Does Anyone Really Change?

What’s on your mind about your dating/married/love life?? What relationship stuff is stressing you out as we approach the holidays? It’s time to ask your own question. Send it to [email protected] or fill out this form. Former letter writers: where are you now? Did our advice help? Send us an update to [email protected] with “update” in the subject line. Make sure to say which letter you wrote. Let us know what happened next. We love closure.


I’ve been in a relationship with a much younger man for over two years now, and have known him for about three and a half. 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 through marriage – I’ve been a “starter” wife three times. 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 lying or 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.

– Meredith


Please reconsider making any future plans with this man. You sound like you can’t imagine better for yourself, but being alone with your kids would be healthier. 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 had time to figure out what’s happened here. 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.

That 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 help. Maybe you’ll want someone to stay with you for a while.

Also, change 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 thinking of you.

You can get to a place where your daily life makes you feel safe and consistently happy. Once you’re on your way to that, it’ll be easier to choose a partner who complements who you at your best.

This isn’t just for you. Your kids need this too.

– Meredith

Readers? Next steps? How do you make life changes during a time of emotional exhaustion?

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