Tell Me About It: This vulnerable man has the right to honesty
About four years ago I returned to Ireland after living abroad for 20 years. I scaled my relatively lucrative business down and transferred it back to the village that I grew up in. My work-life balance at that stage was more work focussed and I had very little experience of romance, despite an outgoing personality. Basically I had become lonely and started to crave the type of life my parents led, being surrounded by children, neighbours and each other. On my return my mother soon set me up with her friend’s son. He was somewhat younger, gorgeous looking with a great body. I also remarked that we had a lot in common in terms of work ethic and ambition.
I was quite bowled over that he wanted to continue seeing me. I know that I have never been regarded as being physically attractive and felt very lucky. I did note that he had very few friends and was quite socially awkward with my friends and very set in his ways. When we moved in together he became withdrawn and unsettled.
He was open in telling me that as a child a psychologist thought he may have Asperger’s disorder and that he found all change difficult. We have tried many ways to have children and both have accepted that this is probably not going to happen.
While he is polite I don’t find his support comforting and now I am not sure that I am benefiting from this relationship or lifestyle. I have been offered an incredible opportunity to return to my life abroad but I don’t think I want him with me whatever my decision is. I don’t want to admit that I used him as a sperm donor as sorts, and I know he is very dependent on me.
It would seem that you feel this relationship is over and you are wondering how you can end it without feeling guilty or causing too much damage to your partner. Your time at home is more like the exception in your life and you seem ready to avail of the opportunity of an exciting career abroad.
For both of you a serious relationship in which a life-long commitment and children are considered seems to have been a new experience and one that raised anxiety. All relationships require vulnerability, effort and commitment if they are to survive and you at least have opted out of this pact. What is keeping you in the relationship is now a mixture of pity and duty, and I wonder what it is like for your partner to be experiencing this. No doubt his clinginess is partly in response to his confusion about whether you are withdrawing from him.
This is a vulnerable man, but he has a right to honesty and respect. He was very open in telling you of his possible Asperger’s disorder, but he has survived well in life and is ambitious and functioning well in the work environment.
As adults we enter into relationships with the knowledge that they might end. There are consequences to break-ups, and each person has to deal with the fallout and are entitled to their own responses. You feel guilty at the possibility that you have used this man as a sort of “sperm donor” and he may feel sad, confused and rejected when the relationship ends. However, it is likely that he will feel somewhat relieved at the end to confusion and he may have gained a lot of knowledge about himself in relationships.
Your guilt is telling you that there is a need for you to own up, face the situation and take any consequences that are coming. As you live in a small community it may be that others will have a lot to say in the aftermath of this ending but all you can do is be as honest and supportive as you can be to your partner at this time. Ask him if it is helpful for him that you stay around for some time so that he can have answers to questions about the relationship and perhaps offer to go with him to one or two sessions of counselling .
That he will not have to witness you becoming involved in another relationship, as you will have left the country, may be useful to him but as you will be returning home for visits it is important that you end this relationship with care and concern for his dignity. But right now he deserves to hear the truth.