“My Boyfriend Says I’m Not Strict Enough with My Kids”

I am 45 years old and have been in a relationship with “Charles” for more than five years. He always compares me with his mother in regards to how I’m raising my children. He says I am misguiding my kids and that I am not strict enough. My oldest is a doctor, my middle kid is in college, and my youngest recently gave birth at 17 (and while that doesn’t sit right with me, Charles says she will have a second baby soon because I am not telling the school that she fell pregnant under their watch).

Always I am being compared with other people and he always says I should remember I am not the kids’ friend, but I am their mother. He’s married and he compares me to his wife and sometimes even talks about me to his wife. — Tired of Being Compared

Wow, way to bury the lede there. Yeah, I think any time a man constantly compares you to his mother and to HIS WIFE, WHOM HE’S MARRIED TO, that the correct answer is always, always: MOA.

I met “Jack” a year ago, and we went out to dinner once a week and talked on the phone several days out of the week for five months. On my birthday, he took me out and it became physical and we started a relationship. He has been divorced twice and I lost two husbands to heart disease and cancer. I work days and he works nights. We see each other one or two times a week. After a couple of months, I asked him what this is, and he said we are in an exclusive relationship but he wants to take it slow to get to know me. I invited him to go to my brother’s house to meet some of my family. He has yet to even invite me to his house. He says that the last girlfriend he invited over never came back. I have questioned him about it, and he says he has a lot of work to do on his house.

I know where he lives and have done a little investigation on my own. He has a male roommate who lives with him during the week who works here in the city but goes home on the weekend. He told me this information (about having a roommate) and I was thinking it was a woman, but it’s not. He always comes to my place or we go out. I have not met his family because they are out of town. Nothing has changed in the nearly eight months we’ve been in a relationship, and now his daughter is getting married this weekend and he has not invited me to go. I know he said he wants to take it slow, but what is this? Am I spinning my wheels here? Should I give it more time? — Spinning my Wheels

Jack is lying to you. At the VERY least he’s lying to you about why he wants to “take it slow.” It’s not so he can “get to know you.” If he wanted to get to know you, he’d be more interested in spending quality time with you and increasingly sharing more of his life with you and wanting you to do the same. It’s not that he wants to “take it slow,” it’s that he wants to keep you at a distance and, whatever the reason for that is, it’s not good.

I’m curious if you ever press him to share more with you – to show you his home, to introduce you to his people, to take you to his daughter’s wedding – and what his response is if you do. I suspect you don’t press him very much and that’s why he stays with you. I suspect if you did press him more, he’d give you lots of lame excuses – like “the last girlfriend never came back” – until you either dumped him or the effort to bullshit you overshadowed whatever benefit he gets from his time with you, at which point he’d probably ghost you. Honestly, I’d move on at this point and tell him that, after eight months of exclusivity, you’d expect to be more integrated into his life — or integrated into his life at all — and that you just don’t see a future with him and are going to move on.

***************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. LW1, maybe Mike didn’t respond because he’s in the hospital with Covid. You’re a complete idiot for going to a party with a person who is sick! Fuck all of you and your selfish stupidity. I haven’t seen any of my friends or family since March. My daughter can’t see her grandmas or cousins. I won’t see or hug my own mom for well over a year by the time this is over – and it will NEVER fucking be over because of twats like you and your stupid friends. Fuck you.

  2. C. Ass-What Wendy and the others said re the reckless and thoughtless behavior around Covid 19. As to Mike,the way you act in the world,as evidenced by the covid actions,are ways you also act in dating and this is not good. Lack of self control and standards and regard and respect/caring for others seems to a skill set you lack. Lay off dating for awhile and get a grip on your behavior-life is not “all about You”.
    Also,you say you do not want to chase Mike. But you already did that, with the copious texting,messages,apologies etc. Stop all contact with him,write him off as a date,and work on being more balanced and caring with others.

  3. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1). My advice? Fuck off. And die.

    LW2). My advice? Fuck off. And live, I guess? PS — if your kid gets knocked up 17? NEWSFLASH: yes, you did — in fact — fail miserably as a parent. Big time. Like Trump’s handling of Covid failure.

  4. My nearest city is about to be shut down right now, LW, because people like you wouldn’t give up the need to party. Forget him, that’s gone, and I’m not judging you for getting silly drunk- alcohol is a hell of a drug – (I enjoy it myself but it can do very bad stuff) but I AM judging you a bit for getting wrecked with friends then throwing a party right now. What the hell? A young guy walked way too close to me and another woman tearing his mask off as he had left the shop and we were presumably invisible (being crones) and I tried hard not to think he might have been careless just because he is young, as that would be unfair– but really, kids, are you trying to kill us? Disclaimer- I know many young people who are being so very careful, even more than many older people. You might think of trying that.

    1. also, getting drunk is one thing, if what you say means you harassed someone, possibly sexually harassed them, that’s just not on. If when you get drunk, you harass people, you have to not get drunk.

  5. These 2 letters just convinced me there is no hope for humanity. I hope these 2 letters are jokes, but sadly I fear they are not. I’ve always hated the term “fell pregnant.” Did she trip and fall in a puddle of sperm? Jeez.

    1. I believe “fell pregnant” is a common expression in the UK.

  6. LW #1 —
    If you drink to the extent that you behave like a complete ass, then even if you don’t actually fall down, you definitely have an alcohol problem.

    LW#2 — poor little mistress. If you don’t like the way he critiques your performance as a mother, it is very easy to simply MOA. When you are dating a married, presumably one with kids since he compares you to his wife, you should MOA in any case. Even if he has an open marriage, which seems very possible, since he discusses you with his wife, this relationship isn’t working for you. What kind of lack of self-esteem causes you to continue dating a man who lets you know that he critiques your performance as a mother with his wife. Are you his mistress, so that he can regale her with tales of your ineptitude and they can share a big laugh at your expense?

    It sounds like your kids are by and large turning out alright, so his beef is likely specious and a tool to keep you in your place as the inferior in this relationship. Is this really the position you want to be in? You can’t change this ass, you can only MOA, and you certainly should.

    P.S. I have no idea why he thinks your daughter got pregnant, presumably on some schools ‘watch’ and you need to speak to them about it. That seems like bizarre thinking. I guess you know what you’re dealing with with this particular guy. I can only ask, Why?

  7. Wow, you both… have a lot of problems.

    1. LW1, you sound like you should be institutionalized. Not just for the drinking but for sexual assault, psychosis, and utter disregard for human life.

  8. LW1, you need to hear this: Mike owes you nothing. Zilch. Zero. He doesn’t want to see you anymore, that’s his call to make, as is how to handle it. You were only casually dating. I would feel okay ghosting someone under those circumstances, especially if they acted in such a way that was a complete and total turnoff. If Mike were my friend, I would advise him to do exactly what he did. How you feel doesn’t enter into it. You sound really entitled. Maybe Mike is following the old adage: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I wish more people did. Get over yourself.

    LW2: You’re having an affair with a married man and you dare to be upset that he compares you to his wife? Fuck both of you.

  9. LW1: First, I agree with everyone that you absolutely should not be going to or throwing parties right now (unless you live in New Zealand or one of the twelve COVID-free countries). It is incredibly hard and disheartening for people like me who are socially isolating to see and hear about people ignoring recommendations and prolonging COVID. Please take this as a sign that you should stay home. All of that aside, I have concerns about you saying that you were acting “cheap and easy”. People who ignore boundaries and are sexually harassing others are not “cheap and easy”, they are jerks, which is what you admit you were.

  10. Sea Witch says:

    “While I don’t expect him to be buried in his phone, being courteous would be nice.”
    Refraining from telling you what is really on his mind probably is as courteous as he’s going to get. He does not owe you a reply.

  11. Sea Witch says:

    “Charles says she will have a second baby soon because I am not telling the school that she fell pregnant under their watch.”
    Whaaaaat??? Since when do teenage girls get pregnant at school. Unless it’s a boarding school, they’d have no control over her sexual activities.
    “He’s married and he compares me to his wife and sometimes even talks about me to his wife.”
    He has an open marriage, I take it? I can’t think of any other reason why a man would discuss his mistress with his wife.
    Frankly, you both sound like you deserve each other.
    You both sound like horrible people.

  12. Oh, I remember what it was like to get together with friends in their homes. Or at a restaurant. Or for happy hour at a bar. Months ago in the Before Times. Must be nice. Or not, if you spend your time getting drunk and assaulting and harassing people such that they’re forced to ignore (block!?!) you. Grow the fuck up, and get a clue, LW1.

    LW2: I don’t even understand your letter, but yeah, move on. At minimum, this guy is an asshole who insults your children, ability to parent and compares you disfavorably to other women. Including his wife. What could you possibly be getting out of this relationship?

  13. LW2 I guess if you wanna consider a guy cheating on his wife with you the complete arbiter of What Is Good and Moral then have at it, I guess.

  14. LW1 bothers me not only because of the COVID party idiocy but because if it were a guy who wouldn’t leave a woman alone or take no for an answer we’d all instantly see it as awful. No, he doesn’t owe you texts, or anything.

    Not for nothing, but he’s no saint either. Not only did he go to a party, but he went WHILE SICK (or recovering). WTF is wrong with people.

  15. LW1. Stop drinking, you have an alcohol problem. Stop going to parties. Stop throwing parties. This “friend” of yours went to a party while sick? What the hell? Even before covid 19 this would not have been alright. LW2. Some children grow up to be outstanding adults no matter how incompetent their parents are. Way to go mom, setting such a fine example. And just because your 17 year old had a child does not mean she can’t have a good life. Just having this guy around kids gives me the creeps.

  16. Oh dear, what is happening to you Dear Wendy (and your commenters). Look, I know things are terrible at the moment but you and people like bitter gay mark screaming at people who write in asking for your advice, and you having a go at them is not helping. LW1 is young and needed your advice and LW2 could do with some compassion about self esteem.
    Not everyone is perfect and they seek you out for your help and advice which is normally really great. You lecture people on consumerism but you do the same, with all your adverts and recommendations to buy this, buy that . I am not being critical but everyone has to earn a living, as you and your family have to do too.
    I am expecting a really bad backlash from you and your commentators, but, I thought this site is there to help people

    1. anonymousse says:

      It’s Wendy’s site. She can write what she wants. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. No one is forcing you to be on this site.

      She hasn’t recommended a product in months…maybe even over a year.

      “I’m not being critical.”
      Yes, you are.

    2. You’re entitled to your opinion, Susan. Kind of weird you’d choose this particular juncture to lecture me about my own consumerism as it’s been a really long time since I did actually make any “recommendations to buy this, buy that,” but to each her own. You strike me as someone looking for an argument and while I appreciate others coming to my defense here, I think we all have far better things to do with our time and energy.

  17. Susan —
    Sometimes the best (only good) advice is to point out that the LW’s behavior is seriously wrong and need to change, including the relationship the LW is trying to save. Sometimes a letter simply exudes cluelessness, as a totally dysfunctional relationship and shitty behavior are described, and the LW demands to know how to fix the relationship. What good does it do to falsely pretend that the relationship can be fixed, when very clearly it cannot. People who will be at all fazed by bland, pollyanna responses, simply don’t write letters like these two.

  18. Yes, it is Wendy’s site and she can write what she wants but when you ask people to write in for advice and they do, perhaps you should warn them first that they are likely to be slagged off and told to F off and die. Isn’t there enough hatred in the world?
    Perhaps I imagined all these advertisements for dresses, mattresses, camper vans?
    You are right, I don’t have to read it and I won’t anymore.

    1. Websites survive on advertising. Google ads tends to you ads for things you personally are interested in and search for. Like dresses, mattresses, and camper vans. I don’t see ads for those things. Right now I see auto insurance. Maybe the ads for you / your country are different. Either way, either ads get shown or people get charged for advice. Now I get why you want empathy shown for dumb people.

    2. Right. What @kate said. Even news sites I pay for will still have ads.

      And @anonymousse is correct in that it has been a long time since Wendy posted products she enjoys.

      This little tangent makes absolutely no sense.

      1. It really doesn’t make any sense. Wendy didn’t even get on LW2’s case for being in a relationship with a married man and modeling awful behavior for her kids.

        As for LW1, the pandemic has been raging here for 5+ months. We KNOW that we’re not supposed to be having parties. Private house parties and similar large gatherings are why we are seeing upticks in states like mine that had the virus under control months ago. Wtf. Stop.

    3. anonymousse says:

      She has never told anyone to fuck off and die.

      You are being just as critical, except in your case- lives aren’t at stake. You’re not saying anything nice Or offering any nice feedback, so why are you adding to the hatred in the world, Susan?

      Do you really need ads explained?

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        That was me, actually. ?

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