“Can I Be With My Boyfriend When His Daughter Hates Me?”

Heart shaped rope on white

I have found myself in a situation that I thought I would never be in. I am a 45-year-old woman who has never married. For the past 4-½ years, I have had a boyfriend who is now 60. When we first got together, he was married. I did not want to pursue a relationship with a married man and told him so. But he persisted for over a year and basically told me that he was “one foot out of the marriage” because he had been unhappy for many years with his now ex-wife, that he had fallen “in love with me from the first time he saw me over 11 years earlier,” and that he had never really felt this way about anyone else before, etc. I was a bit blown away by the intensity of his feelings for me, so, in a weak moment and hurt from a previous relationship, I acquiesced.

While he was supposed to move out shortly after that, it actually took another 1-½ years. He and his wife own a small company and both work together. Plus, his ex-wife has used their daughter as a weapon against him in the past, so he was very cautious about how and when to move forward in the separation and divorce. It was incredibly taxing on me emotionally as I found myself exactly in the situation that I did not want to be in. But I was now emotionally attached.

When they separated, his wife was upset. However, this is not the first time divorce had come up as she had asked him for a divorce twice before (but I guess emotions cooled and it never happened). So, when he was the one pursuing one, she got incredibly agitated. She likes/needs to control things (including him), and this is one of the main reasons for his unhappiness with her.

Our affair was not his first and he had had another extra-marital affair a number of years earlier as he was trying to find the love he was not getting from his marriage. His ex-wife found out and this was one of the reasons she originally wanted a divorce. (The second time she asked for a divorce was about 18 months before he asked for one because they were just not getting along).

After the separation, his children were understanding. His then-21-year-old daughter was supposedly very supportive, and she even expressed calmly that she knew they had no marriage anymore after making work their priority for so many years. She had seen them drifting away years earlier.

They finally got divorced last November. However, his ex-wife and his children found out about our relationship while they were separated and figured out that it preceded, and was the reason for, the separation.

Instead of looking to the issues within the marriage that caused an affair to begin with, his ex has basically put all of the blame on me, saying that I chased her husband, forced myself onto him, tainted his mind, etc. For his first affair, she also blamed the other woman and his best friend for knowing about it! (But their marital issues – not so much).

As far as I am aware, he has never corrected the way she thinks by explaining it was actually the other way around. I am guessing that he wants to have as good relations as possible with his ex and children since they will continue to be part of his life/work and that telling her the truth might prevent this from happening. Yes, I am for sure partially to blame, but, to me, the real issues have to do with their former marriage because otherwise he would never have wanted to stray.

Despite my never having met his ex, she has poisoned her and my boyfriend’s children’s minds (24 and 34 years old) against me to the point that his 24-year-old daughter began cyber-bullying me on Facebook, basically calling me a whore and saying that I slept my way to get the professional status that I have, despite my having a number of master’s degrees, many other professional qualifications, and over 16 years of experience (I work in the same industry as her parents). I have worked so hard to get where I am.

The Facebook incidents really upset me, and I now find myself wondering if I even have a future with this man, though I love him very much. I am also incredibly sad because my boyfriend has not chosen to clarify the details of how we became involved and defend my honor. Neither has he apparently told his ex or daughter to stop saying these things about me, at least not yet. Plus, he has also deleted my “fun” posts on his Facebook page so as to not upset them, pretending that I am no longer an important part of his life.

Is it possible to carry on a relationship with a man whose adult children hate you? And is it right of him to not defend me to his family who are clearly out of line or to not put his foot down and embrace our relationship?

Thank you for your help — His Daughter Hates Me

You’re asking the wrong question. It should not be: “Is it possible to carry on a relationship with a man whose adult children hate you?” What you should be asking is: “Is it possible to carry on a relationship with a man who isn’t trustworthy, has poor communication and decision-making skills, doesn’t make me feel like I’m an important part of his life even after 4-1/2 years together, and has a history of treating the women in his life dishonorably?” And the answer to that, unfortunately, is: probably not.

Throughout your letter, you press the point that your boyfriend’s marriage was already essentially over before you began an affair with him and that the marriage officially ended not because of you but because of issues inside their marriage. That may be true, although I think your presence certainly played a part in your boyfriend pursuing an extra-marital affair rather than, say, counseling for his marital problems. BUT. BUT! What that means then is that you have a man on your hands who has a history of running to other women (you and at least one other “mistress” before you that you know of) instead of dealing with his relationship issues. Even when his wife was asking for a divorce — and the timing of the most recent request would suggest YOU were already in the picture when she asked for the divorce — he would rather continue with the status quo then open the theoretical can of worms an official filing for separation and divorce would lead to. This is not a man who has proven to be committed to relationships and making them work. Quite the opposite: He has proven to be a bit of a non-comitted, apathetic pushover.

And now you have one very angry ex-wife (and co-business owner of your boyfriend’s!) and one very hurt and angry adult daughter on your hands. And a boyfriend who is continuing to prove his total non-commitment and apathy. Is he defending your honor? No! Why would you expect him to when he was so dishonorable to a woman he was married to for so many years and had kids with? If he treats one woman dishonorably, there’s a very good chance he’ll treat subsequent women in his life dishonorably too. And now you are seeing that. Rather than stick up for you and defend you, he is allowing important people in his life to harass you and to believe that YOU were the cause for his marriage ending because he doesn’t have the backbone to stand up and say: “My marriage was over before she was even in the picture.” And he CAN’T even really say that truthfully because, if it was really, truly over, he would have agreed to his wife’s request for a divorce (18 months before he asked for one, which means she asked for a divorce right around the time he started his affair with you, was telling you he was in love with you, and had “never felt this way about anyone else before.”).

At best, the guy’s just really, really manipulative, always looking out for his own needs (his business interests, his financial interests, his relationship with his kids) at the risk of someone else’s feelings and interests — even someone he professes to be madly in love with. At worst, the guy’s a liar, telling you one thing and his ex-wife and family something else. For all you know, his family believes you chased him because he’s told them that’s what’s happened. And even if he HASN’T explicitly said that, then just letting them believe that’s the case is lying by omission. He’s a liar.

So… is it possible to carry on a relationship with a man who isn’t trustworthy, doesn’t make you feel like you’re an important part of his life even after 4-1/2 years together, and has a history of treating the women in his life dishonorably? I think you probably already know the answer to that one.


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


  1. What I don’t understand, is how can you love him so much? He treats you abhorrently by hiding you away from his children and now ex-wife and doesn’t value you or your relationship enough to justify your presence in his life. That’s pretty much a given in a relationship, you don’t allow others to speak badly or stalk your partner on Facebook!

    Really, you can meet someone who treats you so much better. What is even the point of this charade?

  2. Damn Wendy. Great response. LW, read it, absorb it, break up with him. I have nothing else to add.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      What ktfran said!

  3. Completely agree with Wendy. Like it or not, you got together with this man when he was still married. Not 100% your fault by any means, but having “one foot out the door” in a marriage is totally different than being divorced and having moved on. Quite honestly this man sounds like bad news from the get go. You’re not the only one he has cheated on his now ex wife with…are you sure you can trust him? His kids are blaming you because it’s convenient, despite the fact that HE is the one with so many issues.
    Move on. There are better men out there.

  4. BOOM. Wendy nailed it, as usual. Aim higher, LW. This is NOT a good relationship, nor a good man.

  5. Skyblossom says:

    I have never met anyone who liked their parent’s affair partner. Kids, including adult kids, universally despise their parent’s affair and the partner from the affair. He was not only cheating on his wife with you, he was cheating on the kids. By that I mean when he was lying about where he was and what he was doing he was lying to the wife and the kids. His wife may not have idolized him but the kids probably saw him as a much better person than he was and the affair with you destroyed the way that they saw their dad. The likelihood that his daughter will ever like you is almost zero. If it makes you feel better she will also never respect her dad again.

    1. I think it depends on the situation. My two cousins are ok with their dad’s new wife. He started seeing her before he and my aunt divorced. Of course, this was ages ago that it happened. One cousin was probably 12 or 13 and the other 17 or 18. They may not love her, but they have accepted her.

      On the other hand, my brother in law refuses to see his dad’s mistress, now fiance maybe. But this just happened a few years ago.

      So, I dunno. I wouldn’t say it could NEVER happen. Depends on the circumstances.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        Were they already separated when he started seeing her? I think a lot of it depends on how much the kids feel that they have been lied to and how much they feel dad skipped out on them to be with the other woman. If he is skipping their events and their family dinners and they find out he was lying about what he was doing to cheat then they feel cheated. If they feel that the parents were separated and it made no difference in their own life then they are accepting.

      2. Nope. He was having a affair while still married to my aunt, living at home, no separation, etc. etc.

      3. I kind of agree that kids will have a hard time accepting a parents affair partner. My sister’s BFF’s parents had 3 young teenage kids together, oldest was i think like 14) and he divorced her and left her for a women at work who was 25. The oldest daughter, the BFF’s sister hated the new wife for a really long time.. Now 10 years later, they are still married and have an 8 year old while 3 from the first marriage are all grown adults.

      4. Oh, I’m not saying at all that it isn’t hard. And that it could take years and years. Or for some people, they may choose not to accept a mister/mistress. I just had a problem with painting the situation so bleak as to make it sound like it could never happen. I think there is a lot of gray in the world and things aren’t always so black and white. Some people are more forgiving of others faults than others. And to back it up, I pointed to a story that did work out in the long run. Maybe not immediately, but everyone has an ok relationship now.

      5. I agree. My dad cheated on my mom with my now stepmom. She’s not my favorite, but she’s nice enough and I’ve accepted her. In my case, it happened when I was 8, I found out about it when I was 10 or 11 (so I’ve had a lot of time to get used to it), my parents didn’t get along anyway (so they would have divorced anyway), and I never saw my mom upset specifically about the cheating (I’m sure she was, but probably hid it from me). It’s not right, and like I said she’s not my favorite, but I agree that NEVER is a strong word.

        In this case though, given the ages and how recent everything was, I’d be surprised if they ever like the LW.

    2. Prince Charles and Camilla?

      1. Skyblossom says:

        I think you found one where the kids did actually accept her.

  6. So, this guy’s boyfriend inventory:
    1. Serial cheater
    2. Liar
    3. Emotional coward
    4. Old enough to know better

    LW, are you really that desperate for any male attention that you’ll put up with that?

  7. Surely you knew that this was a possibility when you decided to become a mistress? That the family would find out and hate you? Of course they would blame you – they ostensibly love their father. It’s a rare man that strays from a perfect marriage…so most affairs happen when there are marital issues – issues that go unaddressed since he is taking his attention away from the marriage and focusing it on some other woman. What you are clinging to isn’t the life raft you think it is. That the marriage was trouble isn’t the saving grace you want it to be for yourself. It is what happens in almost all marriages where someone strays. Does that mean a man with some remnants of integrity wouldn’t stand up to his former wife or children and tell them that the marriage was over before he mistakenly jumped into a relationship with you and that you are a woman he loves and respects and that he expects them to treat you with respect since the fault of ending the marriage didn’t rest with you? No – he could do that – if he wanted to. If you mattered enough. Sorry. You hitched your wagon to the wrong star. You have some culpability here too though. This was foreseeable. Next time find someone else who is single to be with, who will treat you with respect.

  8. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

    I also think it’s pretty telling that she says it was only when she was feeling “weak” that she started an affair with this man. I just don’t think any relationship begun in a moment of weakness is likely one that will succeed, particularly if 4 1/2 years in, the one who felt weak in the first place still isn’t coming from a place of strength and empowerment.

    1. I took that as a poor excuse to begin an affair. She knew it was wrong, but did it anyway. I am not saying she’s a bad person for it, but she should just own up to the fact that she knowingly entered an affair with a married man – weak moment aside.

  9. In my younger and stupider days, I had an emotional affair with a married man. I will tell you, I have realized over the years, EVERY serial cheater (specifically those cheating on a marriage – male or female) seems to have the exact same pattern. I’ve had friends who have confessed to the same mistake and your email holds true….the pattern is:
    – My marriage is over emotionally, we’re just saying together for the kids/business
    – It would kill him/her for me to file for divorce
    – I’ve never felt this way about anyone/you’re the love of my life
    – All of this is then followed by either “I can’t leave him/her YET, but be patient”.

    Its always the same pattern, but what they aren’t saying or able to see, is that most of the time they are insanely selfish, have a need for constant validation, have little concern if their partner’s needs are met, and are a huge part of why “the marriage is over”.

    “Bitter, party of one” I know, but I just haven’t seen a serial adulterer deviate from this pattern

  10. LW, doesn’t it bother you that you started seeing this man when he was still married? And not just married, but not even separated? I think it’s very telling also that this is a serial problem of his. How will you ever trust him? Imagine one day in the future. You’re going through a rough patch, and you’ve been fighting more than normal. He becomes withdrawn, and starts hanging out with his friends more than normal to get some space. How will you actually trust that he’s with friends, and not with another woman? I can’t imagine that that possibility will never cross your mind. And in fact I can bet it will cross your mind more than normal, and that’s not healthy in a relationship.

    You need a relationship with someone you can trust completely, without all this baggage, who makes you his #1 priority (or just behind kids if there are kids), and will support you completely. You need a relationship that did not start with such turmoil; it isn’t a good foundation for the future.

    MOA. Take some time to be alone. And cut him off completely. I know it sounds difficult, but it’s so much easier when you don’t maintain contact.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      This. His daughter really isn’t the problem. His failure to stand up for their relationship is a continuation of the way he didn’t stick up for his marriage. He didn’t keep protective boundaries around his marriage so it should be no surprise that he doesn’t put protective boundaries around this relationship. He was far more invested in the marriage, it included children and a business. This relationship has far less investment on his part but she is expecting more from him than his wife got.

  11. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    LW, your boyfriend is an awful partner. You have presented ample evidence of this. He was never ever a good partner. He might have really strong feelings for you, and you might have really strong feelings for him, but feelings aren’t going to change that fact.
    Listen to what Wendy and everyone else here is saying: He doesn’t communicate, he doesn’t stand up for you, he doesn’t take responsibility for his actions (yeah, it was all his ex’s fault that he was having an affair. It was just that she wanted to control everything. He just *couldn’t* leave her when she asked for a divorce, he had to be super careful about timing, etc. etc.).
    What his kids think of you doesn’t even really matter when you consider all of that. The fact is, you can never expect him to actually deal with his problems like a damn grownup. He’s just gonna run away and avoid for as long as he can.
    MOA, save yourself the heartache. He isn’t worth it.

  12. Avatar photo something random says:

    This letter is interesting. It’s rare to hear from a mistress who gets the husband but is surprised and upset that she is loathed by the wife and kids. Most of the time when people do something wrong but it works to their favor they come across as self-justified and smug in the face of the blowback. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost.

    I think Wendy’s response is correct, the issue is with the boyfriend. The truth is the daughter can’t hate the lw; the daughter doesn’t even know her. The daughter HATES lw’s role in the pain and betrayel that might have been averted if her father had chosen differently. I doubt it matters that it was her dad that did the chasing. If her parents marriage had been dysfunctional for awhile, daughter might be able to feel some sympathy for him. Plus daughter knows her dad as a human being. He has probably been more to her then just an awful disappointment. But this letter writer is nothing to her but some impartial outsider who had nothing to lose but a lot to gain from her father’s weakness and shortcomings.

    Honestly, I’m not surprised the dad isn’t sticking up for the letter writer. I’m sure he has a sense of guilt at the pain his child is experiencing and he is in no position to be demanding a resolution on any moral grounds. I kind of understand his reluctance to push back against his daughter’s anger (even though daughter is acting inappropriately) and just wait for things to cool down. But Wendy is correct that these are the actions of a weak man without a lot of relationship skills.

    The real relationship only began about three years ago so the lw is probably only know getting to know the truth about her boyfriend without the complications of a family, buisness, and divorce as convenient excuses for his flaws. I almost don’t want a happy ending for the letter writer but If she insists on continuing this relationship she should also insist on couple’s therapy.

  13. I think this is a classic case of reaping what you sow – both of you. You say you started this affair in a moment of weakness. You knew it was wrong, and yet you continued. That was your choice. His family is absolutely not out of line for feeling the way they feel. Look at it from their perspective: you contributed to the breakup of a marriage. No one is going to like you for that. For his side, no matter what problems his marriage had, he had an obligation to either attempt to fix them or walk away. He did neither. He chose to cheat. Saying his marriage was over, or unsatisfying or whatever he told you is just him trying to justify his choice. So, what you are left with is a drama-filled relationship with a man who is not worthy of any woman’s time. Is this what you want? It is worth it? You can’t undo past actions, but you can make better decisions about future ones.

  14. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Eh, I guess she should aim higher and blah blah blah. But frankly — and truthfully — those that deliberately go after married men and deliberately wreck said marriages are rarely actually, well, that much of a fucking catch…

  15. There really isn’t any honor to defend. You had an affair with a married man and now the parties who were hurt by that action are upset. You have to own that and deal with the consequences. That’s kind of how it works when you decide to become someone’s mistress. Yeah your boyfriend is to blame as well and he’s being a total tool, but you’re dating a philandering tool, so why exactly are you surprised?
    Look. I get that people cheat and make mistakes and don’t always act appropriately when it comes to handling their emotions. You aren’t the first or the last people on earth to have an affair and break up a home. But when you do that, you HAVE to know that it’s not going to be a smooth ride into the sunset. I mean, really, what did you expect? His kids to welcome you with open arms? Come off it.

    1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Perhaps he could defend her “dishonor” which — frankly, could use some serious defending… 😉

  16. WatersEdge says:

    This is hilarious. This guy has the LW blaming the ex-wife for all their marital problems, including his first affair. The ex-wife and the kids blame LW for this affair. Meanwhile this guy manages to keep his marriage for as long as it suits him, he keeps a good-enough relationship with the ex and his kids, AND he keeps his affair partner! I wonder how this guy manages to convince everybody in his life that he is not responsible for anything?

  17. How long until the LW comes back to play the “Special Love” card?

  18. All men (and women too) who cheat say that they’re just about to get a divorce. The marriage is a failure. The wife is a nag. He feels so misunderstood. He is so miserable but he doesn’t want to leave because of the kids. Blah blah blah. This story is as ancient as the planet Earth is, and to be honest, even if he explains this to his daughter, I doubt she’ll really care.When you have problems in your relationship/marriage, you either fix them or get a divorce. And this is exactly what the daughter will tell him.
    I see you’re trying to make yourself feel better about the affair by reminding yourself (and us as well…) that they had problems and it was their problems that “caused” the affair to happen, but how do you know that within a couple of years you won’t be on the other side of this situation? How do you know he won’t decide he’s unhappy with you too for whatever reasons and instead of fixing it (which it doesn’t seem like he’s committed to doing), he won’t just get into his YET new affair with another woman?
    I think he may not be telling his ex-wife and kids about the “true reason” behind the affair because
    1. it’s a stupid excuse which all cheaters try to pull and he knows it and so do they – I seriously doubt it will make a massive difference if he tells them this.
    2. it might be a whole load of bullshit, their supposed unhappiness and marriage problems, it might be that he was just a cheater because he couldn’t keep his pants zipped 😉 His wife found out (again) and divorced him. And now they knot it was you who he had an affair with.

    I don’t like it how you’re very persistently trying to persuade us that because they were supposedly so unhappy in their marriage, it’s almost as if the affair was justified and totally okay and it is true love the thing you two have and everything is a walk in the park.
    You don’t know what was truly going on in their marriage. Most mistresses don’t know the truth. They are usually sold a bag of lies so they can have sympathy for the cheater and the wife is made to look like the devil itself. Next time it might be you on the other side, don’t forget this.

  19. I am the woman who posted the letter and I do thank many of you for your insights. It is making me think for sure.

    I would like to clarify just a few things as it seems that I either did not communicate clearly enough or what I did write has been misinterpreted. Some seem to have heard me while others like bittergaymark seem to have a very different interpretation. So here goes:

    -I do take partial responsibility for their divorce. I said this in my letter and I am saying it again. What I am not willing to do is taking (almost) full responsibility, which is what his ex and his daughter seem to want.

    -I did not deliberately go after him and this too was in the letter. I have never pursued married men. They have, however, pursued me many, many times. In this instance, however, I was weak (not meaning that I was a broken person, but that I let myself down by wanting to believe in him rather than to believe in me).

    -He too takes responsibility for the affair for the dissolution of their marriage. I never said that he has blamed his wife entirely. What I did say is that while she is pointing the finger almost solely at me, she in fact, had an important role to play in their marriage problems. She should be aware of this on some level, though for the moment she does not seems to want to face it.

    -I also never wrote that his ex or his daughter have no right to dislike me or my role in the situation. What I did write is how could a relationship work if a boyfriend’s daughter does hate you. Not quite the same thing.

    Though I did not include this in my letter, I do think that no one should ever cyber bully another. I also think that having this much hate towards another person is incredibly unhealthy for all those involved, but particularly for the person that feels that hate. However, I never said that they do not have the right the feel these things, though. I was just trying to present the story.

    -The honor that I was asking to defend was that of: 1) the truth. I am not a whore – never have been and never will be. Plus, I have never slept my way to anywhere. I studied and worked to get to where I am in my career. I did not chase him or “deliberately go after married men” as even people here have said, despite my letter stating the contrary. 2) no cyberbullying. Bullying is wrong no matter what. I have never engaged with his ex or his daughter. They have a right to be angry if they so choose, but I do not feel that anyone has a right to cyberbully. Not only is it illegal in many places, but it causes more problems than it solves and makes the person who is doing it look very bad.

    So while there are some misinterpretations of my letter and feelings, I still do appreciate some of the posts that have been made – even those outside of the questions I asked. It has given me food for thought and other perspectives than my own myopic vision.

    Thank you.

  20. Konuku, you picked a loser. A LOSER. for a boyfriend. Stop blaming the ex-wife for her role in the demise of the marriage. Whatever the state of their marriage you were a factor in blowing things up.

    Honestly, you sound quite dim. His daughter and ex have every right to hate you regardless of how much energy it requires.

    I hope you stay with this man because you don’t deserve better and he’ll do what he did to her, to you.

    Stop trying to justify things. You did the wrong thing. It didn’t work out how you envisioned and now you have to deal with it.

    And I’m one of those kids who hated their parents affair partner forever. Let’s not forget it’s not just the kids. Extended family may be nice to your face but behind closed doors they’ll say awful things about you.

  21. I feel for you! My boyfriends daughter is a nasty b*tch and so is his ex wife. The LW has every right to feel the way she does and I understand 100%! Men don’t cheat, unless they’re unhappy! These are bitter, scorn, controlling and ridiculous women from his past. Let him be happy in his new life and to heck with everyone else!!!!

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