Sex and the City: How do I move on...?

I am divorced with a teenage son and also had a troubled childhood. I come from a wealthy family. After years of loneliness I met a divorced man at a meet-up of a spiritual cult. He seemed nice and showed an interest in me. We dated and then got intimate very quickly. We started talking about marriage and I introduced him to my son and my parents. When my uncle asked him about his professional income, he felt uncomfortable and threw a fit with me. Later, my family found out that he had lied about all his businesses and didn’t even have a home and lived out of a garage taken on rent. When I asked him why he had lied, he cussed at me and told me that he had done me a favour by getting intimate with me. I feel like a gullible fool for succumbing to his charms. I was desperate to have someone in my life and now feel broken. How should I move on?

To recover, you are going to have to see the situation for what it is. You were lonely, while he possibly had other ideas for the companionship you two shared. What were these ideas? Hard to tell. We know that he winced and erupted when his professional income was brought up. What does his reactivity mean?

He could be reeling under the shame of a professional and personal setback, which he may have wanted to project differently to save face and to impress you. The fact that you met him at a spiritual cult could also be telling of his identification of a ripe hunting ground where he could access emotionally vulnerable women to get together with. However, these are all just theories.

A life shrouded in mysteries does indeed raise eyebrows, but we aren’t writing crime fiction here. We must work with the information that we have.

The man you first met and got intimate with, the man you witnessed after he met your family and the man who he truly turned out to be are all iterations and different versions of the same person whom you have experienced at different points in this relationship.

People reveal themselves in chapters and don't come with an instruction manual. People spend their entire lives discovering themselves so it’s not outrageous for you to have not known everything there was to know about this man at the outset. People unravel in subjective moments of crisis. Scrutiny is seen by some people as a crisis.

When a relationship is built on masks and lies, the ensuing conundrums can get dire. You need not blame yourself for any of this. Yet, it's your responsibility to take stock of what has happened and invest in recovering from it with utmost clarity.

However, bad the heartache you still have personal choices to make. Analysis is an endless and addictive tool if not directed towards a concrete choice-based-goal.

Here are the choices: 1) Either you continue to feel sorry for yourself blaming yourself or your troubled childhood. 2) You work to understand that there is nothing shameful or strange about being hurt or deceived. 3) You find a way to make smarter relationship decisions in the future.

A poor decision in retrospect almost always feels like a rich choice when we are in the throes of it all. This is a universal phenomenon. Our emotional needs sometimes blind us to the truth as we accommodate people and make concessions for the things we don’t fully understand.

This is why background checks are a reliable preventive measure and a most vital step to take — before you become this vulnerable with someone again. We live in a fairly transparent age of information and technology.

There is great value in properly investigating someone's family, home and work life before you get emotionally drawn in. Set the record straight and let intentions be stated rather than implied or imagined. Good relationships are earmarked by the open discussion of intentions and setting of shared visions and goals.

Your need for a companion was legitimate. All human beings have emotional needs and relationships are a high-stakes emotional phenomenon regardless of how weathered or experienced you are. There will always be vulnerabilities and that is why clarity and empathy are so important while communicating and collaborating with your partner — so as to leave out any grey areas.

His insults to you and saying that he did you a favour by getting intimate with you could very well be a sign of him snapping at you in a bid to get you to back off from questioning him further.

Spiteful and attacking behaviour can sometimes be a loud and jarring cover-choice to eclipse embarrassment, hurt, guilt and is a cogent defence mechanism used by many people when they feel cornered, conceded or condemned.

We can’t always trust what we are seeing or whom we are speaking to. This is a lesson you may someday need to impart to your teenage son so it’s a lesson you must first internalise. There is wisdom hidden in even our most painful and embarrassing moments.

He’s done and said what he had to. The path forward should be one where you learn to be assertive and spend some time consolidating all that this episode has taught you about gullibility and a lack of background research on someone you’re getting intimate with.

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