ASK ZELDA: Our relationships expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions
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After nine years, he still refuses to meet me
I don’t know where I stand with a man I met on the internet nine years ago. He is in his mid-50s, lives in America and is divorced with four grown-up sons. He comes across as a caring, understanding family man with the patience of a saint. I am 48 and a plain woman; I don’t wear make-up and I’m not girly. I have always attracted the wrong sort of man – weird and creepy or wanting a one-night stand, which I don’t do. I love this man to bits and he says he loves me very much. However, I have asked him several times if he would like to meet and he replies with two little words that make my heart sink: ‘one day’. I feel that I might have wasted nine years. My friends say he is stringing me along.
Unfortunately, I think you already know that your friends are right. Nine years is a long time not to have met. It may be that, though he is divorced, he has a new regular partner and you are simply a nice distraction on the side. I’m sorry, as I know this will be painful for you to hear after you have invested so much time, but you need to move on. So write to him one last time and tell him that as he doesn’t want to meet, you feel that there is no point in continuing this friendship and how disappointed you are. He may protest (while still being vague) or he may just accept it, but be strong and don’t agree to continue. You don’t want to be in the same position in another nine years, do you? I notice also that you underrate yourself a lot and don’t expect much of men, so I suspect you have pretty low self-esteem. You should try counselling with Relate (relate.org.uk) to help you with this and to get over this man, as it will feel like a big loss at first.
I think my boyfriend might be gay
Recently, I found out that my boyfriend of more than four years has been using Grindr – a social networking app for gay and bisexual people. I caught him talking to a guy on WhatsApp while I was pregnant. He told me that he hadn’t had any sexual contact, just chatting and I believed him. Now we have a new baby, finding out that he has a Grindr account has shattered me. I don’t understand why he is doing this. Is he gay? I feel angry, hurt and deceived. If I try talking to him about it, he shouts at me and tells me to leave it alone. Neither of us wants to break up and I hate the thought of being a single parent, especially with a young baby. And I don’t want to make him unhappy.
This is difficult for you and I do understand how vulnerable you feel, especially with a new baby. Yes, I think that your boyfriend must be attracted to men. Unfortunately, sometimes gay or bisexual men form partnerships with women because they want children. They usually choose a woman who they have genuine feelings of love and affection for and are happy to be with, but it is still unfair. The fact that he gets so angry when you try to talk about this sounds as though he has something to hide. It would be difficult for you to split up as you need his support with the baby, but I wonder how you would feel staying in a relationship in which you know that it is not really you he desires. You deserve someone who does. Splitting up would be hard at first, and painful, but I am sure you have a great deal of love for each other. Do you think that you could maintain a close friendship and bring up the baby together, but as friends rather than partners? Explain this to him and ask him to be honest with you. I hope you can find a way forward with this situation. For further help, contact PFLAG (pflag.co.uk, 020 7837 7324).
How shall I respond to his ultimatum?
I am approaching 50 and have been separated from my husband for ten years, although we continue to live in the same house and are reasonably friendly. We have a 13-year-old son and my 89-year-old mother lives with us – she is in a wheelchair and housebound. Since I was 19, I have been in an on/off relationship with another man. He was married when we first became involved and, after seven years, I left him to marry my husband. When my marriage was at its worst, I rekindled this affair. He is now divorced and he wants us to get married and be a family together. However, my mother suffers from anxiety and does not want to move. I fear it would finish her off so I have asked him to wait until she dies. He has issued me with an ultimatum: either we live together now or we finish completely.
When this man says that he wants you to be a family together, does that mean that he is prepared to help you look after your mother and be there for your son? I don’t think it’s kind or fair of him to give you an ultimatum. Of course, it can’t be easy for him that you are living in the same house as your ex, but I also understand that this could be too much of an upheaval for your mother. Explain to him gently that if you moved and she deteriorated as a result or died, you would feel responsible. Tell him that by giving you an ultimatum, he is making you unhappy and ask him if there is a compromise that you could make. Perhaps you could get carers in for part of the week to look after your mother, which would give you more time to spend with him. If he is worth having, he would be willing to be flexible.
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