I’ve Fallen In Love with My Girlfriend’s Daughter-in-Law”

I am a 57-year-old man and my significant other is a 54-year-old woman, “Linda”. We have a good relationship, I do love her, and she’s a good person who has been good to and for me despite some reservations I have about the way she entered my life. I was a drunken pothead when we met. Now I very seldom drink, but I still smoke my pot. Pot makes life a little easier for someone who is bipolar. Now for the kicker to this whole relationship. Her son, “Luke,” and his lady, “Maria,” have been together for six years and have a 5-year-old son together. Somewhere in their relationship, before their son was born, feelings dwindled and they are now just roommates trying to get along for the child. Some time in the second year of my relationship with Linda (aka, Grandma), I started developing feelings for Maria, who was 21 at the time. At first I didn’t think much of it because of our age difference and life circumstances. (In addition to being her MIL’s partner, I have two grown kids of my own and eight grandchildren.) As time has gone on, my feelings have progressed from those of a concerned friend to something I thought I had locked away after my late fiancée passed away 20 years ago. Two weeks ago, five and a half years after meeting, I finally got up the nerve to tell her the way I really feel about her. She had already told me about a year earlier that she and Luke were done. Now here’s the hardest part: From the day their son was born I have been the one taking care of him 10 to 12 hours a day while Luke and Maria worked. Now I fear I am going to lose everything. Linda says she will stay close by so I can have my time with him, but right now she is kind of freaked out because Maria lives under the same roof with all three of them and she now knows my feelings for her daughter-in-law. I am the type of person that when I open up and let my affections show, everyone around me knows and knows whom they are for. Yes, I’m a Libra.

“My Boyfriend Has Remained Close to His Ex’s Daughter”

Should I wait until they get things sorted out as far as living arrangements go before I even approach her again outside of seeing the boy? — Waiting to Get it Sorted Out

So, let me get this straight: You’re a 57-year-old man who struggles with bipolar disorder and you have developed feelings for your girlfriend’s daughter-in-law who is more than thirty years your junior and employs you to watch her son full-time in the home that your girlfriend shares? And you’re wondering whether you should wait for things to “get sorted out” before you pursue anything? What does “sorted out” even look like in a situation like this? There is no sorted out! Not unless you are being entirely selfish and “sorted out” applies only to your own feelings being considered. What about Linda, her son, and her grandson? In what arrangement do you get what you want — a life with Maria, I guess — and everyone else is ok? There is not an arrangement where that happens. Not in any timeframe that comes close to soon, anyway. And I’m not sure YOU would be ok with getting what you think you want. Can you imagine the resentment Maria may have when she matures a little and realizes the old man she thought she loved took advantage of her naiveté, potentially wrecking any kind of cordial relationship she could hope to have with her child’s father and grandmother? If you love her like you think you do, don’t put her in that situation.

My advice is to excuse yourself from this family. Apologize profusely for the damage you’ve created and then explain that you never meant to hurt anyone, though you can see you’ve done just that, and that you are going to leave them alone so they can figure out, as a family, how best to pick up the pieces. And then let THEM “sort it out” without your input. Maybe that means Maria moves out and she and Luke figure out a custody arrangement that works for them. It most certainly means that you no longer watch their son. (And if that is, indeed, an actual paying gig for you, it’s time to find a new job; if you were doing it on some sort of volunteer basis, use the 50+ hours a week you’ll now have to find a hobby or volunteer elsewhere.)

Maybe in time, once Maria has sorted out her living arrangements, she’ll reach out to you. If so, you need to tread VERY carefully. Yes, you’re both grown adults, but she is so much younger than you and you share some baggage that would definitely affect any potential relationship you might have. Linda will aways be her son’s grandmother and Luke will always be his father. These people will always be in Maria’s life, which will make it very hard for her to find space for you in any meaningful way.

Finally, you mention having bipolar disorder and using pot to help manage it. I hope, especially given your current situation, you are in regular contact with both a psychiatrist and a therapist and that you have another method, besides pot, to manage your symptoms. Most mentally stable people don’t blow up their lives and the lives of people they profess to love and care about the way that you have. This is not normal behavior and is a sign that your mental health is not being managed well. For your sake and the sake of people in your orbit, I urge you to get help.

I’m 20, and he’s 25 with a 5-year-old daughter. At my age I do not plan to have kids soon; I’m focusing on my degree, work, emotional health, and love life. I found out about his daughter five months into our relationship, and I initially let him know I wasn’t interested in the relationship continuing any further. He insisted my feelings would change and that we could make it work. He then introduced me to his daughter, and since then I’ve seen her every other week.

His daughter and I get along only because I get along well with children. I try to offer to every child someone whom I wish I had had when I was a child. My boyfriend’s daughter now loves me and prefers me over her dad. I still don’t want a child in my life forever, and as much as it breaks my heart, I don’t think I could offer him the support he needs to raise her to adulthood. His ex/the child’s bio mom has relapsed on drugs and said she does not want the daughter around me. So for about two months now, my boyfriend has avoided picking up his child, blocked his ex’s number, and does not talk to me about anything involving his daughter. He doesn’t even seem to care about her, and I feel like this is all my fault. — Not Ready for Motherhood

No, it is not your fault at all. This is 100% your boyfriend’s fault. He’s a manipulator and a liar and a horrible, terrible father. Please, please dump his ass and move on with your life. Someone who would discard his daughter the way he has, after denying her existence for the first five months of your relationship, is not somebody who could ever be a good and kind and loving partner to you. He has shown you his colors, and they are ugly. Continue to focus on your degree, work, emotional health, and love life, starting with eliminating the stain you currently have upon it. A new year is a great time for a fresh start — one that does not include a dirtbag boyfriend!

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


  1. bloodymediocrity says:

    LW1: “I’m a Libra”

    Oh ok, that excuses it then. You clearly have no control over this situation.

    1. Prognosti-gator says:

      “I make a series of selfish, impulsive, and poorly thought out decisions. But, don’t blame me, because … stars!”

    2. As a libra I can say we really don’t all move in with our partners then make moves on their daughters in law that are 30+ years younger than us whose child we watch full time. Like, barely any of us.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        As a Libra I completely agree. Blaming the stars is pathetic.

      2. Also a Libra and I work within established medical guidelines to manage any of my neurological/chemical issues instead of toking up. I also don’t get involved in ridiculous drama because … who needs that nonsense. What a cop out.

        Dude, get your shit together. You and I are close in age – why the hell are you not working? What are you going to do for your retirement, live on Maria’s single mom wages?

      3. Sea Witch says:

        Also a Libra and have never been this impulsive. Or foolish enough to think that millions of people born within a certain time span are all alike.

  2. LW1- Have you lost your mind??? Under no circumstance is this acceptable. Are you getting help for your issues?

    LW2- Dump his sorry ass.

  3. LWs, please make better — much better — life decisions in 2020.

  4. LW #2-He is leaving his daughter with his druggie ex and not even having any contact? What a selfish ass. Even you,who doesn’t want kids, cares more about his daughter than he does.
    Next time make sure from the start that a man has no kids or plans for any. He was wrong to not tell you about his daughter,but you stayed and now she loves you and will lose you too, Sad. But yes,you should break it off with him..he is not a good guy and not a match for you.

  5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 Did you notice in Maria’s reaction that she never said she wanted a romantic relationship with you. She doesn’t see you that way. Just because her relationship with Luke is more platonic it doesn’t mean you can just be her partner. She would have to want that and her reaction doesn’t sound like she is interested. What you said was unwanted.

  6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW2 Your boyfriend is a jerk. Any man who would abandon his own daughter isn’t worth your time. Dump him.

    I really feel sorry for his daughter.

    If they have a custody agreement then he can go and take his daughter for visits without her mother’s okay about his girlfriend. This seems kind of fishy. If my kid was in a bad situation I’d be moving heaven and earth to help them. Why isn’t he doing anything? Is he just not showing up and using the girlfriend as an excuse? Is he not paying child support? What you can see for sure is that he is a deadbeat.

    1. The Girl Friend says:

      I couldn’t be more confused as well. I’ve tried talking to him about the elephant in the room but he refuses. Child support gets taken from his account. His ex/bio mom has another baby daddy and his daughter considers that man as her father too.

  7. LW2 — Your boyfriend is one of the worst-behaved jerks I’ve ever read about on this site, and that’s right after I read LW1!

    Of course you should dump him immediately — for hiding a daughter for five months and for abandoning his own daughter because his ex doesn’t want a girlfriend around. But — hear me on this — you should be really questioning why you even needed to ask. You have GOT to recognize assh0les when they present themselves and walk away decisively. Otherwise, your life is going to really get bogged down with losers.

    Break up in public too. I have a feeling he’s going to freak out.

    1. Yes… why aren’t you running away screaming “This is not normal!” Have faith in your own sense of normalcy. You don’t have to be a parent to know that hiding a child is not the sign of a good parent.

    2. The Girl Friend says:

      I’ve tried to break up with him in a calm state and remove my items from his home but he’ll prevent me by taking my keys or phone.

      1. dirtorsoil says:

        You have two options: 1) abandon your stuff and ghost this piece of shit or 2) contact the local police department and have them escort you to get your stuff. Since that will likely send him over the edge you might have to get a restraining order. Choose carefully, is your stuff really worth the emotional toll? Likely not.

      2. anonymousse says:

        Don’t break up with him then, go to “work, the grocery store, your parents house, a friends house, etc” and never go back. Or text a friend to come help you leave. Or the police.

  8. anonymousse says:

    Wow, just when I thought people couldn’t be worse (that’s you, LW1) LW2 tops it with the tale of her terrible bf.

    LW1- you need increased mental health support. No one has to act on every inappropriate thought or feeling they have. That you cannot see how utterly wrong your behavior is quite frankly, phenomenal. I am alarmed that you’ve been responsible for the child considering how poor your common sense is. Seek help.

    LW2- your bf is a piece of shit. He lied to you and hid a child from you. That should have been the straw that broke your relationship. For whatever reason, you listened to his protestations and decided to stay with him. I am so curious to know how long you’ve been seeing him. It was yet another huge warning sign that his daughter prefers you over him. That’s really frightening. You are probably, sadly the nicest person she had in her life. I am shocked that you are still in a relationship with him given that he’s abandoned his own daughter, who needs him so badly. That poor kid. How do you know she’s okay? Is there anyway to make sure she’s okay? Or alert someone with sense that she needs to be check on? Your boyfriends family? CPS? The police? I don’t know, there’s nothing good in this story anyway you look at it. None of this is your fault. Your bf is a despicable father.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your time and yes I am in counseling and taking my meds like I am supposed to and have been since 1987.
    Trust me I did a lot of hard thinking about this before I opened my mouth. I have apologized to all of them. And the lady in question is now 27. 30 years my younger.
    Actually 29 1/2 years.
    You must of missed the part where I said we both have expressed our feelings to each other.
    She let the cat out of the bag 2 years ago when she blurted it out right in front of the others. And of all places her bedroom.
    No we were not doing anything.
    Or I should say we were not having sex or anything close to it.
    We were all in there looking for clothes for the boy and his blanket.
    I walked on a conversation about how bad her pain from her scoliosis was that day and agreed to take care of her son for the day and Bam.
    You would of thought she had just dropped a real bomb in the room.
    My girlfriend, her son and me all flipped out.
    Ever since that day her and I have been walking on eggshells and try not to spend too much time together.
    Up to the point of me trashing everything. My girlfriend and I have been living together for 9 years.
    I told her if she wanted to leave I understood.
    So now she lives with her son and daughter-in-law.
    Don’t be so judgemental until you hear all the facts.
    My girlfriend and I are trying to figure out what to do next.
    She wants to stay with her son for now so that the other two can get things in lined out financially so they can get their own places.
    And yes my girlfriend is still wanting to work through this with me.

    1. dirtorsoil says:

      She doesn’t love you- she feels coerced. You need to get mental health treatment STAT as well as move out. Surely you understand that your reasoning and perception is hugely warped. Your attempts argue your case just prove this. Your perception of what is going on is inaccurate. You cannot reason your way out of this because that tool is broken. Idk why you even posted here as you seem determined to argue that the status quo is ok.

    2. No, your bullshit update does not make this situation ok. She is not in any place where being with you would be a healthy solution. You need to exit yourself from this family before you do anything reprehensible enough that they can’t come back from it. Your GF deserves better, the D-I-L deserves better and you need intense therapy.

    3. We don’t always get to follow our emotions, stop thinking that makes anything in this situation ok.

  10. LW#1 — Rather than saying “I’m a Libra” you should be honest and admit “I’m a fucking piece of shit.” You claim to actually still lover your gf, but have willfully turned her whole family inside out to chase her 30-years-younger-than-you DIL. Does that make any sense to you? It shouldn’t. Of course Maria isn’t romantically interested in you. Despite all your crazy fantasies, she’s has given you zero indication of such interest.

    Of course you’re going to lose everything. Your entrée into Maria’s family was her mother-in-law, whom you’re trying to cheat on and who apparently wants nothing further to do with you, Did you really seriously think that a 26-year old woman would be anxious for a relationship with a 57-year-old, unemployed, bipolar, pothead? Maria needs her income and her husbands income plus whatever your gf has provided to stay afloat and support her son. Even if she wanted to be with you, which she doesn’t, she couldn’t afford it.

    Get professional psychological help. It’s clear that your self-medication with pot isn’t working.

    I totally don’t understand your reservations about your gf, based upon the way you met her (as an alcoholic). You met Maria as the wife of your gf’s son and mother of a child you babysat. That should produce far greater reservations.

    LW#2 — Call Child Support Services and MOA. A young child is living with a relapsed drug-addict mother, while her father has totally abandoned her to that fate.

    For future reference, 5 months after meeting a guy, especially a guy who has lied about even having a child, is at least 7 months too early to meet the child, let alone to become so intertwined in her life that she likes you more than she likes her father. Apparently the kid recognizes what a shitty guy her father is.

    To be perfectly clear: your bf just threw away his own child in an attempt to keep you as his gf. If you are a good person, you should not be anything approaching okay with this.

  11. LW1. Creepy old man. LW2. Run.

  12. Yeah, interesting omission, LW1. You never mentioned Maria’s reaction when you told her your feelings. But there’s a clue when you asked about “approaching her again.”

    You already approached her one too many times. Trust me, there is no universe in which a 26 year old woman has any romantic interest in a stoner grandpa. You need to leave all of these people alone (including the kid) and get real professional help for your bipolar disorder.

  13. I’m not usually one who rushes to call the authorities. But I sincerely hope CPS gets involved with the children mentioned in both of these letters. LW2 before or after you dump this loser please file a report. That child could be in real danger. Do NOT stick around because you think you can save her yourself, you can’t. Her mom & dad won’t let you. I can only hope someone with sense intervenes in LW1’s awful situation. That delusional man should not be taking care of children.

  14. Sea Witch says:

    LW2: so your boyfriend thought you’d change your mind? I suspect that he was looking for a free nanny/babysitter/interchangeable female childcare unit to look after his daughter. He’s manipulative and this is definitely not your fault.
    I feel sorry for the kid, who didn’t get lucky in the parent lottery, but dump this guy and go back to organizing your life as you did before.

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