Caroline West-Meads: Does he want me back or is he bored?

Caroline West-Meads
Chris O’Donovan

Q. I was devastated when I split up with my boyfriend five years ago. We had been together for four years and I had hoped to marry him, but he would never commit. Then he married someone else only 18 months later. I know her and I think that he was bowled over by her looks and glamour. I have not had any long-term relationships since we broke up, and I was finally getting over him when he got back in touch last October. He said that he had made a terrible mistake and that his wife was very controlling and selfish. He also said that since they had been forced to spend so much time together over the past few months, he had realised that they have very little in common. He can’t call me as they are with each other a lot, though we have been texting quite often – mostly just friendly, jokey stuff. Now he has started to say how much he misses me and would love to see me again. He is being quite flirtatious – and suggestive, too – but I have laughed this away. Now I’m really confused. For ages, I longed to have him tell me he had made a mistake and that he wanted me back, but now I am not so sure. I have asked if he is planning to get a divorce, but he said that he doesn’t think he can because it would be so expensive. To make things more complicated, a mutual friend told me that she thinks they might be trying for a baby.

A. No wonder you are confused. Unfortunately, I think this man is afraid of commitment. He wouldn’t commit to you even though you spent a considerable time together. True, he did marry this new woman, although I suspect that he might have been ‘in lust’ with her while believing himself in love. But he is nevertheless not committed to her, because even though they have not been married long, he is already trying to start up a flirtatious relationship with you – his ex. It may well be true that she is controlling and selfish, and it might indeed be that he made a mistake in marrying her. But sadly that doesn’t mean that he has suddenly realised you were the one for him all along. If he really thought that he had made a genuine mistake, I doubt he would stay married, no matter the cost of divorce. But it doesn’t sound as if this is on the cards – especially if the baby rumours are true. I fear he might be simply a bit bored and has got back in touch because he knows how much you adored him and craves a bit of flirtatious attention. Think back to what your relationship was really like – was he lovely, kind and considerate or did you sometimes suspect that he might have been a bit of a player? There must have been a good reason why you split up. I fear you could get hurt again, so it would be better to end this now. You deserve to move forward not back, and find a man who makes you his first choice of relationship and not a fallback.

My selfish sisters refuse to look after me

Q. I am the middle sister of three. Our ages range from 60 to 65. I am unmarried and our 85-year-old mother lives with me – we get on really well. Both my siblings have their own families and live far away. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with them, but recently things have got much worse. Both have been poor daughters, who ignored our father’s dementia and weren’t around for our mum when he died. They have always assumed that they didn’t have to look after our parents because I was there for them. When lockdown ends they will want to visit, but I don’t want them to stay with me. Mum says that it is my home and will back my decision, but how do we deal with it?

A. I am sorry that your sisters sound so selfish and that caring for your parents has fallen on you. I understand why you don’t want them to stay at your house, and you don’t need to feel guilty about that. However, you may decide that this is the easiest option while your mother is still alive. Simply don’t have much to do with them when they come – maybe use the time to go to see friends. If you really can’t face your sisters staying with you, then say to them in a calm manner that it would be easier if they booked into a hotel or B&B. Explain that your mum tires easily and it has been an exhausting year for you. If they object, don’t get angry. Just insist that they are welcome to visit her at your house, but you can’t deal with guests at the moment. The trick is not to be drawn into arguments. You don’t have to explain, just remain calm.