Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.
Q: I had been in a relationship with my partner for some years and have kids from a previous relationship. Last year, he got a new job and things were great until, after a few months, he dumped me out of the blue and said he needed a break. He said that as he treats the kids as his own he would be around to see them and help me out.
Very soon after that, I found out he was seeing somebody else. I was devastated, but was gradually getting over it and then he wanted me back. He spent the night and said he loved me and was going to end it with the girl he was seeing - which he did.
He was back with me for a few days, and everything seemed fine but he started sneaking about again and I knew what was going on. But I love him and don't want to lose him and he doesn't love her.
I don't have many friends to talk to. It would have been easy for me to move on if it wasn't for the kids which are a part of his life. What do you think that I should do?
MARY: I think that you deserve to have been treated better than you were by this man. You've spent quite some time together, and for him to start playing with your emotions like this is really unfair. I can understand him meeting somebody else and ending the relationship, and I can also understand him wanting to keep in touch with the children. I can even understand him realising he had made a mistake and wanting to get back together with you. But I can neither understand nor condone his subsequent behaviour as he seems to have started the cycle all over again.
This is also a really bad thing for the children to witness - I'm sure you were very upset when he left and then happy to have him back again, and they will have seen this. However, by accepting him back each time you are giving them the message that a man can continue to hurt a woman and she will keep taking him back no matter what he does. Is that really what you want to teach them regarding relationships? I hope not.
It seems to me that the time has come for you to say him that you are not willing to accept this behaviour. The problem now is that your trust is totally broken, and if you did take him back again you would always be suspicious whenever he went out on his own or was late home.
Letting him know that you have more respect for yourself than he appears to have for you will let him see that you are taking control of the situation. You were beginning to get along without him the first time he left and you will be able to do this again.
You will also feel stronger when you stand up for yourself and refuse to be taken for granted because he seems to think that he can come and go as he pleases and you will always be happy to see him.
This problem may seem small in the greater scheme of things, but I'm at my wits' end. My husband rings his sister maybe twice a week, discussing everything that happens in our lives. These calls can last up to an hour, chatting about everything under the sun but invariably everything inside our home as well.
I am 58 years old, have bipolar mood disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome due to sex abuse as a child. After a failed suicide attempt three years ago I went for psychotherapy with 30 sessions and it was tough but a life-saver (my life). It has allowed me to express my anger and shown me the stuff I carried with me all through my life.