My lover walked out on me

Dear Suzie,

I am a 42-year old male, currently reaching (hopefully successfully!) the end of chemotherapy for lymphoma. I was with my partner for 6 years. We are about the same age and had a lot in common. About 1 year ago he walked out – not in an aggressive way, but to go home to Spain to try to pursue a career. I was initially too much in shock to point out that it was a bit more complicated than just leaving like that…. we had a mortgage together, in his name, and I had moved to a small town (at his choice) and when my mother died, moved my father (86 and wonderful) to live very near us (I bought a flat for him with a mortgage). Shortly after he left I realised I couldn’t cope financially, so I applied for the only well-paid job I could find. Alas, this was in France…. I got the job and started basically commuting once a month back to England to see my Dad. I started to get really angry with my ex-partner as I couldn’t get any real dialogue going but he kept in touch with me – while refusing to accept that I was still supporting him financially. At the end of the year, we finally got the financial things sorted – but at a huge cost to me. And I started trying to be friendly, nothing else – to keep the door open I guess. Then I got sick. He made a lot of noise about being supportive, coming to England a few times to see me. Now, I would like his help and support in dismantling our life here. Selling our furniture, deciding what to do with the house, getting rid of the car, cancelling his bank accounts etc etc or to be discussing a future together if that is what he wants….. nothing in the middle.

He offered to come for two weeks but this has already been compromised by a decision by him to go to Pamplona (his home town) to see the running of the bulls; I feel a bit hurt by this – and to be honest, angry. If he had cancer, and had done as much for me as I have for him – running with the bulls would be the last thing on my mind. Perhaps I am being unreasonable? I don ‘t think I was always easy to live with – but on the other hand I did have the lion ‘s share of the responsibility in our relationship. And now, if he wants to be “supportive ” I would like him to put me first.

I am torn about whether to try to discuss this with him, politely say I don ‘t need him to come to England (I probably can manage all the things alone after all) or ignore this aspect of his personality and just enjoy his visit – but not see it as anything else.

Many thanks

No, you’re not being unreasonable. If the two of you had a relationship – even a friendship – the very last thing he would do is go off fannying about with bulls. This man is a coward and a cheat. I’m sorry to say it that baldly, but I do think it’s true. The only honest thing he did was end your relationship by walking out. But he hasn’t had the courage of his convictions to end it cleanly and properly, with respect for you and dignity for himself.

Why be polite? He’s the one who has let you down. It’s possible that the reason he has behaved so appallingly is from fear and love. Some people cannot deal with illness – especially cancer and especially in someone they care for. Such people run away rather than have to face up to their anxieties. But that’s his problem, not yours. If he can’t grow up and act like a decent human being I see no reason why you should continue to excuse him, carry him and put up with him and his cavalier behaviour. What would be enjoyable about his visit? He’s using and abusing you and having to bite your lip would make it truly awful. Tell him to go run with the bulls, and tie up the loose ends and finish off this no-hoper of a non-relationship yourself. If you have friends who can support you, ask them to be there for you – he certainly won’t be. Then, you look around for a better, kinder, more caring partner – there are plenty out there, trust me.

I’m so glad your illness has been succesfully treated, BTW. I wish you good health – and a better love life in the future!

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