On, off, and on again

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

My story started five years ago when I got a job in the UAE and met a guy. He caught my eyes right away and later told me that I caught his too. He tried to get closer to me but I was older than him, so I was hesitant. The job ended, I got back to my country, and he continued to communicate with me about his adventures with other women. I would laugh and brush him off when he would tell me that I was the one he had wished to date.

After a year passed, he directly asked me why I wouldn't give him a chance. My response was that I was older and that we were in different countries. He continued to insist, so I agreed.

I had never experienced kissing a man or any sexual activities, and we began to have an on-off relationship. Due to this, I opened up to him and consented to sexting and Skype calls. I decided to visit him in the UAE, and it was there that we had our first kiss. Our attraction towards each other grew. Being with him in person was paradise. When I got back home the on-off relationship continued. But he would say that we had no future and that he didn't want to be married, although I did.

He told me that his parents were forcing him to marry. He said he didn't want to, but couldn't do anything about it. I broke up with him and he kept trying to communicate with me, so I blocked him. He would plead to me and apologise over and over, saying that I was his friend, and I told him it wasn't fair to either me or his wife.

I am exhausted and want to be at peace. I try to make him leave over and over, yet he keeps returning. I want to escape this. It's like being abused by my own emotions; each time I leave him it's unbearable and painful.

Some people reading your narrative may believe this story to be one you would find in a romance novel, but some have experienced and can relate to what you have described.

Affairs of the heart can occur anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. Some react as if they are under a 'love spell', losing control of their own logic and reasoning.

So here you are, on a project in a foreign country minding your own business, when you and this guy hit it off. The truth is that you had several indicators working against you from the outset that would negatively impact your relationship. Physical distance was your first factor. The fact that you both lived in different countries and were miles apart from each other created a void which presented the potential for communication and interpersonal challenges. Long distance relationships do have their set of woes that only the strong survive. The matter of trust becomes a challenge that some couples wrestle with. Here, the out of sight out of mind adage becomes real.

The second indicator which played out is that of cultural differences. In the gentleman's culture, arranged marriages are not usual, so you had to face this reality. His only choice was to carry out the wishes of his parents, though he may have had an emotional connection with you. Another bone of contention may have been when he said that he never wanted to get married.

It is not surprising that the relationship had several stop-and-go moments, reflective of the grey relationship you had tried to avoid. You allowed your heart to rule your head, overlooking the 'red flags' waving vigorously before you. You needed to go back to reality and think rationally.

It is obvious that this guy is in love with you, and you the same, but you now have to stop and ask yourself what you are gaining by continuing your association with the guy and your role in this association with a married man. No matter what he says, you must determine your best interest and his ability to provide you with the exclusiveness that you deserve.

Your personal happiness is paramount, so you must do whatever is required to ensure the protection of your heart. The decision may be painful but will heal with time. Take care of yourself.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/

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