On-Again, Off-Again

Q: My boyfriend and I have been in an on-again off-again relationship for four years. We now have a child together. He had a drinking problem and he always put his friends first. When I asked him why or asked for time just for us, he would get drunk with his friends and then tell me he didn't love me anymore. We would break up, and then a few days, weeks or months later he would start calling or texting and wanting to come over. Then we would get back together. But it is still the same. He has replaced drinking with work, and I hate when he gets a text. He sneaks it out in another room, or if he can't get away he covers it like a junior high school girl. When I discovered I was expecting, he didn't want me to keep the baby and I kicked him out. He moved away and lied to me about it. Now, yet again, we are back together. He still lives away, and though he comes up most weekends, his visits are getting farther apart. Am I wasting my time? I don't think even his child comes before his friends. Will it last? Or should I just let him go to be with the real people he loves? -- Nancy, 33

Dr. Susan: You asked if this relationship will last. Yes, Nancy, it is likely to last as long as you allow yourself to be his home-away-from-home, a place he can visit when he feels like it, with no commitment on his part at all. And yes, you're wasting your time. Are any of your needs being met? He doesn't sound like a devoted father, he isn't offering stability or dependability, he is probably hanging out with one or more other women in-between his less frequent visits, and even when he is with you, he acts secretively. It's time you stopped being there for him. Don't bother trying to figure out who he really loves, because it's certainly not you and your child. It's not so much a matter of "letting him go," but of freeing yourself of him. It's time for you to make your own life as a single mother, and maybe in the future you'll be able to open your heart to a better man than this lout.

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