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Ask Ellie: Cheating boyfriend has had 'secret' child for six years

Ellie Tesher is on vacation. The column below is an archived favourite, personally selected by Ellie Best of Series Part 3: Sept.
Advice columnist Ellie
Ellie

Advice columnist EllieEllie Tesher is on vacation. The column below is an archived favourite, personally selected by Ellie

Best of Series Part 3: Sept. 18, 2017

Toward the end of last year, I learned from a friend/co-worker that my boyfriend of six years cheated on me during the first year of our relationship and had a child with the woman.

He kept the child and his cheating a secret from me this whole time, even though he has his child 50% of the time.

I guess he’s a great liar.

I tried to work through things, forgive him and accept his child, but I’m having problems trusting him and moving forward.

Something in my gut doesn’t feel right, and I know I can’t marry him or trust him enough to have a child with him myself.

Is this something I should and can work through? Is it even worth it?

Seriously Confused

You don’t mention loving him — a clear sign that you’re feeling emotional distanced from him.

Add your distrust and you’re absolutely right to not marry or have a child with him. Maybe not at all, but certainly not until you’ve resolved your feelings about what’s happened.

You’ve written all about him, when the focus of how to move on should be directly about you.

Does he bring enough to the relationship to continue as your partner?

Has he been contrite, apologetic, and explained why he felt it was okay to cheat on you?

It sounds like you’re the only one bending over backwards to make this work.

You need a true partner — offering love, comfort, affection, as well as shared responsibilities.

If these questions are hard to answer, you’d benefit by talking to an individual counselor to figure out whether staying with him is right for you.

Dear Ellie: I’m a man, 22, who studied abroad and met a woman from a European country who was working there.

She’s 27, smart, very attractive, independent and adventurous.

I fell madly in love. She moved into my student apartment with me for more than a year.

When my schooling was over, she went back to her country; I backpacked for a year while working to pay my way, and we stayed in touch.

Now I’m back home and have started a job to see if it’s the beginning of a career or just a paid internship.

I often wonder if I’m making a mistake not to pursue that relationship more directly — either by going over there or asking her to come here.

We could start to discuss whether we have a basis for pursuing it further.

In my latest text to her, I mentioned that maybe what we had was special enough to consider talking about the future.

Her return text didn’t mention my comment.

Should I just keep up the friendship without trying to push it further?

Unsure

Keep the friendship going while apart and see how it goes.

Her non-response was a clear indication that she’s in no hurry to be serious about getting together.

She may feel you need time to know where your own future lies regarding work, and she’d be right.

You’re at the start of discovering how you want to shape your working life and where that can best happen.

Your time together may turn out to have been a heady but isolated romance, fuelled by both being away from your usual surroundings, family, old friends, community, etc.

Or the passing of time may prove that a bond still exists that urges getting together again, to assess what it means.

But not now. She already indicated that.

Dear Ellie: My mother’s been neglecting any self-hygiene. It’s becoming intolerable.

Her health’s failing.

She refuses my help or any guidance I offer, turning nasty in response.

Someone suggested that she’s too embarrassed to address her failing health. Her teeth fall out, she can barely walk, she’s very overweight and maybe has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

She doesn’t bathe – she visited me for seven days without showering!! It’s gross, embarrasses me and I can’t deal with it anymore. But she’s my mother.

Torn

Getting grossed out does nothing to help your mother. She needs a medical check, diagnosis and treatment. She’s undoubtedly scared even more than embarrassed.

At this point, your concerns have to be all about her, not your discomfort.

Tell her you love her and want her alive and well. Book the doctor appointment and go with her, with notes about her specific health problems.

She needs your help, and you can give it.

Ellie’s Tip of the Day

Silence/lies about a “secret” child through cheating calls for re-thinking the whole relationship.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

Follow @ellieadvice.