Dear Mr. Uglow,
I met a man 3 years ago and fell madly in love with him. He was everything I ever dreamed of in a man and he treated my children as if they were his. He was attentive, charming and provided for me emotionally and financially. 6months into the relationship, I found out he was married. He explained that they had an agreement to stay together until their daughter went to college and lived in separate areas of the house. He spent many weeks and weekends with me so I accepted his answer. 6months after that, I discovered he had a fiance in addition to his wife and had been engaged for 4.5 years. She never knew of the marriage and was totally shocked to learn otherwise. He had helped her raise her children as well. I also discovered many other "acquaintances" that were present and had been over the past 10 years. When I finally decided to see his true colors after so many RED flags, I left him. He later showed up, divorced, with my name tattooed on his chest and I ever heard from other girlfriends that he told them he was sorry but he was in love with me and wanted to be with just me. I accepted him back and still have a hard time trusting and can't believe anything he says. He insists that I didn't forgive him but I did. I just can't believe some of his explanations when he hides his phone, has hidden apps that send his ex wifes texts and calls to hidden line, etc. He says I am just insecure and nosy but I want him to share every detail of his life, including passwords, emails, etc. He has yet to tell his ex-wife and daughter about me but says he wants to marry me. I feel if a man loves me, he should have no problem telling the world. He is often out of town for business and still has some mail going to his old address. He says once I am consistent and refrain from losing it (asking multiple questions daily), then he will make every thing permanent. Please tell me what to do as most days and hours and minutes I feel lost, sad and very broken. I want to believe but something inside won't let me. Do men like him ever really change? Am I really being overbearing and nagging and bitching as he says or do you think he still has much to hide?
I really get the pain and frustration you are feeling - it's all gone horribly wrong for you, when it all looked so perfect at the beginning. This kind of things happens to loads of people the world over, so you are not alone. Your details might be different, but the fundamental behaviours are the same - and here's the key bit - the reason for all of this behaviour is exactly the same in everybody and it can be resolved.
Let me try and make sense of it for you.
There is one ingredient that every human being needs as much as they need oxygen, water and food. Every human being needs to feel that someone cares for them unconditionally. That's it - it's that simple, but the problem is that nobody knows this and worse still nobody teaches how to care for some one unconditionally.
You certainly know that your partner isn't caring for you right now. It seems obvious but if he was, you would feel so much better. Well, the thing is, he doesn't feel cared for either, but the big thing is that this is neither of your faults.
When we were born, we needed our parents to care for us unconditionally. What that means is that we need our parents not to want anything from us in return for their care. Unfortunately, virtually every parent on the planet screws this up. Kids need to know that no matter what, our parents care for us, but so often, parents demonstrate that they don't actually care without wanting something back.
This is what I mean. Were you ever told off for being naughty. Did your parents ever expect you to behave properly when you went out and got cross if you didn't. Did they have expectations that you would perform well at school. You see the really sad message we got when we were kids is this - when you are good, we love you. When you are not we don't.
No parent wakes up in the morning and intends to give this message, but whenever they had expectations of you or got annoyed and irritated, this is the message that you heard. And what you learnt was that "if I am good, I am loveable, if I am not, then I am not loveable"
This one simple thing screws people up for the whole of their lives - believing that they have to "be" a certain way for people to like or love them. We spend our whole lives worried about what other people think of us.
Another big problem that comes with this is that we are taught at a very young age to lie. If we know that our parents are going to be displeased with us, we will lie in order to not get told off. All kids do it and the reason they do it because they are petrified their parents are going to withdraw their love. This is like our parents saying, because you haven't eaten your greens, I am going to hold your head inside a plastic bag until you do. So, we learn to lie, just to avoid our parents disapproval.
The problem with this is that we then grow up as complete liars. The whole of the human race lies, Sweetie - and all for the same reason - because we are afraid that someone is going to withdraw their love from us.
This is why your partner is lying to you now. He learnt to lie as a kid in order not to gain disapproval from his parents or guardians, and now he is simply repeating that pattern because he is afraid you are going to withdraw your approval - and you have - so he is going to keep on lying.
Sweetheart - all he needs to feel is that someone cares for him and probably the one person in the world right now who might be able to learn how to do that for him is you.
I get also that you need to feel cared for too - well this is what I am doing for you. I am taking my time to write to you. I don't want anything from you - I am genuinely caring that from this situation you can learn to find happiness - I care that you find it - for you - do you get that?
So, you feel cared for - could you see him as a little boy who is absolutely petrified - really, petrified. Whatever he has done doesn't really matter because you can't change the past - but you can change the future right now.
It all starts with knowing that any bad behaviour any of us exhibit all boils down to the fact that we are afraid that people won't really care for us. Once you see this, it can actually change your whole view of the way the world works.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you then have to sit there like a doormat and have to say to your partner, I care for you and so therefore I have to let you do whatever the hell you like. No, he has to take responsibility for the consequences of his choices, but if he can be helped to see the consequences of his choices without being afraid that your love is going to be withdrawn, he is then much more likely be willing to stop whatever he is doing that is clearly killing him and killing your relationship too.
In any situation you have always got choices - there are actually four different choices, but two of them are so nonsensical, they are actually non choices. And they are
1) Live with it and like it. Your happiness is the most important thing in the world. You could choose to accept your partner completely for who he is and learn to accept his behaviours. It is a choice.
2) Live with it and hate it. Considering we all want to feel happy, living with something and hating it at the same time is kind of crazy huh? So, this is one of the non choices.
3) Change him. This is a choice that a lot of people take and they spend years and years trying to change someone else before they give up in despair or realise it is impossible. You cannot change someone else - they have to want to change and do it themselves. So this is a non-choice too.
4) The last choice is to Leave it. This can always be a perfectly good choice.
Donna, every single thing that your partner is doing, he is doing for a reason. He has no idea what that reason is, and at the moment Sweetie - neither have you. When you get to see the reason, it will empower you to make a decision because you know it is the right decision and not because you are running away. When we run away from things in life, we never learn what caused them in the first place.
Why did you choose to get together with this guy in the first place? Why has it gone so wrong, so quickly? If you do leave him, how can you stop yourself from choosing another guy just like him? How can you prevent the same pattern occurring over and over again throughout your life? Sweetie, we counsel women in their later life who are on their fourth, fifth and sixth husbands and still can't work out a pattern. Would you really like to learn how to choose the right long-lasting partner? Would you like to know how relationships really work? Would you like to learn how to make 100% certain that no partner/husband of yours is going to turn into a Meth-Addict or go off continually cheating on you?
You guys do need outside help if you are to continue together - I can make some suggestions if you chose you wanted that.
My advice is this. I have explained here that there is one ingredient that every human being needs - it's the knowledge and feeling that someone else unconditionally cares for/loves them. Don't commit to anything long term yet. Decide to learn more about unconditional love before making any big decision.
I'm not saying don't decide to stay with him, but before you commit long term you are going to want to know whether he is going to have any interest at all in learning what actually makes a relationship last. If he is willing to learn and is prepared to put in the commitment to do this then this will be the pre-requisite to your future together. If he chooses not to learn this with you, then that is the biggest Red Flag you are going to get that this leopard is never going to change his spots because he is not prepared to learn how to.
There is a fabulous book that explains a whole load of stuff about this. Let me know if any of this has struck a chord in you and I'll gladly tell you where to get the book from - it really could save your life and your partners, if he is willing.