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patyourback's avatar

Should I stay and see how we can manage this or should I walk away?

Asked by patyourback (14points) 1 month ago

Hi there, I am in a very difficult situation right now, due to the fact that my boyfriend is dealing with something very hard for him, my boyfriend is older than (quite older) I am 30, he is 47, he is divorced from 6 years ago, he came to this country at 25 y/o and at 30 he married an older woman which was 43 at that time, now she is 60, they lasted 10 years together, they have no kids, just dogs and cats, (which he loves!), she happens to live in a town a little up north from where we live about one hour and a half.

When him and I met about a year ago (to be more exact january-19 -2018) he had told me that he was divorced and everything about him, but I don’t recall him telling me he had this type of communication to this woman whom he had nothing with anymore, they are divorced, he told me that he promised his father-in-law when he died, that he would look after her if she need help in anything. This woman does not Know that I exist, she in fact asked him to please not tell when he had a girlfriend or a new life, that she did not want to know, so he respects her wishes and never told her anything, to avoid drama, Mind you she was the one who opted for divorce, so in her head she believed/ believes (present) that he would stay single and be there for her, cause she might still have feelings for him (all of this sounds CRAZY!! TO ME) if she still has feelings for him, why did she divorced him in the first place? Does not make sense to me.

The other part is that this ex of his has nobody to look out for her, her parents died, her brothers died, she has no kids, she has 2 nephews which ignore her, they don’t even go and see her. So my boyfriend is the only person she has Unbelievable!!

So about 2 weeks ago, I was at our home waiting for my bf to come back from work, as usual we would eat, watch a movie etc, and so when he arrived back home he tells me that there has been an emergency and that his Ex wife ended up in the hospital and that he had to go and see what was going to happen and look after his dogs as well, so he stayed over there about a week with her he did not go to his job until Thursday which was when he returned. I was very mad with him because since he left that Friday night, he did not call me neither text me, until he came back here, my aunt which gets along with him very well called him to see what was going on, since I am a little proud and refused to call him, I was very angry at the fact that he had left me to see what was going on with her!, I mean we had plans for that weekend.

When he came back that Thursday, He was exhausted, of not sleeping well and all this drama, so I arrived from work around 1:30 AM, he was deeply sleeping, so I went to sleep as well, and next morning which was Friday he woke up to go to work, I was sleeping cause I was free until the upcoming week, so he comes by and hugs me, kisses me, and tells me that he ’‘loves me a lot’’ that we would talk later that day about what had been going on, so when he came back home later that day he started talking about his job and that the upcoming week he and his team had some inspections to do on a 5-day trip about an hour and a half from where we live, so they would stay in a hotel for 5 days (all of this happened this past week), and then I mentioned him that why did he not called me for 5 days when he left that Friday, he replied that: he was wrong for doing that, that he should not have done that and that I was right, and he asked me to forgive him, because he did in fact acted wrong, so we talked that he could not abandon his life because of what his ex was going through, he has a home to pay, a job to attend to and a new life with me, so he replies: that of course that he is not going to abandon his life, but he asked me to please understand him that he will help her with what he can, because he cannot abandon her like if she was a dog.

So his Ex wife happened to be in sharp pain when she breathed, so they did some exams etc, and they discovered she has a small tumor on her lung, plus some Micro bacteria, but they still could not figure out exactly what her problem was, so they send her to a hospital that specializes in this, they told her to go and do a biopsy there, so they can determine what she has, so she came this past week with a roommate friend she has, and they told her she has cancer.

So yesterday my boyfriend calls me around 7:00 pm, I thought that he was on his way back home from the inspections I had mentioned before, well guess what he calls me sobbing and crying that he was in the town where she lives, that this was really difficult for him and that he just found out that his ex-wife has cancer, and that she can barely put her arm up, that she was depressed, So I felt bad for him, But I ended getting mad at him, cause I wanted to be with him this weekend and see a movie, so I said to him ’‘listen you cannot throw your life away because of this situation, there is nothing you can do, it’s not your fault and especially not mines, and he was telling me:’’ please understand me, you know that I love you and you know that I want a life with you’’ I want you to be by my side during this situation, be patient with me, don’t abandon me during this moment, this is the last I need know.

I was really firm with him on the phone, I got mad, frustrated, so for one moment I almost picked up everything I have in his house (well he calls it our house, he says it’s my home as well, even though we are not married) and take it with me, like I just felt like breaking up with him, what type of life am I going to have with this man and this situation, how is going to handle/balance this. I am not willing to be a painting on the wall, I want us to be able to have a normal relationship, go out, have fun, not because this situation happened that everything is going to change, cause I will not tolerate that.

We already spoke about this I just don’t know what else to do, what else to speak about! I mean it is what it is, he won’t abandon her, the only thing that pops in my mind is asking him how is he planning to manage this situation. I feel bad for him and I do LOVE HIM! But I don’t know how am I going to tolerate this whole thing, I might break up with him and move on, which is what I have in mind, I am 30, I want to enjoy my life, I don’t want to be with a man that has this baggage, and I have to be a zombie alongside him. It sounds unfair to me.

How can he manage this or how will he manage this? This is what I want to ask him and see what he replies, especially now that we know what this woman has. I see all of this very difficult, how is he going to enjoy the times that we go out (that is if we go out) seriously I am thinking about all of this.

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18 Answers

SaganRitual's avatar

Hello, my young friend. I am really sorry for the pain and turmoil you are going through. I have had similar experiences, and I know, it’s very difficult. I’m very sad for your struggle.

Here is what you must do: ask your man whether he thinks of his ex as a sister. I have a strong feeling that he will say yes. And then, you can think of her as a sister-in-law, rather than baggage that will distract him from your relationship.

I hope you will try to have compassion, for yourself as well as for your man. You are going through a lot of difficult feelings. And he is going through something terrible, finding out that someone you love has cancer, that is awful, awful. I’m very sad for your man also.

You are both struggling; this is a good time for you to be together so you can support each other. I couldn’t tell whether your man was leaving you behind deliberately, or perhaps he thinks you don’t want to go? Or maybe you have a job that you can’t be away from for so long. That would suck.

So, you can’t be with him as much as you’d like, for a while. But that happens in every relationship; people go on business trips, people have family emergencies, etc. There will be times when you can’t be together. But that has nothing to do with whether your relationship is flourishing. In fact, there is a saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” There is another saying, “How can I miss you if you don’t go away?” It’s good for lovers to be forced apart occasionally, good for the relationship. And it feels good when they come back.

My ex-wife Ellen is my best friend. We have a daughter, Jen, almost 21 and about to finish a computer science degree at university. Ellen and I have worked hard to coordinate our parenting activities over the years, so even if I didn’t like her (and I didn’t, for a couple of years, and it was mutual), we would still (and we did) coordinate closely. I think of her like a sister, except I don’t like any of my sisters.

I had a girlfriend some time back who was not happy at all with the situation. But when we talked about it (take note: you need to talk to your man about it), we realized that Girlfriend wasn’t so much jealous as just scandalized by the notion of a man leaving his girlfriend behind to visit his ex-wife. Sounds really familiar. But she was scandalized only because of having been taught, either by parents or society, that it’s inappropriate or strange. Sadly, she was never able to accept it.

But I can’t walk away from Ellen. My parenting partner, my best friend, mother of my kid. I felt really sad for Girlfriend, the pain she went through because of my relationship with Ellen, but sad was the only thing. I love my ex-wife. How could I not, after all these years? But only like a sister. I stopped wanting to see her naked decades ago. And I’m sure that was mutual too.

If I’ve completely misunderstood your situation, I’m sorry to have made you read this far.

Talk to your man. Don’t make demands. Don’t ask him why he’s doing this. Ask him how he feels about her. Is he still in love with her? Does he share his heart with her when he’s away from you, giving her a part of himself that belongs to you? Or is she like a sister? I think he will say sister. But obviously, I’m projecting.

Peace and luck to all three of you

SaganRitual's avatar

I knew I wouldn’t remember all the things I wanted to tell you. Here’s one, it’s very important. You said,

“Mind you she was the one who opted for divorce, so in her head she believed/ believes (present) that he would stay single and be there for her, cause she might still have feelings for him”

Ok, unless she told you what’s in her head, you don’t know. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the inside of anyone else’s head is anything like yours. If she told you her thoughts on the situation, you wouldn’t be able to believe her, it would sound so bizarre compared to the vision you have in your mind.

Don’t assume such things. A woman who divorces a man is not going to fool herself into thinking that the man will stay single and wait for her to come back, believe me. When people divorce, they usually stay divorced. It’s possible that she is thinking those things, but it’s incredibly unlikely. Perhaps you are hearing your own thoughts about divorce?

Now that I’ve written all that, it occurs to me that I don’t know what country you’re in, so I’m totally missing anything of cultural significance. Maybe in your culture, there is an expectation that a woman can keep a man sequestered like that by divorcing him. It sounds strange to me, unless you live in the Nepalese hill country, where women have multiple husbands. If it’s not an explicit aspect of your culture, I suggest that you ask your friends whether they have that impression of a divorced woman. I think you’ll be surprised at their answers.

jca2's avatar

You know about her but she doesn’t know about you. To me, that makes you “the other woman.” Whether or not he has romantic feelings for his ex at this time, you are the secret that he can’t talk about or telephone or text when he’s with her. To me, you’re what we call “second fiddle.”

Maybe I’m mistaken and maybe a lifetime of patience is what I should tell you to have, but to me, you’re young and you’re throwing your time away for someone who is not ready to have a girlfriend. Not many women would put up with what you’re tolerating. At least, not that many women that I know. The broken dates, the week of being home without a phone call, the lie about him going to work and then saying he’s in her town, each thing, on its own, would be enough for a breakup. Together, they all make up a big problem worthy of you running the other way.

Kardamom's avatar

I thought this sounded familiar. This OP has asked very similar questions about this same subject, with some extra details added into this Q, because the ex wife now has cancer, which is really sad.

The boyfriend is a lot older and has a lot of different life experiences which don’t work for the OP, including having an ex wife that he still cares about, and having some platonic female friends that the OP doesn’t like. Also their styles of communication are extremely different, and causes a lot of problems for both of them.

The OP has also asked Qs about this same subject (she and the much older boyfriend who don’t have much in common, and the OP’s problems with jealousy) under a different name.

She was mostly advised, multiple times, on multiple Qs, that she and her boyfriend are not a good match due to their extremely different perspectives on what a healthy relationship should look like, her lack of perspective and experience, and her jealousy issues.

You can see one of the other questions here, under a different name:

https://www.fluther.com/206594/how-should-i-really-take-this-good-or-bad/

And here is another Q about the same subject:

https://www.fluther.com/209897/why-so-much-contact-between-themconfused-and-more-confused/

I will give the OP the same advice that I, and many other Jellies have given her before. I think these two people simply have too many differences on how a relationship should work, that appear to be un-resolvable, considering the OPs problems with jealousy and snooping, and her boyfriend’s need to have other relationships beyond the girlfriend. He cares for his ex wife and wants and needs to be attentive to her.

These two people are simply too different and have way too many problems that go round and round in circles.

jca2's avatar

Seems like constant drama to me.

Great research, @Kardamom!

zenvelo's avatar

Walk, or better yet, run. Get the hell out of this, you are the odd side in a triangle.

Yellowdog's avatar

He’s not ready for a new relationship, especially with his ex being so needy.

If she is dying give him time for that. But if she is just suffering, he’ll never move on. So you do it. You have so much potential at age 30. Don’t tbrow your life away for these older people in a love triangle.

If she’s dying I guess you could wait for the situation to resolve itself, But if he is not ready to move on, you should.

patyourback's avatar

@Yellowdog They have been divorced for almost 7 years now. he says he loves me and that he wants a life with me, but he wants me to be by his side during this difficult situation, he does not want me to abandon him. Right now the ball is in my court I believe, but I don’t know if I can handle this, I feel that I still have so much life yet to live, thanks god!! plus I don’t know exactly, how is he going to handle this situation, he has a new life, a job to go to, a mortgage to pay, he cannot throw his life away for this ex- wife, he can help her from time to time, but he cannot be his babysitter.

He knows this and I told him twice and he says that of course that he wont throw his life away but he will still look after her.

jca2's avatar

@patyourback: What’s going to happen if and when she is very sick and wants to remain at home for the remainder of her days? He’s going to take off and stay home and be her caretaker? That could be years of her home, needing someone to help her. He’s too entwined. Of course he’s going to say he wants you to hang around and wait. He wants you there waiting when she passes on, whether that’s months or years away. It’s too crazy. You’re young and shouldn’t be stuck with this guy who in reality, is not ready for another relationship.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Wait until things settle down and you and he can think rationally about this situation that is going on too long.
Is he wanting to collect an inheritance from his ex wife?
A lot of what he told you is not confirmed but his story.
He is most likely keeping you waiting as a back up in case everything blows up.
For all you know he could be seeing another woman as well?
You have nothing but his word about him and his wife, cancer and or divorce.
Let him have his space as that will give you time to really think rationally about this situation.
If he comes back after his ex supposedly passes away , think whether YOU want this man in your life and IF you can trust what he says is happening?
For all you know he could be going to Court for a divorce now?
Is there anyway to check these facts and more importantly do you want to?

zenvelo's avatar

@patyourback you make a great hostage, willing to stay captive with no hope of ever being set free.

seawulf575's avatar

I applaud the idea of being on good terms with the ex, especially if there are kids involved (which in this case there is not). Just because you can’t live with someone doesn’t mean you have to start hating them or stop caring. Now, that being said, there are a few red flags I saw in your story. The first I thought was odd was that the ex didn’t want to know when/if he started dating again or got serious with someone. She wants him as a “friend” but really doesn’t want to know what is going on in his life? She wants him to be able to “be there for her” when she wants him, but doesn’t want to know if she is impacting his life or relationships or the life of his current girl friend? Suppose you were married to this guy, would the ex still not want to know? Sounds extremely manipulative and selfish on her part.
The next red flag is the boyfriend. He is an adult. He has the right to have a life of his own. If he chooses to have his ex in it, as I said, I think that is fine. However he also needs to have her there for him as well. She has shown she really isn’t there for him because she really doesn’t want to know how she might be impacting his life. He is trying to be the “nice guy” and not realizing he is turning into a schmuck. When you try to please everybody, you end up hurting everybody. When he agrees to keep you a secret from her (at her request) he is agreeing that she comes first. He is effectively saying that he will be there for her regardless of what it might do to his current relationship.
The last red flag I see is the bf going away for extended periods of time without calling you. That tells me he is valuing other things in his life far more than you. I would understand if he was away on a job and was working 15 hours a day then going back to the hotel to crash before getting up to do it all over again. But even then, calling for a few minutes would not be unreasonable. Taking care of a sick person isn’t strenuous work that has you moving the entire time. There is more down time as the person sleeps or whatever. There is plenty of time to call and check in, let you know what’s going on, see how you are doing, etc.
I agree with @SaganRitual with the idea of having compassion on a fellow human being. But that is a two-way street. Sounds like there is no compassion for you in all this. Maybe what needs to happen to make this all more reasonable for you is for you bf to tell his ex about you. Introduce you to her. That would at least put a lot out in the open. She would see that her neediness is impacting his life. Her reactions to that might be very telling. Another benefit of meeting her is that it would allow you the chance to be a part of something that is apparently important in his life. If he needs to spend extended time helping her, you would have the option of being there as well. If he and she both balk at that idea, then maybe there is more going on than friendship.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Obviously the reason you were attracted to this man to begin with is his natural talent for taking care of someone.

That was fine until the ex needed him to take care of her. He will continue to be on call for her the remainder of her life.

You have three choices.

You can leave him and have no contact ever again.

You can watch movies alone until his ex dies.

You can help him help her. Introduce yourself. Go with him for visits. Help her with things, like doing housework, running errands, getting dressed, whatever she needs from you.
It might actually deepen your relationship with him to do such a demanding, humanitarian thing together.
If either of them says no, go back to the first option.

gorillapaws's avatar

I think you should walk away. Your boyfriend clearly deserves someone better than you in his life.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Have you still not run away?? You are wasting your young, creative and productive years walking towards a dead end. If it is not yet clear to you, believe me at some point it will be. So sorry.

janbb's avatar

You have written about this before although without the cancer factor. You cannot change him nor should you try to. If you can’t accept his other connections, you should move on but realize that as you get older, most people will have some baggage.

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