Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “His Daughter Has Him Wrapped Around Her Little Finger”

Don't Forget
There’s a guy I had a huge crush on in my teens. We dated a few times back then and eventually broke up. After a few years, I moved away. Many years later, I ran into him at a restaurant when I came home to visit. My sister told me his wife had passed away from cancer and he had a one-year-old daughter. I was so surprised because I didn’t know he had even been married. He came over to me at the restaurant and said hello. That was the last time I heard from him until I joined Christian Mingle a few years later. He found me on there and we went out on a date.

Everything was going great until he told me he had a “love child” by a woman he accidentally got pregnant. Long story short, this revelation ruined the whole date. We went on a couple more dates, but he didn’t seem over his deceased wife. He still had her clothes in the bedroom closet and pictures all over the house. I did speak to him about my concern, and he said he kept them up for his daughter and was just too lazy to get rid of her clothes in the closet yet. Hmm. We stopped seeing each other after that, but it’s been a year and he recently found me through my work website.

I’m not sure where it will go, but he has been pushing hard for us to be a family already. The first date was amazing with just the two of us. Date two involved his daughter and I was not comfortable watching him walk around the fair all night holding her hand and not even once reaching for mine. I felt like a third wheel. We actually had a fight afterwards and didn’t start talking again until a week later. He wanted me to know his daughter will always come first. I told him I don’t have to come first with everything, but the more I think about it I am really bothered that he said that. He said I should be happy he wants to put his child first. I am single with no kids. Is this just me not understanding because I don’t have kids, am I too jealous, or is this going to be a big problem that she is first and has daddy wrapped around her 6-year-old finger. Please help!!! — Single With No Kids

Oh, honey. This isn’t about you not understanding because you don’t have kids. This is about you not understanding because you’re a heartless, selfish brat. A man lost his young wife — the mother of his baby — and you have the gall to judge his healing process?! You have the nerve to confront him after THREE measly dates about his deceased wife’s clothes that he still keeps in the closet? That you believe a little 6-year-old girl who doesn’t even remember her mother has her father wrapped around her finger simply because he holds her hand at the fair is appalling and speaks volumes to your lack of empathy and your stunted emotional maturity.

Stick to dating men who don’t have children. You need someone who can give you all the attention you crave and who will wrap himself around your finger (and your finger only). A single dad — at least one who is a loving father — is a man you have to share with someone else, and clearly you aren’t prepared for that kind of sacrifice. So move on and let this family continue healing in peace, without the judging glare of a woman-child like yourself.


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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.

55 comments… add one
  • JK August 11, 2014, 8:04 am

    Seriously LW? Sheesh.

    Better yet? Don´t date ANYONE until you can get over yourself.

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  • LadyinPurpleNotRed August 11, 2014, 8:06 am

    Dear god you are TERRIBLE! I assume there were lots of people at the fair…it’s important to keep an eye on her, make sure she’s comfortable and such. That doesn’t mean he’s going to let her walk all over him. I agree with Wendy, stick to people who have no kids and are as sucky as you. Sheesh.

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    • JK August 11, 2014, 8:25 am

      And it was DATE TWO!!!! Hell Ive been married for 7 years and I cant remember ever walking around holding hands with my husband.
      But we do take our kids by the hand when we´re out and about OH NO MY MARRIAGE IS DOOMED.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed August 11, 2014, 8:29 am

        He’s having an affair and I bet he holds her hand! You better watch out!

      • Addie Pray August 11, 2014, 9:07 am

        Weird, he held my hand when I was in Argentina visiting you. I chalked it up to an overly-friendly-Latin-American-men thing. Weird.

      • Addie Pray August 11, 2014, 9:10 am

        Bada? Bing?

  • joanna August 11, 2014, 8:30 am

    Wow. Just wow. The selfishness this woman portrays is appalling.

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  • TheRascal August 11, 2014, 8:41 am

    Are there actually people who act and feel like this?! LW, think outside of yourself for a moment.
    My shock aside, LW, please use this as an opportunity to reflect on your thoughts and actions. The way you are acting is incredibly selfish.

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  • Married by Elvis August 11, 2014, 8:53 am

    I’m so confused. Is the six-year old the “love child” or is there another child too? Do these people read what they write? This letter is incoherent until the last paragraph, where her awfulness is revealed.

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    • jlyfsh August 11, 2014, 9:08 am

      That was confusing! Unless the timeline which is very vague means that the one-year old is now much older and this is a second child? Either way she needs to not date anyone with kids!

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      • ktfran August 11, 2014, 9:14 am

        My understanding is that he has two children. The “love child” and the daughter with his deceased wife. So, the daughter is, what, six now, because a few years have passed. And the love child isn’t in the picture, but exists out there, somewhere. Maybe? This is how I read the letter anyway.

      • jlyfsh August 11, 2014, 9:16 am

        yeah or that option! i wasn’t sure. she kept mentioning ‘years’ later. We need more exact time lines 😉

      • ktfran August 11, 2014, 9:59 am

        It would be extremely helpful in cases like this. Like…

        2002, had a crush on a dude in high school. We dated off an on.
        2010, ran into said dude at a restaurant. Heard he was a widower and had a one year old daughter. He came over, said hello. But then didn’t contact me again. What the hell? I’m hot.
        2012, dude found me on Christian Mingle. We went on a date. He told me he also had a love child, and I was like say what? That’s a little off-putting, but I was in love with him in High School, so, we went on a couple more dates. I don’t think he’s over his dead wife. Her clothes are still in the closet and picture are up. Who gives a shit that a child is involved. Why would she need to see picture of her dead mother? So, I bailed.
        2014, this dude contacted me again, through my work web site. He must be super in love with me and wants to start a family. We went a date, just the two of us, and had a blast. On our second date, he brought his daughter. We went to a fair. He had the nerve to hold her hand. I mean, who care is someone snatches her, right? He should hold my hand so some other dude doesn’t try to snatch me away, which I think I might let happen, because he is soooo wrapped around his daughters tiny little finger. So, we fought because he didn’t grab my hand. Who cares that her mother passed away and he is all she has. I’m super jealous and insecure, btw.
        So, something like the above would have been easier to follow. Just sayin’.

      • JK August 11, 2014, 10:25 am

        I understood that its the same kid, she was1 then a “few years” later they date and shes 6? I dont get if he cheated on his wife or it was an affair after he was widowed though.

    • Dear Wendy August 11, 2014, 10:30 am

      I’m not really sure what “love child” is referring to in this letter either. I kind of thought he was telling this LW this is 6-year-old daughter was a product of an accidental pregnancy and that he married the woman and she then died of cancer a year later. But it could very well mean that after his wife died of cancer, he accidentally got another woman pregnant and he has another child out there who, apparently, doesn’t seem part of his day-to-day life. Either way, my advice stays the same: homegirl needs to stick with guys who don’t have kids and probably never want kids.

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      • ktfran August 11, 2014, 10:41 am

        Yeah. Either way, it sounds like he’s this child’s primary caregiver. So, she should kind of MOA, like, yesterday.

  • Addie Pray August 11, 2014, 9:09 am

    Yikes – what everybody else said.

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  • jlyfsh August 11, 2014, 9:15 am

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s because you’re single with no kids. Showing your child affection does not mean they are wrapped around your finger. And you were on date two! I think if you get jealous over a parent holding their child’s hand, maybe you need to figure out what makes you feel that way. Because, I don’t think it’s a normal response. Also he has two hands, does he have to be the one to grab yours? What not walk on his other side and grab his hand?

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  • Amanda August 11, 2014, 9:19 am

    This letter was very confusing. You can’t have a ‘love child’ if you marry the other parent. I read the letter thinking that the guy was a widower whom impregnated another woman.

    LW, you need to perform some self-reflection immediately. Stop dating this man and any other parents.

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    • Addie Pray August 11, 2014, 10:22 am

      I was confused by this too. At first when she said he admitted having a love child, I thought maybe the story about having a wife who died was made up? Then I thought maybe he has two kids – the baby daughter from his wife and then another “love child”? But I guess the “love child” comment is in reference to the child with his wife? Regardless, it’s super creepy to be jealous he holds his daughter’s hand at the fair, etc.

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      • lindsaybob August 11, 2014, 10:27 am

        I assumed it meant he had his daughter with his wife and also a love child, whose life he may or may not be involved with, but who at any rate presumably doesn’t live with him and so didn’t go to the fair/meet the LW, which is why s/he is only mentioned so briefly.

  • pinkaffinity August 11, 2014, 9:29 am

    Two things stick out to me: you say that you don’t believe he is over his deceased wife, and you say that he is pushing hard for you to be a family. His daughter has him “wrapped around her finger”. He hasn’t fully grieved. You don’t seem to like his daughter, since you make no sort of positive comment about her. You don’t even say anything positive about this man, either, besides the fact that you had a huge crush on him as a teenager. You may have created this ideal of him in your head ever since having that crush, and even though you’ve tried before and it hasn’t worked out, you’ve continued coming back to him. Let go of the crush. It is not going to work out like the fantasy in your head.
    You should have a conversation with him about how you are happy that he puts his daughter first. That’s a GOOD thing. But in that same conversation, you should really break things off. And not go back to him this time.

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    • Skyblossom August 11, 2014, 2:00 pm

      I think you’re right about the fantasy.

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  • Amanda August 11, 2014, 9:44 am

    Oooookay. Wow. Let me just say this right off the bat: you are allowed to want to come first in a relationship – that in and of itself is okay. However, if anything other than that is not good enough for you do not date people with children. Especially if you’re going to argue with him about how he didn’t hold your hand!
    That being said – he is absolutely right that you should be happy he puts his daughter first. He’s a good dad (and probably a very good man). I can’t even imagine what he sees in you. So, let him go. Let him find a woman who will support him and doesn’t need to be fawned over.
    And, for chrissakes – you’re a grown ass woman. If you want to hold his hand, reach out and hold his hand.

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  • lindsaybob August 11, 2014, 9:57 am

    Wow. WWS and WEES. I know it probably feels like we’re being super harsh but really, try to re-read your letter as if somebody else wrote it. You sound like a really awful person in that letter. You’re probably NOT a really awful person, but I agree with everybody who said you shouldn’t date people who have kids. A parent needs to be able to hold their young child’s hand in a busy public place without it causing a fight with their partner. Leave this guy alone and let him find somebody who will love including his daughter and find his devotion to her attractive rather than annoying.

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  • Essie August 11, 2014, 10:11 am

    I shouldn’t even answer this because it’s Monday morning and I’m cranky. But sweet holy mother, LW, what in the hell are you thinking? YOU ARE COMPETING WITH A 6-YEAR OLD? YOU ARE PISSED BECAUSE A SIX YEAR OLD WHO LOST HER MOMMY WANTS TO HOLD HER DADDY’S HAND?
    Stop. Walk away from this man now, for his own sake, and the sake of his daughter. He needs a woman who will care for him, and for his child. Preferably one who isn’t so self-obsessed that she freaks out if he holds his daughter’s hand.

    And for the record….yes. A man’s children will always come first. Always. Until the day he dies. And that’s exactly as it should be. If this man behaved the way you wanted him to, he would be a dirtbag. Spend some time thinking about that.

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  • findingtheearth August 11, 2014, 10:34 am

    A child wanting to hold its parent’s hand is always acceptable, regardless of age or if the other parent is alive or not. Get over yourself. Would you get jealous of your own child wanting to hold its father’s hand?

    Why do people think they should be number one compared to a child? A child will always come first if the father is a decent, kind, good human being.

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    • muchachaenlaventana August 11, 2014, 10:42 am

      I think she would be jealous of her own child wanting to hold it’s father’s hand…which is why this LW should hold off on procreating until she comes to terms with some of whatever it is she struggles with…

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      • ktfran August 11, 2014, 10:52 am

        I actually know a woman who didn’t want children because of her jealous tendencies, which is fine. She at least knew she wouldn’t make a good mom, so she didn’t procreate.

      • Simonthegrey August 11, 2014, 2:44 pm

        I didn’t want children in my 20s because I knew I didn’t want to put them first. Sounds like the woman you know is smart and honest with herself. Not everyone is cut out to be mother material….or, in the case of this LW, step-mother material.

      • ktfran August 11, 2014, 2:53 pm

        Yep. No judgment here. I would much rather see children with adults who want them.

  • Diablo August 11, 2014, 10:53 am

    He probably bought his little brat more cotton candy and won her more kewpie dolls too. Kids are so selfish. It’s just me, me, me the whole time and boo hoo hoo. I bet if they go on a holiday, he’ll try to bring her along, even though there are several good kennel options. But Noooo….. it’s all her way, even though she acts like a bloody six year old. Oh wait, SHE IS SIX. Never mind.

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    • Addie Pray August 11, 2014, 11:00 am

      Yay for kewpie dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they’re the best.

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      • Diablo August 11, 2014, 11:08 am

        M and I went to the fair this Sat. I did hold her hand most of the time, but I also made occasional eye contact with random strangers, so I hope our marriage isn’t doomed. I bought her ice cream, in the hopes that she would then feel obligated to, you know, (it’s always worked before). But she got sick and we had to go home and we missed Pat Benatar (we always go to the nostalgia act). So even though there were no children involved, I was still a victim of her selfishness, needing to go home and upchuck instead of watchin’ Pat and then makin’ hot love. Me and the LW… cheated out of our rightful share of happiness….

  • Wendy (not Wendy) August 11, 2014, 11:06 am

    I wouldn’t be that excited (in the abstract) about dating a guy with kids but OMG I think my heart would explode if I saw a single dad holding his six year old daughter’s hand at a fair. That’s actually A-game quality moves. Even though it sounds like he’s moving a little fast.

    Also, maybe some women could pull it off, but I’m glad she didn’t reach for his hand, because she probably would have done it all jealous-like. And then if the little girl was all “can I have an ice cream?” she would be all “Can *I* have an ice cream?” and so on from there.

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  • MissyC August 11, 2014, 11:30 am

    I can’t even. WWS absolutely, all the way. You mention (horribly) that when you dated I guess the first time (? or second? I have no idea) that it seemed like he wasn’t over his wife. That’s acceptable and understandable. Then you followed it up with the reasons and a judgment about his timeline for moving on. How presumptuous of you! Why do you get to decide what is the best way to act, behave, and clean out his own damn house?

    And (I guess a few years down the road? Or with a different child? again I’m lost…) then you get upset with him because he’s holding the hand of a young child, in a public (and I’m guessing crowded) place. And you’re angry about that? Puh-leeze. *You* are being the child in this situation.

    Ugh I have so much more I want to say but I just can’t even. I am horrified…

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  • Red_Lady August 11, 2014, 11:32 am

    LW, it really doesn’t sound like you like this guy. Sure, you did in high school, but nothing about your post-HS contact with him sounds like you still feel that way. I feel like your real question is whether it’s OK that you feel jealous of the kid. And we really can’t control our feelings, we can only control how we react to them.
    It sounds like this guy is a pretty good dad, and it sounds like you’re not interested in being in a relationship that involves kids. I know I wouldn’t want to date someone with kids – I’d much prefer to get to know a guy one-on-one, with the possibility of us making our own family later on. I think he would have to be a pretty amazing guy for me to go for a single dad. And from your letter, that doesn’t sound like the case here. Don’t date him anymore, and don’t date dads.

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  • Crochet.Ninja August 11, 2014, 10:34 am

    so why didn’t you reach for his hand yourself? were your arms broken?

    Children ALWAYS come first. always.

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  • Bittergaymark August 11, 2014, 11:38 am

    Step 1) Go buy a large mirror.
    Step 2) Date that.

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    • Essie August 11, 2014, 11:47 am

      We can wrap it up here, BGM wins the internet today. 🙂

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    • honeybeenicki August 11, 2014, 1:25 pm

      But! What if the mirror starts allowing other people to see their reflections?!?

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  • something random August 11, 2014, 12:46 pm

    I didn’t feel the same strong reaction most people did toward the lw. Mostly I was confused. LW, If your first date was ruined by “love child” talk, why did you keep dating? I guess you gave it a try but figured he wasn’t ready yet (and thought he didn’t have the self-insight to know that)? And after he found you a year later why did you go out with him again? I do understand the DW outrage about your response during second/(fifth?)date. What everyone else said. The timing around the second date confuses me. I think its strange to bring a child along on a second date. And fighting about ANYTHING involving said child is definitely not second date after a year appropriate. It sounds like you’ve invested a lot of fresh starts in someone who’s life you are not into at all. I don’t get it. What are you trying to figure out? MOA.

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    • Portia August 11, 2014, 3:16 pm

      I agree with you, that I didn’t have the same strong reaction. It sounds like the LW kept trying this then deciding against it, and repeating the process every so often. Maybe the LW had rethought previous dealbreakers? But if the LW’s not comfortable with this guy’s past (which all these things stem from, really), MOA, she should stop trying to convince herself it’s ok because it clearly isn’t. Knock over the coke machine already!

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  • honeybeenicki August 11, 2014, 1:26 pm

    Lw – You’re jealous of a child. You need to examine your reaction and your life and move on to dating people who don’t have children. Or pets. Or houseplants. I still think it’s sweet when my husband holds my bonus daughter’s hand and she’s almost 17. Yikes.

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  • Coconot August 11, 2014, 1:43 pm

    Altough I agree with Wendy and others who said that LW should moa, ideally to someone without children, I think some commenters are being way too harsh to the LW. First, I thought we said we are going to make comments less attacky and more constructive. Second, I think it’s weird that this guy, who is supposedly super protective and loving of his daughter decides to interrupt the daughters trip to the fair by having a second date with a new woman. Shouldn’t he be waiting longer to introduce the two? Also, while I understand the sentiment “kids come first”, I also think kids and romantic partners shouldn’t even be in the same category, and therefore shouldn’t really be ranked. If you all (and LW’s date) are saying, prioritize a child’s needs over a new gf, sure I get that. However, some ppl seem to be phrasing it to mean no matter what the child wants/needs it’s more important than the gf, always. Again, maybe true for a very new gf like letter writer, but I wouldn’t think it’s correct to generalize this to mean all the time for all levels of relationships. In the extreme case, you are going towards the stereotypical mom who addresses their children’s desire to the exclusion of their spouses needs and desires, then that ends in divorce and everyone including the kids ends up hurt by it. If the date in this case had this kind of extremely indulgent attitude to his daughter, I can kind of almost see where the letter writer was coming from. However, I can’t see how she would have figured this out from the information she gives us.

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    • Coconot August 11, 2014, 1:45 pm

      Btw wanted to point out that even if you all think the LW is the most selfish jerk ever, phrasing it as rudely as many have done above is probably not the best way to get her to acknowledge and fix her issues.

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    • pinkaffinity August 11, 2014, 5:38 pm

      I agree about the harshness. Aaaaaand I agree about everything else you said. Children should come first regarding their needs, but it’s not like adults DON’T have needs. And anyway, in this case, I’m feeling more and more like we are missing some vital information. Because honestly, if this guy called her up and said “Let’s have a date at the fair!” and then just brought his daughter along unannounced without explanation (couldn’t get a sitter, etc.), then that says something. If he said “Let’s have a date at the fair!” and then the daughter whined about wanting to go to the fair too and didn’t want to have the babysitter come over and cried until he agreed that she could come, then that says something too. If he said, “Let’s all go to the fair!”, even if the LW took it as a date, then his phrasing makes it more of a hangout session/get to spend time with both him and the daughter session, and if she felt like a third wheel, then that’s saying something different. LW might not necessarily be the scum of the earth.

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  • MsMisery August 11, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Oh man. You suck.

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  • Skyblossom August 11, 2014, 2:15 pm

    As a parent, I can tell you that parents hang onto the hands of children in crowded places so that they don’t get lost. If you had looked around you would have seen that the other parents were holding children’s hands but parents of young children weren’t holding hands with each other. Parents also hold children’s hands in parking lots, when crossing streets and at any other time it might be required for the child’s safety. The more crowded the place the more completely the parent focuses on the child to keep the child safe. When parents take children to the fair the day is usually child centric. Parents take the kids around to see the animals and take the kids to various rides. That’s what parents with kids do at a fair. A date with a child along isn’t going to be the same, romantic experience that a date without a child will be. It can’t be because the child must be watched and because the child will be watching and listening to everything you say and do.

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    • coconot August 11, 2014, 2:38 pm

      This is why LW shouldn’t have been surprised that her bf was holding his daughter’s hand, but it is also why it was pretty dumb for LW’s bf to make this their second date.

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      • jlyfsh August 11, 2014, 2:42 pm

        Actually I think in the end it was probably a good idea. If the LW is this bothered by her bf interactions with his daughter better to find out now than 6 months to a year from now. Usually personally I would think that the second date was too fast, but it’s probably going to work out better for everyone in the end.

      • Amanda August 11, 2014, 2:44 pm

        I would agree too, except they dated for a bit a few years ago. So it’s a second second date.

  • blackbird August 11, 2014, 7:00 pm

    As someone who is currently dating someone with a child, I am…gobsmacked…by the number of letters (this is just one of several) where the LW is so bothered by the fact that the father is paying attention to their own child. *newsflash* When you date someone with a child, that is what you’re signing up for! It’s not a competition….and if in some alternate reality it IS a competition, the child wins every time (and they should!)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t hold your hand on the second date in front of his daughter, because he wants his daughter to get used to the idea of you slowly. I actually think that’s good parenting on his part. On a second date, you really don’t need to be introduced to a kid as anything more than a FRIEND, because on date two, that’s really all you are.

    I (somewhat) want to give you the benefit of the doubt here, and attribute your strange feelings about his daughter and his parenting, to the fact that maybe you just know this guy isn’t for you, and you want to end things- but want a “reason”. And feeling “neglected” or uncomfortable with his parenting feels like a more valid reason for breaking things off, then just admitting you’re not compatible.

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  • fast eddie August 11, 2014, 6:09 pm

    The three of you went to the fair. He doted on you and let the kid run out of sight. She was picked up by a pedophile, raped, strangled and dumped in a trash bin. But what the hell at least you got the attention that you deserve eh?

    For you own sake, and the rest of civilization, please get yourself spayed or only date men who have been neutered. Yes there are some out there, but like yourself, they are too self centered to be a caring partner.

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  • atlimbo August 11, 2014, 7:35 pm

    PREACH, Wendy.

    LW? WWS.

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