He lives with his ex and his kids.

Dear Suzie,

My boyfriend and I’s relationship is a bit odd. For one, he lives with his ex girlfriend, the mother of his children, and refuses to not live with her as hates joint custody. He’s also said that I’m a lot like she used to be before she got depressed. I’m thinking he might still be in love with her. But I like being with him and he likes being with me. What do I do?

When you said he continued to live with his children I cheered. Too many men, when the relationship breaks up, also abandon their kids to their lasting pain and damage. One thing I always say to anyone who begins a relationship with someone with children is that you need to recognise the kids come too – your new partner may be able to leave a relationship behind but they should never, and never be asked to, leave those kids behind. So you’d have to make space in your life for them and support your new partner in continuing to be a good parent.

But then you told me what he says about you and her. And that sounds like a rather nasty bit of manipulation. Think about it. You like being with someone who compares you to the girlfriend he’s cheating on to see you? And compares you to what she was like before he began cheating on her?

I’m sure he likes being with you. It must be nice to have the lovely cosy family home with kids to sport with and meals cooked when you want and shirts ironed as you like. And then to have a sweet fresh little girlfriend to swan out and play with whenever you want a rest from the responsibilities of being a Dad and a permanent partner. And I put it like that because living with your children is one thing – still living with the “ex” is quite another.

Have you asked yourself why she got depressed? What you’d like from a partner if you ever got depressed? Surely you’d hope they’d stand by you not leave you? I’m sorry but when he uses implied threats like that – ie if you get “depressed” and I bet that actually means start objecting to his doing whatever he damn well pleases – he’ll leave you too, then that rings alarm bells for me.

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