Q. I’ve been in a relationship with a much younger man for over two years now, and have known him for about 3½. I mostly got to know him by phone before we really got together.
People can lie on the phone.
He says he wants to marry me and be with me forever. I’ve been married three times before. I have two kids he is closer in age to than me. In the beginning, he lied to me about his age — said he was several years older, and many other things such as prior relationships and his education. Said he had an undergraduate degree in a similar profession. He has a six-month certificate, then started his own business, lying to everyone about his age and education. We broke up for a few weeks. I was badly damaged by his actions. He looked me in the eye and promised to never lie to me or cheat on me.
I don’t think he has been deceiving me since then, but I don’t feel comfortable. I feel like I will always need to watch my back. My kids do not like him. He is also jealous of my kids’ time with me. I don’t really feel safe. I don’t tell him a lot of things, as he has used things against me and I can’t trust him with personal knowledge.
The good stuff? He helps me with my property. He dotes on me, unless we have a fight. He provides good companionship.
I need to get a binding financial agreement, as I am afraid he will stick around and take half of everything I’ve worked for my whole life as I age and become less attractive. I’m so emotionally exhausted by it all. He got me when I was in a bad place in life.
Does anyone really change? I tell myself to appreciate having someone who cares about me and wants to help me.
A. Please reconsider making any future plans with this man. You sound like you can’t imagine better for yourself, but being without him — and focused on yourself and you kids — is a better option. Read these three sentences again and believe them:
“I feel like I will always need to watch my back. My kids do not like him. ... I don’t really feel safe.”
Those are reasons to break up, not to get married.
I recommend ending this relationship, but that process can start with therapy. It doesn’t seem like you’ve healed from past relationships or that you trust yourself. Yes, you have children and a property to deal with, but so much of therapy is online now. Sometimes you can negotiate rates. Please do not rule it out as an inaccessible service before you get more information. Start by asking your insurance company about what’s covered. Make an appointment.
Allow that a professional can help you through next steps as you figure out what you need. The plan might involve enlisting loved ones — people you really trust — to get close. Maybe you’ll want someone to stay with you for a while.
A note: Start by changing every password to every account. Protect yourself during this process.
You ask if people can change. My answer is yes, sometimes. But I say that with you in mind.
You deserve to feel safe and happy, as do your kids. Once you’re in a better place with more support, it’ll be easier to choose a partner who complements you at your best.
Is this the example you want to set for your children? Stop this nonsense and lose this guy.
You can hire people to help you with your property and not be scared that they’re going to take half of it.
“Does anyone really change?” Red flags everywhere, and THIS is your question? After enough prior bad acts, you walk away — and who cares if they change?
Is he still lying to everyone about his age and education? If he is, then lying is still his primary way to deal with people. Including you.
You say he is good companionship but you feel you have to watch your back? How does that make sense? Unfortunately, this sounds like a situation that people fall into — thinking that being in a relationship is better than being alone. Letter writer, you are already alone; his presence does not fix that. Break up and seek help via family, friends, and/or therapy. You do not speak kindly of yourself in this letter — less attractive as you age, etc. How can you ask someone to value you when you don’t even value yourself?
^And depending on his profession, those lies could come back to bite him — and you and your finances, if you’re married.
You will hear this over and over again. Get out now. And, if you aren’t married, why do you think he’ll take your financial security from you? If you’re afraid he will stick around, just show him the door already. And I will disagree a little bit with Meredith’s advice. Don’t start the process with therapy. Kick him out NOW, then get your therapy so you don’t make this mistake again. Postponing this is too risky.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.