Q In my 30s I married a verbally and physically abusive man who raped me.
He conditioned me into thinking I couldn’t manage without him, although I eventually left after more than a decade.
While I was getting back on my feet, I stupidly got involved with a married man who’d had four previous affairs.
He left his wife and small children to be with me, for which I now feel deep shame.
I’m in my 60s and still involved with him, even though the intervening time has been a mess.
Q In my 30s I married a verbally and physically abusive man who raped me. He conditioned me into thinking I couldn’t manage without him, although I eventually left after more than a decade. While I was getting back on my feet, I stupidly got involved with a married man who’d had four previous affairs. Stock image used
I have made some terrible mistakes, including getting involved with a guy I met online who I thought was a friend but who became a stalker.
I let him have sex with me after he told me he would kill himself if I didn’t.
My on/off partner was furious.
Even though he is back with his wife, he goes on about how I betrayed him after he had given up everything for me.
My feelings have changed and I’ve told him I only want to be friends, but he’s verbally aggressive about the lack of sex.
He admits to being abusive but says I bring it on myself
He admits to being abusive, but says I bring it on myself by not showing him affection.
I feel I’ve wasted many years, and I’m riddled with guilt about his wife.
A Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Perhaps you have made some unwise decisions, but you had been subjected to so much trauma and abuse.
I don’t think you need to feel guilty about a serial adulterer leaving his wife for you. You were in a vulnerable state and needed to feel loved and protected – and I expect he turned on the charm.
Sadly, however, this relationship doesn’t sound much better than the one with your ex-husband. Even if this man seemed kind once, his actions are now not those of someone loving.
This is classic manipulative and controlling behaviour – blaming you for his own abusive actions and attempting to bully you into sex.
Unfortunately, it’s the same pattern with the stalker who tried to make you feel sorry for him in order to have a physical relationship.
I believe this stems from your abusive marriage – and perhaps even further back, to a damaging childhood. Your self-esteem has been eroded to a point where you feel you need to do whatever a man wants, even if it’s against your own wishes – and your expectations from relationships are very low.
Even if he seemed kind once, he doesn’t act like someone loving
I urge you strongly to have counselling to help build your self-worth and leave this man behind (try relate.org.uk or bacp.co.uk).
In your longer letter you say that, in spite of everything, you have a good career, friends and your own home.
So please try not to see your life as wasted – these are remarkable achievements in the face of all you have endured. I think it’s a wonder you have survived, and there is still plenty of time to make the future better.
WHY DOES MY FRIEND ALWAYS BRING HER MAN?
Q I’ve been widowed for five years and am in my late 60s. I still miss my husband hugely but have become great friends with another widow. We usually meet once or twice a week for a walk or a coffee – or sometimes the cinema.
However, she has recently fallen head over heels for a new man. I am very happy for her and he is delightful, but the trouble is that they seem to be joined at the hip. My kind friend still makes plans to see me twice a week – but now he always comes too. I’m not jealous.
I loved my husband a great deal, but I’m not lonely and I’m not interested in another romantic relationship. I miss seeing my friend on her own to have a girly chat. I don’t know how to tell her.
Q I’ve been widowed for five years and am in my late 60s. I still miss my husband hugely but have become great friends with another widow. We usually meet once or twice a week for a walk or a coffee – or sometimes the cinema. Stock image used
A Hmm, yes, it sounds almost like the intensity of a teen romance where the best friend gets her first boyfriend and suddenly everything is about him. Perhaps your companion’s marriage might not have been completely fulfilling.
Maybe she has never been truly ‘in love’ before and is now caught up in her new romance and wants to be with him all the time. Maybe he is the same – or just a little needy.
Don’t worry, I think your friend is in the ‘honeymoon phase’ where the happy couple simply can’t get enough of each other, but this intensity isn’t usually maintained so I expect it will right itself within a few months. If it doesn’t then, yes, do talk to her.
Explain how very much you like him but could you and she have a girls’ afternoon/evening once a month. Alternatively, do you have any male friends who can get your friend’s new partner interested in golf, cricket, football etc?
If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email email@example.com. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_
CAROLINE READS ALL YOUR LETTERS BUT REGRETS SHE CANNOT ANSWER EACH ONE PERSONALLY