Saturday, June 21, 2014

Should She Take Him Back?

     I have another ethical question, or ethical issue, along the lines of What If You Don't Like Your Son's Fiancee? or What If You Don't Like Your Daughter's Boyfriend?

     This involves Chris, the son of a friend of ours, who just turned 32, and another young woman we also know. Chris grew up in our town. We've known him since he was in middle school -- so perhaps we're biased in his favor a bit. He met Janice in college, and they soon started going out together. We got to know her then. We met her family a couple of times -- they live about an hour from us, in New Jersey.

     So Chris and Janice became a "couple" when Chris was a junior, and Janice a sophomore in college. They seemed to go everywhere together, do everything together. They were just one of those couples, when you saw one, you always saw the other. For three years. Until Janice graduated.

     I don't know exactly why they broke it off. But I do know that Janice had dreams of becoming an actress, or a model, or something like that. She moved to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, and then she came back to New York a little over a year ago.

     Janice did get a few minor acting jobs, but for whatever reason, she decided to move back East and is now working for an ad agency in Manhattan. She does some kind of creative work -- I'm not sure what -- and she seems happy and perfectly at ease with her decision to give up her old dreams of the glamorous life. We thought, perhaps she was ready to settle down and, you know, get a real job, a real relationship, a real life.

     We know all this because after she returned to New York -- after seven or eight years -- she and Chris started going out together again. Chris works for a marketing firm in New York (he's in finance, not on the creative side of things). And pretty soon after they got back together, they started getting serious. They moved into an apartment together last fall, and over Christmas they announced they were getting engaged.

     Everybody was happy for them. I guess from our point of view, the two kids just seemed to go together.

     But as often happens in life, there was trouble in paradise. Earlier this spring they suddenly broke it off again. We don't know exactly why -- but apparently it was nothing serious, in the sense that it's not like Chris had an affair or got arrested; it's not like Janice met another guy or decided to move back to California. Apparently they just had a few heated arguments, and decided perhaps they were moving too fast, jumping into things, that perhaps they should hit the pause button and make sure this is what they really wanted to do. But it was Janice who made that decision, who said they should take the break.

     Janice kept the apartment they had in the city. Chris moved back in with his parents. And now here comes the ethical part.

     Chris met a local teacher. They had a fling. It was a brief affair and was soon over. But it definitely happened. And everyone knew about it.

     But Chris is really still in love with Janice. He wants to go back to her. We actually think Janice is still in love with him. But she wants nothing to do with him, because in her mind he cheated on her.

     Now I know this sounds a bit soap-opera-ish. But that's where the situation now stands. We had dinner with our friends, Chris's parents, last weekend, and so we got the full report. They think -- they admit -- that their son made a mistake. But they also think that Janice is being unfair. After all, she's the one who broke off their engagement -- even though, in some sense, the breakup was mutual. And even though they were just taking a break in their relationship, just slowing down to see if it was right for the both of them, not necessarily ending things permanently, they were in effect both single at the time, free to do what they wanted. How could Chris really be breaking their trust when they weren't actually together at the time?

     Anyway, when all this is happening to someone else, it kind of makes you roll your eyes. How could he be so stupid? How could she be such a drama queen?

     But when it's happening to you, it becomes much more serious. We haven't even talked directly to Chris about this -- much less Janice -- but we can see the concern expressed his parents. Anyway, B and I were talking about this the other night. I was definitely on Chris's side. I thought B would be on Janice's side -- but she surprised me. B isn't quite ready to give Chris a pass; but she does have sympathy for Chris and thinks that Janice is being a little too holier-than-thou.

     Well, some of you have daughters. Do you have more sympathy for Janice? (I have a daughter too -- if this kind of thing happened to her, I know I would be on her side, but that's because she's my daughter, not necessarily because I'd think she was right). Not that we're going to offer anyone's opinions to Chris or his parents -- we're not that stupid! -- but we are curious.

 

25 comments:

DJan said...

Janice sounds like she wants to have her cake and eat it, too. If they were not together, he didn't cheat on her. But frankly, I'm wondering if they shouldn't just start over with other people. If they get together, it doesn't sound like it has much chance of lasting. But what do I know? I'm just as much of a drama queen as she is, and I'd probably feel pretty much the same way. If he was having all the fun while she was thinking they were exclusive, just waiting for... something. It doesn't add up. My two cents. :-)

Florence said...

I think she doesn't want a permanent relationship with him and she's playing with him in a really cruel way. IMHO, he should leave her alone and find someone else.

Friko said...

I have no sympathy for either. I think they are far too old for such prattish behaviour. They should grow up and decide what they want.

They obviously find that a long term relationship is not what they’re after, certainly not with each other.

What I find totally offensive, however, is that his parents tell their own friends the details of their son’s love life. The man is 32 for heavens’ sake.

June said...

I don't think Chris was wrong for having his fling while he was "separated" from his fiancee. And I don't think that Janice is necessarily wrong for feeling that perhaps Chris was a little too ready to have his fling.
I do have doubts about the longevity of a couple who gets together/splits up/gets together/splits up repeatedly.

When you're contemplating being married, at some point, you have to make up your mind that "forsaking all others" isn't always a walk in the park. And forgiving and forgetting ain't no picnic neither.

Stephen Hayes said...

A thirty-two year old guy isn't going to stand around forever waiting to satisfy his sexual urges and it he isn't married or even engaged he has every right to engage in consensual sex. This Janice sounds like trouble and he'd do best to avoid her and look for companionship elsewhere.

Olga Hebert said...

fault lines like that in a relationship are not an encouraging sign. They should both get over it and move on...in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

They are both right! Miscommunication creates an awful lot of fuss. Who knows what goes on in anybodies brain? Without a complete understanding of the separation an its intent, its left open to debate. Janice needed space and Chris may have felt betrayed, who knows? Understanding and forgiveness , welcome to life and all its many ups and downs.

Anonymous said...

I'm with him. This is the second time they parted and maybe he thought they were truly over. Not married, not engaged, and not even together I say go for it, life's too short. Just saying

Janette said...

Walk away- both of them. Fault? If they are looking, it ain't going to last. Didn't last 20 years ago society, won't last I. This one. Walk away.
But then I give NO relationship advice before marriage. :)

Tabor said...

It really all depends on whether they were taking a break from each other or whether they were broken up completely to see others. Probably they both misunderstood the rules of the break-up as it was done emotionally. Personally if they are too immature to work it out themselves, they should not be seeing each other! I know, I am not being very sympathetic. They have issues.

Barb said...

At 32, I would say that this is between the son and the girl. While I might share an opinion if asked, as a parent this is, frankly, none of my business. I say this as the parent of someone 35 who is single but in a committed relationship that may possibly move forward. More importantly, I agree with the other poster in that I would NEVER discuss my 35 year olds "love life" outside of family, and probably not with them.

That said, breaking up means free to move on.

Pam said...

The only ones who truly know whether or not trust was broken is the couple. People make mistakes and love can overcome incredible odds. Bottom line, this couple will have decide if they love each other enough to forgive one another and work on their issues.

Kirk said...

Janice sounds too "high-maintenance" for my tastes.

Douglas said...

Form an opinion, if you like. Or not. It doesn't matter, they will do whatever they will do. My brother and his first wife were much like these two before they got married. And they took many years to get divorced... because they would meet to discuss it and end up in bed (according to my brother) every time. And then fight and split again. there is no advice you can give that either of them will take; their hormones are running the show. I side with neither. And I agree with others that they should "move on" because they will only give and get heartache if they get back together.

kented said...

Why does this concern you? It's your son's life and he's an adult. He can deal with it.

Retired Syd said...

In my observations of friends' marriages over the years, it seems that those relationships that were difficult before marriage continue to be difficult after marriage. I am fortunate to be in an easy relationship--before and after being married. It's fine if you choose to be in one of those difficult relationships, just as long as you know what you are signing up for.

(The story isn't really about the cheating or not cheating--it's about how this couple resolves conflict. There will be some of that even in the easy relationships).

Anonymous said...

Sounds like these too 'mature' people need to figure out if they really belong together. And there is some info missing, like what was Chris doing while Janice was in LA, was he dating other people of waiting for her? From what little info we have I just don't see that either are ready for a true commitment. Maybe they just the idea of each other or are just addicted to each other.,,that does happen and that never seems to work out good for either party.

gigihawaii said...

I don't think their relationship has a chance of enduring, so forget about marriage. They just don't get along. Say aloha-good bye.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely have the most sympathy for my own child, but sympathy and support would not mean condoning or taking sides. At 30+ they are not children anymore and others never have the true picture of what goes on in an "adult" relationship. At almost 60 myself, I still have "aha" moments about my own parents relationship and wonder what really happened.

Anonymous said...

Love shouldn't be this difficult. It's right or it wrong. That's it. If you can't get along when your dating. God help you when the kids come and life now is focused on raising a family. I would DEFINITELY move on. There are plenty of people out there. Better to be alone then end up being a statistic.

Anonymous said...

Are we to believe that Janice never "sampled" other men or even women when she wasn't with Chris? I'll bet she's been around, but her dalliances aren't commonly known like Chris's is. I'd bet she'd drop him in a minute after marriage for another chance at the glamorous life. She'd then blame Chris for suppressing her dreams.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Janice needs psychiatric help. Chris would be stupid to get back together. Shakespeare said it best in hid sonnet: Love isn't love when it alteration finds. Janice does not love Chis. He needs to move on. She is a control freak. It's called the come here go away dance. Chris will never be happy with this woman. But guys can be stupid. When she 'forgives' him for something that was not her business at the time, and they finally get married, he will live with a controlling bitch until he reaches his 40s and screws up the courage to have a real fling with someone twenty years younger. He also needs help to discover why he is addicted to this toxic woman.

Anonymous said...

He need to walk away. She is playing him for fool. She does not want a relationship with him. She wants to control and guilt him. He will never be happy with her because she will not let him.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I think they are mismatched. They both need to forget it. If they were right for each other they never would have split. They would have worked out disagreements without a break.

Anonymous said...

Please. Why was the momma's boy even talking to his parents about this and why are you involved. Just go,watch a soap opera!