A friend told me he’s going to buy a house with “Francine,” a woman he’s been seeing for a few years.
“Great!” I said. “You haven’t cohabited with anyone for a long time, so this will be quite a change for you.”
“No. I’ll buy it with her and stay there sometimes, but I’ll keep my place.”
“I don’t want to give up my freedom.”
Later in the conversation, he mentioned “Alice,” another woman who he dated simultaneously when he started dating Francine. It became clear he was still seeing (and sleeping with) her, even though he was going to buy a house with Francine.
I was incredulous. Mustering all my self-control to use a non-judgmental voice, I said, “Based upon what you’ve told me about your relationship with Francine, if I were her I’d think we were in a committed monogamous relationship.”
“We are in a committed relationship.”
“But not a monogamous one. Does she know that?”
“She knows that I’m still in touch with Alice.”
“But not that you’re still sleeping with her?”
“She doesn’t need to know that.”
You could have picked up my chin from the table. “If I were Francine, I would definitely want to know about your relationship with Alice.”
“No you wouldn’t. She’s happy thinking I’m 100% her man. I’m happy. She’s happy. No problem.”
I was speechless. Knowing there was nothing I could say that would dissuade him from his thinking he was in the right, I gave up.
I wonder how many of us have been with a man who claimed to be exclusive and committed and yet he had another woman on the side. I had that experience once. The challenge is, you rarely have enough hard evidence to know for sure.
In fact, this guy told me Francine had found evidence of another woman in his apartment. When she asked about it, he told the truth — up to a point. He didn’t lie, but he didn’t tell everything. She didn’t probe, content with his flimsy explanation.
An author of a book about cheating was asked why people cheat. The answer was, “Because they can.”
It’s bad enough that when we don’t ask the hard questions we live in a fantasyland, some of which is our own making. But the hard reality is it’s doubtful that this philanderer practices safe sex, so is putting these women at risk.
Do we fool ourselves? Do we believe what we want to believe? Do we put up with flimsy excuses because we don’t want to rock the boat, or accuse someone we love of infidelity?
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