Dear Ellie: I’ve been involved with a man for the past five years. We’re both divorced and in our early-50s. We met through a mutual love of tennis and golf, and then, when COVID-19 hit, it became a relationship with sleepovers, as a safe bubble.
He always stayed over at my place. I’d cook for us, we’d watch some TV, and every few days he’d go home to “check his place.” Sometimes he’d stay there for half the week, saying he was “working” from home, and I believed him.
Neither of us have children; I just have a dog who’s unfortunately very ill.
A number of things began to bother me about this man. He rarely called me during those days he spent at home. His communication with me was always by text. Over the five years there’d be times when I didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks, and he was vague about where he’d been… once, he said he’d felt ill and believed it was COVID so he “stayed away to protect me.”
I doubted his story, but didn’t say so. I know he sometimes gets depressed and drinks too much. He knows that worries me about him, so I said nothing.
This past Valentine’s Day was the last straw. He casually asked me for a recipe I make that he likes, but he’d never cooked here. I gave him the recipe and asked if he was planning a party, and he said “only a small one.” I then asked if he wanted any of my help and he said, “No, it’ll be very casual.”
He never phoned back, never invited me. I’m done with him now, and told him so.
How can a person who’s shared your bed, enjoyed your generosity, and been your closest person over five years, be so completely uncaring and sneaky?
I don’t know how to process this behaviour and what it says about him and how he treated me. Was he always just using me, seeing some other woman or more women all the time he was often living with me? Should I insist on getting answers?
Discarded and Depressed
Don’t look back, you already know the answers to unnecessary questions. That man you “dated” is both a user and an emotional abuser. He came and went on his own agenda and it almost doesn’t matter whether there were other women, because you were never treated as the one woman he cared about.
A man OR woman who “only texts,” is unlikely to reveal their deep emotion or inner character traits. This man led separate lives — part-time with you and part-time with one or several others for the same sexual and meal benefits.
But don’t beat yourself up for not recognizing all this much sooner.
Whatever time you actually enjoyed together was “comfortable” for you as well as him, especially during the pandemic. That’s over now. He’s moved on and so must you.
Focus on the immediate needs of caring for your unwell dog who likely provided you with more attachment and comfort than this man.
You know now to never again let a new connection with some guy just slide along without any knowledge of whether he has ongoing similar relationships.
Just remind yourself that you’ll never again talk to someone with the nerve to ask for a recipe while referring to hosting a party, and then not invite you to attend.
Dear Readers: Regarding occasional reflections on how people handle grief, one man’s loss of his wife of 44 years:
“Her last moments in our apartment were painful for her, she called out to me — her only caregiver — saying she couldn’t feel her legs, and had a bad pain in the back. I immediately called for an ambulance.
“She was put in the hospital’s ICU. I was asked if I wanted to be present while she was dying but many patients there had COVID, so I didn’t.
“She’d had a “lumpectomy.” Her body hadn’t reacted well to her chemotherapy pills. Her lower bowel track was nearly disintegrated, she was too weak for surgery. She died.
“I’ve placed photographs of her atop her cremated remains in a box covered with a purple velvety cloth bag. Now she’s with her ancestors in the spirit world.
“Emotionally I’m glad her pain has ended. I sometimes feel her presence.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Your own self-respect is too important to let someone carelessly and uncaringly harm it.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.