Life Advice



Tales From the Front: Santa's Not the Only One Who Needs to Check His List

Cheryl Lavin on

When they met, Nicole was 29. She was a single mother, working two or three jobs. She didn't date much; she was too busy or too tired. Jackson was 59, divorced with adult children.

He was kind and had all the characteristics of her ideal partner. He also had money and enjoyed spending it on her.

"When we first met, Jackson seemed like a godsend, despite a 30-year age difference. He catered to my needs, showered me with gifts and attention. He would wine and dine me. We traveled, explored the city and attended concerts, plays and other cultural events. He was a dream come true."

Jackson was such a "good catch" that Nicole ignored his controlling behavior and the warning signs, which began almost immediately.

"There were incessant questions regarding my phone calls, text messages, whereabouts, friends, co-workers and attire. My character was attacked daily. If I didn't answer a phone call within two to three minutes, I was accused of sleeping around. He followed, harassed and manipulated me. His lack of trust in me and frequent accusations made our relationship toxic, unhealthy and emotionally draining."

It turned out, as it so often does, that Jackson accused Nicole of the very thing he was doing -- cheating. She found sexually explicit text messages on his phone from multiple women and one man. When she asked him about it, he deleted them. She saw him with women. He said they were clients.

"Why did I stay for five years in an emotionally abusive relationship? I tried to leave countless times, but I just couldn't stay away without missing his company. After being in such an isolated relationship, I think I was used to spending time with him, and I was lonely."

That all ended one night when they were out to dinner. Jackson didn't order any wine for himself, which was unusual.


"I jokingly asked him if he was on any new medication. He admitted he had slept with someone else and contracted an STD. He said it was my fault. He didn't have the decency to say I'm sorry. That's when I knew I had to leave him. Anytime I miss him or think of calling him, I remember him telling me his sleeping around was my fault.

"I realize the part I played by staying, and I'm thankful I finally had the wherewithal to leave. Throughout this toxic relationship, I was faithful. Working full time, raising a child and dealing with Jackson's daily antics left me without any energy for much else. I now know his accusations were due to his insecurity and a way to cover up his wrongdoing.

"Despite what I've lived through, I'm smart, strong and deserving of a healthy relationship. I know my worth, and I look forward to the future. As time goes by, I still think of him, but I feel lighter, stronger and happier now that I don't have to explain where I went, why I didn't answer the phone, etc.

"I honestly think I would have stayed with him if he hadn't contracted an STD. It took something major for me to walk away, and I'm thankful I did."

When Nicole met Jackson, she said he had all the qualities she thought she needed in a man. In hindsight, she says, "I didn't think to list a mate who is trustworthy and trusts me."


Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants, to And check out my new e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."



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