Bon Journal answers the love emergency
Bill and Faye have expressed their beliefs. But we don't know what Mike thinks. The questions are posed by Bill, whose beliefs do not reflect that of Mike. Faye seems comfortable in the long standing relationship with Mike but she seems willing to give it up provided she's not the one to instigate it. In other words, she doesn't want to be responsible for the break-up. She seems okay with the status quo, that is, to be in a relationship with Mike while pining for Bill, the old flame who has returned.
Meanwhile, Bill is getting impatient. From his point of view, the world will be a happier place if Faye just tells Mike how she truly feels about Bill and Mike, leaves Mike, and gets into this "made in heaven" relationship with Bill.
One of my male readers based in England wrote, "It's an old classic. She should do what she really wants. It's a false loyalty that keeps her with Mike. You can't have it all. That's life. Fear is just a normal human state."
Another male reader (in Holland) thought that Faye should tell Mike her feelings for Bill. This would take away the "magic" but also ease her guilt. And if they have been in a relationship for that long, they should be able to confront and deal with such issues.
Bill thinks he knows how Faye feels. He's wrong. A woman's heart is like a needle at the bottom of the ocean. She may say one thing to Bill and another to Mike, not that she is two faced, but that she is fearful and not confident. Why?
Women have high security needs. A long relationship (whether it's short or long distance) has sown seeds of comfort. In other words, both parties are comfortable and secure because they are accustomed to each other. While there might not be any sparkle of novelty left, they feel a great deal of certainty in how to anticipate and respond to each other's moods. There is comfort and certainty in the familiar.
The longer you're in a relationship, the more reasons you need to break it. Sunk cost doesn't apply here. You've invested a considerable amount of time, energy, heavy-duty emotions, and all those mutual friends and family along the way. It's a package deal. You have created history. You can't just break up and walk away from it.
Bill believes that couples who don't get married means that they are not a perfect match. What does that mean? People stay in a relationship not because they are a perfect match but because the relationship works, for one reason or another. It's about compromise not fit.
Faye knows a lot is at stake. The fact that she and Mike have not gotten married has nothing to do with whether they are a perfect match or not. First of all, marriage as an institution has changed over time. People get married if they want to have children or if they want to be financially better off (tax reasons). Getting married means a commitment. But the unmarried state of a long relationship does not imply the converse.
Bill is clearly the outsider in this case. Faye has control of the situation. Introducing a magical Future Female for Mike is no guarantee. [Incidentally, I have thought about doing this once to test the commitment and fidelity of a relationship. It's easily done by inviting my pretty, successful, independent career girl friends to my parties and outings.] What if Mike is blinded by his love for Faye?
Bill is a temptation for Faye. For someone who is not blinded by love and totally committed in a relationship, she would be tempted. Meetings of the soul are powerful encounters, not to be ignored. Faye needs more information. The only way to know whether Bill is the right person for her and whether there is any hope for a future together is to get to know Bill more. She can do this without jeopardising her current relationship with Mike. And she can do this without being unfaithful. But getting to know Bill could make her feel guilty and cause a split loyalty, because she will be doing so with the full intention of testing whether or not to leave Mike.
To answer Bill's questions - what should he do? Bill is not in control here. Faye is. She has a lot more at stake than Bill, who is a free agent. She needs more information about Bill, about her own feelings, and about the two of them. She has had the last ten years to for herself and Mike but only recently to get to know Bill.
Bill can either 1) risk having no relationship at all by telling Faye that he wants to be in an exclusive relationship with her and give her a deadline or 2) not pressure Faye into leaving Mike but continue to see her while being free to date others. I am guessing that Mike doesn't know about Bill at this point. Perhaps, it would help to reveal Bill and double date - in which case they can introduce that magical Future Female.
In the movie "Something's Gotta Give," the young doctor realises in the end that Erica, the playwright, was still in love with Harry. Despite his love for her, he tells Erica to go see him. If Mike realises that Faye and Bill are made in heaven and meant to be together, he will give in.
There is some truth in the saying "If you love someone, let her go. If she comes back, she's yours. If not, she never was."
I would also advise Bill not to put all his eggs in one basket. He is a free agent, after all. He can date other women.
Faye needs to be reminded of this: if you try to have both, you might end up with neither. Faye's situation is temporary and not sustainable. If she thinks she can have both, she will be torn inside. Guilt breeds altruistic behaviour. She will be apologetic and do good things for both guys and end up resenting herself. She will be the one wasting her life.
The saying, "Hell hath fury a woman scorned", well, there's another --- "Guilt hath stricken a woman torn." I just made that up, but split loyalty does cause a woman to feel guilty.
As a woman, I can say that it feels good to be wanted and loved by more than one man. But all a woman needs is to be loved by the one man she loves. In this case, Faye needs to decide which one she loves. If she loves them both, she will have to choose. Men will not share. All Bill can do is to wait or leave.
30 June 2004 Wednesday