, and where I school there is a lecturer, and for 3 years now we have been pretending to be a fake couple. All of a sudden it became real for both of us – and he is married. He is funny and gives me so much attention and is always around me. He made me forget about all my troubles. I dumped my boyfriend and he was there for me. Ended up taking him back after countless apologies and things have been perfect ever since. Problem is that now I’ve got deep feelings for my instructor and he even kissed me. I try to forget about him but I can’t and I know it’s wrong. I would tell myself that I’m not gonna entertain him anymore but the moment I see him I go crazy. The connection I have with him is something I have never felt before and he is also battling with me . He can’t stay away from me. And he is in a risk of getting fired and me being punished and my boyfriend is also doing the same course as me and I’m afraid he will find out. I don’t know what to do cause I’ve never been in this situation and I don’t know how to handle it. Please help me. I don’t want to be a reason why another woman is sad but I just can’t help myself, I am so deep in love with him. I can’t even stay away from him; also we are always looking for each other around the whole school and we talk every day. Some students have even noticed our change of hearts. He has been married for 2 years and has no kids with the woman, but has 2 from his previous marriage. He is older than me by 25 but looks very young. Please help me

Hi Tshilidzi –


Wow, Tshilidzi, there is so much going on here, it’s hard to know where to start!


But really, everything you wrote comes down to two things.  First, there’s a guy you’ve been dating who is so busy he makes you feel unimportant. And second, you’re in love with a married man, your professor, who is at least acting in love with you too.  Now either of these alone would be a perfectly difficult situation; the two together make an astounding one!


I’ll confess, the biggest confusion I have here is about the teacher.  He’s been married for two years, and that whole time he’s been “pretending to be a fake couple” with you?  Then he’s actually started showing real interest – seeking you out, kissing you – knowing that getting caught could be the end of his marriage and  his career?  But he’s not trying to make more happen between you?


I truly don’t understand what he’s doing.  Unless he’s one of those guys who get turned on by the danger of relationships, testing to see how much he can get away with (Many people consider Bill Clinton, the former U.S. President, to be a case like that).


What strikes me is that you have a very simple need: you need your boyfriend to show you as much interest as this lecturer does!  If your boyfriend searched for you around the campus, took risks to be with you, and stopped being “too busy” all the time, I think you might be able to get more excited about him, and less so about this other man who is wrong for you in so many ways.


But that means your boyfriend changing, and it’s you who wrote me this letter, not him.


So my only advice to you is to be ENORMOUSLY careful.  And to, if you get the chance, find some time to sit by yourself (on a mountain is great, or looking out at a river or lake or ocean if you can).  And try asking yourself the simple question of What Do You Want, and who can you get it from.


There’s a chance neither of these guys is giving you exactly what you want or need.  Or, that, if you confronted your boyfriend and demanded more of his time and attention, or if you told that professor “I’m not going to flirt with you anymore as long as you’re married,” you might be able to fix things up a bit.


But whatever you choose, it’s clear that what’s going on now isn’t working.  It’s exciting – WOW is it exciting – but none of it looks like it can last, without some big changes.


Find those changes you want and need.  And know that you deserve them.  And go after them.  With or without these two fellows.


All my best,


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