The help desk: A case of a serial philanderer
Q. I first met my lover 12 years ago. I was 30 and single, he was married. He is the love of my life and also the cause of terrible pain over the years.
Several times I ended our relationship – he wouldn't leave his wife, despite his promises, and he also had at least two other affairs while he was seeing me. But we have an incredible connection, physically and intellectually, and I feel he is the only person who truly understands me. His marriage did eventually end two years ago.
Cautiously, I started seeing him again and now he says he wants us to move in together. Logically, I realise alarm bells should be ringing. But I want so much finally to be part of his life (I've never met his children and some of his friends). I just feel we belong together. No one else I've been with has ever come close. My gut tells me things are different this time, but can someone like this ever really change?
A. Crikey, I have to say this one sounds like a monster. Do I think people like this ever change? No I don't. This man, with his "at least two" affairs (have you asked him how many? Could you trust him to answer honestly?) sounds like a compulsive philanderer.
The thing about serial cheats is that they need someone to cheat on. Since his marriage ended, there is a vacancy for a Wronged One in his life, the job description for which really doesn't bear thinking about. You're a bit of a romantic – I can tell from the way you describe your affair – and I have a terrible feeling that you would find some kind of fulfilment in this role, having done such sterling work as Deputy Wronged One for all these years.
So yes, alarm bells should be ringing. Let's strip away, for a moment, the lividly tinted lens of the star-crossed-lovers thing, the hearts and flowers, the "love of my life" stuff – and what you're asking yourself is whether you should set up home with someone who habitually causes you to suffer, and without whom your life would have been much happier, if a trifle duller. Perhaps what you should more helpfully be asking is what has happened in your life to make you believe that love goes hand in hand with pain.
No one changes all that much, and the complex dynamic between lovers perhaps even less so. So what you'd be signing up for is more of the same, though with a few bonuses: you'd get the legitimacy and ownership you've craved while your affair was secret (though he is taking his time about introducing you to his nearest and dearest, isn't he?). You'd get, perhaps, some sense of payback for having given him the best years of your life. And then there is, of course, your incredible physical and intellectual connection (stop sniggering at the back, please).
There are some people for whom fidelity is not the most important thing. Maybe you are one of them, though with all the suffering you say he's caused you, I suspect not. This kind of philandering is a form of abuse, and someone so oblivious to your pain does not love you as you think he does.
Your problem shared
Have a dilemma? email your predicament, no matter how big or small, to Louisa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94
Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)
Life & Style blogs
Dame Vivienne Westwood: The former Queen of Punk may now be an establishment pillar, but her work is still controversial – and much copied
Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Coke milk? Coca-Cola to launch premium milk brand called Fairlife
NHS could triple number of weight-loss surgeries to reduce number of obese Britons
Black Friday: Best fashion deals -online and on the high-street
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...
£400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...
£25000 per annum + training: Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; ...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...