Married boyfriend wants back gifts
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Dear Counsellor,

I'm with this married man; we've been together for three years. He has done a lot for me, I finished college because of his help, and he has basically furnished my entire apartment. I have not intruded in his marriage, and he treats me well. I understand, however, that I have no future with him, as he's married.

Recently I connected with a schoolmate from high school on Instagram, and we hit it off. We met, and the connection was instant. We've been on a few dates and it's been moving pretty fast, and I like him a lot. However, when I told my married guy that I wanted to break up, he threatened to take back everything he has given me, and I refuse to do that. What can I do? My friends say I should take everything in a truck and take them to his house and give them to his wife, and tell her what happened, but I want my things, because I think I earned them. I'm just 24 and can't deal with the man problems. How can I untangle myself from this, and keep my stuff?

It is a tangled web indeed, but untangling it is not impossible. Though you may not like what is required. It's sad that some men take advantage of the needs of some women, especially young women. Instead of genuinely helping, they often require sexual favours for assistance rendered. It happens all too frequently. Thanks be to God for the decent persons out there who genuinely help others without making inappropriate demands.

Yes, having a relationship with someone already in a committed relationship is a bad idea. You mentioned that you "have not intruded in his marriage", but you certainly have. Being intimately involved with him for three years, and receiving gifts from him, is a very big intrusion. Especially if his wife is oblivious to it. Sweet treats that come with secrets and deception are very bitter toward the end.


My advice to you:

Understand your error: You have to accept that the "relationship" with the married man was wrong. A matey flex is not smart nor healthy. There may be temporary benefits that come with it, but the pleasures quickly turn into pain and problems.

Inform the married man again: A phone call should suffice. Let him know you are moving on with your life and suggest that he do the same. Let him know you appreciate the "investments" he made into your success and that you are thankful. Simply be polite as you decisively end this matter. You don't have to involve his wife — that's for him to do.

Don't plant any more seeds of infidelity: Don't sow what you don't want to grow — you wouldn't want another woman interfering in your marriage, whenever that happens.

Give back the items: Yes! Offer to return the items that he gave you. I am not certain what you are calling "my stuff", and how you perceive to have "earned them". If you're serious about a new path you need to make a clean break with this married man, even if you have to sleep on the apartment floor temporarily. Real dignity matters most! Also, offering to make plans to reimburse him for his former "cash investment" is a healthy plan — this changes things significantly!

Tell your boyfriend the truth: If you do see a future with him, it's important to be honest with him. It may be difficult but eventually, he'll need to know about all of this. Take this relationship slowly!

Focus on developing yourself: You're young and have a lot ahead of you. Relationships do take work. Give yourself time to figure life out. Figuring out your path to individual dignity and happiness is more important than forming any new relationship right now.

I pray for your strength, success, and happiness.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to

Christopher Brodber

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