Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickies: “My Daughter’s Father Wants Me Back”

My daughter’s dad, “Rick,” and I haven’t been together in almost thirty years. Our daughter is now 28. Well, after all these years, Rick wants to get back together, saying he loves me and regrets leaving me, blah, blah, blah. I told him I didn’t want a relationship. I’ve been single for eight years by choice. He’s been married twice and had a girlfriend in between. He lives three and half hours away, not to mention he drinks every night. He tells me: “I know you love me, you just don’t know it.”We went out a few times together and I had a good time. But I just don’t know if I want to be with him. I’m a changed person; I’m not 17 anymore. He’s a great guy though. Months back, he bought me an engagement ring and asked me I wanted to see it. I said no! Well, a week or so later he sends a pic of it one night. I said: “I told you I didn’t want to see it. Why did you buy me a ring knowing how I felt?” He said: “I need you to melt.” I believe he cares about me. But he seems so needy. I don’t think I can drive back and forth every other weekend for the next ten years until he retires and sells his house.What is your take on this?? — Moved On

Your instinct is right that Rick is needy. He needs a woman in his life and it doesn’t really matter who it is. That he got you an engagement ring after a few dates, showed you a picture after you said you didn’t want to see it, and then told you he needs you “to melt” is creepy AF. It’s probably the same damn ring he’s shown a dozen women before you, just hoping someone will be as needy and desperate as he is and agree to buy whatever it is he’s trying to sell. You’re not buying though, are you? Surely, you see the red flags waving in the breeze.

Look, you’re single by choice. You must value your independence and your personal space and free time to do as you please. Rick does not value these things or he wouldn’t be so desperate to lock it down. He’s not going to respect your need for these things. He’s probably looking for something of a handmaid to take care of him. Please, MOA. You can do a lot better than this.

I just found our that my ex cheated on me before he broke up with me about two months ago. I begged and pleaded to try and work things out for several weeks. He said, no, no it is over, and he needed time to himself. I went through the grieving stages of the break-up. And then I found out about the cheating. His new girlfriend is quite younger. It’s only been two months and they are now living together and supposedly marrying. After finding this out I was completely shattered and disgusted. That’s when I just stopped caring and taking care of myself, as well as blocking him from my mind and life. He now is contacting me over ridiculous things, he drives past my house, and he is basically trying to see what I’m doing. My question to you is: Why is he still communicating? Shouldn’t he be moving on?Please help me understand why he won’t go away. — Shattered

 
Because you’re still giving him what he wants: your attention. Just because a man moves on to another woman doesn’t mean he stops wanting the attention and even love from another/other woman. He likes feeling/knowing/thinking that he still means something to you, still has a hold on you, can still affect you. It validates him and makes him feel important and like he matters. It’s patriarchal, really. His self worth is measured, in part at least, by the control he has over women. I don’t imagine he has much respect for them — for you, for his new girlfriend, for any woman. And it doesn’t sound like you have much respect for yourself if you’ve stopped caring about your own well-being because this man left your life.

Come on, you’re better than this. All women are better than this. Your value cannot and should not be measured by the attention a man gives you and the room he makes for you in his life and heart. Your value should be measured by: your contributions to society and to your community and family and circle of friends; your talents; the kindness in your heart; your knowledge (and especially the knowledge you’re willing to share with others and use for good); and your strength. This is the perfect opportunity to prove to yourself how valuable you really are. You may want to seek the help of a therapist to guide you to acknowledging and naming your value if you aren’t able to see it on your own.

Truly, you don’t need a man to validate you. You are valuable as you are, on your own, with or without a significant other in your life.

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

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

12 comments… add one
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom August 7, 2017, 10:50 am

    LW2 He doesn’t want you but he does want you to want him. He wants to think that he is so valuable/hot/desirable that you can’t get over him. You blocking him out of your life isn’t the way he thinks this should go. He can’t believe you aren’t out chasing after him. He’s driving by trying to figure it out. You can be sure he isn’t telling the new woman that he is driving past your house trying to see if you are with a new guy. He just can’t believe this. Here you are able to get along fine without him. Really unbelievable.

    Take care of yourself. It will make you feel better and him even worse. Keep blocking him. Show him that you don’t need him in your life. Show him that he is easy to forget, even if it isn’t true. He will probably try to get back together again, just to keep you on the hook. Don’t go for it. It will be about him but not about him valuing you or wanting a committed, trusting relationship with you. Sooner or later you will get over him and then you will feel relieved to see that you dodged a bullet here. It may not seem like it at the moment but between you and the other women, you are the lucky one. You are the one who is getting away. You are the one who has a chance at a normal life.

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    golfer.gal August 7, 2017, 11:41 am

    LW #2, the fact that he’s driving by your house and contacting you for no good reason is…not good. It tells you he isn’t a good or healthy person (which you already know), and quite frankly if it continues it crosses into stalker/intimidation territory. It’s time to go completely no contact. Block him on all social media and do not respond to a single message or call from him for any reason. There is good reason to believe this will stop him from trying once he figures out he truly won’t get a response, but in the event he escalates or threatens you it’s time to get others like the police involved. Read Gavin DeBecker’s book “The gift of Fear”, it will explain exactly why guys like this refuse to cut contact and how to handle it.

    It also sounds like you could use some support. Something tells me this guy was never a gem and probably didnt treat you very well, and letting his leaving affect you so badly that you’ve stopped taking care of yourself is really concerning. I agree with wendy that it’s time to talk to a counsellor. Take some time to be single and build up your confidence and self esteem, and to learn what a loving, healthy relationship looks like. You don’t have to settle for garbage.

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    dinoceros August 7, 2017, 12:20 pm

    LW1: You seem pretty set on not wanting him back, with good reason. I guess I’m wondering why you need external validation of that? There seems to be no reason at all why you would want to get back together with him.

    LW2: Usually when people write in and ask why someone is doing something, it’s because they are hoping the answer is “they want you back.” You begged him to stay (which, don’t ever beg for someone to be with you ever again in your life), and he didn’t want to. You find out that he was not even really into the relationship before that. Now that you have stopped begging, he’s hoping that showing up will make you show him attention again, like Wendy said.

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    Another Jen August 7, 2017, 12:40 pm

    LW 1: Know what your adult daughter can probably do without? Dating drama between her long-separated parents. I think your instinct is good…he goes from woman to woman because he can’t be alone. Tell him to skip to the next lady and leave you happily alone.

    aj

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      SpaceySteph August 7, 2017, 12:58 pm

      For serious. She’s too old to even harbor dreams of her long-estranged parents getting together again the way younger kids do in a romanticized way. Advice columns are full of stories of separated parents who can’t manage to amicably be in the same room together for things like weddings, baptisms, Thanksgiving dinner etc. The best gift you can give your daughter with regard to her father is maintaining a cordial, drama-free relationship with him so that you can both be there for her in those. Dating him is NOT how you do that.

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      K August 8, 2017, 10:17 am

      Totally! I’m 33 and my parents separated when I was 9, and divorced when I was 13. I’d be horrified if they got back together today, knowing how different they are and how they were never truly a good match.

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    Ron August 7, 2017, 12:47 pm

    Both LWs — these guys remind me a lot of Donald Trump, although at least the Donald doesn’t drink every night as LW #1’s guy does. All of these guys exhibit a life-sucking neediness which will drain you, not gives a damn what you think or need, and all of them are just hoping against hope that you are needier and more pathetic than they are.

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      SpaceySteph August 7, 2017, 12:54 pm

      Are you *sure* Don isn’t drinking every night? He basically drunk-texts the world every night via Twitter.

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        Miss MJ August 7, 2017, 1:43 pm

        Scarily enough, the man is reported to be a teetotaler. I think we might all better off if he did drink…

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        SpaceySteph August 7, 2017, 2:04 pm

        He’s also reported to be a business genius. I call FAKE NEWS! 😉

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    Brise August 7, 2017, 4:28 pm

    Beautiful answers by Wendy!

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    Leslie Joan August 10, 2017, 5:18 pm

    Moved on, apparently you haven really moved on or you wouldn’t be wasting your time with the ex after 30 years. You write a lot about how you’re different, how needy he is, and on and on – but you wouldn’t be asking the question that you’re asking if you weren’t actually taking him seriously. Who cares about when he retires or where he lives if you aren’t seriously considering remarrying the guy? Methinks the LW doth protest too much. You must be as needy as he is if you have let him get this much traction with you. Admit that you are flattered and intrigued by the attention. He’s saying all the right things that he knows will melt you. Why you are bothering to listen, only you can answer; I suggest counseling before you remarry him, which seems likely.

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