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Is Half A Boyfriend Better Than None?

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When Loretta, divorced for ten years, met Richard, there was clearly a connection. She was excited. Finally a marriage prospect! However, several months later the relationship hadn’t progressed beyond casual dating. When she discussed her frustrations with Richard, he was very clear about the commitment he was willing to make and explained what he meant by it:

The bad points for her:
• They would have sex but he didn’t promise to be monogamous.
• They would see each other but his availability was based on his schedule.

• They shared expenses when they traveled together, unless he chose to invite her, yet there was no understanding if and when they would get away together.
• He explained that his work was his priority and that he had to travel extensively for his job.
• He didn’t want to get into discussions as to where he was and what he did. He would understand if she would reject this arrangement. It was entirely up to her.

The good points for her:
• When they were together she had lots of fun. He was interesting, behaved in a gentlemanly manner and was attentive to her and made her feel no one else existed.
• Sex was great. He was a thoughtful, passionate lover.
• When he did invite her to dinners or events, he was a generous host.
• He remembered her birthday, Valentine’s Day and Christmas and recalled the things she liked.

Still, her frustration for not getting what she wanted grew into anger and disappointment. On multiple occasions she tried to break the relationship but never carried through for fear of loneliness and irrational hope that he would change.

Once a relationship pattern is set, once a woman or a man is willing to accept less than what they really want and need, there is no reason for the other partner to change the arrangement which is just what they want. Many men and women, especially women that are self- supporting, prefer relationships with clear limits and boundaries rather than traditional commitments. Such lifestyle choices do not, by themselves, make these people poor relationship partners, as long as they pair with people that have similar needs and preferences.

What is essential, as in all new liaisons, is to discuss and understand from the beginning what the conditions and responsibilities of both partners are. Do they agree on monogamy or not, availability of regular time together? What is the understanding on financial sharing, traveling? How do they feel about dating other people? In other words, they need to define the nature of their relationship. If their needs and lifestyle choices match, such arrangements can be harmonious and positive for both partners.

Making any relationship work means understanding clearly what to expect from the other, whatever the partners agree to. In the case of Kathleen, she never really wanted a part-time relationship but settled for it rather than having no one in her life at all. Eventually, going against her own true feelings she felt angry and cheated by herself and Brian. Hanging in two years stopped her from being open to meet someone else. A happy relationship does not necessarily mean commitment or marriage. It means understanding and being happy with the choices you want and make.


Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I lived in Thailand happily for six years with no relationship, and now for the last two years, I have had a monogamous dating relationship that only involves conversation, dinner and movies. I am not eager to get married. Premarital sex is not an option, because I am a Christian. Western girls get the kind of guys they deserve. Unless you make a lot of money, you are a dull loser and not worth talking to. On the other hand, if you you are a druggie or a thug, you are sure to have a girl, or maybe two. So say what you want to about Thai women...or me, but at least they know how to be polite and friendly, even when they are not romantically interested in you.

August 22, 2011 - 3:18am

I am in a similar relationship situation, divorced and in love with a man who is also divorced with 2 children, and in our 50's......it is both simple and complex at the same time. I think our cultural tolerance of casual sex and wide acceptance of different lifestyle choices sets up the ease for this situation to happen, and I have thought about being more demanding of marriage, because although we are exclusive and openly in love with each other, I would like to truly share our lives together. However, I don't want to force the issue and get into a marriage where my partner didn't want to get married as much a I did, but didn't want to lose me either.

I figure that even though I am not getting "everything I want" there are advantages I get by maintaining my independence, and my boyfriend is losing out, even though it is by choice, because it would be better for him to be married to me. He is the one who is risking his happiness in the end and settling for a less satisfying lifestyle, and it is very short sighted. What about ending up alone in the end for him? I am willing to let fate play its role in my life, because sometimes I have found I am being protected by not getting everything I want at the moment.

August 12, 2011 - 3:22am

Just to play devil's advocate-- this situation isn't necessarily a bad thing. If a man is being so honest with a woman, quite frankly I think he is doing her a favor. We get so many sex and relationship questions here at EmpowHer that clearly stem from poor communication within the relationship. If half of these men were as open with their partners as Brian was, then there would be no confusion as to where you stand. If a woman wants to accept these terms, then she knows what she is in for. Many women will make the mistake of agreeing to it and then feel cheated out of a relationship but, unfortunately, she's the only person to blame.

The situation between Brian and Kathleen could be a potentially ideal situation for a woman who feels the same way as Brian does. This is for a woman who doesn't want to be in a committed relationship much less married, she's career driven and doesn't have time to dedicate to a man, enjoys spending time with someone who is attentive, independent, and lavishes her in gifts on occasion, and for the woman who has the "been there, done that" mentality and no longer wishes to be the married woman-- instead she enjoys casual encounters.

The half-boyfriend situation is certainly not for every woman but there are women out there with this same mentality. As for Brian, I have to give a man credit for being honest about his intentions from the very beginning instead of dragging a woman through a crappy relationship only for her to later find out that he is cheating.

August 10, 2011 - 9:19am
EmpowHER Guest

If a man is getting what he wants without getting married, what is the incentive for a man to get married? Men have needs, and if women stop having casual sex with men, we wouldn't be having the social issues we are having.

August 10, 2011 - 4:43am
EmpowHER Guest

I have to agree with the above Anonymous post. Being alone is not a bad offer when a man is only putting in half an effort for the attention that us Women deserve. I have to agree that the right one will come along and it will be worth waiting for....

I wish you the best with your choices and I hope that you keep in touch and tell us a wonderful ~ever after~ ending.

Best of luck,

August 7, 2011 - 8:52am
EmpowHER Guest

I am happy to be alone rather than be in an unhappy and unloving relationship. If a man cannot love me, why do I need him around? I can pay my bills. I can go out with girlfriends. And I'm lonely but happier lonely than feeling mistreated or neglected. No matter how wonderful he is when you are WITH him, if the calls and emails and urgency in his heart isn't there. If you are for sexual convenience, how badly must you feel about yourself? Completely on his terms like that? Ladies, wait for the dream. Let a good man in your life. Money isn't anything. A loving man will increase your self-esteem.

August 7, 2011 - 5:44am
EmpowHER Guest

Women get what they tolerate or ask for. Exclusivity should and could have been in place BEFORE sex if this woman wasn't so insecure or felt her options were limited. As a woman in her 40s, I keep my figure TIGHT, and I'm not criticizing other women, but this one thing -- having an amazing body -- gives me relationship POWER and it is difficult to have power as a woman these days when men get casual sex from SO MANY WOMAN who do not feel high self-esteem or know their value. Men pay for dates period. Men pay expenses period. I do not have sex when you are having sex with others because condoms are NOT enough. And because I respect myself too much to be one of many. I am not a sandwich or a beer. If a man has a sexual urge, he is not to come to me like I'm some "sandwich" for his sexual hunger. I am a WOMAN, a PERSON with emotional needs and a personal history and HE MUST KNOW WHO I AM to lay down and put himself inside of me. That is how it is. Women say no to casual sex. Please. You will make the world better for ALL US WOMEN when you say no to casual sex. LET US START THE NATIONAL CAMPAIGN NOW. TODAY.

August 7, 2011 - 5:37am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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