This week, beautiful Lee writes about her long term partner whose commitment issues are causing her to have some trust issues with him.
Here's her email:
I've been exclusively dating my guy for nearly 18 months.
It was only after we'd been going out for 3 months that I found out he had been separated for nearly 18 years, but never divorced. He knows I thought he was divorced and I wouldn't have gone out with him if I'd known he was only separated.
He goes on about how he never said he was divorced, but he said "my wife wanted the divorce," and naturally I thought he meant it had gone ahead.
He said he'd never pursued the divorce because of his daughter - now aged 23 - as he felt bad about leaving when she was very young. But the wife had told him to go, although he realises she thought he'd probably return and be totally subservient.
Instead he started dating someone else.
Ironically though, even after all these years, he's still doing odd jobs for her and sees her nearly every week - even has meals with her. He used to say it was because he wanted to see his daughter - but she's moved out of her mother's house now, and yet he still goes to see her. Says they're "really good friends" and that the she still sees him as her "closest confidante" because she has no friends of her own and doesn't want to discuss their daughter with anyone else.
The daughter is a real problem, long-term unemployed and sounds a real brat.
He refuses to introduce her to me (says he's never introduced her to any of his girlfriends and won't until he's sure the girlfriend is going to be 'the one'). He's also still very protective of the mother's feelings and won't introduce her to me because "she'd be really embarrassed if she saw you".
I'm not sure why he's so protective, as several other people have independently told me that she's "evil", "nasty", "pretentious" and so on. Several have also said she's gay.
He claims the marriage largely broke down because there was no physical element once the baby was underway, but also because she's "extremely controlling" and he couldn't live with that. He's generally pretty easygoing, but on the few things he has strong views, its his way or the highway.
Oh after I gave him an ultimatum, he finally did his divorce last week... but it took over 12 months to get the wife to sign a joint divorce (he didn't want it to be acrimonious).
She obviously didn't want to do it and expressed her concern that things may change (he also provides enormous amounts of financial support and bought her a house when they first split up, even though it was only a 6 year marriage). But he reassured her nothing would change between them - especially as she lives about 400 metres from his house, so he can call in whenever he likes (while I live about half an hour's drive away and only see him about twice a week).
He's super wary of another unhappy marriage and being cleaned out financially again. He assures me there's nothing physical going on with her, but I think he's still got a strong emotional relationship with her.
After we'd been dating about 4 months, he told me he'd like to see us living together "in the near future" and talked about "spending the rest of our lives together, even marriage." Initially I said "don't be ridiculous, I've only known you a few months and I've been through a shocking divorce, with 3 years spent in the Family Court."
But he kept talking about us being together.
After about a year of dating him, I finally said I was ready to talk about living together or making more of a commitment. He then said "I'd still like to do that eventually, but I'm not ready yet." I was shattered, as it had taken me a long time to get to that point.
I decided to give him a bit more time & space, because he does have lots of nice qualities and of course, now I'm in love with him. But 6 months later, there's no progress and he rarely mentions any commitment now at all.
He'd happily go on with me being his 'weekend girlfriend' for years. In fact, I found out he dated his last girlfriend before me, on & off for nearly 10 years! He's also had about 6 long term girlfriends since he split from his wife.
He said some left because they two-timed him, or because he didn't want to marry or have more children. I realised he's a total commitment-phobe one day, when I jokingly suggested we should elope - and he nearly turned purple!
I'm wondering whether or not to try & persevere with him.
Is there any way to salvage this situation, or should I just give up and try to repair my broken heart? The trouble is I'm 57 and he's 60 - an age range when there's not many decent available men around.
I'm reasonably attractive, but very tall and in a professional job - so I'm pretty hard to match to start with. (I've also got some health issues many would find difficult to accept.)
My guy & I get on really well when we're together (similar intellect, hobbies and humour), but when we're apart I'm miserable with wondering if he's with his wife and they're still really a "family". I'm also not really happy with living on my own indefinitely (my children have all grown up), as I get quite lonely sometimes, although I have quite a few friends.
It also seems so silly for both of us to each be maintaining two separate houses.
But that suits him, because he can come & go as he pleases...and of course, he's never lonely!
Any opinions or suggestions? Or has he just got me snookered? It seems I either have to accept this situation, or be entirely alone (as I was for the 8 years after my 25 year marriage ended).
There’s a third option, Lee.
You accept only the part you can live with. You ask yourself if there’s enough of the positives you’re getting from him to make all the negatives worth while. You ask yourself if going on years being his “weekend girlfriend” - which you can see is his ideal - would ever work for you.
But most of all, Lee, you ask yourself if not knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt when you’re apart, that he’s not with his wife and they’re not still very much a “family” is enough of a dealbreaker for you.
In fact, in a letter full of so many red flags, this is the biggest red flag I see for you.
Because it tells you your own truth. It states the obvious to you. It speaks to trust issues - basic trust issues - that obviously stem from the very beginning where he made the not so little omission that he was actually only separated and not divorced.
Maybe you can forgive him if he was clear after that. But the fact that you’re here now after 18 months and you still can’t trust that when you’re apart he’s not living a double life on the side AND it’s making you miserable, that’s more than a small or slight concern.
We can’t pretend we can put up with what we’re going through when, deep down inside, we really can't.
Remember this: You haven’t been snookered unless you allow yourself to be.
We can only turn a blind eye to what’s really going on and how it’s actually affecting us for so long. I’m sure it’s not good for your mental health. And it’s definitely not good for your physical health.
Being with someone we can trust is.
Being with someone we have to talk ourselves into being with because we either don’t think we can do any better or he’s really not that bad, is such a sad state for any of us to put ourselves in.
But I’m going to add a caveat to everything I’ve said here - and that is that if you can honestly live with who this man is, if he brings enough sunshine to your days to compensate for the rain, then that's something that has to matter, too.
That’s why I’m guessing you’re here, Lee. To see him for who he is. To accept the reality of who that is.
To look at your relationship with him objectively enough to decide what you want your next move to be. There’s enough here for you to decide what you want to do. When you put it all down in writing like this, it's much easier to see reality for what it is. And for who he is.
Watch what happens if you allow yourself to see. Watch what happens if you give yourself permission to be more than lonely or snookered. To be in the place of choosing who you want in your life and what you want to do with that choice.
He may be a wonderful man who means well who simply can’t commit and doesn’t know if he ever will. Let’s let him be that. That’s not what your letter is about. It’s about you. It’s about his affect on you. It’s about this relaationship’s affect on you. It’s really, Lee, about you.
You have to ask yourself this simple question: Why him?
Why are you choosing him? Why are you willing to be so miserable when you’re apart because you can’t even trust him on that basic level of whether he’s with you or with another woman?
I'm going to guess that to most of us reading this, there's really no question.
There is no relationship without this kind of basic trust. There are no exceptions to knowing if someone is with us or not. Forget even the commitment issues, there’s enough honestly and truth issues here for us to run as fast as we can in the other direction IF (and only if) we don’t have the attachment and the investment in someone that makes this situation anything but clear when it's our own.
That’s where you want to go with your questions, Lee. Within.
You’re allowed to. Actually, you need to. Because that’s the only place where those answers can be found.
I know you’re going to figure out for yourself exactly what you need to do.
So what do you think beautiful Lee should do in this situation? Share your thoughts, advice, and any words of encouragement with her below in the comments!