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Dear Mary: My boyfriend is living a double life despite claims he changed his cheating ways

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The letter reads like the plot of a novel, but sadly is true life

The letter reads like the plot of a novel, but sadly is true life

The letter reads like the plot of a novel, but sadly is true life

I started seeing a 41-year-old man a year ago, with whom I thought I was having the best relationship of my life. We were having so much fun and the relationship was loving, respectful, understanding and physically amazing.

At the beginning, his background story scared me. He had cheated on his wife eight years ago, getting both his wife and mistress pregnant nine months apart. Things didn't work out with either of them and it ended up in a pretty bad court case. So I doubted his ability to be truthful, but he convinced me, with a lot of communication about personal growth and 100pc openness, that he was trustworthy.

Things got pretty serious, and I met his children and from then on, I was with them every single day they were with their dad. I discussed my fear of getting close that soon, as it would be disturbing for them and myself if things didn't work out between us. He told me that I shouldn't, they were now my family. The boys told their mothers about me, family life was great, and I met his friends and family on a regular basis.

As his life was complicated with the boys and because he works some nights, I respected that he needed to take the relationship slowly. However, after a couple of months, we agreed on moving in together. I started transferring my lease, and planned in my head the amazing life I would have with him. I was really happy.

Things got difficult just before quarantine. He started questioning our choice of living together so soon, and I had to stop the lease transfer process. He told me he was under a lot of stress because of the quarantine, afraid of losing his job, and had to do training on weekends to get a promotion.

I was supportive of his hectic life, taking whatever time he was giving me, and helping him with cooking, cleaning, looking after the kids, while this rough patch was happening. But then, there was a little voice. How come he works so much? Why wouldn't he answer texts for two days straight?

Using his work iPad I decided to snoop. I wasn't proud of myself, but I had been in two years of therapy for the damage of an abusive relationship in the past, and all the signs were there. I discovered he was having an intimate relationship with a woman whom he had told me was only a friend. She had left her long-term boyfriend for him. Without reading too much, or thinking further I texted him. When he didn't reply I sent her a message on Facebook saying I had discovered their communications. Surprised, she said she was at his place right then, with him, and didn't understand what was happening.

We talked to each other, and I discovered that they had been together for six months. She knew we were together, but he forged a letter saying he didn't love me and forged my answer. He convinced her we weren't together anymore, and they became an official couple.

I tried to explain my position. That there was no letter and I was planning on moving in with him. That I put his boys to bed, supported him when his grand-father had to be put into a care facility, and spent the holidays with his family in New York. We had pictures of us and the boys on the fridge. My stuff was all over the place, even hair products!

How could she spend the other half of the week with him without noticing anything? Then it hit me. He was cleaning everything when she was there, and doing the same when I was. As we talked, things started to unfold. He told her all about his life with the boys when they were with him, but just left out the fact that I was there also. How could he have pulled off such a monumental scam? She was a flight attendant, so he managed the schedule pretty easily at first. With the quarantine, she lost her job and became much more available, and him much more distant with me.

My head is all over the place, and it will take a long time to recover from this. Am I the one to blame for not seeing the signs? Am I attracting this behaviour? This is all just crushing for the soul, after all the work I've done on myself.

Mary replies: This reads like the plot of a novel, but unfortunately it is true life and you have been very damaged in the process. I am so sorry that you have had to go through this, especially given your previous bad experience.

I realise that you are questioning everything right now and especially your ability to choose wisely. But please hold on to the fact that you did absolutely nothing wrong here. You explained your history to him, and he told you all about his colourful past and asked you to trust him, which you did. The fault lies completely with him - he seems to exist in a web of lies and deceits which are almost beyond understanding. Undoubtedly he gets his kicks from living on the edge, and I have a mental image of him juggling all the balls in the air. The trouble is that it is your life and the life of his children - and even the unfortunate flight attendant who has unwittingly been dragged into this - that is being affected even more than his. His sons, from his two previous relationships, are bound to suffer because they must have become used to you being there when they visited him, and no doubt came to love you. After all, they come from different homes when they visit him, and children like things to be secure. Now you have been suddenly taken from their lives and so the weekends as they knew them, when you were a blended family and they spent time with each other as well as with their father, have been disrupted. It goes without saying that you are going to miss them dreadfully and that is such a shame.

It will take a long time for you to trust another man. But in time, the hurt you have suffered will become less. I sincerely hope that you have friends with whom you can share all of this. But keep telling yourself when you wake up in the morning that you are going to get through this, that you are better off without him, and that you did nothing wrong. In time you may want to reach out to whatever therapist you worked with previously. They will know your story so you won't have to go back to the beginning. Also it is important for you to know that there are some really lovely men out there who can be trusted. Don't lose hope.

You can contact Mary O'Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O'Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately

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