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I’m 26 and recently split up with a man ten years older whom I met a year ago on a dating website because of his kinky sex fetish.

His previous relationship (17 years) ended because she lost interest in sex and he was devastated. He was kind, reliable, attentive and sweet, treating me with care and consideration. I felt loved by someone I could perhaps build a future with.

After six months, he suggested bringing other people into our sex life. I said I wasn’t sure threesomes were my thing, but that I was all for sexual experiments between the two of us. One weekend, he was moody and grumpy and talked about his ex-girlfriend with such deep loss I became very upset and realised we had to break up. We were both distressed as we said goodbye. I missed him horribly.

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After three months, he made contact and four weeks later we spent the day together, into the evening. Eventually, he confessed that while we were apart he’d been exploring a side of his sexuality, namely BDSM (kinky, bondage sex with others). I was shocked by the sheer amount of strangers he had been with and he also continued an ‘open sexual relationship’ with one girl.

I still loved him, warts and all, so I looked into BDSM and decided to try it.

We had a frank chat over a romantic dinner, about sex, but also what we wanted out of a relationship.

He told me he’d missed me and wanted to work at a committed relationship.

I said that while I was willing to get into BDSM, I’d need to take things very slowly and wouldn’t tolerate him having sex with that other girl.

Four days later — a message. The other girl would like to meet me. Would I do this?

On the phone, he tried to talk me round, insisting she thought she’d be able to ‘help me explore BDSM’. Then he confessed he thought I wouldn’t be sexually adventurous enough for him.

I felt sick and worthless. He agreed he had to make a decision, but I suggested he had already made it, as those were not the words of a man in love. Coldly he said, yes — and goodbye.

Once again I was heartbroken. Now his number is deleted from my phone. But how did such a loving, caring, kind and considerate man change within four months?

How could he build a life with his ex (of whom I feel so jealous), but not with me?

This episode has terrified me. Am I unlovable?

Am I doomed to fall for cruel men interested only in pleasing themselves?

Dear Lucy,

A couple of weeks ago my ‘And Finally’ column was about people (including me) having a ‘dark side’, which often directly contradicts the face they present to the world. The most famous example is the Jekyll and Hyde duality of black and white, kind and cruel, good and evil.

This is why I suggest that the man you fell in love with, the one who was ‘caring, kind and considerate’ to you, was all the time harbouring inside himself a much darker character, with sexual needs he would not have confessed to you at first, in case you ran away.

Maybe he didn’t ‘change’ at all, but was far more complex than you realised at first.

It is not for me to make any judgments on what consenting adults do in private — although I must add that reading that ludicrously popular tome Fifty Shades Of Grey made me feel thoroughly queasy, not because of the kinky sex, but because of the appalling writing.

Some people are turned on by bondage, others (like me) by the joy of good books. Each to their own, in sex and artistic taste.

What matters in your story is that you told this man, quite clearly, that you had no interest in getting into bed with him and another woman, and that he later expressed a desire to commit himself to you once more and then turned around and asked you to get friendly with his kinky girlfriend.

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What? On exactly what dark planet is this considered to be reasonable behaviour? And what woman could be expected to go along with his deceit, not to mention his barefaced cheek?

It is also a terrible mistake for you to compare yourself with his former girlfriend, since you have no real knowledge of what went on between them for those 17 years, apart from what he has told you.

For all you know, he treated her badly, made unreasonable sexual demands that she refused, cheated on her and has since been consumed with remorse, his good side taking his bad side to task for choosing to ruin that relationship for the sake merely of his sexual appetite.

Because that is the truth, isn’t it? And now it has happened again, with you.

At the end of your email, you make what seems to me to be a huge jump, identifying a worrying pattern.

Yet you give no examples of previous relationships where you fell for ‘cruel men interested only in pleasing themselves’.

Therefore, I take this as an expression of your current unhappiness and not the truth about you and men.

At the age of 26, you have a whole life ahead of you in which to meet new people, have fresh experiences (and let us not include kinky sex here!), and fall in love — maybe more than once. This guy, for all his good side, sounds like rather a loser to me — ultimately led by what is in his pants, rather than in his heart.

He will make a miserable old codger one day. So celebrate the fact that you have deleted him from your life.

Thank your good angel that you are not doomed to thrash around in a grubby bed with a stranger (maybe more than one) in order to please an odd, dishonest man.

Stop blaming yourself and get on with your one precious life.