However, about 9 months ago I checked his email and found out that he'd actually been cheating with that co-worker over a 4-year period. They'd had unprotected sex numerous times at work and outside of work.
They no longer work together nor are they in contact with each other. I, however, am beyond hurt by the situation. I wish I would have given up on him 6 years ago. I know he has self esteem issues. He was not raised with a positive male role model to show him how to treat a woman.
We now have a 3-year-old son and two children from previous relationships - one mine, one his - but I do not know if I can ever completely forgive him. I do understand that it could have been a phase - we basically grew up together, and we are now in our early 30s.
Now he wants to get married. He claims his cheating and lying days are behind him, but I have absolutely no trust in him. I love this man with all of my heart and have supported him through all of his hard times. I am the rock of our relationship.
I am torn because my heart is telling me to stay, but my mind is telling me to leave! I have invested so much time in this relationship that I don't even want to start over.
I need to add the fact that I did not leave when I found out because he was incarcerated at the time. He is still incarcerated, and I feel like he needs my support while he is going through this hard time. Should I leave or stay?
It sounds like you are in a one-sided relationship, with you doing all the giving, trusting, and supporting. You have to work to balance a relationship and make sure that your needs, wants and desires are fulfilled and your requirements are honored. Your man has destroyed your trust, disrespected your relationship, broken a major requirement, and put you in harm's way. If a woman came to you and told you this story, what would you advise her to do?
Even though you have invested so much time in this relationship, you have to ask yourself if it is the type of relationship you really want to be in. You are only 32, and that is very young. Don't allow your fear of starting over to make you settle for a poor relationship. Can you imagine having to live like this for the next 40 years of your life?
You have to believe that you deserve better and give yourself the opportunity to find better. At the moment, he is incarcerated, which makes you a single parent. You are the one who not only has to support yourself and your child, but now provide the emotional and financial support for your boyfriend.
Stop making excuses for his poor choices, and stop making excuses to keep putting up with them. He is an adult, facing the consequences of bad behavior, and you are an adult who is enabling him.
When you support and coddle him, he doesn't have to grow up and by choosing to stay, you're sending him the message that no matter how badly he treats you, dishonors or disrespects you, you will always stay. If he doesn't know how to treat women, why did you choose him to be your partner?
It's obvious you two are on different pages when it comes to what it means to be in a relationship. You give all of yourself and you have allowed him to take too much. You have a son together, so you know he will be in your life, but you get to decide how he is. It's time to move him to the friend zone, and open yourself up to someone who can love you respectfully, and is willing to give just as much as they receive.
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Rebecca Brody is a relationship coach and columnist in NYC. She hosts www.ImprovDates.com, and works with private clients. Send your questions to Brody@TheLuvCoach.com or visit her at www.TheLuvCoach.com.