How can someone live under the same roof as you and your son and do these kinds of things behind your back while carrying on like everything is fine? Is this some kind of psychological disorder than can be treated with therapy? This is just a shock to me, but I can’t exactly bring it up while he’s deployed overseas and has other people’s lives in his hands. I could bring it to his dad’s attention in hopes that as a team we can get him some help. And he blames me for us not being married yet! Now I know why we aren’t married and it isn’t my fault at all. — Captain’s Girlfriend
Absolutely do NOT bring this to his dad’s attention!! It’s none of his dad’s business! If you’re worried about upsetting your boyfriend while he’s deployed and “has other people’s lives in his hands,” imagine how much worse it would be having his dad all up in his business, trying to “get him help.” No. Don’t do that.
I can’t tell you whether your boyfriend has a “psychological disorder” or not, but I can tell you that YOU have a problem, and its name is “untrustworthy boyfriend.” Thankfully, there’s a cure! It’s called moving on already. You’ve given this relationship four years and it’s not working. There’s no fix here. Your boyfriend pursuing sex workers and (many) other women is only a symptom of the problem(s). It’s not like if that issue can be addressed — and that’s a big if with no short-term or long-term guarantee — everything will be all honky-dory. You’ll still have whatever problem(s) existed in your relationship in the first place that led to your discovering about his indiscretions by snooping through his email. In addition to your boyfriend needing to stop screwing around behind your back, you’d have to work on your communication issues, your snooping, your lack of trust, and whatever else has been holding you back from progressing to marriage, which you seem to want. It’s been four-plus years and you’re not there yet, and it’s not just because your boyfriend has a thing for happy endings with random women in Las Vegas.
When a relationship doesn’t work, it’s never just one person’s “fault,” and this is no exception. It’s not working because you aren’t right for each other. I know that’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially when you’ve invested so much time, and you have a child, too, whom your boyfriend is at least a father-figure to, if not his actual dad (unclear from your letter). But that’s not a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that isn’t working. And your boyfriend’s being deployed also isn’t a good enough reason to stay in a relationship that isn’t working. Life isn’t put on hold during a deployment. You aren’t under an obligation to the country, or even to your boyfriend, to pretend for another year that you’re still committed to this relationship that has run its course.
Your boyfriend is a captain in the Air Force; he has trained for challenges. He has prepared for the physical and emotional demands of deployment, including the pressures it puts on one’s personal life. If he couldn’t handle an emotional set-back like a break-up, he not only wouldn’t have made it as far as he has in the military, but he also would’ve put a ring on your finger a long time ago in an effort to try to lock things down, so to speak. Don’t use his deployment as an excuse to delay something that will be hard for you. You gotta get through it, feel the pain and disappointment, learn from your broken heart, let it heal, and then move on to something better. There IS something better, I promise. But you’ll never find it if you don’t let yourself.
I’m not sure I understand the progression of events in this situation — you moved with the new attorney to a different firm? The original firm dissolved and he decided to start his own at the same office? Regardless of the details, you are his subordinate, along with what sounds like two other people, and you are getting special treatment that makes you uncomfortable in that it raises questions about WHY you are getting such treatment. You are wondering if some sort of line is being crossed, and you are well within your right — legally and morally — to find out. So ask him! Say, “Hey, I’ve appreciated the bonuses and payment of my paralegal course, but I’ve noticed that the other employees haven’t gotten the same benefits. I was wondering why I’ve been chosen and not the others?” It also wouldn’t hurt to find out what the expectations are for you in return for his paying for your paralegal course. Are you expected to continue working for him for a certain length of time? And what entitles you to bonuses? Staff-wide clarification on bonuses, payment of courses, payment tiers, and work exception (especially since you say you do everything!!) needs to be communicated, so that everyone is on the same page and no one feels singled out for “special” treatment.
But beyond all that, you need to follow your gut. If you have a feeling this guy likes you, maybe working for him isn’t the right thing for you. Whether the feelings are reciprocal or not, working for someone who’s romantically involved with someone else, in a situation like you’re describing, is asking for drama. And as a naive 19-year-old with very little life or career experience, it doesn’t sound like you’re up for the challenge of drawing boundaries and making clear distinctions between a friendly professional relationship and something more. And make no bones about it — when the lines become blurry, as it sounds like they are, it’s YOU who will be in trouble, both emotionally and financially (in the sense that it’s your job that is most at risk). Basically, to continue on as you have, when you have suspicions this guy has feelings for you, is playing with fire, and I don’t get the sense from your letter that you’re well-prepared to handle that. I’d start looking for a new job ASAP.
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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.