Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He Made Me Sleep on a Yoga Mat For Four Days!”

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My partner, “Bob,” and I are in our mid- to late- 50s, and, although we’re compatible in many ways and enjoy each other’s company, there is one significant barrier to our relationship: his attachment to his older sister, “Nina.” She and Bob have been each other’s closest companion and source of support over the past several years. Although Bob and I have shared an intimate relationship for over a year and a half now, he still believes his sister’s wishes should always come first in his life.

We recently spent several days visiting with family over the holidays, and we were invited to stay at Nina’s home. When we arrived, I learned we were assigned to sleep in a very small space in a room overloaded with items hoarded throughout the years. There was an old twin bed for one of us to sleep on, and beside the bed on the floor was an exercise mat, 1-inch thick. Both Bob and I have chronic health issues, and I asked if we could stay at a hotel for the four nights, even offering to pay. Bob refused out of concern for Nina’s feelings, so I spent three nights on the floor, with resulting pain and stiffness. By the fourth night, I had had enough and reserved a room at a nearby hotel. Bob refused to join me, and he was furious that I hurt Nina’s feelings and made him feel uncomfortable in front of his family.

Bob and I have barely spoken since returning from this trip, and he and Nina are occupied with the purchase of their shared vacation home. Nina is excited to plan their future vacations together and is looking forward to the time when they can use the house as their summer retirement space.

Bob says I’m reading too much into things and am making a big deal of nothing because of my jealousy. I think that it’s time to adjust my expectations and accept the fact that Bob may be a pleasant date but not a life partner.

What do you think? — The Unwelcome Guest

I’m thinking he can’t be too much of a pleasant date either if he makes his 50-something-year-old girlfriend with chronic health issues sleep on the floor because he’s too chicken shit to offend his sister who has no qualms offending her brother’s girlfriend by offering a dump of a room with not enough bed to sleep in. Ditch the guy and consider this a bullet dodged; I suspect you’ve only scratched the surface of the kinds of issues Bob’s relationship with Nina could present if you stayed in the picture.

My boyfriend of six years and I broke up about six weeks ago. About a month ago, he started dating someone and has been “official” with her for three weeks. They are already planning on moving in together. I realize this is probably just a rebound, but we have two children together, a 5-year-old and a 7-month-old. The 7-month-old was planned. First, is there any hope for our relationship? It ended rather abruptly, over arguments about finances and personal time (his going out often and my not getting a chance to go out by myself at all, his not helping with housework, etc.). Second, even if we were not to work out, is there a way to convince him to not bring the girls around her so soon? Moving in is a big step, and, only knowing her for only a month, he doesn’t, I don’t think, know her well enough to know her agenda. — Worried For My Kids

 
Forget for now about whether there’s any hope for your relationship and focus instead on your kids’ welfare and well-being. What their father is doing is beyond irresponsible and is, frankly, reprehensible. You need to speak to a family attorney immediately about custody rights, child support, and what legal steps you can take to protect your children from their father’s incredibly poor decision-making. If he’s moving in with a woman he hardly knows, just weeks after breaking up with the mother of his two young children, who knows what else he’ll subject them to. He clearly does not have their interest at heart, so you need make their well-being priority number one. Supervised visitation may be in the cards; it’s certainly worth discussing with a family attorney. And if, down the line, he has earned your trust as a good father, ONLY then should you even entertain the thought of reconciling with him romantically. And if you do, don’t get back together without going to couples counseling together and working through the issues that broke you up in the first place.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

26 comments… add one
  • avatar

    laurahope January 5, 2016, 8:37 am

    LW1 Oh hell no. (And by the way, you’re the other woman. He’s already “married”)

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  • avatar

    keyblade January 5, 2016, 8:38 am

    LW1: Bob is selfish. I can’t believe he took the twin bed! Good for you for having enough self-respect to make reasonable accommodations for yourself. The fact that Bob is angry because you taking care of yourself and being able to sleep pain-free made poor widdle him feel a widdle embarrassed? Selfish.

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    • avatar

      K January 5, 2016, 10:19 am

      I also can’t believe he took the twin bed. If he wanted a bed so badly, then he should’ve happily gone along with the LW’s wishes to stay in a hotel. How hard would it be for him to say to the sister “We’d love to stay with you, but there’s only a bed available for one of us. Due to LW’s health issues we are going to stay at a hotel. Thank you so much for the offer to stay with you.” As others said, definitely ditch him. He doesn’t truly care about your comfort, or you.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover January 5, 2016, 11:32 am

      Exactly. HE’S the one who wanted to stay at her house, so he’s the one who should have taken the more inconvenient option. Not make sure he’s all comfy and let you deal with sleeping on the floor. Jerk move.

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  • avatar

    keyblade January 5, 2016, 8:43 am

    LW2: If there is any way you can squeeze out the money, I suggest you try divorce counseling with your ex-boyfriend. I know you aren’t technically married but it would be good for you to be able to communicate about the transition your children are undergoing and establish new boundaries with each other. I think it is important to also seek some legal council. Unfortunately, I’m not sure you can limit visitation of a father very easily. For this reason I would try to avoid being contentious when discussing custody and support issues with your ex in person. Hopefully, you both can afford some mediation and good lawyers. Emotions are still clearly running very high for both of you right now. An objective mediator will help you both communicate effectively over parenting issues.

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  • avatar

    Taylor January 5, 2016, 10:25 am

    LW 2, that timeline seems awfully fast. I would suspect something was going on between BF and the new GF before you broke up.

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  • Lady_Red

    Lady_Red January 5, 2016, 11:30 am

    All I could think of with the first letter is how rude of the sister to not provide a decent place for her guests to sleep! I mean, at least get an airbed! LW, I’m surprised you lasted 3 nights there! Definitely doesn’t sound like a relationship worth having.

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    • avatar

      keyblade January 5, 2016, 11:42 am

      Not everyone can afford to set guests up with their own comfy bed and dedicated room. I don’t really blame the sister. I blame the boyfriend who was comfortable enough with the arrangement so he didn’t really care how his girlfriend felt. I’m shocked he didn’t offer to pay for a hotel himself given her chronic back pain and health issues.

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      • Lady_Red

        Lady_Red January 5, 2016, 4:02 pm

        I’m not saying that she needs to have a fancy guestroom. But a yoga mat for someone in their fifties just sounds rude to me. I mean, if it was a kid or someone in their early 20s, or maybe someone who camps alot, it could be OK. But you can buy an air mattress for like $20. And if they’re talking about buying a vacation home, it doesn’t sound like she’s hurting for money.

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    • othy

      othy January 5, 2016, 12:19 pm

      I think as long as you a) warn your guests about the (lack of) accommodations and b) don’t get offended if they turn you down, you’re fine in your role as hostess. The LW really does need to MOA from this ‘considerate’ guy.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 5, 2016, 12:35 pm

        Yeah, I don’t think you can blame the hostess here… she offered what she had and clearly her brother said “it’s fine” without checking with the LW. He should never have agreed to it, he should have told his sister that due to their health issues they’d get a hotel instead. Of course, he’s not the one who had to compromise, so I suppose it was fine for him. The fault is totally his.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph January 5, 2016, 1:22 pm

        I guess it depends a little bit how the conversation went. Did the sister represent it like a guest room and the boyfriend was equally shocked? Or did the boyfriend know exactly what this “guest room” was like and misrepresent it to the LW?

        Either way, dick move for him to take the bed. But I think some blame falls on the hostess if she’s playing it off like it’s a great guest room for couples when it isn’t. And more blame too if she actually would be offended by 2 grown-ass adults deciding to get a hotel rather than sleep on the floor in her clutter room.

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      • avatar

        keyblade January 5, 2016, 2:20 pm

        I think the issue can be touchy because people who offer to host generally want to be accommodating but have to make the best of their circumstances. We have friends who will always welcome us with a standing invitation regardless of space limitations. I also know if we go visit them, we will need to stay in a hotel to have a comfortable visit. It’s not necessarily about what they don’t have; it’s about what we need to sleep well. It’s possible the sister doesn’t have health problems and would have no problem camping out on a mat. She might only have one extra room and she needs it to store other things. If the boyfriend and his sister were really as close as the letter writer is making them out to be, I think it’s weird he wouldn’t have any idea about the lack of space. I agree nobody should feel offended by others choosing to meet their own sleeping needs as long as it’s done politely. It might make a person regret not having a comfortable enough space, but I don’t think that is the girlfriend’s burden to bare. I don’t even think it’s the boyfriend’s burden, even though he insisted on carrying the responsibility to the discomfort of his invited girlfriend.

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  • avatar

    Vathena January 5, 2016, 11:42 am

    LW2, I agree that he probably already had something going on with this woman. He was going out without you all the time? Abruptly broke up with you and is now making plans to move in with her? Either way, WWS, and definitely see an attorney to protect your children. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

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  • chief10

    chief10 January 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

    LW1: Sounds like Bob and his sister are making great strides for their happy life together. Let them have it, welcome to MOA-ville.

    LW2: Everything that Wendy said about the kids, and don’t even consider getting back together with this guy. Ever.

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  • othy

    othy January 5, 2016, 12:27 pm

    Every couple of years, Othello and I go on a road trip with his whole family to visit his grandma’s farm (in the middle of nowhere). Said farm is barely set up to accommodate a couple of guests. Due to the births of several nieces, our trip (which was once 6 of us) is now up to 11 or 12 guests who make the trek. The last visit, we stayed on an air mattress (that wouldn’t hold air for more than 3 hours) in the middle of a common area. Combined with the well-water not supporting bathing for 11 people, the house was just too damn full. Othello knows his grandmother will be hurt if we don’t stay in her house. However, we both value our comfort (and ability to shower daily) more than his grandma being slightly put out. We are planning on spending all waking hours visiting, but we both feel we’ll have a much more pleasant visit if we can get a good night’s sleep.

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  • Guy Friday

    Guy Friday January 5, 2016, 1:47 pm

    Woah, woah. Supervised visitation? That’s simply not going to happen unless you can prove that he has endangered the children, which moving in quickly with a random woman doesn’t qualify for in the slightest. You may not like the woman (and it’s obvious why), but if you bring this to court right now he’s probably going to get MORE visitation, not LESS, because the Court’s going to read into the filing that you’re doing it to be spiteful.

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  • bondbabe

    bondbabe January 5, 2016, 1:55 pm

    LW2 – Seek the counsel of a family attorney. You should be able to have a custody agreement provision whereby: no person of the opposite gender shall be an overnight guest, unless said person is a relative, when the minor children are under his/her overnight care and supervision. (That provision would also apply to you.)

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  • redessa

    redessa January 5, 2016, 2:08 pm

    LW 1 – Why were you on the floor for 3 nights? Did Bob even offer to let you take the bed?

    My husband and I both have back problems. Our pain/discomfort levels are fairly equivalent. If we were in that situation, and for whatever reason, we were actually going to stay there, he would insist that I take the bed. I would, of course, object and maybe we’d switch off or one of us would give the couch a try (if it wasn’t already being used by someone). But there’s no way he would be okay with me just sleeping on the floor several nights, letting my pain and stiffness levels keep going up. Since Bob was the one who wanted so badly to stay with his sister, he should have at least been willing to take the yoga mat.

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  • avatar

    Boosker January 5, 2016, 2:35 pm

    LW1–Why on earth were you the one on the floor, especially since he was the one refusing to get a hotel room? Not the kind of person you’d want to be with.

    LW2–As another commenter said, I doubt he knew her for a month. It sounds like this new lady friend might’ve been what was eating up a lot of his time which led to the divorce. Definitely look out for you and your kids, but understand that you probably can’t control the timeline of when your ex introduces the kids to his new girlfriend.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy January 5, 2016, 3:00 pm

    LW1- cut your losses and move on. And good for you for growing a set that last night and getting a hotel!!
    *
    LW2- oh, honey. Your story really does tug at my heart because I hate to see kids in the middle. Please tell me that you are capable of taking care of these kids and supporting them without assistance of this loser!! I know this will not be a popular opinion, but stories like yours really support the need for marriage before children are planned deliberately. A man who has not committed enough to marry you before he pops out a baby with you will not be a man who is committed enough to stay around and take care of said baby. Now, I will get off my soapbox and give real advice-get a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, go to family court and seek out your resources. Do not let this asshole con you out of filing for child support out of hope he will come back. In fact, if you’re lucky, he won’t! I hope you have family and friends that can get you through this rough time. And one other sad note, it is very unlikely that he is moving in with a woman that he just met- this has likely been going on under your nose for a while.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy January 5, 2016, 3:08 pm

    LW1: Your boyfriend is an inconsiderate jerk. He insisted on not getting a hotel and then he took the bed? Move on.

    LW2: Good riddance to bad rubbish. I agree with the others who have said that it’s very likely that this relationship with the other woman has been going on for much longer than a month. But consult a lawyer so that you can protect your kids from his lousy judgement, and get child support. It’s a crappy situation for you to be in, but you can do so much better.

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  • avatar

    Ron January 5, 2016, 4:37 pm

    No, your bf did not make you sleep on a mat on the floor. He wanted you to do that, he made a big emotional plea for you to do that. You didn’t have to do something you didn’t want to do, which wasn’t healthy for you to do, and which he could easily have done himself and given you the bed, if he thought it so vital to protect his sisters’s feelings by having one of you sleep on her floor. In the end you did what you should have done from the start and simply refused to continuing complying with his wishes.

    Time to MOA. The guy’s a jerk. If you decide not to take the MOA advice, at least look at this event as an indication that you had ceded all power in this relationship to your bf. That is not good. If you can’t negotiate an equal relationship with this guy, then that is just another reason to MOA.

    It sounds like you will always come second to his sister.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover January 5, 2016, 4:43 pm

      I think Wendy comes up with the titles, to make them pop. 🙂 The LW never said he made her do it in the letter.

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  • avatar

    Tanya January 6, 2016, 8:09 am

    I think the issue here isn’t hat the boyfriend is a jerk, it is that the LW can’t stick up for herself and can’t or isn’t willing to look out for herself. That is the issue that I would try to address first!

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy January 6, 2016, 3:57 pm

    From LW1:

    Thanks for your response, Wendy! Your comments were spot-on.
    Bob came to see me over the New Year holiday, and surprised me by doing an about-face. He apologized, said he realized he should have put my well-being first, and vowed to always make me and our relationship his priority going forward.
    Apparently, Bob’his brother and sister in-law called Bob and warned him that he would lose me if he didn’t step up as an adult partner.
    While the words are nice to hear, Bob must back them up with his behavior. There’s obviously a long history of unhealthy dependence between Bob and Nina , and I don’t think Bob has any idea what it would mean to make changes.
    So, while I told Bob I’d consider seeing him for a while, my expectations are a lot more realistic and my boundaries clearer. I’m only willing to be in a relationship made up of two committed adults, and I won’t allow anyone (including myself) to so blatantly disregard my basic needs.
    Thanks again and happy new year,
    the always welcome guest 🙂

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