What’s your definition of “committed”?

A friend told me he’s going to buy a house with “Francine,” a woman he’s been seeing for a few years.

“Great!” I said. “You haven’t cohabited with anyone for a long time, so this will be quite a change for you.”

“No. I’ll buy it with her and stay there sometimes, but I’ll keep my place.”

“Really? Why?”

“I don’t want to give up my freedom.”

Later in the conversation, he mentioned “Alice,” another woman who he dated simultaneously when he started dating Francine. It became clear he was still seeing (and sleeping with) her, even though he was going to buy a house with Francine.

I was incredulous. Mustering all my self-control to use a non-judgmental voice, I said, “Based upon what you’ve told me about your relationship with Francine, if I were her I’d think we were in a committed monogamous relationship.”

“We are in a committed relationship.”

“But not a monogamous one. Does she know that?”

“She knows that I’m still in touch with Alice.”

“But not that you’re still sleeping with her?”

“She doesn’t need to know that.”

You could have picked up my chin from the table. “If I were Francine, I would definitely want to know about your relationship with Alice.”

“No you wouldn’t. She’s happy thinking I’m 100% her man. I’m happy. She’s happy. No problem.”

I was speechless. Knowing there was nothing I could say that would dissuade him from his thinking he was in the right, I gave up.

I wonder how many of us have been with a man who claimed to be exclusive and committed and yet he had another woman on the side. I had that experience once. The challenge is, you rarely have enough hard evidence to know for sure.

In fact, this guy told me Francine had found evidence of another woman in his apartment. When she asked about it, he told the truth — up to a point. He didn’t lie, but he didn’t tell everything. She didn’t probe, content with his flimsy explanation.

An author of a book about cheating was asked why people cheat. The answer was, “Because they can.”

It’s bad enough that when we don’t ask the hard questions we live in a fantasyland, some of which is our own making. But the hard reality is it’s doubtful that this philanderer practices safe sex, so is putting these women at risk.

Do we fool ourselves? Do we believe what we want to believe? Do we put up with flimsy excuses because we don’t want to rock the boat, or accuse someone we love of infidelity?

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27 responses to “What’s your definition of “committed”?”

  1. Laine Avatar

    I guess the lesson here is to not buy a house with a guy that isnt prepared to live there with you on a permanent basis. I wish you had aked him why he is committing financially and not emotionally.Humans dont usually agree to anything unless there is a payoff of some sort. Both parties are getting this.

  2. Fishy Avatar

    Francine doesn’t WANT to realise her man is a cheat. She is afraid what he’ll say if she asks too many questions.

  3. Anna Avatar

    This guy should be “committed” for sure, but probably to an asylum for cheats and liars. Poor Francine but she should have probed further. Its sad that she will purchase property with this two-timer. Who knows, he might not even have told her that he won’t be living there full time. Sigh…….makes us all just a tad more cynical regarding these type of people.

  4. Richard Avatar

    “She doesn’t need to know that.”
    “She’s happy thinking I’m 100% her man.”

    He is lying. He is telling her (letting her believe) he is 100% hers when he is not. No gray area.

    “Do we put up with flimsy excuses because we don’t want to rock the boat, or accuse someone we love of infidelity?” The issue is trust. At what point are you willing to challenge that trust and risk destroying the relationship in the process. If you push it, and you are correct, then the relationship is over (s/he cheated on you). If you push it, and you are wrong, then have you destroyed the trust in the relationship? The only good, but unlikely, result is that there is an innocent explanation s/he did not want to tell.

    “Do we believe what we want to believe?” If you are going to trust the person, then you have to believe them. Whether you should trust them is a different question. You might not be prepared for the relationship to end. So, you might choose to trust them, rather than confront and cause the end of the relationship.

  5. Cathy Avatar

    Wow – I read this and felt sick!!!

    I think as women we understand that for many men commitment is when the ring is on the finger or even the after the wedding ceremony has taken place…

    however prior to that some men are having affairs of everything but sex by having extremely intimate relationships – emotionally, sometimes also with a limited financial commitment especially working together

    Not good – however as always it is up to us if we accept it…

    We really need to be stronger and set the limits in our relationships

  6. Karen Avatar

    One thing I’m trying to do these days (after being burned by a lying husband and other liars), is to try to rein in my natural tendency to trust and really ask hard questions of the man I’m dating. And another thing I’ve had problem with–I need to listen to their answers!

    I was always the one to have stars in my eyes and to “just assume” that if I did, he did too! I would certainly be like the one in the story–I’d be thinking, “he’s sleeping with me! He’s buying a house with me! So of course he’s my guy and exclusive!” Plus I always felt I can’t/shouldn’t ask him about that stuff at this point in our relationship because he’d be offended. And boy, have I been taken in big time by lying men!

    Now I make myself ask the hard questions: Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever hit a woman? Have you ever cheated? Have you ever taken illegal drugs? Do you think you drink too much?

    Many men like the guy in the story (& my ex husband) pride themselves on always telling the “truth”–but just half-truths that leave an incorrect impression. They defend themselves saying “she didn’t ask about that”–ie it’s her problem for not asking the right question.

    I found it was helpful to learn about body language and other things that indicate lying.

    For example, if you ask someone a question and they’re not telling the whole truth in the answer—you can tell because they 1) stop and seriously stare at you too intensely in the eye without blinking before they try to answer (they are stalling for time and trying to appear honest by looking you in the eye–but this isn’t natural conversation behavior). They may also get down on your level and hold your shoulders–again, trying too much to “look” honest. 2) before they try to answer your question, they repeat your question back to you in exactly the same words you used to ask it (this isn’t natural behavior either–it means they’re trying to think up a non-answer that will satisfy you. As in “Did I have sex with that woman? Good question! Well, no.”), 3) their answer uses unusually formal phrasing and sentence structure (this isn’t natural conversation either–they are trying to give a legal answer to your question while only giving away what they want to). Another thing to look out for the use of passive verbs as in “the situation became violent” instead of “I was violent”. And of course 4) if they change the subject/get mad at you for asking and avoid answering your question–there you have your answer. On the other hand, a man who just says “no!” or “what?!” in a shocked voice the second after you ask, is probably telling the truth.

    Also look out for men who when answering cover their mouths while talking, touch their nose, adjust their shirt collar, put their hands in their pockets and leave them there, lean back and cross their arms over their chests, get up and walk around, shift in their seat etc before they answer your question.

    I’m afraid I don’t trust easily anymore…

  7. Mitsy Avatar

    I think Francine and her man are both pieces of work. Her guy wants his cake & eat it too and is foolish enough to admit as much. However, Francine is spineless for not demanding answers from her guy. The guy is using her and he’s using “Alice” as well.

    I’ve posted many times about how I feel about people who live together or (shack up as my Dad used to say). If a woman is wanting a marriage proposal, living together & buying property together is not the way to get the ring any sooner. I think a lot of women think it is so they justify moving in together. Sure, some couples do marry after living together for a year or two, but more times than not, I’ve heard that it only makes the guy question whether he wants to make it legal because he has everything he wants without it being legal. If they split up & they own property together, it’s very hard to sort out if they are not married. So, Francine wasn’t very smart to move in with this jerk to start with. The woman on the side is just added salt into an already big wound. What a pitiful situation.

  8. maria rose Avatar

    as another woman who has been burned by the lies and deceits of the various men i have met, i have learnt to listen to the words and watch to see if the body language and reaction match up. i value myself highly, again i had to relearn this view of myself after being tossed aside by those men who are as a book title states not quite into you. my definition of a commited relation is means i am the most important person in his life i don’t share men very well with other women and i make that clear when i get the pre-overtures that if i have to be exclusive so can he or he can become the lastest flavor of the month as the men like to call it

  9. Benn Avatar

    Perhaps we shouldn’t blame the man too quickly. There are plenty of sugarbabies out there and this could easily be an arrangement. This poor woman, she is only getting a house out of this. I think I am going to cry for her now. LOL.

  10. Mitsy Avatar

    Yes, of course, there are women users and manipulators out there. It’s just that we don’t hear about those as often nor do the guys usually talk about it on web sites. Perhaps more should though. I’m interested in hearing from both genders when it comes to matters like this one. I often wonder what type of parents could raise a boy or girl to become a man or woman who behaves like some of the ones we’ve talked about on this site. I’m still amazed that common sense, common courtesy, and plain old fashioned respect for one’s self and others is not taught more in the home.

  11. Karen Avatar

    Mitsy, I do believe this type of awful behavior is derived from their families, and that is why I have (finally at long last) made it a point to ask men I’m dating about how they grew up, their relationships with their family members etc.

    It’s really sad–I now wonder if people can ever be trusted to transcend their upbringing?

    I keep thinking about my ex husband, who used to complain so much about his father stealing the family money, having affair after affair, making his mother do all the work in the family business.

    Flash ahead to 5 years into our marriage when he started doing the same things! In the divorce filings (after we were married 9 years), he wrote about how he felt justified in his actions–all about how “the woman” shouldn’t have a role in the family finances even if he’s stealing money and hiding it or going into debt, about how he expected me to just put up with his philandering for the good of the family (he blamed the divorce on me not tolerating his behavior, not on his multiple affairs), and he even criticised me for not being able to somehow stay home and take care of the children while at the same time I was having to work to support him & our family–very bizarre and contradictory stuff.

    If I ever again date a man with a cruel manipulative lying father—I’m probably going to regard that as a “red flag” and end it, even he seems very sweet.

  12. Mitsy Avatar

    What is it that they say? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Something like that. I have seen it work both ways. My Dad’s dad was a lazy, cheating, philandering SOB. My Dad basically disowned him after my Dad was about 35 or 40. He had not been a role model for my Dad, but his Mother (who died when I was only 2) was stable and loving even though my Dad was born during the depression and things were very bad economically speaking. My Dad vowed to NOT become like his Dad and while he was not the perfect Dad (and we did have our share of arguments over the years), he truly was not like his Dad. He never cheated on my Mom and was a hard worker. So, I think it does depend on the individual and what they want in life.
    My last steady relationship with the alcoholic was a learning experience. His Dad used to have a drinking problem but had been sober for 30 years. My former guy used to tell me stories about his Dad’s behavior back when he was growing up and it was not a pretty picture in my mind. His Mom was an immature sleaze-bag who divorced his Dad when my guy was pretty young. He had and likely HAS a lot of issues about his parents and particularly his Mom. I think part of that feeds the alcohol addiction. However, I also believe that with hard work and perseverance, you can overcome just about anything. Trouble is, a lot of people don’t want to do the work to overcome their shortcomings. They are like the guy in the original post which wanted a woman to help pay for his house while sleeping with a different woman at the same time.
    I know that there has to be some decent men and women out there for all of us single posters on this site, but I have not met a guy yet who did not have some kind of baggage or demons inside he simply did not want to deal with. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, but I do expect people to try to get help for what ails them (be it physical, emotional or otherwise). To be tied to another emotionally unhealthy guy would likely be the end of me.

  13. Kurt Avatar

    Francine is an idiot for letting this happen. There’s probably a nice single man out there who would like to date her. However, she’s wasting her time with a guy whom she has to suspect is cheating on her. I blame this on her because she is responsible for her own happiness.

  14. Katie Avatar

    This appalling behavior (which is not limited to males!) begs the question, “When is it appropriate to inform his women friends of what is happening?” I would feel SO duped, SO foolish, SO deceived if I were either one of his girlfriends. Perhaps that is a future post topic.

  15. Anna Avatar

    I too, like Karen posted above, studied body language. I went to a week long seminar on bullying and lying and learnt all sorts of interesting ways to firstly notice when someone is lying via body language and secondly be aware of bullying behavior and again know it by body language. They say 95% of communication is through body language (don’t quote me on that percentage but its high up there). I went to the seminar from a work/managerial standpoint but boy, did I learn lots for my personal life too. It was the BEST seminar I ever attended. I would recommend that type of education for everyone. Liars and bullies use all sorts of tactics (in many cases subconsciously to protect themselves and to go on the defensive) and I wish I could have known years ago, before I married one and encountered many liars. I still use the same techniques I learnt about every time I meet either a new guy or a colleague, boss etc. I pride myself on being able to spot it within the first ten minutes. All the things that Karen noted, staring without blinking, leaning forwards and of course projecting the problem immediately onto you. Lots of other things that are easy to spot. It opened MY eyes to the world. My problem still comes when I start falling for a guy………but also, I have learnt to review my notes and try to look objectively at him. It all seems a bit paranoid but having been badly hurt by liars I would rather err on the safe side.
    Two things my mother always told me………..old sayings but true……He/She didn’t lick it off the floor……..and always get to know a man’s family before committing to him. At eighteen I did not listen to her, now I always listen to her and will pass on the same advice to my kids.

  16. Richard Avatar

    “I would feel SO duped, SO foolish, SO deceived if I were either one of his girlfriends.”

    Let’s presume that by the time you become intimate, that you believe he relationship is “committed” (exclusive). By then, wouldn’t you be spending a lot of time with each other?

    I would think it would be hard to juggle two ladies who think the relationship is exclusive. I could see if one lady knew it was an “affair” type situation, but then only one lady thinks it is a committed relationship.

    I could see juggling two ladies for a short period of time, but I would think that the ladies should be able to quickly catch on that something was not right (or he is spending a lot of time out with the boys).

    I suppose if that is your MO, you would have these things figured out.

  17. Mike Lowrey Avatar

    {Mike inhales…holds it for 5 seconds….then exhales}

    Yes this guy has two women, but Stevie damn Wonder could see that something isn’t right, so why can’t these women? Don’t blame it on the guy in this situation…don’t do that.
    If your man only comes home 3 days a week…maybe you should ask a question cuz traffic from work isn’t that damn bad!

    Many women don’t want to find out the truth. They feel a part time man is better than no man, there’s nothing wrong with that.
    This women has a house and a man to love even if it’s part time, she may be content with that. Sure better than crying about not having a man in an apt. She can be getting exactly what she needs out of the relationship and is happy. Maybe the nights he isn’t there her other friends is.

    “Have his cake and eat it too”
    Can someone explain why a person would buy a cake to not eat it?
    That’s the purpose of getting a cake correct? Not to just sit there and look at it.

    I’m mad @ y’all for going to classes to be the guy from that TV show Lie To Me, lol.
    I do think as a woman you should be able to at least know when someone is flat out lying to you. It just takes common sense not a 6hr boot camp like you’re some Jack Bauer CTU/CIA/FBI/NIS/JAG/CSI-LV/CSI-NY/CSI-MIA/NCIS super agent!!!
    No ladies, it doesn’t take 5 hours to change a flat tire.
    No ladies, men don’t hang out with their boys at bars and clubs just to have a drink.

    The problem is exactly what Maria Rose brings up. Sharing Men? You don’t own me & I don’t own you. Dating is just that. Getting to know you and to see if we both want to take it to another level with each other. In dating there’s no rings, no ceremony, no license to get signed. If a guy has to be exclusive to you just to get to know you…guess what you’ll get LIES.

    Women seem to be on this fast track to exclusive relationships/marriage that guys just aren’t on. Unless the woman is stunning then we are going to try to lock it down right after the first date.

    I’ve had two women this month tell me I gotta be exclusive to date them…oh yeah…..they are on the curb kicking rocks right now and crying about being so alone.

    I want to be able to date and see where things can go. Some women are so insecure these days (many have the right because of dating crummy guys) but it only makes things harder, it tends to bring out more lies from certain guys.

  18. Liz Avatar

    I do believe most people know when the person they are dating or in a committed/exclusive relationship is hiding something. We know it because we have that sixth sense that something is not quite right. We need to trust that instinct as most times it is spot on.

    You can bet that “Francine” knows deep down that her man is probably not faithful.

  19. Mark Avatar

    When a man has two women and doesn’t disclose that, you can say the woman or women are foolish for not picking up on that, but the man is still culpable. Don’t try to pretend for an instant that he isn’t. He’s being a jerk. He doesn’t get a free pass because the women refuse to call him on it. He may get away with it, but he’s still being a jerk.

  20. Mitsy Avatar

    Having his cake & eating it too is only a metaphor for selfish behavior. I can see why it might be off-putting for one person to want exclusivity very early on in a dating relationship and the other person being uncomfortable with that. But, when someone is “buying a house”, you kind of get a bit outraged at the thought of a man buying a house with you only to find out he’s sleeping with someone else. Those 2 scenarios are completely different from each other. Buying property together is usually the precursor to marriage (or at least some women seem to think so), so the man is a user/liar/manipulator and anything else you can think of. Sure, I would think “most” women would see the red flags, but we’re reading someone else’s story here so that makes it easy to blame all parties involved. Suffice it to say, I would never ever buy property with a guy unless I was married to him.

  21. Anna Avatar

    Well lucky old Francine. She has a house (impressive) and a part time man (even more impressive). Wow the things us women are getting up to these days. Pretty soon before you know it, we will running companies and countries, getting educated and expecting to be treated with respect by men whom we committ to.
    Gee, I thought it took 10 hours to change a flat tire? Now why did they not cover that when I received my masters in science. Silly college 🙂

    Anna inhales…holds it for 1.5 seconds….then exhales…..see Mike, some of us can even inhale and exhale faster than men.

    That does not mean we are experts in knowing a liar when we are confronted with one. That we can only learn over time and with experience.

  22. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Glad you all are engaged in this discussion!

    Two pieces of pertinent info:

    1) Both Francine and the guy have been married before and at midlife, don’t really want/need to go down the aisle again.

    2) The reason he can plausibly keep his apartment and only stay at the not-yet-co-purchased home full time is because they live several hours drive apart and would buy near her work. It would be a killer of a daily commute for him. I’m not defending him, just adding clarification because it seemed an important piece that I left out of the original posting. I can see why most readers would see it was particularly odd if they from the same immediate area.

    The point, really, of my posting was to discuss how do we really know if we know — and can trust — someone. While I never had trust issues with my ex, when we split I felt I really didn’t know him at that point, and then wondered if I ever had. And I felt he didn’t ever know me either. I think we paint a mental picture of who we think we want the other to be, and even when given evidence to the contrary, many of us cling to the fiction.

  23. Mitsy Avatar

    “I think we paint a mental picture of who we think we want the other to be, and even when given evidence to the contrary, many of us cling to the fiction.”

    Good insight. I’ve done this myself before, but sometimes it’s the fact that we can’t believe what our subconscious might be telling us. Sometimes we jump to conclusions but now I’m more likely to err on the overcautious side than to believe a guy as quickly as I had in the past. I don’t trust most men anymore and with good reason.

  24. Richard Avatar

    DG, thanks for the additional info. So what’s his excuse to Alice? I have a 2nd job in Town B on the weekends? What’s his excuse to Francine? I have to work weekends a lot? Seems like Alice knows she is the “mistress”. Maybe Alice left “evidence” on purpose.

    Becoming financially entangled with someone that lives hours away – not a good idea. Still too many “What’s wrong with this picture?”

    “I don’t trust most men anymore and with good reason.” – Is that because of men in general, or the general lower marriage potential of people left in the dating pool? But, that seems to be a common theme. You have to dig through a lot of dirt to find a diamond. Once the easy diamonds have been found by others, you have to dig through a lot more dirt to find the remaining ones. Occasionally you can find a diamond on the top that someone else discarded. How large and flawless a diamond are you looking for? What if you find a ruby, an emerald, or a pearl of great price?

    “I think we paint a mental picture of who we think we want the other to be, and even when given evidence to the contrary, many of us cling to the fiction.” – It is more insidious than that. It is not just what we want the other person to be, it is what life we want to have. You don’t just fit your spouse into the picture, you also fit your kids, parents, friends, job, etc. The more integral that person is to your dream, the more you may be willing to rose color the mental picture.

    Mike: Regardless of what the ladies believe, it is the guy’s intention to deceive. It is one thing to “share a man” during the initial stages of dating. You can even have NSA sex if that is what everyone wants. But, if the other person is expecting exclusivity to take the relationship to the next level, then do it, or don’t do it, that is your choice. But, if you do do it, then be honorable about it.

  25. Anna Avatar

    Thank you Richard for being one of those honorable men.

  26. Mitsy Avatar

    I don’t trust because I’ve been burned too many times and with men I never dreamed would be that way. It’s hard to say what is a diamond or a diamond in the rough. I did my share of online dating with no success. I’ve also dated some without the aid of an online site meeting place.

    Just this week, a friend of mine is wanting me to meet a guy who is nearly 11 years my senior. I’m a young looking 49 and am not too interested in meeting someone that I likely will have no physical attraction for. (I have never gone for older guys.) I might still meet him but you can be sure that I’m reluctant about the whole thing. My Mom is telling me that I’m “too picky”. However, if I have zero spark for someone, then it isn’t being too picky, it’s deciding that I can’t settle for someone I have zero chemistry with. In the last 48 hours, I have found out some other disturbing info about his dating history, but I won’t go into that now. I know that prince charming won’t appear on my door step, but at the same time, I am realistic about what is out there and I have little reason to believe that this one is worth getting excited about. Am I jaded? Bitter? Yep, and I readily admit it now. That’s something I used to not be able to do. However, I think that it can’t be lopsided for something to work. There has to be some interest/attraction on both parties to get something started & so far this guy does not sound like someone for me.

  27. Richard Avatar

    I’m 47 ….

    I think a diamond still needs to be a diamond (or at least a precious gem). So, yes, you still need to have chemistry for the relationship to work. I think the issue is how many (and what) imperfections are you willing to accept. Maybe his 401k is not worth $1 million. Maybe he is an accountant rather than the CFO. Maybe he enjoys spending Sunday afternoon watching his favorite football team. His ex is a witch that calls every week to say the kids need more money for college. But, if he is a hunk you can’t keep your hands off of …