“I Can’t Decide Which Man to Choose”

I have exhausted every avenue for advice and I’m getting to the point where I feel physically ill with stress. I’m 27 years old with three children. I have spent four years with my youngest child’s dad, Tom, whom I adored!! But Tom got depressed when his father died — two days before our son was born — after a 10-month battle with lung cancer. I kept trying to help but he wouldn’t admit he was depressed and said he was down because he doesn’t love me. I went to relationship counseling with him and then he went to personal counseling too.

He told me over a period of about two years that he didn’t love me, wanted to leave me, and was only with me for our son, and he made very mean remarks on a daily basis. He also spent pretty much every spare moment he had at the pub. Eventually, I began to get so down with it as I felt constantly bullied and was getting no affection at all.

One evening, I decided to look at his phone and saw he had been messaging other women — nothing too incriminating but it really upset me, I also saw pornography on his phone when, for the last year and a half, he had told me he just had no interest in sex anymore. I then started hearing rumors of his cheating, and I lost my temper. I had had enough and I kicked him out, and things got a bit physical. We have had an awful time since then; he tried to have me arrested for assault, contacted social services, and even emptied my bank account.

After about eight weeks, I met another man. It wasn’t the love of the century, but it was nice to have some company. After a few weeks I felt so happy! We have so much in common and he treats me exactly as I have always wanted to be treated and he adores my children. My only reservation is he has no financial stability at all and still lives at home with his mum. (By the way, my ex is 39 and my new man 29). I couldn’t have been happier though!!

But now my Tom has come out of a huge period of reflection. He’s seen the error of his ways, has proposed to me, has bought us a house, and has basically cried and grovelled to me everyday for the last 3-4 weeks. From the confusion of this, I have ended my relationship with my current boyfriend as I worry that staying with him is selfish and not what’s best for my children.

I feel like I’m now just pushing both away, saying I need space to think, and they are both harassing me 24/7 for an answer and declaring their love for me. I don’t know if I can trust Tom and I’m scared how much he hurt me. But he’s a great dad and has done so much to show how sorry he is and seeing him so sad is truly heartbreaking! Yet, my new man has made me so happy and we have such an amazing connection — it all feels lovely and natural..but is this just a new romance thing that will fade?

I feel so sick and confused that everybody around me is sad and I just don’t know what to do. Please help! — Between Two Men

Wendy: How long have you been with the new guy?

LW: 4 months.

Wendy: And you’ve already introduced him to your kids?! Have you ever been single for more than a few months as an adult? I honestly think that more than anything else that’s what you need. Your ex can still be a great father without being romantically involved with you, and your kids would benefit from having two parents who are physically and emotionally present and not embroiled in all this relationship drama.

LW: Yes, since my ex hasn’t had my child since we split, other than the odd hour here and there (usually last minute), it has been very hard for me to do anything without the children. I was seeing this new person about four weeks before he met my children. I understand this may not be the norm or conventional, but it was just very awkward for me to do anything alone.

I have probably been single for about a year in total in the last six years; obviously four and one-half of those six were spent with my ex.

Wendy: You don’t think it was confusing to your kids to be introduced to a new man in your life only three months after you kicked out their father/father figure? If you can’t get a babysitter to watch your kids so you can go on a date, then you don’t date for a while. Honestly, after everything you went through with the ex, I think some time to focus on you and your kids without jumping into a new relationship would have done you all a lot of good. And there’s no reason you can’t have that time now. You say you feel like you could explode. You’re totally stressed out over all this relationships drama, so hit the pause button and take a break from dating. Focus on yourself and your kids for a while.


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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. 1. You do need space. You say it yourself. Be single.
    2. A man who has only dated you for 4 months and is now harassing you (your words) for an answer, it’s time to cut things off cold with him.
    3. You cannot cut things off cold with Tom because he is your child’s father. So work on a successful co-parenting relationship and save romance of later (or never).

  2. Wendy’s advice says that she should stop dating for a while. But isn’t that what she’s doing? She says that she broke up with her boyfriend and is now giving herself some space to think.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      She broke up with the one guy days ago, from the sounds of it, after getting together mere weeks after kicking out Tom, whom she was with for 4 1/2 years. And now she’s basically asking which man she should take back. My answer is neither. She should not be dating anyone right now.

    2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      Her (alleged) space is being taken up by two men requiring her to give some kind of answer as to which one she will choose to be with. (At least that is as far as I can tell.) That isnt space at all- maybe PHYSICALLY it is, but if they are still taking up all of her mental space and she is “physically ill with stress,” I wouldnt term that any kind of space….

      1. Well, she has to communicate with at least one, the father of her child.

      2. You can communicate with the father of your children as just that and nothing more. She will have to learn to separate the way she thinks about him. But, yeah she needs to choose neither man as a romantic interest and focus on herself and her family.

    3. Yeah but she’s thinking “which man do I choose” when she should be thinking about herself and how to be emotionally strong and independent.

  3. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    LW, I got a bit stressed out just reading this. I cant imagine what you are going through. If you’ve read much on this site, Im sure you have seen that DW maxim that if you ask “which man,” the answer is “no man.” I think that holds true for you too. The added factor of Tom being the father of one of your 3 kids does not change anything, in my opinion.
    Im pretty sure you are going to pick Tom anyway, right?
    If I were you, Id think long and hard about why you stayed with a man for two years that told you he was not in love with you. Also, why he is grovelling to you daily? (Presumably because you enjoy this, let’s be serious.) This is not how an adult relationship works, and I hope you are not modelling that for your children. (Pretty sure you are.)
    Anyway, I cant agree with Wendy enough that if you cant get a babysitter, then you dont date. Introducing your children to a man after a mere three months have passed since their mother kicked out a man that had been in their lives for about 4 years (and father to the youngest) is INCREDIBLY wrong. On so many levels. Ugh.

  4. anonymousse says:

    No. Neither. Co-parent with Tom, but any dude who leaves the mother of his child and empties her bank account, calls social services…umm, no. Why in the world would you even consider Tom a good potential partner? And a man who is pressuring you after four months is an ass.

    WWS. Take time to focus on your kids, and then yourself. Don’t introduce men to them until you’ve been dating six months, or a year, or it’s actually getting serious. You don’t even know the fucked up issues you are laying in them, kids, who are too young to understand. And that doesn’t mean they aren’t coming up with ideas of who Uncle Ted is. Be an adult, be a mother to your children and don’t date either man, or any man until you are in a stable place in your life.
    And FFS, don’t date Tom ever again! That man is no good. He robbed you right after you had his baby? Screw him. But, not literally.

  5. I think the thing is, many (ok, most) people are just terrified of being alone.

    But I find being single is sometimes just such a relief from having to deal with another person, especially if the whole situation leaves you unable to grow or focus on yourself.

    It’s very much time to just reflect.. the quiet of being alone with just your thoughts in a noisy world is something I have been appreciating for a very long time.

  6. Ele4phant says:

    Yeah…not being able to find a babysitter isn’t a good excuse to introducing a new boyfriend to your children prematurely. I understand how challenging it must be to be a single parent – I’m sure it sucks to be stuck at home with the kids constantly – but when you sign up to be a parent you sign up to put their interests first – full stop. Introducing them to your brand new boyfriend (especially right after you broke up with their father) is not in their best interest.

  7. bittergaymark says:

    I’m just so happy and thrilled beyond words that you’ve chosen to raise your (not one, not two, but three!!) children in such a wonderfully warm and safe — oh, and stable and sane environment! Yay! Kudos to you for truly being a great mom and always putting the needs of your children high above your own…

  8. “I then started hearing rumours of him cheating and I lost my temper. I had had enough and I kicked him out and things got a bit physical. We have had an awful time since then; he tried to have me arrested for assault, contacted social services and even emptied my bank account”

    If you can’t date without attacking your boyfriends you shouldn’t date.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Not to mention the fact that the guy had been telling her for TWO YEARS that he didn’t love her and wanted to leave her. Why was she the least bit surprised to hear that he was cheating on her? Why was THAT the thing that finally moved her to end things with him and not, oh I don’t know, the two years of daily insults from him (which were probably made in front of the kids)?

  9. So you aren’t in love with either guy, you have a problem with new guy having no money and living at home, and it was extremely easy for you to drop him at a moment’s notice. The old guy is an ass, but since you have been parading around new guy he wants you back, and somehow in 4 months bought a house and a ring because of this without input from you.

    Why is it so hard to realize that you can have better for yourself? You seem to think that you have to be in a relationship so you stick with whatever is there. Maybe you deserve it.

  10. So what does Tom do when he’s not groveling and trying to get you back? You said he only kept his child the odd hour here and there. Frankly that doesn’t sound like a great dad to me. You may choose to get back with Tom eventually but he needs to demonstrate that he has changed and is ready to be a good partner. By the way, did he use your money to buy the house? He seems to want you back just because another guy wanted you. How will he act now that you’ve broken with Guy#2?

  11. (cont) Live on your own for at least six months. You and your kids. Tom has whipped your self-esteem to smithereens with his shenanigans And that other guy is a douche. He’s looking to live with you instead of his mommie.

  12. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    Oh for fucks sake. You have three kids and a train wreck relationship. Just stop. Try taking care of your children instead of your dating bullshit drama. If you don’t have an IUD or some other form of semi-permanent birth control get on it stat. I say this because I have the sinking feeling baby #4 is just around the corner if you don’t take a drastically different approach to life. I don’t know if you deserve better or not, I honestly don’t care, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your children DO.

  13. dinoceros says:

    You seem to talk about the depression you diagnosed in your ex as a way to negate the way he treated you for TWO YEARS. If a person says they don’t love you and are doing questionable thing with other women, you don’t say “Well, he is depressed and in denial about it.” Maybe he was. But depression and being a crappy boyfriend are not mutually exclusive. The only people I know who grovel to get someone back are people who HAVE to grovel to get someone back. Meaning: A regular person would move on with his life instead of unhealthily dwelling on the relationship he ruined. And by reducing all his bad qualities to depression, you setting yourself up to say “Oh, he is well now” and assume that he’s going to be a perfect person now. That’s very unlikely.

    And the other guy, you don’t seem that into. So, why pick one of these? If you are so lukewarm about two men that you cannot determine if you should be with each one of them, then you probably should wait for someone who you’re certain about.

  14. findingtheearth says:

    I have been single for 3 years. I did not want to date the first year I had my daughter, the second year, I did not meet anyone I liked. This last year, I have also been debating dating or not. It’s a big choice to make when you are a parent and single. You have take some time for self care, but you can’t just throw every man you think you might like at your children. That’s not fair to your children or the person you “might” like.

    Take a break and spend some time with your children while you are single. Don’t bring men around them for a long time. Get to know yourself and what you are really looking for.

  15. Monkeys mommy says:

    Let me break this down for you…

    1. New guy is a LOSER. He is 29, has no money or stability, and lives with Mommy. Why is this even an option to you? He made you feel good because he did not treat you like shit and tell you he doesn’t want you. Newsflash- there are more dudes where this one came from. Ones that have jobs and homes and money. Cupcake, aim higher.

    2. Tom has magically decided he loves you because he no longer has you to kick around. Men want what they cannot have. Odds are great when you go home, and we all know you will, that you will be writing in next year asking if you should leave the man who beats you, tells you he hates you, etc. Don’t be a statistic.

    3. You have issues! BE SINGLE. Put your kids first!!! What a noble concept, right??

  16. Oh my heart goes out to the LW. I’m going to say something that is going to hurt. With your ex, you were in an abusive relationship. That you want to go back and be with him is not because he’s changed, it’s because the abuse has left you doubting your self worth. You want to go back to him, not because you love him, but because he is your “normal” so he makes you feel safe. You are going to read the word “safe” and cling to it and you might even use it as justification to return to him. Please do not do this: that would not be right. Just because something is “all we know” and it makes us feel “safe” does not mean that is healthy, or right. This man does not love you and you do not love him. He will make you feel safe and normal right now, but it is very unlikely to last long term because – to be blunt – you will never be able to trust him. He lied to you about pornography, he made two years of life a living hell, he spent more time at the bar than he did at home, and – the worst of all – he barely knows his child. Please, can you please imagine what it will look like if you all live together when your kids don’t even know him? YOU don’t even know him. You’ve been away from him for too long. Maybe he has really changed, but what is he hasn’t? What happens then? He bought this house, so if things don’t work out, what happens to you and the kids? Where do you live? What is your safety net? Please consider all of these things. Finally, because I have been in something similar, if you are having trouble choosing between two men it is because neither of these men are right for you. When you really love someone, there is no choice, you are just with them. Please think about all of these things before you make a decision that will make it hard for you to get back on your feet again. My heart goes out to you. Take care <3

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