“I Want My Abusive Ex Back. How Can I Get My Family’s Approval?”


I got together with a boy, “Mike,” when I was 14 and he was 15. He was amazing at the start, but we were very young. After a few months I caught him cheating on me (five times) and he became very emotionally abusive after the first three to four months. This toxic relationship went on for about three years, on and off. No matter what we did, we couldn’t seem to let go of each other. He had only ever physically hurt me once by pushing me over into a washing machine. (He instantly apologized after realizing what he had done.) A friend caught the incident on tape and that made its way around to my family. They already disliked him from the emotional abuse and this was the breaking point for them. They would not support our relationship, which made me very upset.

It was difficult to not have my family’s support, and after a while I had had enough of being treated like a door mat. We broke up on Christmas 2015. Around June/July, I heard he had gotten his ex-girlfriend pregnant. I was in complete shock. He messaged me in the middle of October apologizing for the way he had treated me when we were together. He asked if we could be friends, and I accepted his apology. Despite all the bad times, he was my best friend and I have never felt anything stronger than what I did for him. Eventually we met up, had coffee, went to dinner and caught each other up on our lives.

He is now studying and working to support himself and his daughter who is due in twelve weeks. When we were together, he could never hold a job, and now he has a job and he’s getting his life together and he really seems genuine. I’d like to get back with him, but I have so many things to consider: 1) He’s having a baby; and 2) My family members absolutely hate him with a passion and will be disappointed in me if I tell them we are talking again. I want this to work because I do love him and do want to be with him, but what should I do? And if I do decide to progress further with him, how do I tell my family? And how would I even go about discussing/helping with his daughter? Please help! — Impressed With His Job

Let’s recap: In the early months of your relationship, your boyfriend cheated on you at least five times and you stayed with him. Over the next three years, he was very emotionally abusive, and you stayed with him. Then, he was physically abusive, and you stayed with him. It was only after your family stopped supporting the relationship that you decided to leave, and, soon after that, he got someone else pregnant. And now you think it would be a good idea to get back together because he has a job? Oh, honey. He’s still the same abusive shit-head he always was — he’s just on exceptional behavior with you at the moment because he’s lonely and he knows he’s got super-slim pickings because who wants an abusive, cheating shit-head teenage dad as a boyfriend?! I hope not you! This guy’s a loser. Look, a good litmus test for whether you should MOA is if you’re too ashamed to tell the people who love you the most whom you’re dating, which you clearly are (and for good reason!).

Just because you “have never felt anything stronger” than what you feel for this guy doesn’t mean he’s the right match for you. You’re what — all of 18? There’s a lot of stuff you haven’t experienced at 18; it doesn’t mean that what you have experienced (like loving this loser) is the best that will ever happen. I mean, God, shoot us all now if our love lives peak at 16 — especially if a chronically abusive, serial cheater is what we consider the best it’s going to get. Never has this phrase been more accurate: IT’S GOING TO GET BETTER. A chronically abusive serial cheater is NOT the best you can do, I promise. Job or not, this guy is pretty much the worst you can do. MOA, lose his number, and aim higher next time.

I’m a freshman in college, 18 years old, and I was in a committed relationship for four years. We said we loved each other, etc., but my S.O. cheated on me and we broke up a few weeks ago. I ended up on a bit of a rebound.

Basically, this other guy and I sort of fell into a relationship. He’s a year older than I, and he’s really great: funny, kind, and always walks me home. Here’s the problem: I’m his first girlfriend and, on our fifth day of dating, he dropped the l-word.

I really like him and I’d like to continue dating, but I don’t want to lead him on. He’s a great guy and I’m not sure I deserve him. I’m not sure our relationship is old enough for us to have a serious discussion about whether or not we have a future; our friends don’t even know we’re dating. Should I break up with him? — Not In Love


Yes, you should break up. You’re wanting a super-casual rebound that makes you feel better about your boyfriend of four years cheating on you right as you started college. This rebound guy is all super-eager and excited to be getting attention from you and wants to strike while the iron’s hot and lock you in while you’re feeling vulnerable and not thinking clearly. It’s a manipulative move and you shouldn’t fall for it. Be kind, but be firm: “Your telling me you loved me was too intense for me. I like you and have been enjoying hanging out with you, but I’m nowhere near having the feelings you say you have and I’m not interested in speeding up our relationship. I was enjoying a casual, fun relationship after the break-up of my four-year relationship, and I don’t want to lead you on thinking this is more than that. I think it’s better if we part ways now before either of us gets hurt.”


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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. LW 1 -RUN and DON’T look back. Wendy’s advice is spot on.

  2. artsygirl says:

    LW1 – Maybe if he had been in counseling to address his abusive tendencies, and he was not expecting a child with another woman, and he had never cheated on you, and you both had matured, and you and your ex had been broken up for more than a year – maybe I would suggest SLOWLY looking to see if a relationship would work but none of those things happened. He is not Romeo and you are not Juliette (which didn’t end well anyway) your ex is not a nice person and even if he is charming and warm now just remember the pattern of his behavior when you started dating 4 years ago.

    LW2 – I agree with Wendy. Talk to him and make it clear that while you enjoy hanging out with him, you are not ready to commit to a serious relationship since you just got out of one. Be kind but firm. Best of luck!

  3. Skyblossom says:

    LW1 He was amazing at the start of your previous relationship. He knows how to reel you in and then you get he real him, the abusive guy. The only thing worse than falling for that once is doing it twice. The major difference is that he’s kept a job longer than before but that still isn’t very long, definitely less than a year. He sounds like he’s afraid to be alone and maybe you are too. If you give yourself some time you’ll find someone that you love more than this guy and you’ll be glad you didn’t waste more time on him. The odds that he will be different in a second relationship are slim. His way of handling things has been established and he would have to consciously change and would most likely need counseling to do that. Add on the stress of having a baby and needing to financially support it and he is more likely than ever to be abusive to you.

  4. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    LW1- OhMyFreakin’Goodness, please chill the “relationship” with this guy. You probably arent really even over the relationship. It took me like… a good year and a half to get over my HS boyfriend- like really really over the relationship (which had been healthy and not full of cheating/abuse/drama-rama, btw). You broke up NOT EVEN A YEAR AGO. Please, please give yourself more time, create some space from this guy, and just enjoy your life. (It is perfectly fine to tell him that you are not, in fact, ready to be friends with him. That is YOUR boundary to draw.)
    The fact that you havent felt as strongly for anyone else? That is because you are at the VERY BEGINNING of navigating romantic relationships! And again, you broke up NOT EVEN 11 months ago, after 3 years of a rollercoaster relationship, it sounds like. Calm down. This guy is NOT the be-all, end-all of available dudes. I promise.

  5. LisforLeslie says:

    Oh my god – LW 1 do not get back with this guy. In 10 years you will be curious and you will find him online with a string of broken relationships, left behind children and probably a few domestic violence charges to boot. He sounds like a real loser. Your family is right.

    The connection you have is for all of the firsts you experienced, your first kiss, your first gaslighting, the first time someone pushed you hard enough to be alarming, the first time you found out your partner was cheating and you still took him back, the first time he told you you weren’t good enough for anyone else and you were lucky to have him….

    Yeah – good times.

    Aim higher.

  6. LW1, this guy only sounds good to you because he’s all you know. How many other relationships have you had? It can’t be many, at your age. Aren’t you even a little bit curious about what other guys are out there? Don’t you ever look at your friends who are in happy relationships with good guys, and think “yeah, I’d like to be with a guy like that?” Don’t you see that clinging to this godawful mess of a relationship is keeping you from finding a good one?

    Wouldn’t you like to be in a relationship you’re not ashamed to tell your family and friends about?

    Tell this sad loser that you’re moving on and you don’t want to hear from him anymore. Then block him, everywhere. Get on with your life.

  7. Juliecatharine says:

    Oh good god LW1 NOOOOO. I think you need some counseling if your self esteem is so low that *this guy* is someone you would consider having in your life in any way, shape, or form. He is abusive. The only reason he was so quick to apologize when he pushed you is because someone else was there VIDEOTAPING it. Relationships should be supportive, loving, and respectful–what you had with this boy was none of those things. Do not get sucked back in.

  8. dinoceros says:

    LW1: No. Just no. You need to look at your standards if you think that having a job makes someone that amazing. Sure, he’s had to grow up a little because he literally has to in order to keep his child alive, but that tells you nothing about whether he has gotten over his anger issues and his abusive tendencies. Neither does hanging out as friends. A part of being an adult is realizing that really, really liking someone doesn’t mean that you HAVE to be with them. You have to also use your brain to determine if it’s a good idea. Getting back together with someone who abused you is not. The fact that you think him apologizing after pushing you into a washing machine is a good sign is seriously misguided. NORMAL people don’t push people into washing machines to begin with, so they don’t ever have to apologize for that. Your family is right in hating this guy. If I were your family member, I’d never approve of him. There are billions of people out there who have never abused someone. Why not pick one of those?

    LW2: If you are not interested in being serious with him, then yes, break up. He’s clearly not interested in something casual and to know that and ignore it is leading him on.

  9. judge sheryl says:

    I disagree with Wendy about LW2. I don’t think they necessarily have to break up. She is still really young, so dropping a premature l-word seems like something you can still move past, and have a decent college relationship with. It didn’t seem like she was ONLY looking for a rebound, and she really does like this guy. She didn’t even say she needed to dial back their hangout time or whatever.

    I think it could be good to bring it up in an actual conversation, ‘hey, I’m not going lie, but the l-word freaked me out a bit. I really like where this is going, and I’m having a great time with you, but I’m not there yet. Doesn’t mean I won’t ever be, but I’m pretty raw still from previous breakup”

    If he reacts badly, then definitely break up with him. But maybe he will be cool and understand he might be new to this whole dating thing, and needs to be a little patient… I’m which case you should keep dating him guilt free. If, however, you do realize you are just saying him for convenience, and become sure he is NOT what you want long term, then, yes, break up with him then too.

  10. I don’t think the lw2 boyfriend is manipulative . Maybe he thinks he’s in love. This is his first relationship. Maybe he thinks this is how things are done. If you like him then tell him you aren’t ready for serious. You want to take it slow. If you aren’t feeling him then cut him loose and don’t use him to bolster your ego.
    Lw1-why does anyone have to tell you to run? Why don’t you know this already?

  11. Hi Guys,
    I’m the LW 1, thank you Wendy for the advice and everyone else’s support. I really appreciate it and I think you are all definitely correct. I just don’t have many opportunity’s to meet new guys so it was just really nice to get some affection I guess. I will definitely put some distance between us as I think it is definitely needed regardless of my feelings. Thank you all again.

  12. bittergaymark says:

    Yay! Trust me, you can definitely do better than this douche.

  13. Hi guys, this is lw2 chiming in to say thank you for all the advice.

    judge sheryl was right that it’s not completely a rebound, I do have feelings for boyfriend. He’s just moving… very fast. He’s out of town rn for thanksgiving, so I’m going to take this as a way to get some space & really think about my motivations for being in this relationship.

    I’m definitely going to talk to him when he gets back (I don’t think the conversation of “hey, you said you loved me and it makes me a little uncomfortable” is something well conducted over text). Given how it works out, I might send in an update… we’ll see.

    thanks again 🙂

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