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Stepping Out

By Mink Stole | Posted 6/6/2001

I'm seeing a guy I met on vacation. Things heated up between us the first two days, and we remained inseparable until the vacation was over. Then he told me that he was living with someone but was planning to break it off with her. I believed him and have been seeing him whenever he could get away--about every other week. But it's been a few months now, and I'm beginning to wonder if he's ever going to leave her. I don't want to pressure him, because I think that wouldn't be smart, and when we're together he seems so happy to be with me that I really believe he loves me. But I'm tired of waiting and feeling lonely. What should I do?

On Hold

Dear On Hold:

Almost every woman falls into the clutches of a cad at least once in her life, and this fellow, my dear, is yours. It's easy to do--cads are invariably so charming and seductive that it's hard to believe they are also completely unscrupulous. But, regardless of whatever otherwise endearing qualities he displays, this man is a liar. He's lied to you from the beginning, encouraging you to become emotionally involved when he knew damn well he was unavailable. That is, if he was telling the truth about the girlfriend. He wouldn't be the first person to invent a pre-existing relationship as an excuse to cool off a hot fling.

Of course, if the girlfriend is real, which she probably is, now he's lying to her by sneaking out to see you. And it's my guess that he's in no hurry to leave. She's way too convenient; as long as he stays with her, he has the perfect excuse not to commit to anyone else. Which leaves him free to carry on with anyone willing to put up with the total passivity a relationship with him requires. And you've bought right into it. You're not even asking him to live up to his own stated intention to leave the other woman. You want to believe that if you're understanding enough for long enough everything will work out your way.

We all want love--and when something feels good we don't want to lose it. But this guy isn't worth it. Even if he did leave the girlfriend, I'd have to go with his history and bet against him staying faithful to you. I could be wrong, of course, and for your sake I hope I am. The only way to find out is to refuse to see him unless and until he's free. If he really wants you, he'll do the honorable thing--for you and the girlfriend. If not, well, like it or not, at least you'll know where you stand. But the most important thing you'll learn is what it's like to get your self-respect back, especially since you weren't aware of how much of it you'd given up.

I am 22 years old and have been living away from home for five years. I have grown up a lot in the past year, and my mother is happy to see me making life changes and assuming responsibility. It's been nearly a year since I've seen her, and I'm going home soon for a weekend. She's excited too, and is already making lots of plans for my visit, including going to Jazzercise with her at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. I'm really looking forward to seeing her, but I don't want to watch her and a bunch of middle-aged women prancing around in their leotards before my coffee has even kicked in. Quite honestly, I would rather go to church--and I'm not even religious! I want to be a "good son," but how can I get out of Jazzercise without looking insubordinate?

No Dance Partner

Dear No Dance:

I can certainly understand your reluctance--I don't even like to see myself in a leotard until I've had enough caffeine to keep me moving too fast to focus. It took me months to find a gym with no mirrors. Nor can I imagine wanting anyone to watch me sweat, no matter how adorable a dance routine I might be working on. But we're talking about your mother, not me, and she wants you there. Maybe she wants to show you off to her classmates, or maybe she wants to show you what good shape she's in, or maybe after not seeing you for a year she just wants to spend every possible minute she can with you, and that includes Jazzercise. Who knows? But whatever the reason, try looking at it this way--going to her class won't be as much fun as a weekend in Vegas with the Backstreet Boys, but it's one Saturday morning out of your life. And if you're trying to improve your relationship with your mom, that's not much. You could offer to stay home and make her a delicious brunch as an alternative, but if she doesn't fall for it, put on a good attitude and your best "I love you, Mom" smile and go.

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