Ask A Married Guy: “Is Mr. Nice Just Stringing Me Along?”

This is our friend Tom. He’s a married guy with tons of relationship experience, and a skilled advice giver who’s here to answer all your pressing sex, dating and relationship questions. Have a query for Tom? Email him at [email protected]! All questions will be posted anonymously, unless otherwise requested.

Mr. Nice and I met in 2012. Our first date lasted 13 hours: incredible, as was every date after that. We’re both divorced: he’s 52 and I’m 46, each with two kids (his in college, mine in high school). We’ve kept the kids out of it, so neither has been to the others’ home.

About eight months in, he started to become withdrawn, calling less frequently in the evening. We were still going out several times a week (dinners, movies, etc.), but it was not the same.

I finally inquired, and he gave me this response: he moved a deceased friend’s wife and four kids into his house. The friend’s wife was going through cancer treatment, unable to work, had no family, and was on the verge of homelessness. He felt he had no option but to help. He went on to say there wasn’t anything going on between them (he volunteered info), and that he hadn’t it shared with me because he didn’t know how I would respond. He said he adored where we were relationship-wise and wanted to continue. (Eight months into dating, we weren’t having sex. Lots of heavy kissing and cuddling, even a few weekend get-aways in a shared bed, but no sex). We both agreed early on that sex complicates things and we really wanted to take it slow.

Fast-forward three months: after a great weekend in New Orleans, my phone rings and his number comes up. I answer, only to be confronted by a female voice, screaming at me about ‘her man.’ I was dumbfounded and calmly suggested she talk to Mr. Nice.

We met for dinner to discuss it. He apologized for her calling me, and assured me this was truly a friend helping a friend, and it wouldn’t affect our relationship. He said she was nearing the end of her treatment and would be going back to work, and by the fall would be in her on place.

Well, the fall has come and gone.

We continue to date several times a week. (Still no sex). He now says she doesn’t want to move, and that she’s asking if they can date. Every month there’s a different reason why she can’t move (she’s in the hospital, car problems, she doesn’t have enough money etc). He’s becoming tired of the situation, but unsure how to get her out. The latest episode was the worst. We were spending the weekend at hotel, and found out she tried to kill herself and was in the hospital. Now he’s too afraid to make her leave.

I’m having a difficult time with this. When is enough enough? I want to walk away, but the connection we have is so unbelievable. We talk about future plans, but I feel like it’s going nowhere soon. Am I being strung along?– T

This guy needs a new name. Mr. Nice? Hardly. Nice guys don’t keep secrets like “I moved a woman and her four kids into my house without even talking to you about it.” Mr. Weak suits him better.

Weak guys are a pitfall for sweet women. You spoke of your amazing first date and that’s the problem. Weak men seem like a dream in that “first 48 hours” which defines many relationships (and murder investigations). They are sweet. They listen. They’re not boorish braghards or pushy sex pests. They show all the signs of being “the one.” But it’s all downhill from there.

Let me spell it out. This man is chronically weak, for the following reasons:

  1. He gives up way too much, way too soon. OK, so his friend’s widow is in dire straights, and like a decent guy he wants to help. There are many ways to do that. You can find her a job, mentor her kids… run a marathon and give her all the cash, for god’s sake. But Mr. Weak didn’t do any of that. He skipped right to: “you look cold… want to come inside for a few years?” That’s a ridiculous choice. And did it help anyone? No. It fuelled one woman’s dependency, smashed his self-respect, and scuttled yours and his budding relationship. Slow clap. What a hero.
  2. No sex after eight months, despite multiple hotel rooms. Come on. You both get scolded for this one. Why on earth are you denying yourselves this pleasure? There are no prizes for chastity. Why aren’t you fucking the china out of its hutch like the shag-starved divorcees you are? You “agreed that sex complicates things and wanted to take it slow”. Well, your agreement was stupid. Waiting a month is slow. Waiting eight months? That’s being too chicken to make a move (him more than you), thus dialing up the pressure so high that the sex can’t possibly live up to the stakes. And “sex complicates things”? It looks like your situation got plenty fucking complicated without a single thrust. So have some fun while you’re at it. And what kind of man is this who doesn’t want to have sex with you and your hotness even ONCE in almost a year? He’s not an awkward teenager. He knows how his penis works. He may have a medical problem he’s not addressing (weak), be asexual and not have the balls to tell his romantic partner (double weak), or actually be into submissive sex denial and afraid to celebrate his own kink (triple-axle ice-skating weak). In a word, he’s weak.
  3. Total inability to call people on their bullshit. The Frisky is a feminist-minded publication, so I chose my words carefully. This other woman is a conniving, gold-digging, toxic pile of malodorous insanity… and also a beautiful, unique snowflake… but at the moment? Crazy. She thinks that emotionally manipulating a weak man is the best way to give her kids a good life. She’s wrong, but entitled to try. It is incumbent upon sane people to stop her in her tracks, call bullshit on her sly attempt to become “wife-by-default”, and give her some tough love. That will help her regain her dignity, conquer her horrific grief, and become the strong, self-actualized, non-crazy person we all know she can be. Mr. Weak did none of that. He enabled, and enabled, and then enabled some more.

You asked if you are being strung along. I would say, no. Mr. Weak isn’t capable of stringing people along. He seems like a well-meaning guy, despite being a wee bit deluded about himself and human nature. This man is in fact stringing himself along, by not addressing the great opportunity (you) and terrible risk (this lady) that wandered into his life. He’s letting life happen to him, rather than taking charge and getting what he wants. My advice is to give the guy a 30-day ultimatum. You are well within your rights. This is a “her or me” situation. If she is not gone in a calendar month, you should be. And don’t accept any sniveling about her killing herself. Those kind of threats are the most reprehensible emotional blackmail that deserve to be ignored. If she makes repeated threats, call a psych ward (which is undoubtedly the right place for her care, if she’s actually serious). Either way, she’s out of that house.

I doubt he’ll do it. But he may surprise you. Men are capable of tremendous growth at a rapid pace (because we’re stunted to begin with). If he can throw the lady out, jump your bones, and apologize for getting so mixed up in that craziness? You have a good man. If he can’t? Bow out.

Have a query for Tom? Email him at [email protected]! All questions will be posted anonymously, unless otherwise requested.