Dear Thelma: He loves me but is being pressured to get back with his ex

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Dear Thelma,

Some months ago, I met this man. He was driving a ride-hailing car at the time. I was his passenger, together with my younger sister.

We started talking but honestly I wasn't paying much attention to him.

When we arrived at our destination, he started a conversation with my sister which lasted about 10 minutes. I did not interrupt but just sat there.

Before we got out of the car, we exchanged numbers although I don't normally give out my number. He later called me to say he lives an hour away from me.

After two hours, he sent me an SMS which read:

"Mistake or by destiny, I met a rose.

Mysterious, whether her petals have bloomed I do not know,

I do know this, she speaks my language.

And on her silent passage, lies familiarity, a decoded message..."

I read this message so many times without replying for like two hours and I was blushing as I read it. I hadn't felt good in a long time.

I replied by just mentioning his name, and from there we started chatting on WhatsApp. We talked on the phone night and day.

He aligns with almost everything I want in a man, everything I've asked God for in a husband.

Feelings started to grow between us. At that time, he was single and I was in a relationship; I knew I was forcing things.

We met one night to talk, right after I had finished work. We spoke about everything, even current relationships and what we want in a relationship.

He told me he once paid a bride price for the woman who is the mother of his two children but she left a year ago to be with the man she was cheating with.

He spoke about how broken he was and how he did everything to make the relationship work as he loved her and wanted to grow the family with her but to no avail.

She was at her parents' place and still with the man she cheated with. A year later, she now has a child with the man.

So we started dating in the same month we met. But before that, I prayed earnestly because this man seemed too good to be true.

At the beginning of July, he went to see his kids; his son was turning eight.

When he got there, apparently the older sister of his ex sat him down and talked to him about fixing things with his ex and putting the family together. He told me he didn't listen to that.

Later, he was led to see a prophetess whom he knew. She told him that his ex is his wife and that he needs to fix things and pray for her.

He came back, we talked and he shared with me what had happened. He said he would pray about it.

I don't know what to do. He says he loves me. I'm letting him go and fix things now rather than later, because I won't let him go later unless indeed God says so.

Please advise.


Dear Shalom,

I'm confused. You say he's single and talk about his ex but his sister-in-law sees him as married. So, is this man legally divorced or not?

But let's get back to that question later, because if we assume he is free to marry, I still have some concerns.

You describe meeting him as love at first sight. He was totally overcome. You spoke on the phone night and day.

When you met, you were in perfect harmony. It's been just months but you're thinking marriage.

Frankly, those are massive red flags.

What you are describing is called love bombing, where a person overwhelms you with loving words, actions, and behaviour.

It is a manipulation technique that is designed to win trust and affection, and it is generally viewed as dangerous.

You see, pure and uncritical love is what we all secretly long for. So when a stranger comes along and gives us that amazing feeling right away, it acts like a drug.

We will do anything to keep that high going, even if we have to act against our ethics and own wellbeing.

This technique is therefore used by con artists, cults and abusers to establish mental control.

Healthy relationships don't take off like a rocket. They don't overwhelm you.

Healthy relationships follow a progression whereby you get to know each other.

At the beginning, it's normal to be the best version of yourself. Also, you tend to agree because you want things to work out.

But when you get to know each other, you slowly reveal your whole self.

Learning about differences and negotiating how we deal with those takes a lot of time.

It's OK because it's during this period that we decide if the relationship can work for life or not.

The very speed of this is ringing alarm bells. This man is a stranger.

You have talked yourself into thinking you know him but all you've done is accept whatever he's said as though it's gospel. That's not safe or healthy.

Then there is his tale of woe about the woman who took his money, cheated on him and broke his heart. He looks like a martyr and his wife like a devil.

You tell it with passion but you should consider that you don't know these people. Can you really make an informed judgement?

Common sense suggests that when relationships don't work out, it's usually both parties at fault.

Whatever the truth of his marriage, the kids are innocents who must be given a warm, loving home.

Are you ready to be a stepmother to his children, and their half-sibling who will form part of the extended family?

And should you want kids of your own, can he cope with that extra responsibility?

As you consider the facts with a critical eye, you should take your relationship history into account. You were dating when you met this man.

Why did you give that up? What were your other relationships like? And do your loved ones have any insights you should pay attention to?

This is a complex decision that involves a lot of people, so please be very careful.

If after thinking it over, you still truly believe that he is the man you want to spend your life with, then know this won't be easy.

Finally, to get back to my first question: if he is married, I urge you to set a date by which he must be divorced.

Don't accept excuses, or you will find yourself in the position of the "other woman" which I think you would find intolerable.

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