As an advice columnist, I hope you can steer me in the right direction.
I am a 40 year old woman with what one might call a "checkered past." My love life has always been a mess. I was raped when I was 16 by a guy who was supposed to be a Prince Charming, but who turned out to be a monster. It really messed up my ideas about relationships, not to mention my self-esteem. I have had sex with many, many men - some of whom I only knew for a few minutes before jumping into bed with them. I have been married several times - never happily.
I was engaged to a great guy who dumped me for a woman who wandered into our lives and needed help. Before I knew it, she'd hooked up with my fiancee' and I was left alone.
My first marriage was to a man who never stopped thinking about, talking about and running to his ex-wife, who seemed to be under foot 24 hours a day. This marriage ended when he left me for that first wife. I felt like crap.
My second marriage was to a much older man who I didn't love, but who I thought could provide me with business connections and a way to further succeed on a professional and financial level. He turned out to be a cruel, manipulative person who loved to watch others fail.
My third marriage was to my my second husband's son - my adult step-son. Things started out well enough, and we even had a baby together - a child I adore. Eventually, though, things changed, as my third husband became psychologically unstable and he tried to kill me and kidnap our little girl.
My fourth marriage was unbelievably foolish. He was a much younger man - very handsome and sweet, but I was not really in love with him. I thought he could be a good father figure to my little girl, who he cared a great deal for. Unfortunately, I was less than honest and ruined this marriage. In retrospect, I realize that, while he was a great guy, he was immature and wasn't really in any position to be a father to my child, anyhow.
My next affair with was a really great guy - a solid, law-abiding man who is loyal and true, if a little dim-witted. He would have taken great care of me and of my daughter, but he bored me to tears. I broke his heart by having an affair with his father, who fell in love with and proposed to me. I came close to marrying him, but I stopped myself before the wedding. I didn't feel worthy of such love.
This brings me to my present situation. The person I'm currently involved with is great - fun to be around, a good listener, great with my little girl, patient with me and all of my little neuroses. The person I'm involved with doesn't have an obsessive ex who shows up on our doorstep, a crazy, manipulative father, or a mental health issue. What, then, is the problem?
First of all...the sex. There isn't any. Like...NONE. Nada. In fact, we haven't even kissed. Ever. I've been patient, but there's only so long a healthy woman can wait.
Second, for reasons I can't go into, my partner and I have not really told anyone that we're a couple. I've wanted to do this for some time, but my partner has always found some reason why we should wait.
Third, there's the whole mixed family situation. My new love has a 19 year old son who is incredibly over-indulged. He's rude, obnoxious and disrespectful. In short, he's an overgrown baby with a chip on his shoulder, and he's never called on it. If anything, he's treated with kid gloves. Infuriating!
This would all be fine, I could live with it, and I was coping just fine until something unbelievable happened. One day last month - a really important day for us, actually - my new love up and left town. Just like that. No note. No phone call. No email. Nothing. I went a little nuts, thinking the worst. What if they'd been hurt or worse? Days passed, and then weeks, then it was more than a month and still no word. I was a wreck, but I finally decided that the only thing I could do was move on, concentrate on raising my little girl, and try not to think about my broken heart. Just when I was getting back on my feet, who should pop back into town, acting as if nothing has happened at all, but the person I love. They want to just pick up and be a family, and I'm being called "stubborn" for having not automatically following the plans that have been made for me without a thought given to my own wishes.
I won't lie - I'm still in love with this person, and very, very attracted to them. I feel, however, that I've been betrayed. I certainly don't feel as if I can or should trust someone who watched as I put my life on hold for a relationship with no intimacy and refrained from kicking a particular teenaged boy in the ass, only to reply to these things by abandoning me and my child, betraying my trust, and dismissing my feelings.
What should I do?
Oh, The Awful Lovers I've Attracted
Your love life sounds like a soap opera.
I'm tempted to tell you that the woman you're in love with (Didn't you know I'd figure you'd lezzed out the minute you stopped using pronouns?) is another in a long line of crappy partners you've chosen over the years. It sounds as if things between the two of your started out really well, but went nowhere fast. You say there's been no sex at all? Not even a kiss? How is it that you two even consider yourselves to be in a relationship if there's no sex, no kissing, and no one even knows you're supposedly a couple? Are you like super-top-secret girlfriends, or something?
I'm tempted to tell you to run, run fast, pass GO, and don't look back, because it sounds as if this woman is being less than careful with your heart, and you've had enough of that in your life. I'd be tempted to give you this advice even if it were a man we were talking about, because no one deserves to be treated like a second class citizen.
I won't bother telling you these things, though, because I can tell from your letter that you're determined to be with "this person" and that what you're really asking me isn't should you do it, but how should you do it? Here is my answer:
1) Tell your wannabe girlfriend that you've taken as much crap from her kid as you plan to. Put your foot down and tell her it's a dealbreaker: either the jerk starts showing some common decency, or you're walking. You mention that he's 19. That's a man, not a boy. Besides telling your girlfriend, tell the son, directly, that you're finished with his crap and that, frankly, he can just keep his distance if he can't act like an adult.
2) Tell your wannabe girlfriend that there's nothing "stubborn" about not being a doormat, and that she has no right to dismiss your feelings. Demand a decent, detailed explananation, a sincere apology, and acknowledgement that she has done something incredibly cruel and hurtful. Tell her that, until you feel there's some self-awareness coming from her, you can never be with her, and you certainly won't trust her to be there for your little girl.
3) Tell your wannabe girlfriend that you are willing to discuss possible plans for your future together, but that you do not let anyone else make plans for you.
4) Tell your wannabe girlfriend that, when two adults are in a romantic relationship they kiss and have sex, case closed. Tell her that, if you make the decision to take her back into your life, there will be intimacy, and you will not wait for it. You've waited long enough.
5) Tell your wannabe girlfriend that, if she really wants to be your girlfriend, she won't be afraid to let people know. In fact, if she loves you and wants to be with you, she'll want to yell it out to the world. Make it a condition of any reconciliation that there be no more secrets, no more waiting, and no more bullshit.
I wish you well. Frankly, I think you deserve better, but we both know how this is going to play out.
All the best,