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My Son Stayed With My Ex When I Left – And I Really Miss Him

mother hugs son scaled

The problem…

“Three years ago, I left my partner of 30 years for the man I’d been having an affair with, and we are still together. Although I wanted him to come with me, my son of 12 decided to stay with his father.

“Leaving my son was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I still wake up feeling guilty about it. If I had known the fallout, I’m not sure I would have gone through with it. I love my current partner but cannot feel fully happy, as there is always a sadness about my old life (which I do miss sometimes) and what I’ve done.

“I’m confused, and sometimes wonder if that confusion means I want my old life back. It was hard and scary to start again but I’ve done it, but I left a very comfortable lifestyle for one where I’m often struggling to make ends meet. I wish I knew how to move forward.”

Fiona says…

“You don’t tell me anything in your message about your relationship with your ex, about how that relationship fell apart, or whether you have an on-going relationship with your son. I know you had an affair and left your partner – but I don’t know if it was an acrimonious parting, or whether the relationship had run its course. With so many issues unclear, it is hard to know what to say to you. But I do recognise that being apart from your child is hard.

“If both you and your ex were unhappy together though, your son might feel a whole lot better, if he thinks both you and his dad are happier now than you were before. It is surely up to you, therefore, to make the very best of the life you have chosen. You say that it was hard and scary but that you’ve now ‘done it’, which indicates you are moving forward, even though you don’t think you are.

“Keep up regular contact with your son – he needs to know he is loved, even if you’re not with him. Hopefully you see him regularly, but if you don’t, I would encourage you to seek visitation rights and make arrangements on that front. Your son might have made a choice to stay with his dad when you separated, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t want to see you – even if he’s angry and upset about the parting.

“Moving forward might be happening in small steps, but it’s the only way. It doesn’t sound like going back is an option, even if you wanted to – and you don’t really indicate that you do. So, take a deep breath and put your best foot forward – you’ll get there.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.