Should I choose Man A or Man B?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been was in a relationship with a man for three years. I will call him A. We lived together and he wanted to and still wants to marry me. While I started and developed the relationship with him because I was very lonely at the time, I developed feelings for him and to this date, he is my closest friend. The problem that I always had when I was with him was that I was never in love with him. Staying in the relationship felt very emotionally safe and I was happy being with him even though I never felt the “butterflies in the stomach” being with or thinking of him. He felt like a family and I did and still do care about him. And that was what I was looking for – the emotional comfort of having someone next to me who loves me and cares about me.
The missing part in our relationship was the fact that I never felt romantically about him and so two years later, I started sleeping with another man B, which developed into a relationship. I feel in love with B but I have been comparing him with A and this of course has made me see more of his negatives. I am very attracted to him and like to spend time with him. However, when the time came to “go home”, i.e. do every day things, relax and stay home, I would always want to meet with A. A continues to feel like home, like the place where I go at the end of the day to be comfortable, share my day at work, watch TV, or just relax while being silent.

I did not tell A about my relationship with B. Soon, I decided to move out and live alone for some time to figure things out and decide who I wanted to be with. The process of deciding to move out and moving out was very difficult and hurtful. I was and I believe still am in depression about it. I am still keeping in touch with A every day and to be confused as to whether I should marry him. There is so much history between us and I cannot stop worry about him. He continues telling me that he loves me and that he wants to marry me.

I have been seeing with B for almost one year now and he also proposed a marriage to me. The moment he proposed, I started fantasizing how we both will live together and will have children together, and the thoughts made me feel happy. But I also started paying attention to his minuses that I now not like and am not sure whether I would tolerate or accept in a life partner. I also imagined that if we get married, I will have to end seeing A, which made me very sad. So, it has been months now when I have been thorn into the dilemma about whom I should choose. I want to get married and at times I think that if one of them was not in the picture, I would easily say YES to the other one. I am also thinking that if I am confused for such a long time, then the answer to both of them should be NO. However, the thought of not having either of them in my life makes me feel very sad. A gives me love and comfort but I am not romantically attracted to him. I am attracted to B and want to hold him, kiss him, travel with him, have adventures with him, etc. But B is simple, self-centered, immature and often shallow, and when I need a person who understands me and feels what I need and how I feel, I think about A. I feel a very strong connection with A and at times I even feel angry at B that he was the” lucky one” for not making any effort as A made to make sure that I am doing well as I am today.

A: As difficult as this is, you are a lucky woman, indeed, to have two men in your life who love you and want to be with you and with whom you can imagine a future. Although on the face of it, A is the representative of more mature and lasting love, B has the advantage of being the one who makes your heart swoon. Neither would be a bad choice – as long as you committed to the choice you made.

However — I don’t think your problem is who to choose. It sounds like your could be happy with either. The problem as I see it is that you are very scared to make any choice at all. By staying ambivalent and by thinking about the charms of these two men as different but equal, you forestall making any decision. If you delay long enough, one of these guys is going to give up. Then you will have to choose between the one who stayed or no choice at all. Meanwhile, you are being dishonest with both. When either of them finds out about the other, that may decide the issue for you as well.

The common denominator of these possibilities is the result: You avoid making an active choice and taking responsibility for it. Please don’t hear this as a scold. It’s not. It’s intended to provoke you to do some thinking about just what you are doing. I wonder why you are so reluctant to choose. I wonder why taking responsibility for the course of your life makes you stop in your tracks. What has happened in your life that you have reached your 30s so scared of commitment that you let yourself deceive good men who love you?

I hope you will consider seeing a therapist to help you sort this out. Your letter shows you to be an intelligent, thoughtful person who could make good use of some sessions with a sympathetic counselor who would push you to be honest with yourself. You are fortunate to live in a city where there are many therapists. One caution: You could repeat the same dilemma in looking for a therapist; never being able to choose between equally well trained and experienced people. I suggest you talk to your doctor or someone else you trust to get a recommendation and just go with it – at least at first.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 May 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Should I choose Man A or Man B?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/02/should-i-choose-man-a-or-man-b/