After 25 Years, We’re Living Together Again

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Thirty-three years ago I dated and lived with a guy for five years. He was 22 and I was 19 when we met. We had two kids during our relationship. I thought everything was great, but apparently he didn’t because one day he went to work and never came home. When he left I was five months pregnant and our other child was 4.

I tried to talk to him but he wanted nothing to do with me, no explanation at all. Later, after our son was born, I found out he had been cheating and moved in with the other woman. They bought a house and basically did everything we planned to do, minus the kids. This crushed me. I packed up the kids and moved out of the state. I didn’t come back for 25 years. He didn’t see the kids or pay child support. I was fine with that because I didn’t want this woman around my kids. Eventually she took my ex for everything he had.

After 25 years, I ran into him. We talked, went out to dinner, and quickly moved back in together. It’s been two years and I’m wanting to make our relationship more permanent, and he is just beating around the bush. Neither of us ever married, and now I’m ready. My question is: do I stay or should I run like hell as far away as I can get? I love him, I never stopped loving him (and he says the same about me), but won’t commit. I’m lost, confused, and at my wit’s end.

– Lost in Love


Won’t commit … or won’t get married? That’s a big difference, right? If you believe he’s changed, that he’s good for you and your grown kids, and that it feels like he’s planning a life with you, that is commitment. Not everyone needs paperwork to prove they want to be around for as long as possible. Also, it might be better if you don’t tether your finances to his.

Try to talk about the promises you’re willing to make to each other and whether they match. You could do that in couples therapy, by the way. That would be a place to discuss your history and where you are now.

Of course, if this is about more than the contract of marriage, and he seems unsure about what he wants from this relationship, you can consider letting go. You say you’re at your wit’s end. You also mention running “like hell” as one of your best opinions. That means you’re in fight-or-flight mode about what’s happening. You and your ex moved in together quickly after decades apart. Maybe you jumped over the steps that would have determined what you both were looking for.

Ask him what’s holding him back and consider his answer. If he can’t be clear about what you’re building – or if he can, and it doesn’t match your needs – know that this might not the right partnership. You never stopped loving him, but did you ever start trusting him again?

This relationship won’t work if you want different things, or if you don’t believe what he tells you. It shouldn’t continue if running is always on your mind.

– Meredith

Readers? Therapy? If he’s in but not for marriage, is that enough? What are the best questions to ask to figure out what’s happening?

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