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I met a woman, far, far below me in status and physical, and mental, attractiveness. I told her I was in love with her, and now refuse to retract that, or to explain why I refuse to. In fact, this woman is very mentally ill, and she seems distressed by me...

It's not misconduct, because I'm not lying - right -- whoever else I'm involving myself with?

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  • You told a woman that you love her and now you are refusing to go back on that statement? – Buddhism Aug 12 '20 at 6:54
  • yes. i refuse to discuss my declaration of love, and it's confusing her @MAGA2020 it's not infidelity - whatever happens - because she just doesn't know how i feel etc., right? – user2512 Aug 12 '20 at 6:56
  • let's put it another way -- is my "sexual misconduct" limited to people i am having sex with? what about my fiance? – user2512 Aug 12 '20 at 7:03
  • I still don't understand the circumstances. Is it that you have a fiance but got into an intrigue with a somehow handicapped woman? – Buddhism Aug 12 '20 at 8:32
  • I think you may be asking the wrong question. At the very least, you need to add details: Does 'met' mean 'slept with'? Does she know about your fiancé or your fiancé about her? Are there other women besides these? But more to the point: Protesting your love for someone in the same breath that you describe her as inferior in every way, mentally ill, and distressed by you... That strikes me as deep, deep attachment. Any ostensible sexual misconduct is a symptom of something else. Your question isn't really about her or the situation; it's about you and how you relate to the world. – Ted Wrigley Aug 12 '20 at 16:08
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The Noble Eightfold path comprises three practices: wisdom, ethics and immersion. It takes wisdom to ask about ethics. A good source of ethics is MN8. In particular, some of the following considerations may or may not apply. You would know best:

It may be cruel to continue distressing this woman:

MN8:12.2: ‘Others will be cruel, but here we will not be cruel.’

Love is synonymous with care and nurture. Is she feeling cared and nurtured by you?

MN8:12.6: ‘Others will lie, but here we will not lie.’

Love is often confounded with lust. Is there a degree of covetousness here?

MN8:12.10: ‘Others will be covetous, but here we will not be covetous.’

The stated perspective of status imbalance is concerning. The danger to be wary of here is a perceived disparity of value. The Buddha spoke with open heart to all castes:

MN8:12.28: ‘Others will be contemptuous, but here we will be without contempt.’

MN8:12.34: ‘Others will be arrogant, but here we will not be arrogant.’

There may be a difference of understanding regarding the meaning of the word, "love". To not discuss definitions might be construed as deceitful. Some people understand "love" as "I crave you". Others understand "love" as "I am grateful for and open to you". You don't need to explain the why of your feelings, but perhaps a simple discussion about what "love" means to you might be an act of love and compassion that would explain why you are rejoicing in her and thereby give her equanimity.

MN8:12.32: ‘Others will be deceitful, but here we will not be deceitful.’

In most societies, a declaration of love involves expectations. What are the expectations here? The Buddha lived without expectation. His love was limitless.

MN8:12.40: ‘Others will be imprudent, but here we will be prudent.’

May you both find peace.

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    you come off really well there mate, cheers – user2512 Aug 12 '20 at 20:28
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Strictly, according to the Pali suttas, "sexual misconduct" seems to have two meanings.

  • For lay people it means having sexual relations with someone you shouldn't -- typically with members of other people's families, e.g. their spouses or children.

    Some modern Buddhist societies (e.g. in Thailand) appear to allow married men to hire prostitutes.

  • For ordained people it means sexual relations period, i.e. all sexual relations are misconduct.

Lying or "false speech" might have a strict definition too, it's something like ...

  • Intending to deceive
  • Acting on that intent

... so speaking to deceive is false speech, and keeping silent in order to deceive is not.

The statement "I love you" might be meant to deceive -- for example if it's intended to be understood as a promise which you don't intend to keep.

Still the fact that something doesn't technically break a precept doesn't IMO imply it's ethical, nor wise. I guess there's no explicit precept against hitting or intimidating people, for example, but I don't think of that as moral.

A lot of what you say in the question sounds disturbing to me: i.e. saying that someone is "far below you"; being unclear about your personal boundaries when you have a fiancé (or is she a fiancée); and maybe making life more difficult for someone who you say is already "mentally ill".

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  • do you have a quote for the first paragraph? not how i understood it all huh – user2512 Aug 12 '20 at 9:39
  • There's a more detailed answer with references here: buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/35116/254 – ChrisW Aug 12 '20 at 12:09

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