Dear Dr. Romance:
My partner, with whom I have been in a relationship for the past year, has changed and let me down twice. We were first friends for several years, and became a couple a year ago. We both fell in love instantly and desired to live together to build a good future, financially, with family. We both have children from past relationships and are content with that.
We're happy that we're not looking to have any more kids at of our own. We're both dedicated, hard-working individuals. At first we shared the cost of rent. I paid all the utility bills, which is fine with me. Then one day he left, leaving me to pay rent all on my own, which became a small burden to me. Of course I was upset and felt let down, but I managed to make ends meet, paying the entire rent and other bills by myself.
A month later we got back together and this time he declared that he wouldn't move out for anything. Then we had a disagreement, and this time he left again without paying rent. And now a month later, he's telling me he loves me again and saying that he wants to work on our relationship. This tells me that he wants what we have. I'm all for it, but at what cost?
Twice this man has walked/moved out without paying his agreed portion of rent, leaving me in desperate measures. I'm heartbroken by his action. No matter what our faults are in this relationship, twice I have been let down by this man I love so dearly. I have prayed and spoken positive words of forgiveness for myself and for him because his friendship means the world to me. I am truly in love with him. But as of now, I am also in a lot of doubt about his actions.
I'm so sorry. You must be feeling terribly betrayed by this unreliable man. He sounds like a conflict-avoider to me, but one with no sense of empathy or responsibility. You will never be able to trust him, because he seems to feel entitled to flake on his responsibility whenever he's not happy. This is a serious problem, and part of his character.
If you decide to try living with him again, insist that he pay you a deposit of at least one month of his share of the rent in advance—a few months would be better. That way, if he just walks out, you have the rent covered for a little while, until you can make different arrangements or until he comes back. He will probably not like this, but it's a way to make sure he understands his responsibility. You don't say whether your children are living with both of you? If so, all this back-and-forth must be really hard for the children, too. That's another inconsiderate thing he's doing to his own child, and yours.
I know you're bonded to this man, but he doesn't seem very bonded to you—at least, not enough to realize that he has obligations not to just leave you with his share of the rent, with no notice. He is saying he loves you, but he's not acting like it. Pay more attention to his actions than to his words. The truth is in his actions. "You Be The Judge," "Couples Can Cooperate for Success" and "Less Talk, More Action" will help you see your situation more clearly and give you ideas for what to do.
How to Be a Couple and Still be Free contains exercises, information and examples you and your partner can use to improve your relationship.
For low-cost counseling, find me at LoveForever.com.
Image Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
More Couples Counselor advice on YourTango: