END THE “BREAK-UP” THEN “GET BACK TOGETHER” CYCLE
DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR:
So I have known my midlife bachelor since I was fifteen and he has been a mentor and best friend ever since, even when I moved out of state for about five years.
When I moved back, we started messing around but he always said it could not continue because I have children and he is not in for that. After about a year and a half of on again off again dating, he went back to his ex of a decade to see if he made a mistake. After a year and a half, they ended it and I was the first one he called. We got
it back on and he cheated on me a couple of times, probably more. He finally decided to be real about eight months ago, but when suddenly something bad happened with my ex (the father of my children), he said he did not sign up for this. I know he was not cheating because we were together every night and he started to behave as a father to my children. He broke up with me two weeks ago, stating that he cannot see himself parenting for another ten years (till my kids are adults), and he has to go. Did I mention his son is twenty and his ex had a kid, so he did put in a lot of time parenting.
I know I would not want to parent again after my kids are grown; however, I just know that we are meant to be and I really think that he will just gain more appreciation for being part of my family in the next years. Also, he does not say he doesn’t feel his heart is in it now, but fears that in three to five years he will begin to resent it and me. I think his appreciation will grow rather than resentment. He does not want the children to get attached and that is why he is doing this, because he doesn’t want to risk doing so much damage to all of us.
Of course, I know I have to let him go now – but my question is should I ever let him back? It seems he has stepped all over me frequently, yet I know we are perfect for each other. We have always had a special connection. Can anyone help me move on? Should I move on or give him time? I am so confused and sad. We are clearly so happy, yet fear of the future makes him pull away. We promised each other to remain friends forever and did when he was with his ex, which is part of the reason they broke up. We still talk almost every day. Last weekend he thought I was with someone else and left me a heart broken message. I just don’t know what to do. It doesn’t help that I am thirty and he is in his early forties. Is there a clear answer or solution?
MIDLIFE BACHELOR ANSWER:
Yes, there is definitely a clear answer/solution – never talk to him again! This guy has walked all over you … he has cheated on you repeatedly … he has left you for his ex-wife … then he came back … he wants you …. then he doesn’t want you …. the idea of establishing a long-term bond with your kids bothers him. You are a doormat to him … and it all occurs because you allow it to happen.
To me – you sound like a kind, caring, and loving woman … and I’m quite certain that you deserve a lot better treatment than what you describe. I’m also quite certain that pretty much ANYONE you wind up dating won’t do all of those horrible things. Maybe the sex is excellent with him … it can be excellent elsewhere, too – trust me on that.
So my take is that you should dump him, and not even remain friends with him … because he has a history of being able to charm his way right back into your pants … and I can see that vicious cycle repeating itself again and again, if you let it. If he truly loved you – none of what you describe would have happened.
Many people find themselves in the same situation you are in – where you have a long and vicious cycle of breaking up, then getting back together … then breaking up, then getting back together … it will happen over and over until YOU put a stop to it. I, myself, have been in that situation – and I can tell you that no matter how much you think you love this person … after a period of not talking to him, you will finally realize how wrong the whole relationship was, and how much time you wasted with him. I do think the best solution for you is to not be friends with him – and to cut off all contact.
I encourage you to think carefully about everything discussed here, and make the best decision possible. You might consider joining our Midlife Forum here, too – where we discuss a lot of dating and relationship-related issues. Good luck!
UPDATE ON JUNE 1, 2010 from the woman who originally wrote in …
I think you are right. I am allowing this, or have allowed this to happen. If someone rejects the “call to action” or a commitment of relationship once, they will probably do it again. If they’ve done it at least twice, then it will end up in a vicious cycle, and, yes, it is my fault for allowing it to occur.
However, I have known this man for fifteen years and never talking to him seems unreasonable for a few years of an unhealthy love relationship. First, the time we’ve spent together was not completely a waste, but a great experience that I do not wish to forget. I learned a lot about myself and have grown a lot as an individual. Second, he has been there for me in very difficult times in my life (there were quite a few as I had a less than desirable childhood) and he will always be my friend. I do agree with you though, I will not speak with him for quite some time.
I am proud of myself. When I spoke to him last, I told him to not call me … that I will call him when I feel ready, which will be in several months. Now, I only think of the bad about him … how he rejected my wonderful children and that my children and I deserve so much better or a simply better off on our own. To dish out guilt to someone for having children … yuk! The truth is, he knew I had kids when we got back together a year and a half ago. By the way, it was not his ex-wife he reconnected with between our dating spurts, but his ex-girlfriend, whom he had been seperated with for a couple of years before we ever had a romantic relationhip of any kind. Recently, when we first broke up, all I had was sad feelings, especially feelings of a great loss and loneliness. His rejecting my children has given me great strength. You see we got back together right after your first response and the final straw for me was to actually experience his wanting to let my children miss a fun event this Memorial Day. The idea of him wanting to get a sitter rather than letting enjoy at least one of the two days at a friend’s pool was what put me over the edge. I should not feel guilty for having my kids and having them in my partner’s presence.
So now, I have advice for the broken hearted. If this person makes you feel bad in any way, then it is not the perfect love. I would never make a move that would bring him to tears … I never have. When we first broke up, all I thought about was the good. Now, I realize there is so much more bad. The insecurity of him leaving for whatever reason (kids this time, ex last time, cheating in the middle), him calling me too loving and needy (I am a single mom who does it on her own, far from needy, just romantic and loving), the idea that he makes these decisions to leave me, sees me go through intense pain, only to want to come back … Those are just a few of mine. It makes it easier when you get angry a bit for all the mistreatment. Thanks.