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Guest Thinkers

Am I Using Him?

Former New York Times Ethicist Randy Cohen tackles the ethics of asymmetrical relationships.

In a previous post, Big Think invited you to pose your ethical questions to Randy Cohen, the former New York Times writer who answered reader’s questions in his column “The Ethicist” for over a decade. The dilemmas he tackled ranged from the ethics of moving to higher-priced unoccupied seats at a ball game to whether we’re obligated to blow the whistle on a friend’s cheating spouse. Here Cohen answers the fifth in a series of thought-provoking submissions. Check back next Sunday to see his response to the next question. (Responses will be released on Sundays over a period of five weeks.)

I have been in a relationship for about a year with a man I like a lot but I am not in love with nor am I committed to a long term relationship with him. We have talked honestly about the lopsidedness of our feelings and hopes, still I can’t help but feel that it’s wrong to keep going out with him, accepting his attention and affection, willingness to do stuff for me (and even my aging parents and teenaged daughter) even though as he assures me, there’s nothing he likes better than to be a part of my life in this way. Of course I reciprocate with things like driving him to the airport, feeding his cat when he’s away, and so on, but I have steered clear of his family as much as I can. I can’t shake the feeling that I am using him. Am I using him?


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