I have been in a long-term, exclusive relationship with a man for many years. We often talked marriage and children and living together, but because we also work together, we hesitated to do that until one of us had a different job (one of us supervises the other indirectly, so we kept it discreet). He is significantly younger, and I didn't want to tie him down at first, but he was the more aggressive one throughout. We were very happy for many years.
He took on a side business a couple of years ago to make more money. I thought it might develop into that other job we’ve been hoping for. A year later, in the aftermath of a loss in my family, his business succeeded and he began to look into investments and new ventures. All the while, I covered his role at work to some extent, enabling him the flexibility to do some of this.
We were still actively dating exclusively, but last summer, unbeknownst to me, he began seeing a younger temporary employee at our shared workplace. I didn't understand his sudden distance, his failure to continue our usual activities and plans. He didn't explain. Then he took off for a two-week vacation alone, when I had thought we were tentatively planning to go together. I didn't know anything about the other person until I finally did a simple Google search on him. I learned that he had bought a house months ago, was living with this woman from work, and read their engagement announcement online, which he had not shared with anyone at work.
His family did not know anything about her, the engagement or his house or his new business. They thought we were still dating. It all came out then; everyone was upset. He won't discuss it at all or explain anything to me. This woman knew we were dating and was in on the lie. I loved him and thought we had a future. I'm devastated. Is there any hope? I’m ashamed to even ask – I wish I didn't care.
I was slow to agree to move in with him – I preferred marriage first – but that would have required a different job, and I was willing to wait until he found one. I feel like I was too old for him (but why did he stay all those years?), too hard working, too stupid to see that the money would go to his head and change him so much. I feel too old and sad and betrayed to make a new start with anyone else. Help me.
– Starting Over
I’m so sorry. This is a horrible betrayal, and you have every right to feel overwhelmed by this loss.
I know you feel old and sad and miserable, but that’s part of the grieving process. It’s going to take some time to deal with this and move on. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make a new start today. For the moment, surround yourself with friends. Find some new out-of-work activities. Think about how you can advance your own career. Really, it’s a great time to be selfish.
There aren’t many lessons to pull from this experience, but I do see one big takeaway. You allowed this relationship to go on and on without making many advances. You were waiting on him to find a new job, which extended the status quo by years and years. As you move forward on your own – and with other people – try to think about getting what you want without as much of a wait. It’s difficult to go through life feeling like you’re in stuck in the warmup.
Readers? Any lessons here?