In 2008, I felt attracted to a colleague in her late 40s, but she was married and had two sons in their late teens. Later, her husband got cancer, and Anne took nine months off to help care for him. When he died in 2011, she became very depressed and I was supportive. I realised I was falling in love, so in October 2012 decided to move to a different firm. A few days before I left, she invited me for a drink after work, to thank me.
We got on so well I confessed I was hopelessly in love with her, after four years of friendship. When I dropped her off she leaned over to kiss me. Later, she texted to say she had strong feelings for me too.
We started going out, and in June 2013 Anne asked me to move in. We even talked of marriage.
She confided that her husband made her suffer through affairs, alcohol and drug abuse — and that ‘her boys’ had become her world. And that’s where the problems began.
Her sons are allowed to do whatever they like. Anne and I slept downstairs on a sofa-bed in the sitting-room while they moved their girlfriends into the two upstairs bedrooms.
The house is in an absolutely disgusting state. She’s amassed a huge debt through rent arrears, unpaid credit card repayments, utility bills and the expense of trying to keep this ‘family’ fed.
The boys have part-time jobs (when they can be bothered going), and their girlfriends are in temporary employment, but none of them helps clean the house or even brings down dirty plates from their rooms. All the cleaning is left to Anne and myself, and we both work full time.
But Anne says it isn’t so long since their father died, and to leave them alone. We have tried family meetings to agree rules, but they only stick to them for a few days.
The elder boy seems to bully her. I have tried to get her to seek debt counselling and start moving forward, but nothing happens. She’s either scared or simply not bothered.
Recently, the eldest invited a friend (with drug problems) who’d split up from his girlfriend to stay until he found somewhere else. With Anne’s debt, she can’t afford to support another person in the house. I pointed out that he has relatives and friends living nearby, so why not go and stay with them? Anne said that he was her sons, friend and she could not see him on the streets.
Two weeks later, I told her that the situation was now intolerable; she had put her sons’ wishes before me.
I left that night, and haven’t heard from her. I now bitterly regret my decision. I am so much in love with her I want everything to work out. But I don’t want her being taken for granted all the time. What must I do?