He never talks about a future of us moving past boyfriend and girlfriend. This is a long-distance relationship of 80 miles, and I am tired of all the travel time and expense. He doesn’t seem to mind it much: he is much wealthier than I am as well as has more disposable time than I do. Secondly, I broke up with him a month ago because he was refusing to give up an emotional affair he was involved in for the past six years! Nothing would come of it physically, but I still felt he was cheating because he confessed his love to her and has begged for a chance at a real relationship, but she is not interested. He has stopped all communication with her, so that part makes me very happy; however, when we were broken up, he joined a dating site… and now he is still actively on it! Still looking! Even responding to Craigslist ads!!
Between us, everything is as giving and loving as it always has been. I haven’t confronted him about this and am just monitoring right now, waiting to see if he is actually going to try to meet up with any of these fantasies or if it is just for entertainment purposes, but that kinda feels naive. How can he be so sweet and loving in every way imaginable but be searching for whatever else it is he is looking for?
I really love this man and have believed he was my soulmate… but now? Was I wrong? Am I being naive? Is he looking for something better? He knows I want marriage and commitment, but he never even pretends to want to get married. — Wandering in Wyoming
Yes, you’re being naive. And you aren’t really listening when this guy tells you that he doesn’t want to get married or be committed to you. A person can be very loving and kind and generous with you and not want a commitment. What you have with him now is all you will ever have, and he has not led you to believe otherwise. In fact, it sounds like he’s been very honest about what he wants and what he doesn’t want, and he isn’t hiding his interest in pursuing other women. He does not want to be a one-woman man. He does not want to marry you. He does not want to commit to you. That isn’t going to change. Please repeat that to yourself over and over and over until you believe it. And if no amount of repeating this convinces you, and his telling you he doesn’t want to marry you doesn’t convince you, and his emotional affair of six years with another woman he says he loves doesn’t convince you, and his activity on dating sites and Craigslist doesn’t convince you, please go see a therapist, because there’s a reason you continue investing time and love and energy in a dead-end relationship with a man who has explicitly told you he won’t commit to you, and, whatever that reason is, it is beyond something I can address in an advice column.
P.S. Birth control, STD testing.
Last night he decided to clean the slate and told me everything about his relationship with the other girl. He admitted to me that the night I gave birth he was in a rush to leave because he had plans to go celebrate with her. Three weeks later he left me because he wanted to see if he had a chance with her. Every time I look at my daughter I think of the things he’s done to me. He wants to put all of this behind us and start over. He claims he’s thinking clearly now and is ready to give us a real shot.
Obviously, I feel betrayed, and I already haven’t really trusted him for a year now which is when he started telling me little lies. How do I know if he’s genuine this time? How do I forgive him for something like this? — Not So Ready To Start New
It’s been three years and now he wants to give you guys a “real shot”? No, dude, that ship has sailed. If it was going to work out, it would have happened long before now. That doesn’t mean you can’t forgive him. For the sake of your co-parenting relationship, you should try to forgive him and work on being cooperative and civil with each other. But as far as a romantic relationship, it’s time to move on. A man who left your side hours after you gave birth to his baby so he could rush off and go celebrate with another woman is not someone you have a “real shot” with, no matter how much growing he says he’s done in the few weeks since he abandoned you and your just-born baby at the hospital for his mistress…
Once again, I confronted him about it and he swore it was a mistake, he was sorry, he was at a low point, blah blah blah. He has since changed his password on his phone, and I recently found out he downloaded an app where he can message people through the app rather than text (so it doesn’t show up on our bill). I still can see he texts through our computer and I don’t think anything has changed because in texts he’s asked the girls to download the app. I can’t actually prove that he has had sex with any of these women or that he is still talking to anyone because it’s all through this app that I don’t have access to, but I have a VERY strong feeling that he is continuing the behavior.
It makes me sick to my stomach that I have given this man so much of my life and I’m pregnant again with a baby he begged to have and this is how he repays me. I don’t want to leave him (for the sake of our children), but I feel like at this point he is giving me no choice! Please help! — Pregnant and Angry
You say you don’t have proof that he’s had sex with these women he’s messaging, but would it matter if he hadn’t? He’s still been betraying you for ages, lying to you, and sneaking around behind your back. He showed you who he was before you got married and you married him anyway. Why? Because he “swore” he’d never betray you again? And so, you were like, “Ok, cool”? Just like that? It doesn’t work that way. A person has to earn back trust and he’s never done that. And now so much damage has been done. And not only may the damage be too much to overcome, you two may simply not be a good match. But if you feel committed to working on your marriage, for the “sake of your kids,” you’ll need to try marriage counseling. But know this: It’s in everyone’s best interest — your kids’, your own, your husband’s — that, if this marriage is not working, you and your husband acknowledge that and part ways as amicably as possible before more damage is done. Having two parents who can get along and work cooperatively together, despite not being married anymore, is a lot better for children than having two parents who are married and can’t stand each other because of years of built-up bitterness and resentment.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.