Ready-Made Family

1 Sep

Dear LetterBalm: Six months ago, I was introduced to a terrific guy, a friend of someone I work with. We bonded almost immediately. Both of us feel we haven’t had this deep a connection with anyone else. But there’s a snag. He has a girlfriend he’s lived with a long time, and they have two children. He and I haven’t had sex, but we’ve shared a lot of conversations. He says he’s wanted to leave her for several years but stays because he’s crazy about his kids. I told him I won’t get involved with him unless and until he resolves his issues with his girlfriend and is free to see me. But now he’s talking about my meeting his children and going away on a trip, all of us. He wants us to go to movies and museums and … well, become a family. I don’t want to do anything but I’m finding it difficult to resist him. What should I do?

–Sad Soulmate

In your heart of hearts, you know exactly what to do. Your friend may be the world’s best fellow and your eternal soulmate, but he’s skirting dangerously around the edges of infidelity, and he’s involving innocent children to boot. If he cheats on his girlfriend, he may cheat on you in the future, a troubling thought. For all you know, he may have no intention of leaving her. They may have a perfectly good relationship that works for them (although his sneaky behavior indicates otherwise).  Ms. L.B. advises something you may not want to hear: Summon the strength to walk away. Have no further contact with your friend, because he certainly isn’t a friend. You need to decide whether you want to rekindle the relationship if he moves out, genuinely ends it with the mother of his children and provides for their care. Change whatever e-contacts you feel you must and have a final meeting along these lines:

Lester, I asked to have coffee with you for an important reason. This is the last conversation we’ll have. I won’t be meeting your kids or spending time with them. It was a lovely idea – us all together as a family. But as long as you have a relationship with their mother, I can’t be in your life. You have issues to resolve that have nothing to do with me, and I can’t help you there. It’s true that you and I have a deep connection, but this is nothing if you have a life and responsibilities that tie you in knots. If you have any respect for me at all, please don’t get in touch with me again.

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