Ask Chris Hart:I am the ‘side dish’ (mistress) but I love him!

Hey Dr. Chris Hart,
I’ve been kind of seeing this really nice guy for about 6 months now. He is 29(turning 30 in April) and I’m 23.I met him in my Masters degree class and we became friends after 4 months of class. After dating for a month, his ex girlfriend had his baby. That didn’t really affect our relationship since we were just friends like we would have lunch together,drinks after school, he would drop me off at home and stuff like that.We both took weekend classes so with time we pretty much spent all the weekends together, just me and him. He used to visit his baby(and the mom) in the course of the week so basically,they didn’t interfere with our time together.At first, it was just drinks,hanging out, sleepovers at his place stuff like that, the not so serious stuff.
Towards the end of the year(2015), the ex-girlfriend contacted me introducing herself as the wife and said that she found out that he was cheating on her with me and another girl and that she was going to leave him (they currently do not live together).
2 months ago, He told me he loved me and I’m 100% sure that I love him.Thing is, he says that he wants to be single for a while and work on himself(before getting married) since he has been serial dating and that’s why most of his relationships don’t work out.6 weeks later, we decided to take some time apart(well, It was his idea) to give him time to work on himself but that hasn’t happened yet. He says that now he is single but I see him even more than I used to and we spend so much time together on weekends and after work.
I’m confused I don’t want to be the reason he’s not there for his family, we’re also not officially a couple(we don’t even call it a relationship) and I don’t want to call it quits with him because I don’t want to be alone.

What should I do?

Chris says…

Hi Sharon,

First of all, what are you looking for in the relationship? You’re young, highly educated, and I imagine looking forward to enjoying your career for the next few years. All of which suggests you probably aren’t thinking of getting married or starting a family any time soon?

Everything’s different if you are in any way thinking of being serious with this guy. Even if settling down together’s a few years away in your mind. If you’re serious then it’s important that you and he are on the same page together. And clearly you’re not. The relationships not defined, and neither of you is clear where it’s going. That’s a problem in any relationship. And can lead to a lot of disappointments. Where one of you is serious for example, and the other isn’t. One’s monogamous. And the other’s not etc etc…

There’s another thing. You say that the real reason you’re together is that you don’t want to be alone. In other words, it’s not that he’s the love of your life, but that he’s better than being lonely…

So my suggestion is that you do two things. Be clear in your mind what you want from life right now. How you intend to balance career and family for example, over the next few years. And I think you should also rev up your social life, so that you don’t fear being alone. Now you can make some decisions about this guy. Whether you’re willing to continue the relationship, despite it’s uncertainties. Or would be better letting him go, and finding someone with a less complicated life.

One last thought. You say he’s turning thirty. At that age, a man should be thinking hard about starting a family. And your guy clearly isn’t. So there’s a real danger that he will gradually turn into a perpetual bachelor. And never really settle down. Endlessly in one unsatisfactory relationship after another…

Chris

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