Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Has Remained Close to His Ex’s Daughter”

Dad and daughter

My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over a year and it has been great; I believe he is the love of my life! But there’s one little problem. My boyfriend was with his ex-girlfriend for a little under a year and he got really close with her daughter. Even though their relationship ended way in the past, he still keeps contact with his ex to spend time with her daughter whom he claims is like his child even though she’s not. My boyfriend has taken up responsibility of being a father figure for this little girl which I admire but recently have not been comfortable with. His family is close to the little girl and call her his child as well. It’s all a little frustrating and annoying, and, lately, I’ve been a bit jealous. I’ve tried to express my feelings, but my boyfriend doesn’t understand. Please give me any suggestions on how to handle the situation. — Frustrated Girlfriend

Honestly, I think it’s really weird that your boyfriend remains close with this little girl who was in his life so briefly and isn’t related to him. Did they ever live together? If so, I could understand a little bit better, but, still, the relationship seems… inappropriate at this point, not just because your boyfriend is no longer with the mother, but also because he ISN’T a father figure to her and because remaining close with her muddies boundaries and can potentially make things confusing for the little girl and for anyone who may get romantically involved with the adults in question (your boyfriend and the girl’s mother). If YOU have issues with your boyfriend remaining so close to this girl, imagine how potential new boyfriends of the mother might feel. What happens if she meets someone she wants to marry? Is your boyfriend going to continue being the father figure and spending time with his ex’s daughter when she has a step-dad in her life?

I find it irresponsible of the mother that she’s allowed your boyfriend to remain such a constant presence in her daughter’s life and hasn’t set some clearer boundaries herself. It makes me wonder if she isn’t over your boyfriend and she’s using her daughter to keep him around. I also find it troubling that when you express some of your concern and jealousy — totally normal reactions given the circumstance — your boyfriend doesn’t express any compassion or understanding. If it were I and I had something of an unconventional relationship with an ex’s child whom I knew for only a brief time, I would go out of my way to make a new partner feel comfortable about the situation and understand my motives. It doesn’t seem like your boyfriend is doing that, and as “admirable” as you might consider his behavior in relation to this little girl, how admirable is his behavior toward you? Who cares if he’s loving with someone else — an ex’s child, of all people — if he isn’t expressing the same loving attitude to YOU, his girlfriend.

You need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your boyfriend about his feelings towards his ex, his feelings towards this little girl, and where he sees things going in the future. If you two were to remain together and, say, have a child of your own (is that something either of you wants?), does he think he’s STILL going to continue doting on this child who isn’t his (and isn’t related to him)? How is he going to explain the relationship he has with her to potential children of his own one day? Does he not see that this relationship he has with the girl has something of an expiration date and that the longer he avoids it the more attached she gets and the harder she’ll take it when things change and boundaries that should have already been made are finally set?

If you keep having these conversations and your words continue falling on deaf ears, I would consider moving on. Something isn’t quite right in this scenario, and the more time you hang around waiting to see what that something is the bigger chance you’re going to be hurt in the end.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

65 comments… add one
  • Lyra

    Lyra December 4, 2014, 9:11 am

    That’s really weird. Like REALLY weird. I definitely agree that it’s inappropriate and I totally get why you’re uncomfortable with it. When you break up with the person, you “break up” with their family in a way. I could MAYBE understand wanting to hang out with an adult family member you became close with after a break up (for example my ex’s aunt has wanted to grab coffee with me to catch up — I haven’t yet but have considered it) but a kid?? Like Wendy said, that blurs lines a lot, especially for the kid. It makes your boyfriend appear to be “stepdad” when he’s…not.
    .
    I wonder also why his family is on board with this and treating this child like their own family. That makes it even MORE confusing for this little girl, which is absolutely unfair to her. I REALLY wonder how it got to this and how the girl’s mom let it get to this point. She is absolutely not watching out for her daughter’s best interests in this case.

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    • avatar

      Joanna June 10, 2017, 7:24 pm

      I agree. These single moms are really jacking their kids up. I rather be the only parental figure in their lives than clinging to men as a crutch to raise my kids

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  • gigi

    gigi December 4, 2014, 9:25 am

    I am going to say that there is not enough info in this letter to definitively say that this is a good or bad idea on the boyfriend’s part. However, the fact that his family also loves this little girl & feels close to her makes a difference to me. Yes I agree with Wendy that the mother is irresponsible in her actions. But if she has such poor judgement, is it really all that bad that a little girl has a possible stabilizing adult presence in her life? I don’t think its necessarily a bad or weird thing to have a good, caring adult involved in the life of a child, who may not have many other people who care about her. The world needs more people who love & care for children, not less. If there is any hint of secretiveness about his activities with this girl, then I would question whether the man is a predator of some kind, but the LW does not seem to indicate that. I do think that the LW was remiss in waiting a year ?!? to address her concerns however. By now, if she was seriously a part of this man’s life, she should be understanding why he is involved in this child’s life. And also possibly be involved as well. Why is his relationship with this girl separate from the relationship with the LW? This is the inappropriate part of the whole deal. Either you are partners, or you are not. I would have a long talk with him about this LW, perhaps even see a counselor together & hash out the points that Wendy brought up. Be more involved with him & this girl, if this is that important to him, & address your insecurities with him. Make sure to set some boundaries together as well, your relationship needs its own time & should come first. This could be a great chance for you to preview what kind of father he would be to his own children.

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  • becboo84

    becboo84 December 4, 2014, 9:32 am

    I don’t necessarily think this is as odd as Wendy does, especially if the daughter was very young when they dated. If she was, for example, a baby for the year they dated, and they were living together, he was probably acting as the father in her life. And, upon the break up, it’s possible that he continued that role (and perhaps neither he nor the mother had significant others at that time, so there was no one else to be bothered by it) and suddenly this little girl is six, has had this man in her life since she was a baby, and now his girlfriend wants to greatly diminish their relationship…

    I’m not saying the above scenario is necessarily the case, but I am saying a similar type of situation is feasible, and in that case, I would think the boyfriend simply had a genuine strong relationship with the little girl and was being a stand up guy by wanting to continue it. I would actually view him negatively if he was willing to cut back on it simply because his new girlfriend had a problem with it.

    A situation such as the above would also explain why the boyfriend and his family sometimes describe the girl as his daughter…

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh December 4, 2014, 9:33 am

    I’m probably coming at this from a perspective that isn’t all that common, but I think it depends on a lot of things as to whether or not it’s really weird. I wonder how old the daughter is. Like does little mean 4 or 10? My husband’s mom was not that great of a Mom, one of the people she dated was the woman that he and his one sister call Mom and his sister’s kids call Grandma today. She only dated his Mom for a short time but she felt really bad for the kids and their lack of support and stayed in contact while they were growing up. I realize this isn’t necessarily the norm or even what this little girl is going through, but I guess for me I would need more information.
    .
    At the end of the day though, you can’t make him change. You can tell him your perspective and ask for change. But, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to. So you’re going to probably have to decide if you’re willing to have a relationship with him if he won’t stop the relationship with the daughter.

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  • avatar

    milka December 4, 2014, 9:40 am

    Perhaps we don’t have enough information to say how weird that is, it really depends on how old the girl is, how was your boyfriend’s relationship with her while he was dating her mom and how it has evolved afterwards. You say they broke up way in the past, so that probably means he’s been the main father figure for this girl for a long time – in that case it might be he’s just having trouble understand that you are insecure about it, that you need to be sure this doesn’t mean he’s still attached to the mother, or that she still wants to date him. Maybe in his mind this is all super clear, but you have every right to be confused and insecure. You should talk openly to your boyfriend and address this issues – I wouldn’t ask him to change his relationship with the little girl, but to help you understand what that means, and address your concerns.

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  • avatar

    MissDre December 4, 2014, 9:41 am

    I don’t think it’s all that weird. I know a guy who is very close to his ex girlfriend’s son. I don’t think they were even all together that long, but the kid’s mother is a train wreck (drugs/jail/etc) and for whatever reason this guy loves that boy like his own and wants to provide stability for him. They’ve been broken up for YEARS but he still visits him and talks to him on the phone and helps pay for school supplies and everyone just refers to him as the boy’s step-dad.

    Now, he’s also been single this whole time so who knows how that affects any potential relationships. I can certainly understand being the girlfriend and feeling jealous and uncomfortable with the situation. I think Wendy is right that this needs to be talked about.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna December 4, 2014, 9:42 am

    I think staying in touch and seeing the ex’s daughter from time to time would be one thing, but saying that she’s HIS kid and his whole family affirming that? That’s the really odd part to me.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna December 4, 2014, 9:49 am

      That said, if he really is the de facto step dad and this is a stable situation (meaning that neither the ex nor him would ever suddenly end the kid’s relationship with him) then LW just needs to decide whether this is something she can accept. In the end it doesn’t matter if it’s unconventional or not.

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    • avatar

      Browning August 28, 2017, 4:44 am

      @Sas i so agree with your comment. Im in a simular same situation.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray December 4, 2014, 9:56 am

    I think it may be weird but may not be. We need more information. How long were your boyfriend and his ex together? How long ago exactly did it end? How old was the girl then? I wouldn’t think it’s weird that post break up he wanted to continue seeing the kid but I would expect him to want to wind that down. Maybe for example cutting off contact with the kid was too hard so he continued to see her for a bit but slowly/eventually ending that too? I don’t know what the experts say is the best way to end things with a kid but I would expect cutting all contact unexpectedly and all of a sudden would be really hard for the kid. So I don’t know…. But I also think it’s really inappropriate for the kid to be so attached to a man who is not her father and has no relationship to her mother.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite December 4, 2014, 10:00 am

    You don’t mention how old the daughter was when he came into her life and how old she is now. I think that if they were together when she was born or as an infant then I don’t think this is very weird at all.
    .
    I don’t find that family needs to end at blood relations or relationship boundaries. If the relationship is waaay past then he may have known this girl for years now. I think it would be absolutely cruel to try and redefine that at this point by based on a girlfriend’s perspective of something that isn’t “normal.”
    .
    You recognize that you’re jealous and seem to want to be dating someone without kids. I think my answer would be similar to someone with an adopted child, if you don’t want to be with someone with kids then don’t.

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  • Portia

    Portia December 4, 2014, 10:06 am

    Yeah, I don’t see this as being as uncomfortable and weird as Wendy does. It sounds like he’s been in the little girl’s life for a while (relationship ended “way in the past”), so it would surprise me if her mother was holding on to hope for rekindling a relationship. Maybe it’s the unrelated male adult/female child dynamic that could be seen as odd? But if he’s successfully been a positive influence in this girl’s life for a while, then it seems as though it’s working. The LW might want to think about whether this is a deal breaker for her because it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change and her trying to convince him that it’s inappropriate either isn’t going to work or will have negative consequences (I could see him being resentful of the LW forcing this relationship to end).

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    • avatar

      SasLinna December 4, 2014, 10:13 am

      Yeah. It’s tempting to think about this situation through the “is it weird or not?” lens, but in the end it’s just a question about deal breakers. There might be good reasons for him to continue with the stepfather role, there are also good reasons for the LW not to like it.

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      • Portia

        Portia December 4, 2014, 10:32 am

        I agree. And to the LW’s credit, she doesn’t call it a weird dynamic or that she wants it to end, just that she’s uncomfortable with it, which is a perfectly fine reaction. The “weird it not weird” frame of mind doesn’t really do much more than put a stamp on someone’s reasons to MOA.

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      • Portia

        Portia December 4, 2014, 10:49 am

        *weird or not weird

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ December 4, 2014, 10:19 am

    Add me to the list who don’t think this is that weird. I guess it could be if the mother were luring the BF over on the premise that the kid needs something and greeting him in lingerie or whatever. But that doesn’t sound like is what is happening. It sounds like the girl’s father and/or his family were not involved in her life while the BF and the mother were dating and he and his family fell into the parental and grandparental roles and saw no reason for that to change after the BF and the mother broke up. I think the fact that he is apparently willing to quasi-co-parent with an ex for a child that isn’t even his because he feels responsible for being a presence in this little girl’s life makes him more of a stand up guy than a weirdo, barring some info we don’t have.
    .
    At any rate, since the girl is part of the BF and his family’s lives, related or not, I think the LW probably needs to either accept it and make a place on her life for this little girl, too, since she’s so important to the “love of [her] life”, or move on. But being jealous of a child is ridiculous. And trying to force her BF into dropping a child that is attached to him and that he is attached to just because the relationship isn’t “traditional” is selfish and cruel. Being a father figure to this little girl is part of who your BF is, LW. Take it or leave it.

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    • avatar

      lonemirage14 December 4, 2014, 10:45 am

      You described exactly what I was picking up on – she sounds almost jealous of the child herself and less about the mother.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy December 4, 2014, 10:34 am

    From the LW:

    “The little girl is now 3 and he was together with his ex when she was like 4 months old.
    They broke up almost 2 years ago.. And we’ve been together for a year.”

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh December 4, 2014, 10:39 am

      So as much as we can all hem and haw about the oddness or not of the situation, the bf has to want to change. If talking to him about it doesn’t make him change you’re going to have to decide if you’re willing to stay with him if he doesn’t want to stop the relationship with the little girl.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna December 4, 2014, 10:48 am

      Now I need to know everyone’s ages.

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    • gigi

      gigi December 4, 2014, 11:16 am

      Yep – definitely not weird. LW you are getting some good advice here. Decide if this is a deal-breaker for you & either enjoy your “bonus child” or MOA.

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    • something random

      something random December 4, 2014, 11:21 am

      I don’t know if we should jump to the conclusion that the boyfriend is a predator because he fell in love with this baby and continues to care about this little girl. If there isn’t a father in her life then I think some strong relationships with a grandfather and mom’s old friend and some other male figures might be healthy for her. Especially ones that care enough to bring her into their whole family.

      I think the letter writer should encourage her boyfriend to shift from a father figure to an uncle figure. That doesn’t mean the level of love or involvement has to go down. This would make room for potential love interests to take on the role on aunt and stepfather, respectively.

      If the boyfriend really does see himself as the father, then he and the birth mother should formalize an adoption and he should pay child support. Otherwise the girl might end up confused.

      I’m not sure it’s appropriate for this girlfriend to start managing all of this, though. They should be working on solutions that honor and support each other and not using jealously as a motivator when talking about this.

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      • avatar

        Browning August 28, 2017, 4:58 am

        Well said. You’re right. What happens whe nthe ex gets a new bf, it becomes total confusion to the child. Besides where is the biological father. Plus these step dads who dont want to let go are they also paying maintenance as i believe if you want to play daddy you also need to be the financial support, otherwise be a role model and be an uncle.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray December 4, 2014, 12:20 pm

      Oh man so he was with her from 4 months to 16 months? (about a year?) so this baby thinks of him as Dad? So is the plan for him to just keep it up? Because it’s only going to get harder for them (boyfriend and ex’s daughter) to separate when ex/new beau decide to start their own family…. they need to be winding that relationship down. Why are people so irresponsible with kids’ feelings?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 4, 2014, 1:36 pm

        Exactly!! At 16-months-old, the child would have missed the guy for a few weeks and then would have forgotten him. And eventually, the mother would probably have a new boyfriend and potentially a husband who could step in and be this child’s father figure. That could still happen, but now the LW’s boyfriend has been in this picture all this time, without being related to the child or involved with the mother, and I imagine it will be hard and confusing for the little girl when boundaries are finally set. And they will be set. If not now, then at some point when this relationship becomes inconvenient for the LW’s boyfriend or the girl’s mother or both. I know I’m cynical and maybe everyone involved is super evolved and mature and nothing bad will ever happen, but it just seems too big a risk to take with a young child.

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  • avatar

    lonemirage14 December 4, 2014, 10:43 am

    I think its pretty amazing that the LW’s boyfriend is stepping up to take on such a huge role in this little girl’s life – reading between the lines it sounds like her biological father is probably not very involved, if at all. I don’t think it’s fair at all to fault him for doing what many people wouldn’t do.

    That being said, I do think, LW, that he needs to make you more comfortable with the situation and make it clear that he is interested in the child’s well-being and not so much about his ex. On the flip side, its very possible the ex is using her daughter to try to get your boyfriend back, and I think that is a fair fear to have, but you need to trust your boyfriend. I think if you are getting a sense that he is playing such a large role in the girl’s life to get back with his ex, I’d also assume you have trust issues with him on other topics.

    But if his intentions are true and he wants to be the father figure to this little girl who was young enough when he was with her mother to see him as an important figure in her life, then frankly it is a bit cruel of you to dismiss the situation so quickly. Talk to your boyfriend, explain why you feel the way you feel, and if you can’t accept that this child is in his life likely for the foreseeable future, then I don’t see the relationship lasting between the two of you. He clearly seems bonded with the kid, as does his family.

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  • BriarRose

    BriarRose December 4, 2014, 10:45 am

    I’m in the middle here–my daughter was 9 (is now 10) when my boyfriend and I started dating. Her dad is in the military and is frequently gone, and my boyfriend has been quite a father figure to her. I imagine if we were to break up, that they would probably continue to contact each other occasionally (maybe “text” on her iPod). I also imagine it would kind of fizzle out as time went by. So I don’t think it’s super weird to still have contact with the child of an ex-girlfriend, but given her age, this little girl can and would do just fine without this man in her life. As awful as it sounds, she likely wouldn’t even remember him in a year. So while he thinks he’s doing it for the child, I imagine it’s for himself. He probably enjoys having a “child” and has grown close to her–all understandable. But it’s getting in the way of his relationship with the LW, and he clearly doesn’t see that and/or doesn’t care. It’s up to the LW if she can live with it. I probably wouldn’t want to.

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    • avatar

      lonemirage14 December 4, 2014, 10:49 am

      I am going to disagree on your statement that the girl would forget about this guy in a year. It seems that him and his family are very involved in her life, and she is old enough (3 years old) to form very clear memories and lasting impressions from those around her. Some of my strongest memories of that age were my own parents breaking up and my stepdad coming into the picture. Children are so impressionable, and they absorb so many things they see and feel around them, that if the LW’s boyfriend and this little girl have a true bond, I would hate to think how that would make her feel if the boyfriend gave up on her or felt that he had to break off the relationship, both at the time it happens and in the future. Don’t discredit a child’s memory and their ability to understand things that may seem beyond their capability to interpret.

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      • BriarRose

        BriarRose December 4, 2014, 11:49 am

        I certainly didn’t mean to sound blase or imply that I would want the man to be intentionally cruel to the little girl. Just that at that young age, children tend to live in the moment of who is “there” with them. I was still married to my ex when my daughter was 3, and he went away to 6 months of military training. She didn’t forget him, since we made an effort (through Skype and calls) to keep them connected, but she managed just fine without him. She missed him occasionally but was not destroyed and honestly, after about 2 months, stopped asking when he was coming home. I think that if the man did decide he needed to slowly leave this child’s life, it would be better to do it at this age than say 6 when he had been around for so long and the girl would be much likelier to remember him.
        .
        I’m also super impressed by your memory–I have zero memories before about age 5!

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      • avatar

        lonemirage14 December 4, 2014, 12:01 pm

        You have a point there with him breaking off the relationship at an earlier age. Kind of my overall thought is that for most kids, someone who plays an important role in their life and then isn’t around anymore will still leave an impression and perhaps a negative one, depending on how breaking off the relationship goes. I often wonder if I would see things differently or if I would approach my own relationships differently if my parents never split up or if they had done it when I was a baby, and therefore I wouldn’t have certain memories. My stepdad has had a huge influence on my life, and again, it makes me wonder how different I would be and where I would be in life without him, or if my mom met him later, earlier, etc.

        Just a quick example to make what is a very long story short, I had an aunt – who is now divorced from my paternal uncle – who treated me terribly because she was against my parents not getting married. The last time she watched me without another adult family member present was when I was about 6, but I have memories of feeling hurt and anger towards her from the few years prior. The way she treated me left such an impact that I actively avoided her when she was still married to my uncle, and seeing her a few years back for the first time in about 15 years at my cousin’s bridal shower literally gave me a panic attack. I’m not saying that this girl or your daughter will experience such feelings from losing male figures in their lives, but young children can really internalize hurt emotions for a long time and it can effect them later in life.

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    • avatar

      ktfran December 4, 2014, 11:02 am

      I think the LW should figure out why she’s so uncomfortable. Does she think they’ll get back together? Does she want someone that will only love her and their future, hypothetical family? Maybe if she has a rational discussion about her feelings, they can come to some sort of compromise together.

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  • avatar

    ktfran December 4, 2014, 10:56 am

    Put me in the not weird camp. I thought that before knowing the age, but especially now that I do. This man is probably the only male father figure she knows and I truly believe you don’t need to be related by blood to have a bond with someone. I think he’s doing the stand up thing.
    .
    So, the question is, can the LW be ok with this? If not, she should probably MOA. I mean, maybe his role in this child’s life will dissipate over time, maybe not. To me, this is not a red flag, but I can see how it might be for some people. But, LW, I would not try to change him to the point where he resents you. That’s not a life I would want to start with someone.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna December 4, 2014, 11:08 am

      I understand why people think it’s a standup thing to do for him (especially because so many children lack father figures) and maybe I’m overly cynical today, but IMO there’s just as much of a chance that this is a hugely dysfunctional situation that was entered into without much thought. (I’m awaiting confirmation that they’re all in their early 20ies). Just because a man is involved in a child’s life doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Staying involved is great if everyone is on the same page and if they have some sort of stable arrangement. But if it’s just like they kept this going after they broke up and he somehow claimed the title of ‘daddy’ along the way? Not impressive per se and maybe just indicative of a lack of boundaries.

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      • gigi

        gigi December 4, 2014, 11:19 am

        Because a guy in his 20’s cant be a good & loving influence on a child regardless of blood relationship? Ouch! Ever hear of the Big Brother/Big Sister program? I don’t think we have enough info that even hints that this is a dysfuntional situation. You can’t base that off an age……

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      • avatar

        SasLinna December 4, 2014, 11:30 am

        No, I can’t base it on age (but I would love to know their ages anyway just for general context). I guess what alerts me is that all of this happened in a relatively short time frame – LW’s boyfriend and his ex were together for less than a year and now only two years have passed. There doesn’t appear to be a formal agreement regarding his role in the child’s life, yet he’s considered her stepdad (if he weren’t I would have no objection). He hasn’t really discussed his role with his girlfriend (the LW) either. I just think there’s sometimes a tendency to believe that any male involvement is good for a child who doesn’t grow up with her bio dad. That’s not the case – there are so many instances in which it’s better for a child to NOT have someone in their life, at least not as a quasi dad. Basically anytime that it’s not an explicit and stable arrangement.

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      • avatar

        ktfran December 4, 2014, 11:31 am

        But who really cares if this all is happening haphazardly as long as the child is happy and healthy and loved? I don’t think family needs to be defined the traditional way. I also don’t believe in labels/defined roles how a majority of people thinks of them.

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      • something random

        something random December 4, 2014, 11:36 am

        The problem with haphazardly is that there are no expectations nor boundaries in place. These are necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy in the long run. I don’t see a reason the boyfriend can’t put these in place, though.

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      • something random

        something random December 4, 2014, 11:43 am

        My biggest worry is that a girlfriend (like the lw) comes along or another boyfriend comes along that want their own family. So people get pruned out and little girl deals with abandonment.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 4, 2014, 12:12 pm

        Exactly.

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      • gigi

        gigi December 4, 2014, 11:37 am

        Yes this! I think 3 years is a pretty stable arrangement. Even a marriage can turn into an unstable situation if it ends Sas. I don’t think you should rip a guy out of this child’s life based on some hypothetical “what might happen in the future”. I think he is probably adding love to this child’s life & an extended family that loves her as well. Win-Win for everyone. Except apparently the LW. The 2 of them need to sort this out between the 2 of them pronto.

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        SasLinna December 4, 2014, 11:44 am

        Oh, I don’t have any objection to nontraditional arrangements at all. What I find important is whether they are talking about how things are supposed to work (specifically the boyfriend and his ex) and if they have some ideas on how they’d react if the situation changes in any way (like with new partners and kids entering the picture). Basically I’m bringing up a more negative scenario that might also be happening because the LW, who knows this situation better, might be able to assess if some of her unease comes from a lack boundaries going on. I’m not saying it IS happening, just that the casual use of ‘his kid’ is throwing up some yellow flags for me.

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      • gigi

        gigi December 4, 2014, 11:52 am

        I agree they need to set boundaries & communicate. And if they were able to formalize something with the Ex that would be even better. It just sounded to me like the LW has known about this for a year & is just now starting to get jealous & questioning that relationship. I think the issue is with the LW feeling insecure, the grownups need to handle that between themselves.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna December 4, 2014, 12:06 pm

        Maybe I’m also partially thrown off by how LW describes this situation. I would love to have a more detailed description, because the way she wrote her letter it sounds like there’s a discrepancy between the boyfriend’s ‘title’ (being the girl’s dad) and what is really happening (staying in touch and seeing the girl, but no real parental duties). It seems like LW is feeling some sort of mismatch but she doesn’t explain it any further. It definitely sounds like she always knew about this though – maybe she wants to get more serious with him and no starts to see it as a problem?

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      • Lyra

        Lyra December 4, 2014, 1:27 pm

        Agreed. What happens if/when the mom gets married? Would this girl still come over to visit LW’s boyfriend’s family and call him “dad”?

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    • Miss MJ

      Miss MJ December 4, 2014, 11:16 am

      Yeah, for all intents and purposes, this guy probably does consider himself the child’s father, since he’s been involved in her life nearly since birth and he appears to be the only father figure she’s got. I’d approach this as I would any situation where the current BF had a kid with an ex because for now that’s what it is, although it may change in the future. And, I mean, the LW knew about her BF’s relationship with this girl over a year ago when she started this relationship. So, like we always say, if you don’t want someone else’s kid in your life, then don’t date someone with kids. Or quasi-kids.

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  • avatar

    joanna December 4, 2014, 11:08 am

    I think if you push this too much, he might drop the relationship with you and not the one with the little girl.

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    • something random

      something random December 4, 2014, 11:29 am

      I’m pasting this from my comment above

      I think the letter writer should encourage her boyfriend to shift from a father figure to an uncle figure. That doesn’t mean the level of love or involvement has to go down. This would make room for potential love interests to take on the role on aunt and stepfather, respectively.
      If the boyfriend really does see himself as the father, then he and the birth mother should formalize an adoption and he should pay child support. Otherwise the girl might end up confused.

      I think the girlfriend just doesn’t want to take on the baggage of this little girl. Which makes sense because there isn’t a formal relationship and things could be yanked away at any time. If the grown ups sit down and talk things through this should make everyone more clear with what the appropriate level of involvement is. I feel for the girlfriend because even if the little girl was boyfriends daughter things would fuzzy as to what the letter writer’s level of involvement should be. The fact that she isn’t, makes it that much harder finding a comfortable level. Grown-ups communicate.

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  • avatar

    TheTruth December 4, 2014, 11:50 am

    Wow Wendy. This is the worst, most shallow, sexist advice you have ever given.

    At first I thought you were being sarcastic, but I re-read twice and your just being dumb.

    My thoughts. The boyfriend sounds like exactly the sort of man a woman should want to find. Stand up, caring, loyal.

    To the LW… my advice. Start getting involved with this child that means so much to your boyfriend and show him how secure, understanding, and kind you are.

    If the above doesn’t describe you, then keep nagging him until he breaks up with you and finds someone he deserves.

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    • something random

      something random December 4, 2014, 11:55 am

      This advice is not shallow nor sexist. The relationship isn’t clear and calling it inappropriate is accurate until it is clarified. This comment is one of the rudest most negative comments I’ve read in long time. This letter’s illicit strong feelings but Wendy is one of the most thoughtful and considerate advice-givers out there. There are ways to disagree without insulting out host. I wish there were still thumbs downs.

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      • something random

        something random December 4, 2014, 11:56 am

        correction (This letter has illicited) (our host)

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    • avatar

      csp December 4, 2014, 2:02 pm

      woah, that is super harsh and uncalled for.

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    • avatar

      Anna June 10, 2017, 4:45 pm

      Unfortunately, he’s stand up, caring and loyal playing the Daddy role for another woman with a child who is not his.

      I’m seeing more of someone who lacks boundaries and the ability to make difficult decisions that are the best for everyone’s future.

      It is a shame the single mom of the baby allows it. She’s going to mess up the baby girl and make it hard for another man to come along and fill that Father role..and when he does..I doubt he’d be thrilled to know her short-term boyfriend is still in the picture!

      This isn’t normal either way you cut it, people. Playing a role you’re not does not necessarily make you a superhero. I find most men are guilted or feel bad. Same reason why most men don’t leave unhappy relationships.

      To expect ANY serious future spouse of his to roll over and accept this is highly unacceptable and inconsiderate to their feelings. You cannot be in CREATE mode with a new spouse when you’re over there creating with an ex and fulfilling other stuff that was never your obligation and never meant to be.

      She has the right to bring it up. If he doesn’t want to let it go and acts resentful then SHAME on him. He just put a kid he barely knows ahead of a wife/future wife and GOOD LUCK to him finding any sane woman of value who’s going to be OK with this. They seriously weren’t in each other’s lives that long at all, the child is so little this would be an easy break and he’s not taking it. FINE…but do not expect any SANE, valuable new woman to come in and be sidelined for this mess you and that ex are creating.

      I am GLAD Wendy actually gave some real advice because too many people are afraid to say it. Thanks, Wendy!

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  • avatar

    rickipedia December 4, 2014, 11:59 am

    I’m in the not weird camp. My sister’s husband dated his ex-gf who had an infant daughter that wasn’t his. They were together for a year, but he got fully committed to the little girl, and is the only “father” she’s ever known. The mother is not the most stable influence, there have been numerous other men in her life, but my sister’s husband is the constant- he’s “DAD” to the little girl. She’s going on 13 now. My sister wasn’t incredibly comfortable with the situation when he first told her about it, but he made it very clear that the little girl was important to him- his whole family had accepted her as his, she was not going anywhere. My sister got over it, and developed a great step-parenting role with the girl. When my sister and her husband had their child, the little girl was so excited to have a little sister, and now, my niece is 4, and the little girl is her “sissy”. They are, together, a family unit, despite his not being the biological father of the girl.

    Your boyfriend made the decision to be a constant in his ex-gf’s child’s life. He decided to take on that responsibility before you, LW, came along- you don’t get to ask him to stop. You get to decide whether this is a situation you can handle or not. And if you do choose to stay, don’t be insecure about the child’s mother being in your boyfriend’s life- that is not what this is about. If it was, he would have stayed with her, and you wouldn’t be in the picture.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle December 4, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Eh I think the lw should either get over it or get over the relationship, but as for the weird/not weird debatr, I do think this is kind of weird. I mean, the woman’s daughter was a literal baby when lw’s bf came into the picture. I don’t underatand 1.) Why the mother allowed a stranger she dated for leas than a year to spend so much time around her baby, or 2.) Why a stranger would bond with a baby to the point of wanting to be in her life post break up. I mean, the latter confusion is possibly because I’m not a baby person? But yea, I don’t know. I also find the automatic “more adults, more love, awrsome guy, filling a father role” commenter reaction pretty weird. It’s not always, AUTOMATICALLY awesome gor a child to have extra adults in her lifr, especially if the situation among the adults goes sour later . definitely more details would be helpful…

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  • mylaray

    mylaray December 4, 2014, 1:39 pm

    So this situation may or may not be weird (I’m kind of siding on not weird), but ultimately the LW needs to decide if she can handle this. I’ve been in a slightly similar situation. My husband’s best friend had a daughter with his now ex. They were in their early 20s at the time, a lot of drama happened, and the mother lost custody. So our friend was a single father and he did eventually have a longterm girlfriend he is still with, but I’ve been the close female figure in her life since she was born. We call her my niece and I get regular one on one time with her despite her having a stepmother figure. It’s different because there was no romantic relationship there, but all of us have communicated and decided it was best for me to still keep that closeknit relationship with his daughter. Communication, boundaries, and expectations need to happen. And ultimately I wouldn’t blame you LW if you didn’t want to continue this relationship.

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  • Bucky

    waterbug December 4, 2014, 10:15 pm

    Kinda weird that he is “dad” and I think switching over to an uncle role would be more appropriate. Maybe just suggesting she call him by his first name at least. Having a stable male role model is good for girls though and to me it is kinda cool he has taken that on. You didn’t mention mom’s boyfriend/husband so he may be one of the only male role models in the little girl’s life. And I mean, mom sounds a bit off to have a stranger get so close to her infant. The child will probably have many men come into her life though mom and having one (or two, maybe down the road) that stick around and give a shit could send a good message to her.

    Kids need people who care about them and adults they can trust. It would be one thing if you thought he was being “inappropriate” or wanting to stay close to her mom to get back with her but that isn’t the way it sounded to me. Would I want to be in this situation? Probably not. But it doesn’t sound super weird to me. It is okay to walk away from this relationship if it isn’t what you are wanting.

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  • avatar

    Jaq_Attack December 9, 2014, 8:08 am

    My mom was a single parent for a long time, the only boyfriend I ever met was the man she ended up getting married to. She didn’t want to put me in a situation where I would get attached to someone and then if the relationship didn’t pan out, have to deal with the break up.
    I feel that in LW’s case, her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend should have made a clear boundary when they broke up. I think it’s great that the boyfriend is close to this little girl, it only makes things more complicated. Does he pay for things or simply spend time with her? If LW and boyfriend get more serious and they have a child, does the little girl become part of this bizarre blended family or is that when he decides to stop seeing her? I think he and the mother are creating a complicated situation “for the sake” of the little girl.

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  • avatar

    Summer March 5, 2017, 8:56 am

    Too many people in our society have bought into this notion that the other woman or man entering these situations with ex’s and children should just suck it up and accept it. And if they don’t, “they” are the selfish, maladjusted ones. I completely disagree with this. I think it absolutely dismisses the feelings of the person like LW who is being asked to accept this situation. A person who enters a relationship with someone who is still involved with their EX’s kids who are not theirs, is frankly being asked to sideline their own emotions, wants, needs and ultimately their vision and dream for their life. As if someone else’s child preempts “their” life as more important.

    I think too many in society have bought into this idea that if someone is dating a person who has an ex with kids, that the “right thing to do” is for them to “embrace” the idea of being a parent figure to a child that is not only not theirs but is not even their boyfriend’s. I think THAT is incredibly unrealistic and self centered on the part of all other parties EXCEPT the person who is entering this unusual situation.

    Right after the 60’s, divorce skyrocketed and the term “blended families” was put out there. Interestingly though, the divorce rate for “blended families” is extremely high. There’s a reason for that. It’s what so many are ignoring. It’s that you are asking people to accept things that are incredibly hard. And having a hard time doing that does not make one “less” of a grown up. That’s absurd. It means most people would never in a million years sign up for constantly having to be reminded of the love of their life’s former relationships, lovers, memories, etc. The only reason anyone would ever enter into that kind of insanity is because there are children involved. Usually it’s because one person in the couple is the biological or the adoptive parent. But when neither in the couple is the bio or adoptive parent, then why would most ever consider sticking around for that?

    The only way I could possibly see that working with someone who wants to maintain a relationship with their ex’s kids, is if the relationship is clearly and I mean CLEARLY redefined to all parties. That this person perhaps remains in touch with the kid but holidays, vacations, etc should be spent with the actual bio parents and THEIR families.

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    • avatar

      I Get It March 12, 2017, 3:35 pm

      Thank you, thank you!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 13, 2017, 8:44 am

      Each person gets to determine who their family is and it can include former step-children. As the new girlfriend/boyfriend you don’t get to choose who they decide is their family. You do get to choose if you want them with their family. People can have messed up biological children that you would want nothing to do with. They can have a strong relationship with the other parent of that biological child. You need to know and decide whether the relationship works for you as is and you can walk away if it doesn’t.

      I personally think a person who doesn’t abandon children, just because they aren’t biological, is a great person. In many respects it is a version of an informal adoption. The love is there and the desire to be a family even if no one has made it a legal arrangement.

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      • avatar

        Anna June 10, 2017, 4:47 pm

        And as the new spouse/wife/husband, they don’t get to expect you to accept it, nor are you anything less of a good person for not wanting to accept it. It’s not normal to want to raise your spouses ex girlfriend’s child from another man. Do you see how that even sounds? What a wreck.

        I could see if he raised her maybe 6+ years or so but this is ridiculous.

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  • avatar

    I Get It March 12, 2017, 2:03 pm

    I was in a similar situation and had to remove myself. It was very difficult, but I can’t take added stress or drama; I have my own two kids to raise. The boy was a troubled teenager, and I would’ve had to accept that in the lives of my kids and my own, had I remained in the relationship with my boyfriend. Now my ex and this boy can carry on as father and son, which they are not. I think it’ll be difficult for any new girlfriend to accept this situation.

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  • avatar

    Ming March 19, 2017, 7:02 pm

    I am having the same situation with you. My boyfriend has a little girl from his ex girlfriend. The little girl is less than a year old now. My boyfriend actually only dated his ex for a short time. They were more like fuck bodies. He barely went to see the little girl but he doesn’t want to give the rights away. He told me that he felt guilty and not fair to the innocent girl so he wanted to keep in touch in case the little girl needs something in her life. His family is a Christian family but somehow they accepted the existence of his daughter. They even planed a trip to visit the little girl. It is so odd and uncomfortable to me. I talked to him but he doesn’t understand. He did told me that he had no connection with the kid and wanted to give the rights away. But after the baby was born, he couldn’t make his decision. So now I’m thinking about breaking up with him. We were almost engaged. However, my family has no tolerance on this thing and I also cannot get over this. I’d say, it is not your fault and you don’t have to take it if you cannot. Your relationship is build on the principles of both you and him/her. If you don’t feel happy about this and it will bother you a lot in this relationship, end it.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 20, 2017, 9:53 am

      Why would you resent your boyfriend not giving up his own child? He gives very little time to this child and yet you are jealous of that tiny bit he gives her. Children aren’t disposable and she deserves a dad.

      If a guy having a child is a dealbreaker for you that is fine. Not wanting to get involved with stepchildren is a choice. If that is your choice then don’t date guys with kids. Dating a guy with a child and wanting him to dump that child is incredibly selfish and heartlessly cruel to the child and you have to know at some level that the guy who will dump the child he had with another woman will dump the child he has with you. You should leave this guy, not because he won’t dump his daughter but because he is barely there as her dad. She is the one person in the world who should be able to depend on him and she can’t. You can’t expect to get better than she gets because he is the type of guy that you can’t depend on. What you are seeing with his daughter is what you can expect long term for yourself. Ugly isn’t it.

      Pretending that an out-of-wedlock child doesn’t exist isn’t Christian. It is that kind of thing that turns people away from Christianity.

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