I am a divorced woman, 60. I’ve been dating a 65-year-old man for the last year. His former wife divorced him because he went to strip clubs. He doesn’t see this as cheating, although I told him it really was.
He tells me he hasn’t been to a strip club since we started dating, and he doesn’t think this will be a problem in our relationship. BUT, he also says that he can’t say he’ll never go to a strip club again.
He says he loves me and values our relationship.
My former husband cheated on me throughout our 24-year marriage. I carry a lot of scars from that trauma. I never want to return to that place of mistrust and anxiety. I think that I will not be able to trust this man ever, despite his otherwise truthful and kind nature.
What do you think?
Paula, a diner orders a bowl of soup in a restaurant. After the bowl is placed on the table, the diner notices a fly in the soup. Looking at the waiter and pointing at the fly, the diner says, “What’s this fly doing in my soup?” The waiter matter-of-factly replies, “The backstroke.”
You are the diner, your boyfriend the waiter, and the fly is strip clubs. Let’s ignore the fly for a minute. What the diner meant was, “Don’t you see the fly?” and “Why do I need to tell you to take it away?”
We often get letters like yours, though the problem varies. It could be smoking, alcohol, clubbing, golfing, motorcycles, beekeeping, or contact with an ex. It could be anything. The writer wants the other person to give up something or stop doing something.
The problem is, all the items on the list above are legal, and the other person has a right to do them. In addition, another woman might not have a problem with them.
Your boyfriend’s marriage ended because of strip clubs, but he appears unfazed by that. You told him your ex-husband cheated on you, and he still says he may go to strip clubs. You asked him three questions. Don’t you see the fly? How could you think I’d be okay with a fly in my soup? And, why do I need to tell you to take it away?
But he doesn’t have a problem with strip clubs. You do.
Despite caring for him and allowing the relationship to go on for a year, you don’t trust him. For however long you have known about his habit, you let it go forward. You built more and more ties to him. Now you think he must accommodate himself to your issue, despite knowing it was a deal breaker for you.
Though the “fly” trips triggers from your past, you didn’t stop dating him. Once you saw the fly, you should have ended the relationship. Why didn’t you? Perhaps because you thought, “He will change for me.”
Do you love each other? That’s the issue, because you each find something unacceptable in the other.
For a year you’ve been sitting in front of a bowl of soup with a fly swimming in it. You now want the waiter to fix it, but if he comes back with another bowl, you’ll always wonder if it’s the same soup.
This man is who he is. Marry him, and you won’t know when the fly will show up again.
There is one thing most people struggle to understand about love. The wrong person is not better than no person.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of March 30, 2020
Wayne & Tamara’s new book Cheating in a Nutshell is now available on Amazon.