Carolyn Hax is away. The following is from Jan. 4, 2008, and Nov. 30, 2007.
Carolyn: My loving boyfriend of eight months recently informed me that he is the father of a 2-year-old son, whom he has been financially supporting for the duration of our relationship. He didn’t tell me earlier for a whole host of reasons, some reasonable and some simply cowardly. I feel lied to, yet at the same time I feel so understanding. How do I know if I’m willing to move on from this?
Oh, and also, due to complicated circumstances involving immigration, etc., he married the mother, whom he barely knew, and is in the process now of securing a divorce. My mom insists I never would have tolerated this from anyone else (and she’s right) and that I’m being “bamboozled.” I say that I love him and this massive mistake doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be loved.
— Only 24
Only 24: “Oh, and also”? Here’s what this person just told you: When he feels he has something to lose, he will lie at your expense to protect himself and his interests. People do get into complicated situations, yes, and do make massive mistakes; you’re right that it doesn’t make them undeserving of love.
When their mistakes include long-standing, self-serving whoppers that involve the denial of the existence of a person he helped create, however, it does make them undeserving of trust. Get your head out of your altruism and listen to your mommy.
Look. He may be an okay guy someday. Or great.
He may be so close to being an okay guy that your dumping him — explicitly because of the lie, and explicitly not because of the soon-to-be-ex-wife and kid — will be the butt-kick he needs to start owning his life and all its consequences, not just the ones that are legally enforceable.
But he’s not there yet, and I don’t advise hanging around for the next complicated situation to find out whether he’ll ever arrive. Nobody needs that suspense.
Dear Carolyn: I am trying to make what seems to be an impossible decision. My boyfriend and I have been together 1 year 9 months, but long-distance for the past 14 months. We are both 23. We are both convinced we have found our lifelong partners.
However, he has been required to take a job on the other end of the country. I have been offered a good job there as well, but moving would take me away from something I have been working toward for years, that is very, very, very important to me and has been since long before we met.
He is unwilling to continue dating long-distance for the next two years, which would be the next time we could be together, though we talk every night and visit every month or so. I need to decide in the next few weeks whether to follow him and give up this very important thing, or to stay and give him up.
The fact that I haven’t decided yet is tearing us apart both as a couple and as individuals. I have talked it through with many friends, tried making lists, paid attention to my dreams, but these haven’t helped. I have no idea how to make this decision.
Agonizing: Ooh, ooh, I know! I think.
How does he feel about this pursuit you’re finding so hard to leave behind?
If he doesn’t respect and support it — I mean really get it, not just lip service, which anyone can pull off — then he doesn’t support you, know you, love you. Certainly not enough to justify a heart-rending cross-country move based on, essentially, seven months of dating.
If he does really get it and I’ve brought you no closer to a decision, then we still have this: You’re 23. If he’s right for you now, he’ll be right when you’re 25. You don’t even have to agree to that now; it’s a conclusion you can both come to independently, despite — or even thanks to — breaking up and starting new lives.