Dear Neil: I am a single Mum of 9 year old twin girls. Six and a half years ago, I met this man, and we had a wonderful and passionate connection. After a year, I discovered he had numerous financial issues, as well as breaches of honesty. Among other things, he had spent the deposit for our joint holiday home we had been planning together. In the end, I had enough of the lies and deceit, so I withdrew and we did not see each other for a few weeks.
But then I decided I wanted our relationship to work. I drove to his place and was shocked to discover a lady and her son had turned up at his place at 11pm, and I learned she was his new flame. To make a long story short, he went back to me, then back to her, then back to me. However, one evening after that, she turned up at his place, trying to get him back all over again.
We have been living together in my house the past two and a half years, but we still have issues: family, money, honesty. He has not kept up with his financial agreements, and I have never felt that he has attempted to develop a relationship with my girls. I appreciate he is not their dad, but he has been in their life almost 7 years and has no real connection with them, and it does not feel like we’re a family. My once avid sex drive has all but disappeared, and we are drifting apart. I am 49 and he is 43. Can you give me any insight?
Lost in New Zealand
Dear Lost: It’s hard to see the forest through the trees when you are living inside a story. You have to step back and view your story from a distance in order to be able to see it with any clarity. Let me offer you that clarity.
The man you’re living with has a commitment issue. Plain and simple, he has never actually committed to you. He is, at the most, only partially committed to you. Furthermore, you actually know it: that’s why you’ve withdrawn.
Connecting with your twin girls takes time, effort and energy. It requires him to make an emotional investment in them, and in the job of becoming a stepdad to them (which he obviously is, having been in their lives since they were two). But it’s extremely telling that he hasn’t tried to bond with them, grow to love them and invest in a relationship with them. It speaks to him being tentative and half-hearted in the relationship, rather than committed and unreserved.
The presence of the other woman speaks of the same lack of commitment. He didn’t have to be truthful and honest with you about financial matters—he had been looking for another woman on the side. Furthermore, it is not at all clear that he has any allegiance to being honest, transparent or sincere with the agreements he has made with you. It sounds like he may be making agreements in order to keep you off his back, but he has no genuine interest in holding himself to those agreements—because he’s just appeasing you.
Which leaves you with a choice: stay with him and accept this scenario into the future (you have no evidence it’s going to change), or end the relationship with him in the hope that you will be able to eventually connect with someone else who will be honest, responsible, trustworthy, true and blue—and a stepdad. A grown man ought to know that if he chooses a woman with younger children, he is in the position of being a stepdad, and he is expected to rise to the occasion and be the best he can possibly be in that position.
It sure sounds as if you could find better than him. He is too half-hearted. After the passion wanes, you’re left more with illusion than you are with a real relationship.