I read your column every week. It's where I pretty much learnt what sex was. My parents have always been really traditional and they never talked to us kids about such things. Anyways. My letter isn't about them, it's about my ex and the father of my children.
I met him when I was 18 and I've been in love with him ever since. We were on-and-off for several years before finally getting pregnant and having two sons. I'm 30 now. When we were younger, my ex would always cheat on me, get caught, and then get dumped. Somehow or another we would end up back together and trying again. I've always loved this man, Dan, and I don't know what I'd do without him in my life. Even though to have him in my life hurts me so much. He's always told me the things I wanted to hear—we are soulmates, he's only ever been in love with me, he never wants to lose me. But then he goes and cheats on me.
When we got back together and I became pregnant with our first son, I told him in no uncertain terms that if he ever cheated on me again, I'd leave for good, and that it wouldn't be just me he'd be betraying, but our son, too. Everything was perfect and lovely until my second son was about six weeks old, and he got caught cheating. I left him that very day and moved back home to my moms. I've been in a terrible depression ever since, and I can't stop sometimes sleeping with my ex. I still love him, but I don't trust him, and I'm scared of what he can do to me. So I kind of live in a fantasy land where when we see each other, we don't speak about our fucked up-relationship—we just sort of pretend and play house for a couple days, and then I go home. Our kids are 3 and 4, and I don't know if I'm going to hurt them in the long run with this kind of behavior. I love their dad more than anything, but it's gotten to a point where my whole family hates him. He doesn't pay child support and he doesn't help me with anything at all. If I were to reconcile with him one more time, my family would disown me. So I never talk about getting back together. I'm scared of what I could lose.
At the same time, I don't want to lose him, either, so I allow this pretending shit to happen. We kiss, cuddle, make love, etc. I'm so scared of cutting that off because I don't want to lose him all together. I don't date other people. I haven't been able to meet anyone because I'm scared of having to let go of my ex, and as long as I "sort of" have him, then I feel like I'm not so alone. I know this is fucked right up, Dan, but I don't know what to do. He dates other people, but he always ends up sleeping with me, and then in a jealous fit I always end up ratting him out to the girl he's dating, and the other girl usually realizes how fucked up this whole thing is—how fucked up we are—and dumps him. And then we are back at square one. Never really being together but never really being apart.
I love this man, Dan, I do. But I'm so hurt by all the shit he's put me through that I just don't know what to do. I'm scared to live a life without him in it, but I'm also scared to settle for this kind of life with a man who can't stop cheating on me. I've been cheated on so many times I can't even count them anymore. Am I a fool? Is this going to fuck my kids up? Does he actually love me the way I love him? I want so desperately to believe he does, but his actions kill me, Dan. Literally kill me. Please give me some advice. I'm dying inside with no one to talk too.
Thanks So Much
My response after the jump...
I'm gonnahafta side with your moms and everyone else in your life, TSM, and urge you to cut this guy out of your life (and theirs). Not because the
man you love piece of shit with whom you're obsessed cheats on you—his cheating is clearly something you can live with—but because the guy is a fucking deadbeat. He doesn't pay child support or help you out in any way? Your sons probably aren't aware of their father's sex, life but they're no doubt fully and painfully aware of their father's indifference—and if anything is going to fuck your kids up, TSM, it's that.
My advice for you: Hire an attorney and sue the POS for back-and-future child support payments. You owe your kids and your family that much. And who knows? Taking the POS to court may prompt him to show a side of himself that is so deeply unattractive that you finally—after 12 long, bullshitty years—snap the fuck out of it. If that doesn't do the trick, TSM, get your ass to a shrink.
Backing up: Yes, his cheating—despite your protestations—is clearly something you can live with. If that wasn't the case... you wouldn't keep taking him back. But you keep taking him back. Why? Because either you enjoy the drama (you seem to relish making those phone calls to the other girls he's dating), TSM, or you're one of those immature types who regard drama as evidence of passion. Like I said to BESTS in last week's column...
One day look back on the bi three-ways, the gay two-ways, and the way you once believed that "breaking up a lot" was evidence of a passion that could not be denied (when in actual fact it's evidence of a couple of twats who cannot be endured) and be deeply, deeply embarrassed.
Most people outgrow the belief that drama = passion in their late teens or early 20s. But you're still stuck there somehow—which is something you might wanna unpack with a shrink. If not for yourself, TSM, then for your kids.
As for your family: I suspect they hate the endless and predictable drama as much as or more than they hate your once-and-future ex. You take him back knowing that he will cheat on you—because he has always cheated on you and he always will—and when the inevitable inevitably happens, TSM, your moms and everyone else in your life are expected to rush in again, comfort you again, help you move out again. They're as sick of this game as you pretend to be. So if you take him back one more time—against my counsel and theirs—take him back for good, i.e., no more breaking up over the cheating. And who knows? Maybe they'll warm to him once the drama and chaos ends.
Had you been reading my column more closely over the years, TSM, you would've identified being cheated on as the price of admission you would have to pay to be with this guy. You say you love him and insist that you can't live without him. Okay, great, whatever. But the POS has proven himself incapable of being monogamous. So if you choose to be with him—knowing what you know—then you are choosing to be cheated on. If paying that price will literally kill you, don't choose to be with this guy.