‘Should I stay with my selfish boyfriend when he’s great with my son?’

‘Although he can be very loving and caring, and is great with my boy from a previous relationship, he’s also very selfish’ (Picture: Neil Webb / Metro.co.uk)

Welcome back to The Sex Column, our weekly advice series where we get the experts to resolve your dating dilemmas.

Last week we chatted to a couple who have trust issues.

This week we have someone who is debating whether to dump their boyfriend.

When a relationship is deteriorating, should you pull the plug?

Perhaps it’s time to accept defeat.

The problem:

‘I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years and although he can be very loving and caring, and is great with my boy from a previous relationship, he’s also very selfish.

‘I started a new job last year and I can feel my life changing in positive ways, but I’m now noticing how immature he is.

‘He only plans around what he wants to do and has very poor money-management, so I pay more for our home and cover everything for my son, including expensive nursery fees.

He can also be manipulative and twist things, which can lead to huge rows. At times, he can also be the opposite of all this but it’s becoming less frequent.

Do I keep trying or accept that we aren’t suited?

What the experts say:

When you suggest that you will ‘keep trying’ what outcome do you expect?

‘Do you think he’ll grow up if you just wait around long enough?’ asks James McConnachie. ‘To “keep trying” only works when the problem is within you but your effort can’t solve his problems. Only he can do that.’

There is one big clue in what you say. ‘You tell us that you’re seeing him more clearly now that your life is improving,’ McConnachie adds.

So did you meet when your self-esteem was low?

‘Perhaps you were keen to have a relationship where your boy was put first and you could have someone to share a life with,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.

‘Now you have your new job, your self-esteem is growing and you’ve got to the point where you feel, rightly, that you deserve more than this.’

It’s very natural that different relationships suit us at different times of our lives and although you are tired of your boyfriend’s immaturity, there is your son to consider.

‘For two years, your boyfriend has been in a parenting relationship with him, which you describe as loving, caring and great,’ says Rupert Smith.

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‘Is it possible to work out a way of being a family that plays to everyone’s strengths rather than setting you in opposition? Could your partner help by taking on more childcare around his own work, for example?’

He also has to be willing to explore the deeper issues driving the behaviour you describe and together you need to find new ways to communicate so that you can resolve problems without such huge rows.

If this all sounds unachievable and you are truly ready to be alone, harness your new confidence and skills to leave this relationship in a mature, thoughtful way for your son.

‘Ensure that you have a new home so that he can continue in the same nursery and potentially think about ways of keeping some contact with your partner for your son’s sake,’ says Rudkin.

There is another perspective that is worth considering too. ‘Children are shaped by the behaviour they see around them,’ says McConnachie.

‘What model do you want for your boy? You both deserve someone who’s loving and caring and not just “at times”.’

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Got a sex and dating dilemma?

To get expert advice, send your problem to [email protected]

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