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Love and family

“He’ll leave his wife and marry me.” Why do married men lie to their mistresses?

17 October 2021, Jacques
“He’ll leave his wife and marry me.” Why do married men lie to their mistresses?

Perhaps each of the protagonists of the third relationship could try to hear in her the conflicting dimension of what binds her, of what holds her back, of what she expects and hopes and share all this with the other.

I often hear women, in love with a married man (or a man already in another relationship), wonder (especially if they feel loved by this man): “But why, since he tells he loves me, why does he not leave the other? Why doesn't he end this relationship, when he assures me that nothing is happening between him and her? Why doesn't he make the decision to come and live full time with me, to make a commitment and thus define himself more clearly, definitively with me.”

Of course, I know men in a third relationship who are loving and feel loved by a married woman who also think and would like to express something similar, but they are rarer.

Perhaps we should remember two essential facts which seem to be forgotten by the two protagonists of a third relationship. These are not the same emotional issues that characterize a main relationship and a third relationship (I call a third relationship a relationship of encounter, experienced in parallel with a main relationship inscribed over time).

A primary relationship, even when strong feelings remain, is primarily nourished primarily by attachment and a common experience, a third relationship is primarily nourished by feelings, pleasure and hope.

A whole new sense of love has no past. It arises at a moment in the history of a being and survives itself by being fed by the present, vivified by what happens in the moment of the encounter and sometimes by projections on the immediate future.

An attachment has a dual past: that linked to the person (in the case of a married man, to his wife), and that linked to its own history around the significant characters of his childhood. Thus, most women and men in third relationships seem unaware that feeling and attachment do not weigh the same on the decision-making board.

For most married men, the conflict between feelings (towards the third person) and attachment (towards the principal person) appears to be intractable, so they most often refuse to confront it. And so, they will remain, sometimes for years, inside this conflict. On the one hand, they are able to assure the third-party relationship with sincerity “I love you,” “I want to live with you,” “You are important to me.” And on the other hand, they are likely to testify, with as much silent sincerity to the main relationship: “I cannot make you suffer; I cannot do this to you: leave you. I am attached to you, not just by guilt, but by the myriad connections, ramifications, memories, life experiences, trials, gratitude and acknowledgments that bind me so tightly that I cannot consider breaking without suffering, without having the feeling that it is me that I betrayed.”

Perhaps one or the other of these married men could say more lucidly, “I am attached to the image I have of myself.” “I do not see myself leaving the woman with whom I shared twenty years of my life, the mother of my children, the one who supported me in my studies or my professional experiences, the one I had aborted throughout the beginning of our relationship, with whom I lost a baby, who took care of me, whom I accompanied in so many trials… ” This attachment to the image of oneself often constitutes an invisible bond, so strong, that the man will stay with his main partner, without being able to bring himself to leave her, while wanting to keep the third relationship.

It is therefore necessary, that a woman who lives a third relationship, understand that she will be confronted with a whole field of forces which will not be favorable to her. Most will remain in the belief that their love, the pleasure, the sexual agreement – often exceptional – that they have with a partner engaged elsewhere, will be powerful enough to modify the two competing relationships and transform, on the one hand, the third relationship in the main relationship and the main relationship in estrangement or rupture.

It happens sometimes, but when it does happen, most of the time, in the first year of a relationship. Then, it's much more random and riskier for the third-party relationship. The risk being, for the newcomer to get stuck in a third relationship when her desire is to open a primary, essential relationship with the man she loves.

Perhaps each of the protagonists of the third relationship could try to hear in her the conflicting dimension of what binds her, of what holds her back, of what she expects and hopes and share all this with the other.
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