What to do when you’re asked to have an affair

Chandrani123 asks:

I have been in a relationship for four and a half years. My boyfriend is ten years older than me, he is very mature, cool minded & never gets angry upon me. We have a delightful relationship; sometimes I fight with him but he manages my anger really well. He never gave me chance to doubt him. He loves me very much but the turning point in our relationship began when once we decided to disclose our relationship to our family members. My boyfriend tried to convince his mom for marriage but she refused, wanting her son to marry by her choice. At last, my boyfriend gave up. I didn’t pressure him ever. Now my boyfriend says he is bound to marry by his family choice but he wants to keep his relationship with me just like now. But I am very afraid of extramarital affairs, and I think it is sinful to destroy his married life. So what should I do?

Hi Chandrani123 –

            I can’t tell you how many letters I’ve gotten in the past few years about just this issue – people who are dating someone, and have fallen in love with them, but then their families step in and one or both say they want their kid to have an arranged marriage.

            As a dog, I’m not opinionated on whether arranged marriages or the unarranged kind where people date to find who they want are the best kind.  Either is fine.  But it sure strikes me that this merging of cultural systems, where young people date and get involved with someone, and then their families pick someone, is a road to heartbreak! 

            First of all, you’re hurt by the fact that he’s not going to marry you.  And secondly, he’s almost guaranteed to not like or love the woman he’s paired with as much as he does you – at least for a long time. 

            And as a big-hearted dog, I hate anything that causes that kind of sadness.

            But you are bringing up a third point – this guy wants to keep you, even when he marries.  To keep you as a mistress, a lover.

            And while he might not be thinking this way, that is an absolute guarantee of hurting LOTS of people.

            Think of it.  First, he’s humiliating the woman he loves – asking her to commit adultery which she considers a sin.  Second, he’s planning on cheating on the woman he’s going to marry, before he even knows who she is!  But third, if the word gets out, what would this do to his family?  To your family?  To any children he and she have together?! 

            I have known numerous cases of people finding love outside their marriages.  Even if it’s the best choice for them, it’s always painful and difficult.  But in this case, he’s planning on it in advance!

            If you hadn’t told me so many wonderful things about him, I might assume he’s a selfish jerk.  But it’s clear he’s not.  So I’m going to guess that he’s just simply not thinking this through fully.

            Which means you’re going to have to do the thinking, and deciding for the two of you.

            Which is hard.  Really hard.

            My friend, I don’t see any possibility here except for you to break up with him.  And I know that’s the most hurtful thing I can say.  But it’s clearly the best thing for both of you.

            If you do, one of two things will happen.  First (and most likely), he’ll marry the woman his family chooses for him, treat her well (as he’s done with you), and learn to love her over time as she does him.  You may well remain the secret love in his heart, but life will move on.  And you will slowly get over this pain, and meet another man, one who’s available to you, and move forward with him – likely with more happiness than your current boyfriend is going to have (because you’ll have chosen this next guy).

            OR… it goes a different direction.  Your boyfriend tries to play by his family’s rules, but it doesn’t work.  He misses you.  He gets angry with his parents.  He gets introduced to the sorts of women they want, and doesn’t feel anything for them.  And eventually he breaks off from agreeing to their idea, and comes back to you, begging you to take him back.

            But that second idea, romantic as it is, can’t happen until he is forced to make up his mind.  His idea of you as his lover is a great way of him avoiding that choice – but you (and any woman he’s paired up with) deserve him to be forced into it!

            I’m so sorry this situation is so hard.  But truly, if you can do this (maybe the most difficult thing you’ve ever done), it ought to free you both up to far better lives than his idea can possibly offer you.

            With all my love,


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