“My Boyfriend’s Relationship With His Daughter Turns my Stomach”

My boyfriend of five years has a 24-year-old daughter who lived with him until a few months ago. I was supposed to move in at the time, but due to my job we have to wait another year. He asked her to move back in with him because he has never lived alone and can’t bear it. Well, she’s thinking about it to save money because he will not charge her anything. She’s an RN and has a decent income.

The problem is that I stay with him on the weekends and it becomes uncomfortable. I find their relationship odd. She sends him pictures of herself whenever she’s dressed up. I also find that he will rub her back in the same manner as when he rubs mine. It turns my stomach. I feel like I’m the other woman. I didn’t grow up with a father, so I’m not sure if it’s odd or just my insecurities. — Feeling Second To His Daughter

The details you’ve shared about your boyfriend’s relationship with his daughter don’t sound particularly odd, necessarily – family members share photos with each other from special occasions and physical affection, like hugs, a quick back rub, or peck kisses, can look the same across a variety of relationships (platonic, romantic, familial). What does seem odd and cause for your concern is your boyfriend’s insistence that he can’t bear to live alone, to the point that he’s begging his adult daughter to move in with him and enticing her with free rent. That kind of co-dependency is unhealthy and surely it affects the dynamic of your relationship, no? However, I don’t understand that, if you’ve been together for five years and up until a few months ago your boyfriend’s daughter lived with him, you are suddenly feeling uncomfortable with their relationship now. Has something changed? Have your feelings for your boyfriend changed in general and his relationship with his daughter is an easy justification for that?

Regardless, you need to be honest with yourself about what your needs are and whether this relationship is – or even can – meet them. Then communicate with your boyfriend about what you need and move on if it turns out that a grown man who needs his grown daughter to live with him because he can’t bear being alone is maybe not doing it for you anymore.

After three years of living together my fiancée gave me two weeks notice that she is moving out to get her own place. In our household it is her, myself, and my three kids, ages 17, 19 and 22. My lover has expressed frustration over various household chores that go unattended, such as taking the trash out and locking both deadbolts locks on the doors. I have placed my children on various restrictions to ensure they maintain their responsibilities around the home. However, sometimes the boys still forget to lock both deadbolts on the front door. Well, my fiancée threw a terrible fit and called my sons names for forgetting to lock both deadbolts and then stopped talking to me. After three days of the silent treatment, she landed a big bombshell to say she’s moving out and leaving in two weeks. It was extremely painful to hear that she couldn’t live with me and my grown children any longer. I’m terribly confused. But I think I saw this coming. Is this my fault? — Deadbolt Dead

Your girlfriend may feel that you’ve enabled your sons to behave irresponsibly or that you haven’t enforced rules enough so that they’re actually followed, which, yes, would be your fault. On the other hand, you and she may simply be incompatible, which is no one’s fault, but still painful when a relationship ends (especially on a bitter or angry note). If you think there are lessons for you to be learned in the ending of this relationship, take them and apply them to your life so that a future relationship with someone you’re compatible with doesn’t suffer the same fate. And maybe as your sons hit their early 20s, it’s time to start nudging them, one by one, out of the nest and letting them fly on their own.

I’ve been with this guy off and on for four years now. Every time we’ve broken up, he’s gotten with this other girl, the same girl, and tonight — keeping in mind we’re together — he told me that he was on the phone with her, talking about her recent break-up. Like any normal, concerned girlfriend, I brought it to his attention that I really didn’t like this. I got a little mad and said a few things, but nothing harsh. He told me he refused to stop talking to her because he cared for her “as a friend.” I was still really, REALLY upset by this. After hours of begging him to block his ex and trying to make a point, I finally got superrrr mad. I lashed out on him because we had been talking about it for hours. Needless to say, he refuses to quit talking to her and also told me I’m the crazy girlfriend everybody hated. He has been neglecting me and my feelings for a while now, but especially tonight. Tonight he let me get upset, and he let me cry myself to sleep, knowing I was sad. On top of all that, I now find out he’s also going camping with a girl he’s in love with and threatened to leave me for. I really don’t know what to do. He always makes me seem like I’m the bad guy and makes me think what I’m feeling is wrong. Maybe it is. Please help me. I’m literally hopeless. — Crazy Girlfriend?

So, in summary: You’ve had multiple breakups with the same guy; he’s in love with another woman; he says you’re crazy and everyone hates you; he neglects you; and he makes you feel bad about yourself. And you’re honestly not sure what you should do? If a close friend of yours told you all this about her boyfriend, I would hope your advice would be to leave him because she’s so clearly unhappy and there’s obviously no future for the relationship, and that’s my advice to you. It’s beyond time to MOA.

Also, for what it’s worth, you say that any “normal, concerned girlfriend” would express to her boyfriend her unhappiness with his talking with his ex, but that isn’t true. Only a girlfriend who feels very threatened and insecure would spend hours begging her boyfriend to stop talking to such a person. By the same token, only someone afraid of being alone would keep going back to a relationship that makes her so profoundly unhappy. Whatever it is you’re trying to hide from in this dysfunctional relationship needs to be dealt with before you’ll ever have a stable and happy relationship, and as long as you keep pouring your energy into some guy who treats you like shit, you’ll continue staying hostage to your personal demons. Dump the boyfriend and slay the demons, sister. It’s the only way out of the purgatory you’ve been living in all these years.


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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. LW1: As a general rule, if you ever suspect your partner of incest, it’s a good sign that it’s time to move on.

    LW2: Your ex-fiancee got sick of being your and your kids’ maid. In the future, don’t treat the woman in your life like a maid. (Don’t let your kids do it, either.)

    LW3: This guy is a shit show. MOA.

    1. For LW2 – 1000% agree. Every woman knows exactly why she left.

  2. anonymousse says:

    I feel like LW3 is familiar. Like she wrote in the forums about the camping thing.

    1. Is the person he’s going camping with a different woman than the one he always goes back to when they’re on a break?
      I mean she obviously sounds jealous and crazy, but if he really threatens to leave her for this other woman all the time then that’s pretty terrible, too.

      The whole relationship sounds like a mess, time to MOA.

  3. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1). You need therapy. There is nothing even vaguely incestuous going on here. To suggest as much is simply beyond fucked up. Shocking even.

    LW2). Screaming at kids for failing to deadbolt the second deadbolt on a door is really kinda sorta overkill. Where do you guys live? Skid Row? Let her leave. Both you AND the ring.

    LW3). What kind of bizarre, sick and twisted hold do either of you have over one another. You both sound… well, fucking batshit crazy. Move on Already. For Real.

  4. LW #3 — This guy has been cheating with/on both you and other woman for as long as you’ve known him. He basically has 2 gfs. You seem to know that, so why don’t you just MOA. He’s made himself very clear to you: you will never have him as a monogamous bf. Likely he’s told the other woman the same thing.

  5. “Tonight he let me get upset…” Nope. You chose to get upset. You are the boss of you. Nobody made you get “superrrr mad,” and nobody made you fight on and on for hours. Those are your choices. Take control of your life.

  6. dinoceros says:

    LW1: Look, 99% of the time, the person who “sees” some sort of romantic vibe between a father and daughter is the gross one. And TBH, if you think your boyfriend is the type of person to be involved with his daughter that way, you don’t think very highly of him. It’s fine to be annoyed by her moving in without turning it into something disgusting. And plenty of people who don’t have dads don’t assume that their partners are committing incest.

    LW2: Yes.

  7. #3…wow, way to leave the part about him going camping with another woman he’s in love with until the end there. And you’re worried about the ex?

  8. #3 ‘He always makes me seem like I’m the bad guy and makes me think what I’m feeling is wrong. Maybe it is. Please help me.’ — this is classic gaslighting.

    Again, I’d be much more worried about the current person he’s in love with that he’s threatening to leave you for. Why don’t you do yourself a big bit of self-care and dump his worthless ass while he’s away camping?

  9. I think the woman he’s going camping with is the ex.

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