I have been forced to do this twice in my life. Neither time was easy. Both episodes caused me much heart-ache. But in neither instance could I ask for family sympathy, because, as they said, I had asked for it!

The first time occurred when I was in my fifties. I was separated from my husband, and the man in question was married...unhappily, so he said. Although to this day, he is still with his wife. He was my art teacher.

I ran the art classes for the local school that my children attended. This man and I were a good team. We were both starved for affection, and over a couple of years, a strong bond developed between us. I thought he was marvellous, much more marvellous than he really was, and he referred to me as ‘the love of my life.’ was sweet indeed.

Until I wanted more. I needed more. I needed a permanent commitment from him. I had that, he said. But I wanted a home together. My children expected it, and I knew he loved only me. Why not finalise his marriage, pay his wife out, give her everything if necessary. End the charade, I said, make an honest woman of me. Let us live our lives out together.

Eight times I sent him away when he could not comply, and seven times I took him back. It took fourteen years. He had all sorts of excuses. He had all sorts of reasons for coming back. ‘I can’t live with that woman any longer,’ he would declare. And I would believe him. And love him. Oh yes, I have loved well...not wisely but too well.

Finally, I found strength through the affect of this situation on my children. I wanted a family outing. He was not able to get away and they were disappointed. It became clear to me what my life would continue to be like, and I bit the bullet. I knew I meant it, that it would be forever, but I did it. He phoned, begging to see me, but I was adamant. It took five years for me to stop crying, both inside and out. Just imagine how awful it was for my three daughters.

And now it has happened again. Decades later. I do not feel quite as devastated this time, but I am still pretty upset. Of course, I kick myself that I was gulled once again. I must be flawed, some say. But I consider that it is my deep need for tenderness in my life that is my undoing.

The girls warned me. ‘Don’t expect us to pick up the pieces when it all falls through,’ they said. They had a point, I knew. He was younger than I by twelve years. My youthful appearance had fooled him initially as he pursued me. He didn’t care about my age. We were a good couple, and he needed a home. Oh yes, he was needy all right, but I rather liked that. I was a natural nurturer. How I looked after him!

I asked for little in return. Just the truth and your allegiance, I remember saying. In the end, I received neither. But we have had eight years of contentment, working away, he at his project, while I made the house a home. It was lopsided, I knew. But I needed his physical strength, and again as ever, I needed affection.

But as his project faltered and he spent more and more time in his office in my shed, my dismay grew as I perceived my own unimportance. When his project succeeded, he informed everyone, he would take it off-shore. What, leave me? I could go if I wanted, of course, but he knew that was out of the question for me. So I smiled and continued. Jaded, but hanging in there.

The crunch came when it all went belly-up. His investors claimed false pretence or something. Threatening. I suggested he find somewhere else to live, to protect my property on which we lived. We had an agreement protecting each other’s property from the other. But there was no agreement protecting me from angry investors who could possibly claim that a de facto relationship rendered my property vulnerable.

He readily agreed to find another place to live. I thought it meant he would find a little flat in this vicinity, and life for us would continue. How wrong I was! For him it meant finding another woman, like I had been, who had a home, and would take him in. Look after him while he furthered his passion for investment. How that one hurt...

I stuck to my guns, not wanting to lose him, not wanting to live alone on a difficult property. But I could not risk it. And he pursued several women (even while still living under my roof) none of whom would take him on. So he has finally settled for two rooms in a nice house, some distance away, where he can store his possessions, sit on his computer, and contemplate his next move.

I miss him cruelly, as unsatisfactory as it was at times. I cannot ask my daughters for sympathy. I can just learn from my mistakes.