Here’s a question from Alice – very unique, and yet I know many of you are dealing with it, or know more about it than I. Please help out if you can…
“Dear Rori, I have listened to your work and read items on your website and what you say seems to make some sense to me but I am stuck.
My situation is that I have been in a “relationship” with a work colleague for nearly 10 months now. We started as friends. I then got the courage to tell him I was attracted to him. I left it for him to decide where he took that information from there. He decided that he wanted to pursue it further and we have enjoyed amazing physical and emotional connection – of which he will openly acknowledge that connection also.
The issue is that our relationship is “secret” – because we work together and secondly because he comes from an asian background – and I dont. His mother (who I believe became aware that he was seeing someone in the first month) has since moved in with him and is now taking all his time and attention. He told me at the start that he had an ex-girlfriend who he was still friends with as his and her parents did not know they had split.
There was an expectation that they would marry. After many discussions he told me he would speak to his mother so we could be “out in the open”. He did do this but his mother’s response was that he had to “work things out” with his ex-girlfriend who she wants him to marry to “save face” so people can benefit.
I can see that he is torn between his “duty” to his family and his desire to be in a open and loving relationship with me. He swears to me that they have not been physical or intimate for many years now and that before me they both saw other people but the ex-girlfriend (who he says he does not love anymore) is still apart of his life because of his mum, and demands him to put on a front for special occasions that they are together – and he does this (not nearly as often now that I am aware of as it was in the start). I know he has gone to his best friend for advice (as he is not asian) but from what he says he was of little help.
I feel now because of all the pressure that he is receiving at home he is withdrawing from me because he says he “has so much to deal with, pressure going on at home” that he struggles to find time for me – this in turn makes me feel that he doesn’t want to spend time with me, that I am not important to him – but he says seeing me involves thinking of ways to get away from his mother and he feels guilty for lying and doing this. I know it is a mutual attraction, he says he has been physically attracted to me for 18 months (now 2 1/2 years) before we hooked up.
We did not sleep together until six months into seeing each other despite doing all we could to resist and now the sexual attraction from both sides is intense chemistry and passion.
I am unsure of how I assist us in having a future together, I love him, I have told him this, he knows I am committed to him, he constantly asks when we are alone “what are we going to do”. I am stuck on showing him how to have the courage to do what “he wants” and not what is his perceived responsibility to his family. I am even unsure whether I should be helping him with this.
To stop the pain I am feeling I gave him a deadline of Christmas to make a decision on telling his mum/making moves and plans to put this into action or letting me go – He struggles with having this deadline, he says he knows is the right thing but still is not happy with it. I see with this – I am now lost at what I should be doing. I don’t want to push him, loose him or be impatient but this is tearing me up. Alice”
And here’s my answer:
Alice, I work with many women who are stuck in this exact situation. They are more progressive, but their families still think in the way they were brought up, or the way they still live – in different countries, different cultures, different religions that have strict social rules of conduct and duty, and the good men they’re with are all torn up by their duty to family and ex wives and even simply women friends who are also friends of the family.
I don’t believe you can do anything to help this along. I’ve seen women stuck in these situations unendingly. And even when the man seems to move forward, he is still feeling pressure from the ex and the family. He never escapes the aura of “shame.”
Painful as it is, the best thing here is to simply say you will continue to date him, but not exclusively, and then Circular Date. You can decide if you can handle sex, but I wouldn’t even try it. If you can’t handle this “dating” rotation, then you must break it off until he can figure out what to do…
I’d so appreciate it – and know Alice would too – if any of you are very familiar with cultural differences and difficulties, please give us any information you have – I know it would help many women in these same situations, especially since we have readers here from all over the world….