“How Do I Convince my Dad That My Crackhead Ex Has Changed?”

I dated “Craig” ten years ago. Things went horribly wrong between us when I found out he was addicted to crack. I never did that with him nor did I want to. He put me in some pretty awful situations, Children’s Aid was called, he stole money from me, he stole gas; he was an addict and would do anything to get crack. I know it’s weird to say but he was the love of my life and always has been. I have never felt the way I felt about him with anyone else, including in the seven-year relationship I have just recently gotten out of. I lost touch with Craig for years, but I kept in touch with his mom.

I never in a million years thought Craig would ever get clean or ever come back to me, but since four years ago, he has been clean. He came to visit in May of this year and then came back again, and he’s been staying here with me since. I’m 38 now and he is 43. He has apologized over and over for the horrible things that he did to me. In the few short weeks we have been together I see a totally different man than the one I fell in love with many years ago. He is treating me like a queen — helping me with finances (something he was never able to do before), buying me flowers, romancing me — something he never did before.

My son has met him (he was too young to remember him from before), and he really likes him. We have a connection like I can’t describe. However, my father still views him as an addict. He is away on vacation right now and will be back in August. I do not know how to explain to him that he isn’t the man he once was. He’s not a thief — he can be trusted. My dad is 78, and I don’t see him changing his mind about him. What do I do? — Treated Like a Queen

Wait, so let me get this straight: You dated a crack addict ten years ago who stole from you, did horrible things to you, was somehow involved in Children’s Aid being called, and yet, after a few weeks of reconnecting with him a decade later, you’ve moved him in with you, introduced him to your son, and taken financial help from him?! And you’re convinced he’s a changed man and can be trusted because… he’s bought you some flowers? I mean… look, your judgment is really, really questionable. It would be one thing to reconnect to the guy, but making him your boyfriend — fully integrating him in your life, moving him in with you after a “few short weeks”… is fucking nuts.

Honestly, I don’t think you should try to change your dad’s mind. You aren’t thinking very rationally and you need someone in your court who cares about you and wants the best for you who IS a little suspicious and isn’t blinded by the sudden romancing you are currently experiencing. If Craig is really all he’s cracked up to be (no pun intended) and truly is a changed man and everything your life has been missing, your father will figure that out eventually. Maybe it will take a year or so, which really should be the very minimum amount of time you should be giving a crack addict who has a history of doing horrible things to you to prove that he has changed. And even then I wouldn’t advise getting romantically involved with him. Some people are simply meant to be left in the past — even the person you think is “the love of your life.” At 38 you (hopefully) still have many, many years to find someone else to be the love of your life — someone who doesn’t have a long history of treating you like garbage.

If you are intent on giving Craig another chance, at the VERY least make him get his own place while you continue getting to know the “new” him and you work on re-building the trust that was completely destroyed ten years ago.

When I was in my sophomore year of high school, I fell head over heels in love with this guy who was tutoring me in English. He was sweet and he was smart and he saw me as more than just a stupid, slutty party girl. (I’m not proud of the person I was then.) Because of him, I managed to change myself. I pulled my act together, quit partying, and started putting my attention on my studies.

I confessed to him that I loved him, and we began to date. But I’ll admit that I was insecure in our relationship. I worried that he was too good for me while I tried my best to fit in with his friends and distance myself from the person I used to be. Four months after we started officially dating he canceled our Tuesday date night. We usually went out every Tuesday and Saturday. He had never canceled on me before. He said that he was sick and that he’d call me the next day. I was worried about him, and since I knew his parents were out of town, I made soup and rented a movie for us to watch together in the house. I wanted to keep an eye on him and make him feel better.

I used the key in the flower pot, thinking I’d surprise him, and I walked in on him in bed with one of our friends. He claimed to be in love with her and said that he hadn’t believed I was serious about him because of my reputation. He thought that I would get bored and start sleeping around again. He hurt me, and I spent the rest of high school trying to recover. I’m now in my second semester at college, studying to be a teacher.

We ran into each other when I went home for Easter. It turns out he lives in the same city as where I go to school and he wanted to reconnect. I said no, but then I ran into him again this month. He apologized for how he treated me, and he said that the girl he cheated on me with was not who she claimed to be. He said that he missed how open and happy I was and the way that I used to look at him like he could do anything. He says that he missed talking to me and everything that we had. He said that he was proud of the person I had become and he wished that he had appreciated me before.

He wants a second chance with me, and he promises that he won’t make the same mistake again. I’m torn. I haven’t dated anybody since I dated him, and I think it’s pathetic how much what happened then still hurts me. I admit that I still have feelings for him—he was the first person to ever make me feel like I could be more than what I was—but he is also the first guy to really hurt me.

Then again, I wasn’t the best person when I met him and I shouldn’t blame him for not believing that I really loved him. I know that I changed a lot and I don’t want my past mistakes held against me, so I shouldn’t do the same to him. Maybe things will be different this time. Should I give him a second chance? — Second Chance?

Abso-fucking-lutely not. That guy’s a loser. He’s sorry about leading you on and cheating on you because the girl he cheated on your with “was not who she claimed to be”? What the fuck kind of nonsense is that? All that means is that she dumped his ass and now he’s got no one and feels lonely and like the loser he is. He’s sorry about what he did to you because he misses you and misses what you had? Too fucking bad! He should be sorry about what he did because it was a super shitty thing to do and it hurt you and you didn’t deserve that, just like he doesn’t deserve you. THAT is what he should have said to you. And anything else that he might be saying now — ESPECIALLY how much he misses you and would like a second chance — is utterly self-serving, tone-deaf, and not at all in your best interest. MOA, MOA, MOA.


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​(AT)​dearwendy.com.


  1. Both LW’ers are either way too forgiving or don’t have good memories. How sad.
    Re-lose touch with these loser ex-boyfriends and keep moving forward!

  2. Ugh just no no and no. I cannot believe LW2 has this guy moved in and around her kids after a few weeks. That is such a bad idea if you have no kids even. Your kids shouldn’t be meeting a new guy after a few weeks even if you did date him previously. I cannot comprehend why these women have so little self respect.

  3. Don’t disagree with the advice but not loving the “crackhead” label for someone who had a terrible substance abuse problem, which they overcame.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Fair enough. But it made for a shorter/easier headline than “How Do I Convince my Dad That My Ex Who has a Crack Addiction Has Changed?”

  4. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    ” He apologized for how he treated me, and said the girl he cheated on me with was not whom she claimed to be.”

    This is the most pathetic excuse for cheating. The only relevant thing to you is that he wasn’t the person he claimed to be. He led you on and he lied to you. He needs to profusely apologize for that and leave the other girl entirely out of it. She didn’t force him into cheating on you. He considered you a slutty girl that he could use for sex. You are so much better off without him. He may have had some good qualities, like encouraging you to be your best self, but he had other terrible qualities like being a lying cheat. Most people aren’t all bad. He was and still is a mix of good and bad. The trouble is that the bad hurt you terribly and his apology is pathetic. It doesn’t show true remorse for his actions and doesn’t show empathy for the pain he caused you.

    His remorse blames the other woman rather than himself. That tells you he hasn’t actually changed very much. Keep looking because he’s not your guy.

    1. He blamed her for his cheating because she was a slut. What kind of terrible logic is that. I hate this guy so much.

  5. Allornone says:

    LW-2 I’m happy you’ve turned your life around and are doing well, and it’s okay that you hold a lingering regard for a guy you credit as having helped be a part of that change. HOWEVER, this creep not only cheated on you, but slut-shamed and gaslighted you into thinking you somehow deserved it. You don’t want to hold his past against him, but he had no problem holding your past against you when he broke your heart. Even today, you still seem to think what he did was okay because “you weren’t the best person then.” No, honey, it wasn’t okay. He was a creep. He cheated. End of story. And he misses the way you “looked at him like he could do anything”? It sounds like he might not miss you so much, but rather your adoration of him. No, LW. He was in your life once for a reason (to help you get your sh*t together), but there is no reason for him to be there again. He’s served his purpose, now you MOA.

    1. By the way, partying and having sex does not make you a bad person anyway. Just about everyone enjoys that at some point in their life.

      1. allornone says:

        damn straight. You have nothing to be ashamed of, LW.

      2. Juliecatharine says:

        THIS. LW I don’t know who told you that partying and having a lot of sex in high school makes you a bad person but you need to re-examine your assumptions. It’s great that you made positive changes in your life since you don’t seem happy about the choices you were making back then *but* nothing that you described is bad. Perhaps bad *for you* but nothing that would qualify you as a bad person or one who deserves to be cheated on and gaslighted (gaslit?) the way your ex did. He’s someone to stay away from, he doesn’t see you for who you are and never did. You deserve better.

  6. LW#1 —
    You judge men only by your physical chemistry with them. Physical chemistry is important, but not as important as you’re making it. He was the ‘love of your life’ 10 years ago, yet everything you say about the guy he was 10 years ago was just totally awful and depicts him as a total loser. So this is the love of your life. He got clean, at least according to him, 4 years ago. So, he was a crack addict for at least 6 years. That’s a huge strike against him and the odds of relapse are very high. How did he get clean? Did he tell you?

    You sound very needy and frankly desperate. Introducing him to your son after just a few weeks of dating him? That’s being an awful mother. Moving him in after that short a period of dating, especially given what you went through with him before? That’s insane. He bought flowers! How wonderful! And that means shit. That you are so thrilled that he is romancing you THIS TIME, just underscores how awful last time was. Yet you’ve clung to the memory of your super-special addict for a decade? That’s sick.

  7. LW2 – There’s good advice here that I hope you will listen to. All I wanted to add is that being cheated on hurts, a LOT. Please don’t feel pathetic that it still hurts you. I’ve had two boyfriends cheat on me. It’s been years since I’ve been with or spoken to either, but I’d be lying if I said it no longer hurts if I catch myself thinking about it. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to think back on either of those boyfriends without feeling that twinge of sadness/pain that comes with knowing how little respect they showed me. And FWIW, cheating is a deliberate choice, one made with little regard for the feelings of the person’s partner — so don’t downgrade it to a “mistake.” Anyway, even if you’d broken up under better circumstances, second chances rarely result in a better outcome. Leave that loser in the past where he belongs.

  8. Northern Star says:

    LW 1, you are an utter fool. You are putting your young teenage son at risk by moving a man into your home who was so bad ten years ago that CHILDREN’S AID was called. A man who was a lying, thieving, drug (and apparently child) abuser. And you just moved him on in immediately because he gives you gifts. How damn stupid are you?

    That probably seems harsh. But you are exhibiting such appalling judgment and disregard for the risk to your child that you actually make me angry. Your father saw everything go down first-hand. I can only imagine what his (completely justified) reaction will be.

    1. Yes. I just kept thinking that if this kid knew him before, was he the one for whom’s safety Children’s Aid was called? It doesn’t really matter. Don’t bring someone back into your kids life (IMO at all but certainly not this fast) that has known problems like this. Just don’t.

  9. Heatherly says:

    LW1 WTFH is going on?! Nope. NO! You haven’t made one good decision at all in the few weeks he arrived back in your life. Sorry but NO! Move him back out of your home & away from your child. Your dad is going to rightly more skeptical & cautious then you. I can’t even…

    LW2. No. Back away from him. You deserve better. Don’t bother listening to any of his bull.

  10. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) Typical. Being Treated Like A Queen somehow always causes one to Act Like An Idiot.
    LW2) Aim Higher. Stop slutshaming yourself. Seriously.

  11. anonymousse says:

    LW1….I agree with everyone, you are putting your son and yourself at risk. Addiction isn’t something that just goes away. He could ALWAYS relapse and knowing him sober (if he is) for a few weeks and moving him right in is not only a terrible example for your son, but really risky. You apparently didn’t learn these lessons ten years ago. Do you need a refresher course in how to be taken advantage of? If he was 100% better and onto an adult life, he’d have his own place and would be slowly taking steps to prove to you that he was ready to be with you in a healthy way. But he didn’t have to do any of that, he just blew past all those normal stop gaps because you apparently take him at his word.

    Let me guess, the sex is great? You are being super naive and I hope your father gives you a cold dose of reality when he finds out. Has he paid you back the money he stole from you? I’m betting he hasn’t.

    Be a better role model for your son!

    LW2: You were not a slut. Everyone experiments when they are young. You should have never slut-shame yourself then, and you shouldn’t be now.

    He was the jerk! He cheated on you. And he hasn’t even apologized for what happened, he blamed the other girl. If he had changed or was a decent person, he’d have owned to what he did and given you a real apology.
    Come on, move on. You deserve so much better than that lying sack of shit.

  12. FannyBrice says:

    LW2: listen to his words – he misses the way you used to look at him like he could do anything. Which means he misses having you worship & idealize him & having you follow him around like a lovesick puppy. He doesn’t miss you as a person because he doesn’t see you as a person – you are a prop, an archetype, an adoring groupie. You deserve someone who loves you for you.

  13. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

    2) He was sweet and he was smart and he saw me as more than just a stupid, slutty party girl v. he hadn’t believed I was serious about him because of my reputation. He thought that I would get bored and start sleeping around again.

    First, there’s nothing wrong with fucking around as long as you’re ethical with the people you’re sleeping with and they’re ethical with you.

    Next, let’s pretend he wasn’t trying to justify his cheating for a sec. So this story you told yourself about how he saw a ~better~ you? It’s a lie, he told you so himself. He never saw past your past. That’s what he told you! He literally told you that he thought you were your reputation!!!

    Second, again, he’s telling you about himself. The reasons for wanting you back? About how good you make HIM feel. You might not be able to be open and happy, and he’s the fucking cause.

    Babe he was trying to get into your pants then. And he’s trying to get into your pants now. Go find someone better.

    1. *Applause*
      I cannot believe how much of a douche this guy is. Like he pointed out by saying you would “start sleeping around again”, he never saw you as anything more than a “stupid, slutty party girl” — essentially blaming you for formerly fucking around, something he clearly was very familiair with himself.

      Please girl, don’t think of yourself as a stupid, slutty party girl. Maybe you were stupid – it’s a well-known side-effect of growing up. Maybe you were slutty – good for you, I hope you had fun and lots of good sex. If not, go be slutty some more. Maybe you were a party girl – I can’t for the life of me think about anything that’s wrong with being a party girl. Did you hurt people by partying? God. This guy was smelling your insecurities from a mile away and preyed on that. He’s a sexist POS who uses slutshaming to get into your pants. Run.

      1. Ugh i dated a guy like this. The fact that I was having some party time one summer, with our mutual friends, which he attended, also for the first time in my life, made me some slut. Apparently standing in one place with a cocktail at a party makes me a slut. He constantly shamed me and made me feel like some horrible person. I never fell for it but for some reason still put up with it for far too long. He seriously accused me of sleeping with a guy because he spoke to me….to ask me where said boyfriend was. Men like this are abusive, first verbally and likely physically in the end.

  14. dinoceros says:

    LW1: It makes me sad that you see someone who lives with you and helps pay some bills and then do some random gestures like give you flowers as exceptional. What you’re describing is sort of the bare minimum. (Flowers aren’t required, but they’re pretty basic.) Letting a recovering addict who ruined your life previously live with you and your son after getting back in touch for at most like 2 months is, sorry to say, pretty poor judgment for a parent. I know it’s not always fun, but as a mom, generally, you need to look at things practically and logically and not just make decisions on what feels nice romantically. The even worse part is that you’ve chosen to integrate him into your child’s life already. What happens if you find out that he’s not as recovered as you think? Or, having nothing to do with his past, it turns out that moving in together wasn’t a good call? You’ve already let your kid get attached to a guy who may or may not be in his life in the near future.

    How you know he can be trusted? You’ve been around him for a couple months. Your dad isn’t objecting to this guy. He’s concerned because he thinks that you’re not capable of making a responsible choice. That’s why he is trying to get involved. My assumption is that you stuck around for a while the first time or missed red flags, and your father is concerned that you haven’t learned your lesson (which you clearly haven’t.)

    1. dinoceros says:

      LW2: There’s more than enough people in the world to date so that you don’t have to recycle someone who treated you badly. Move on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *