Our interviewee was with her partner for six years before he dumped her over WhatsApp. He blamed the relationship breakdown on their teen sons not getting on. Here, she tells Sadie Nicholas her story.
Nick* and I met the year we’d both turned 40 when our sons, both eight at the time, started playing for the same football team in Warwickshire.
He was a lawyer, while I work in marketing. With divorces behind us, we were both ready to start dating again and I was instantly attracted to Nick, who was highly intelligent, witty and a terrific raconteur, but also endearingly self-deprecating.
After a few weeks, I realised that chatting to him on the sidelines of muddy football pitches on wet, chilly Sunday mornings had become the highlight of my week. He obviously felt the same as he asked me after a match one day if I’d like to go out for dinner with him.
We fell hopelessly in love, and I dared to imagine a future together with our kids as a blended family, convinced that because our sons were already friends it might be possible. After our respective heartaches of the past, Nick told me he felt the same.
We fell hopelessly in love, and I dared to imagine a future together with our kids as a blended family.
Still, we kept our relationship below the radar for almost a year before we told the boys that we were more than friends, needing to be sure of our feelings before introducing our blossoming love to their lives.
At first it was wonderful. The boys seemed happy and slowly we began to do things as a ‘family’. There were Sunday lunches after football matches and outings to theme parks at weekends. When my brother invited us all to join him and his wife and four kids at their holiday villa in Italy in summer 2019 for a long weekend, we jumped at the chance.
At that point Nick and I had been together for over two years and our boys were almost 11. Little did we know that short holiday would prove to be the start of our undoing.
Little did we know that short holiday would prove to be the start of our undoing.
The beginning of the end
Our boys, who’d always bonded over their love of sport and superhero movies, were suddenly awkward around each other. It certainly wasn’t the break that Nick and I had romanticised it would be.
The lazy pool afternoons and evening strolls around the nearby Tuscan town for ice cream that we’d dreamed of were punctuated by bickering and spats between our sons. Inevitably these incidents prompted Nick and I to argue, each of us naturally taking sides with our own child.
Back in the UK, something had shifted between us. Perhaps it was a realisation that our relationship had flourished in some sort of bubble, but exposed to real life – even in the form of what should have been a lovely holiday – it was impossible to detach ‘us’ from our children, and as a foursome we were suddenly out of kilter.
It was impossible to detach ‘us’ from our children.
Nevertheless, Nick and I brushed off the boys’ differences as a blip and continued our relationship. We saw each other one evening a week, and spent alternate weekends together either at his house or mine when my son was at his dad’s and Nick’s was with his mother. But we eased off the get-togethers that involved our sons too.
Second shot at a blended family holiday
Perhaps foolishly, we then tried to holiday together with the children again three summers later in 2022. My brother offered us sole use of his Italian villa and Nick and I seized the opportunity, reasoning that perhaps throwing our boys into a holiday with another family last time had been the problem.
We were wrong. The niggles that had rumbled along in the UK – my son had continued playing sport while Nick’s had abandoned it in favour of drama classes and gaming – were magnified ten-fold in Italy and culminated in them having a horrible physical fight in the pool one day.
We convinced ourselves everything would be fine once the boys were 18.
But even then, we were determined to continue our relationship, convincing ourselves that when the boys got to 18 and went away to university everything would be fine.
Dumped via WhatsApp
So, you can probably imagine my devastation when, last December after over six years together, Nick had the audacity to dump me out of the blue on WhatsApp. His main reason was that he couldn’t be with someone whose child his son didn’t get along with.
I couldn’t believe he didn’t even have the bottle to tell me to my face after all those years together.
He had the audacity to dump me out of the blue on WhatsApp.
I haven’t seen him since and made the decision that I wouldn’t pursue him after our WhatsApp exchange that winter’s day. He’d shown his true colours and despite my heart being shattered into a million pieces, I reasoned that I deserved better.
For now, at least, there’s only one man in my life, my teenage son. And that’s the way I intend to keep things for the foreseeable future.
*Names have been changed.