Dear Amy: I was widowed in my 30s, with three young children. It was a very painful process to lose my husband at the young age of 39.

I began to date after two years, never expecting anything to come out of it. I met a very kind and thoughtful man, “Steven,” who accepted me and my children. He and I dated for two years. The first year was wonderful. My family and my in-laws all accepted him.

As year two began, he began to change. He stopped being attentive, and started to randomly go out by himself. We eventually broke up because he couldn’t commit. At the beginning of our relationship, he didn’t seem to have a problem with commitment. He took advantage of my life and of my children being secure with him.

I started to realize that odd things had happened; men were very friendly toward him when we were together. One guy even asked to drive him home one night while we were out together. Nothing clicked that he might be gay. After several similar incidents, a friend confirmed that he is gay.

It has been over 20 years and I have since moved on, but the hurt is still there because there was no real closure.

However, Steve continues to date women and break up with them after two years. I suspect that none of these women know the truth and are probably in a similar position as I was. I’m sure their hearts have been broken, just as mine was.

Why in this day and age when coming out is accepted, would someone deceive another person and continue to do this — over such a long period of time?

 

Amy says: Any person dating “Steven” now would probably understand that if he has never sustained a romantic relationship for more than two years over the decades, the guy likely does not want to commit, long term, to anyone.

Steven might not have intended to deceive you two decades ago. You could assume that he sincerely wanted to commit to you and your children, but found that he could not sustain his interest in you, for whatever reason, and possibly more than one reason.

Steven might be gay, or bisexual or something else altogether along the very wide sexuality spectrum. Unless he is physically or emotionally abusive, it is not your job to “out” him or to warn other women about his sexuality.

Your assertion that you continue to feel betrayed and heartbroken over a relationship that didn’t work out for you 20 years ago gives me pause. How, exactly, did this person “take advantage” of you? Do you think being in a relationship with you and your children for a short time should commit him to staying with you?

You should try to put this failed relationship into a context with your other great loss (your husband’s death), and find a way to let go of your lingering anger.

 

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