Q: I've been dating/living with a 58-year-old man for a dozen years. He closed a successful business a year ago and now is self-employed and pursuing other business adventures/opportunities. He goes on trips once a month to Costa Rica. He claims he is working only, although he goes to the casino, eats out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and goes deep-sea fishing, which is a favorite hobby for us here in the US. I have NEVER been asked to go with him on these trips, though he's asked my brother and has taken other men and "business associates" with him. Curious, I went through some of his things to find out the truth. I found a CD with photos of him and one of his employees in compromising positions. I confronted him, and he denied that they are involved now. He said he has known her for a long time and she was a prostitute when he met her. Wow, I am SICK and BLOWN away. I'm still in shock. He pays her phone, electric bill, water bill, cell phone, she has an account he puts money in for her. He pays her a salary, car payment, gas, groceries, internet bill, fake fingernails, Avon, Victoria's Secret outfits, she has a huge diamond on her ring finger, and I found documents he has adopted her daughter. He can't even pay my son for his grades that he promised him in 3rd grade and he is in 4th grade now. So do I continue to believe him or do I hang it up with him? I can't believe that I am with someone that has been with a prostitute. It makes me sick!!!! He even brought her to the US for a visit. Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. -- Louise, 52
Dr. Susan: I would be sick over this huge betrayal too, but what you need to do is focus on what's really going on. The main issue, as I see it, is less that he is with a prostitute (though the health risk to you is critical), but that he is basically married (even if not legally) to both of you. He's a big-time bigamist, and has been getting away with this for a long time, apparently. Do you continue to believe anything he says? Of course not!
You have several priority tasks. Get yourself an AIDS test quickly, and don't have sex with this man again lest you expose yourself to whatever he has been exposing himself to. Do not believe a word he says in this regard. You're not safe so long as he's with other women, much less a prostitute. That's number one. Number two is to consider seeing a lawyer. Take copies of all those papers you mentioned, if he hasn't destroyed them by now. It's possible that after a dozen years together, he owes you something financially if you decide to leave him. The third thing is to make a decision about whether you want to stay with him and be one of his two (or more?) women. This goes far beyond his not paying your son something he promised last year. He is obviously supporting this other woman and her daughter (who might be his daughter for all you know).
I sympathize with your shock and distress. It doesn't sound as if your guy has ever really been your guy. While you may never get justice for what he has been doing to you, you can still get out and redeem your self-respect.
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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.