Dear Dr. Archer,
For the past two years, I have been in a relationship with a divorced, 46-year-old father of two. I’m 22, have never been married, and do not have children.
He asked me to move in with him after only a few months of dating, which I did. However, due to my desire for a good education from one of the best universities in the country, I had to move away to another city.
After being in the relationship for a year, I moved away to the new city to receive the best education possible. We decided that we’d try a long distance relationship. However, since I left, my boyfriend keeps accusing me of belittling him by moving away from him.
He has not put any effort into keeping the romance going since I moved. It makes me very sad that he doesn’t support me in my pursuits, and quite often, I feel like I’m on my own.
Another downturn is his constant contact with his ex-wife. They share parental responsibilities, meaning she calls the children every day, and he puts them on speaker for everyone to hear. She often sends him abusive messages about him or myself, and tells the children that I’m too young for their dad, and that I’m not a good person. I’ve never even met the woman.
Their children are 12 and 10, and my boyfriend and his ex are always talking about the children’s health, study and sport commitments. His ex-wife has called on numerous occasions when we were on a romantic date, and we picked up the phone, thinking it might be an emergency — but I got abused, instead.
His ex has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and she was the one to leave him. She said he manipulated and mentally abused her throughout the relationship.
My boyfriend puts his children before everyone else, and is prepared to do anything for them. Despite this, his daughter hates me. I was always nice to her when living in my boyfriend’s house, but he has never stood up for me in front of his children, and has never acknowledged me as a permanent person in the house.
This has made it easy to move away. I’m struggling to figure out what to do in this situation, and whether I should put my own desires before his children’s. On numerous occasions, he has made threats to me when we were arguing, saying things like “If you hang up the phone, the relationship is over.”
I have cried about it on numerous occasions, and have apologized to him for everything. He wants to know every detail of previous relationships, from start to finish, what we argued about, and the particulars of my sexual relationship with each guy.
He thinks because they treated me badly, I should be grateful, and do everything he says, because he doesn’t treat me as badly as they did. I have shared some nice holidays with my boyfriend, and he has gotten me a few nice gifts. However, I feel he is not treating me right.
He gave his ex flowers at least once a month, and wrote her poetry, when they were together, something he has never done for me. Every time she calls or messages him, he jumps and does whatever she says. He does all of that, yet says he hates her.
After almost two years of us being together, he still hasn’t deleted photos of his ex, nor has he finished his annulment, even though they divorced in 2009. He’s extremely religious, and goes to church weekly. I deleted photos of my ex at the beginning of our relationship, and deleted them as Facebook friends.
I have to make plenty of compromises, due to his arrangements regarding his children, and two weekends a month, we can’t see each other because he has the children. After finishing my degree, he wants me to move back to his little town. His whole family is there, and he is not planning on moving anywhere.
My entire family lives in the city where I presently live and go to school. Therefore, he wants me to give up my family, and move to that little town in the middle of nowhere.
I need help. I love him; however, it seems like I’m the only one who is making significant compromises, and I feel I’m being mistreated.
I’ve thought of ending the relationship, but I’m struggling to make a final move. Any help will be highly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your thoughts. Kindest regards,
This may be the easiest question I’ve ever received. You’re going to a prestigious school; you are young, and have the whole world in front of you. End this now.
The age difference is not a concern, nor is the fact that he has two kids. But he is still not over his ex, and he is extremely insecure about you going away to a good school and finding someone better — which you will do.
Consider these facts:
— Your boyfriend will be linked to his ex via the two kids for the rest of his life. They will always talk about the children’s health, grades, successes and failures.
— If he doesn’t stick up for you now, chances are he never will. In his eyes, you’re the outsider. Yes, his priorities should include his children, yet he should put you ahead of his ex — yet, clearly, he doesn’t.
— He’s out of line to ask about your past sex life. It’s none of his business. You don’t ever need to apologize for your past sexual experiences. He has no right whatsoever to ask you these questions. He’s the one with the problem, not you.
— Why, after divorcing in 2009, does he still carry photos of his ex? Because he still loves her.
— Why is he stalling on his annulment? Because he hopes it will not end.
You can do much better than this. Leave this guy now. You have four years of school ahead of you and a bright future.
Mariel Avila said, “Learning to walk away is hard, but staying to suffer is harder.” Walk away now. You owe that to yourself; one day, you will thank me. Good luck.
Dear Dr. Archer,
At 24 years of age, I’m still looking for my soul mate. Either the wrong guys want me, or I want guys that aren’t ready to settle down.
I’m glad you’re turning away men that are wrong for you. Fear of never getting married can cause people to settle. That’s too bad, because there aren’t many things worse than marrying someone because you’re afraid he’s the best you can find.
There are a few things I want to stress, which may (hopefully) be helpful to you, and to the 10 percent of unmarried women over 35:
— Never take it for granted that a guy doesn’t want to settle down. Guys do want meaningful relationships with respectable, self-confident women. But they also want a meaningful relationship with the right woman for them, not just any woman.
— Don’t try so hard. If you become desperate, you’re more likely to settle. Love will happen — when it’s supposed to happen, and not a moment before. Remember, patience is a virtue, and good things come to those that wait.
— Make sure not to set your standards so high that no man could ever meet them. Life is never perfect, and neither are we. We all have our own little faults — you, me, him and them. The “perfect” man and “perfect” woman don’t exist.
— Don’t look in bars and nightclubs for serious men. Not to say all men in bars are not serious, but I’d venture to say the majority are not.
Get involved in community classes that interest you. Cooking classes usually have single men trying to learn how to cook so they can prepare delicious, healthy meals. Art classes have men who respect art, or want to broaden their knowledge regarding art.
There’s also a chance they’re taking the class to meet a nice, respectable woman with similar interests, too. Involve yourself and meet other people — men and women.
Keep an open mind, and give the men you meet a chance. Odds are that one day your soul mate will walk into your life. In the meantime, make the most of each day, and don’t dwell on this and become apprehensive.
Remember, have fun, enjoy life to the fullest, but never make any decision based on fear. Especially marriage. All the best.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board-certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of The ADHD Advantage and the New York Times bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.