Too Late To Start Our Life Together?

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    I’m in a very difficult situation that has my head constantly spinning and was hoping to get some advice from anyone as I really don’t know what to do.

    When I was 30, I met a man (K) through work who was my perfect match in every way and who I was very happy to build a life with. I hadn’t had much luck with relationships before meeting him, so was over the moon to finally meet someone who I clicked with. It took a few months until we both opened up and K made it very clear he felt the same way as me. If anything, he was more expressive as I didn’t easily trust people and took a while to let my guard down. When we met, I’d recently ended a relationship and he was finishing up a very messy divorce with his ex wife. So we both had a history of bad relationships and understood each other well.

    K was open about the fact that he had met someone on holiday the previous summer, while still depressed and in a very low place from his divorce, and despite knowing that she (M) and her family were after his money he had agreed to marry her just so that he wouldn’t be alone. They had only spent a few weeks together face-to-face, but M argued she needed a passport in order to get a job over here and therefore they needed to marry a.s.a.p if K wanted to be with her. So a wedding had been planned by her family. I think even back then he knew he was being scammed, but his ex wife had wrecked his self esteem and he was just looking for someone to fill that void.

    So fast forward to us meeting at work and K realised he could actually have real love with someone. So he explained to M that he couldn’t marry her and the wedding would be called off. M had been very open about wanting money prior to this (she had met another colleague we worked with and was very blunt about that) and had wanted to know exactly how much money he made, what investments he had, what house she would get to live in, etc. So K thought she would be a bit annoyed at losing all of that stuff, but would just move on and find another man to leech off. Instead, M threw a fit, told him he was destroying her life, said she had actually been in love with him all along and he was breaking her heart, wrecking things for her family. Her family also started arguing with him and trying to guilt-trip him into marrying her. It was very very clear they were angry about losing the passport and money, but really laid on the guilt and made him feel terrible. M got on a plane and turned up at his house one weekend basically throwing herself at him and begging him not to hurt her, etc. Then went to talk to his mother (who back then had early stage dementia and was very easily swayed) and got her to argue her case too. I was made out to be some homewrecking slut that was after his money (despite being wealthier than him and not sleeping with him at this point) and ruining their perfect relationship and marriage. I had my tyres slashed, trash thrown in my front garden, I was called every name under the sun after M and her relatives somehow got hold of my work number and started calling my office and causing trouble.

    K felt bad about dragging me into all of the drama and said he would just agree to marry M so she could get her passport and leave. He agreed he would pay her a fixed amount after they married to help her family and then they would divorce and both be free to go their own ways as she would have what she wanted. He assumed it would get her off his back and we could then move on and build a life together. I was against the plan, as I figured M would just lie to get married, take the money and try to get even more afterwards. Which is exactly what happened.

    She calmed down and acted really sweet up to the wedding, but wanted to move in with him temporarily so it looked more convincing. She tried to sleep with him a few times, then got annoyed when he rejected her. But otherwise she seemed to be playing along. At this point, I had backed off and said to K we would meet up again once all the drama was over as it was like being in a weird horror film. So for a few months I just focused on work and other things. K was unhappy, but said he understood.

    My ex was still stalking me at the time (he was very controlling and had continued to randomly reach out to me every so often) and knew one of the women we both worked with. He was apparently telling her a bunch of lies about us still being a couple, which I only found out about later on.

    I’m still confused about exactly what happened after this point. But the above colleague was talking to both K and M still and began to get very friendly with M outside of work. People then started to treat me differently at work, acting very cold and dismissive, ignoring emails, leaving me until last in meetings to do reports, putting down all of my suggestions, I was told off for things that I hadn’t done, but in a way that I wasn’t able to argue my case until much later on. Other people took credit for my work, I was constantly left out of things. My guess is that M told this colleague all the same things she had told K’s mum and made me into a homewrecker to the entire office behind my back. And now there was an actual wedding, I looked like the bad guy. At the same time, the colleague was being told by my ex that we were still seeing each other. So it just looked like I was sleeping around.

    I was eventually forced out of my job and at this point I was really depressed as my reputation had been ruined. To make things worse, the colleague got M a job at the same office and due to the timing she ended up getting credit (and the financial reward) for all of my hard work over the previous year. While I was unemployed and isolated from everyone. I had also distanced myself from K, as I’d been made to feel completely worthless and got it into my head that maybe it was all my fault and I deserved to be treated like this and he should be with someone else. I didn’t leave the house for a long time after that and developed PTSD as a result.

    I gave up on K, got therapy, recovered (mostly), found a new job, made new friends, hobbies, etc. I started dating again and met a lot of different men in the hope of finding someone else. But none were even half a match and I eventually gave up on love and refocused my life on work, charity and other things.

    Then two years ago, K contacted me out of the blue apologising for what he’d dragged me into and hoping I’d at least found someone else. I completely fell apart, as I’d done everything I could to forget I ever met him so that I could move on with my life. It took a while, but we eventually agreed to meet for a drink and he told me M had taken all of his money, house, wrecked his life and run off back to her own country to marry another man. She threw herself at him after we stopped talking, tried to turn herself into another version of me (down to hair colour, clothing, hobbies, my job, everything) and for a while it worked. He gave her everything she asked for, and she demanded more and more and slowly turned back into her old self before walking out. They were now divorced and there was no one else in the picture, so we started off just as friends as I wasn’t ready to let my guard down again.

    We’ve been dating for the last year and things should be great. I finally get to be with the love of my life (at least technically), I have good friends around me, a job that I enjoy, I should be happy. But it’s bittersweet as K is no longer the man I fell in love with all those years ago. M treated him really badly (I’ve seen all the text messages, letters, videos at family gatherings of her just insulting and humiliating him in front of everyone) and while I am really sympathetic as I went through similar with my ex, I also don’t know how to fix him again. Or if I even can.

    I haven’t changed who I am, other than a couple more wrinkles and grey hairs. I still want to do all of the things that we planned to do a decade ago. I never got to travel with him, do all that romantic stuff, get engaged, married, build a home and family together. We wanted to build a business, as we worked really well as a team and had perfectly matched skills. We used to spend hours planning things for our future. I still want to do all of those things, as I’ve missed out on that. But M has sucked the life out of K and he isn’t interested in doing much of anything now. We are almost the same age, but he has ‘aged’ about a decade more than me and has stopped taking care of himself. It’s as if he’s there but not quite there. He did all of those things with M and she ruined them, so the novelty has worn off and he just associates everything with stress and drama. I can’t help but feel as if I’m still being punished instead of her. I know he likely has PTSD and I’ve tried encouraging him to see a therapist. I would go with him and do whatever he needs to support him. But he refuses and doesn’t see the point. He feels all of that is behind him and he’s too old now.

    Some people have told me to just leave and find someone else. And sometimes when I’m feeling completely selfish I imagine that. When K seemed like a distant memory, it was easier to distract myself with other things. But now I see him every day it’s a constant reminder of everything that was stolen from me. I logically know I don’t owe K anything when he was the one that chose to waste the best years of his life on a prostitute. He made that decision and losing his house and money was his punishment for that, not mine. But I’d feel terrible just walking away now. And it’s not as if I have other matches lining up to date me anyway. I wasn’t able to find anyone else in the decade after walking away from K. And despite what happened, part of me still loves him. It’s not the same love I had before, as I don’t think I’ll ever be capable of letting myself love anyone like that again. And the physical attraction has gone a bit, as he hasn’t looked after his health/appearance. But I still care about him and the 5% of the time when his old personality/energy comes back I really enjoy being with him and have hope that the man I love is still in there somewhere. I just don’t know if I can cope with only that 5% for the rest of my life or however long we have.

    I don’t know what to do any more. I feel as if I’m trapped in some limbo and don’t have any real options to get to the life and marriage I want.


    Dear Emma,

    I am really sorry for what happened to you. It is so unfair and humiliating that a woman of such questionable character (M) managed to guilt-trip K into marrying her, after he’d already met you and seen through her intentions. It is unfortunate that he couldn’t say No to her blackmail and send her away. It is even stranger than he proceeded to stay married to her for 8 years (if I am counting well), until she took all of his money and left the country to marry another man. During the time they were together, she was mistreating him, humiliating him and insulting him in front of everyone.

    All of this is telling me that K allowed to be fooled and abused by M for many years, and that you and your love were not enough to stop him from making self-destructive decisions. There was something in him – a sense of guilt or low self-esteem – which made him work against himself.

    Unfortunately, this self-destructive drive is still in him. Because you – the woman he claims he loves – have forgiven him. And you are willing to leave behind the past and start anew. But he doesn’t want it, he is depressed, he “isn’t interested in doing much of anything “, and he refuses to see a therapist. Again, a self-destructive drive at play…

    You’re right when you say that you’re being punished again (I can’t help but feel as if I’m still being punished instead of her). Now, after she sucked the life out of him (which he allowed) and he probably feels defeated and ruined, you should live with the consequences and accept that he is a ruined man. But why? He could get better if he wanted to. If he really cared about you, he would agree to seek help.

    But something within him doesn’t let him, and he prefers to stay miserable. And he would like your company…. Well, you don’t need to keep him company in his misery. You deserve more. If he isn’t willing to help himself, you don’t have to be a part of it.

    I know it’s hard for you, since he is the man you really loved. But please be wise and don’t let yourself be fooled once again…

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