He's Cruel Due to Her Affair
Q: When I met the guy I've been seeing for ten years, I was kinda seeing a married man. That ended when the guy I'm seeing now found out. But he, too, was divorced and living with an ex who needed help as she was ill. He talked about us getting married, but he never stayed over. We went on trips together once a year. Haven't had sex in how long, and he claims he's a loner, but he checks the mail and has keys to my house. He's 70 years old. What should I do? I would feel guilty to leave, and I like being with him. He does have a good heart, but the mouth is the cruelest thing since he found out about the other guy 8 years ago! — Brenda, 57
Dr. Susan: Let me suggest that your 70-year-old boyfriend is getting his minimal needs met just the way things are, so why should he commit to anything more? He's a "loner" who enjoys spending some time with you (and checking your mail?!), but doesn't trust you since you were ("kinda"?) cheating on him those first two years. The two of you have never fully worked out the issues around your early betrayal. If he's been expressing his anger and hurt for eight years now, it's time he closed his cruel mouth. Let him speak up once more and get his feelings heard. Accept whatever he says (within reason), and then decide as a couple how you want to proceed.
It doesn't make sense to feel guilty over leaving. If he's not nice to you, or not nice enough to make up for what you're missing (a live-in partner, sex), then you can certainly choose to move on while you still have options. On the other hand, if you enjoy being with him, then you have to accept that this is all he's willing to give.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.