I have been in an “arrangement” with a man for eight years. We are both over 55. He’s retired while I still work. My problem is that I seem unable to break up with him, even though I know it’s the right thing to do.
I’ve lost both my parents since we met and have had very little support from him. Things started out quite well and we did a lot together, then he discovered cruises and started going away a lot and meeting other women on board.
He’d slept around before that, but I accepted it as it was an open relationship and he treated me really well. Now, though, he really rubs my nose in what he is doing, almost like he’s boasting. He leaves packs of condoms around, so I know he’s sleeping with other women.
I accept what he does, but not how he is treating me – like I’m an idiot and I know nothing. I told him in an email that I’d had enough after I spent yet another New Year alone, while he was with someone else. I made it clear that next New Year’s Eve I won’t be around.
The difficult thing is carrying it out. Do you have any suggestions or can you recommend any books I can read about how to end bad relationships? This guy occupies my thoughts way too much and I know that when he is with other people, he is not thinking of me at all!
As hard as it is to hear, I think part of the attraction is the fact that this relationship is almost like a challenge. You’ve always known he’s a womaniser and, while you agreed to an “open relationship”, deep down you’ve never been happy with that.
You were probably hoping that somewhere along the line he would want to be with you exclusively and, the fact is, he doesn’t want that and he never will because you’ve put up with it for all these years. It’s all been on his terms. On the plus side, you found the strength to write that email to him. Now, as you say, you just have to find a bit extra to stick to your word.
Think about all the time you’ve wasted on a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. It probably has become a kind of addiction and like any habit, it’s hard to break.
But when you get the urge to call him or email him, rope in some good friends and call them for a chat until the moment passes. Talk to them instead of him.
I’m sure your friends and family are tearing their hair out because they know you deserve better and will be supportive.
Any distraction is a great tool when you’re tempted by something – whether it’s a bad relationship or anything else that’s addictive.
In terms of books, there are loads out there that focus on building self-esteem and confidence, and that’s what I think you need to do.
I’m a big fan of the original self-help book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Also popular is The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
You deserve better than anything he’s ever offered you – you just have to believe it.
More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems