Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Gave Up His Daughter For Me and Now He’s Broken-Hearted”

I just moved in with my boyfriend, “Greg,” after dating seven months. He and his ex were together five years, and when they met, she had a six-month-old daughter, “Lucy.” Her dad is completely out of the picture so Greg assumed the role as dad and bonded with Lucy even closer than with his biological daughter who’s around the same age, whom he shares with his ex-wife and gets every other weekend.

He explained early on that he intended to remain Lucy’s father and to get her on the same weekends as his bio daughter, and I meditated on it and decided I could open my heart to this. His ex quickly became snippy and jealous about me being around her daughter, and Greg told me he had decided the appropriate thing to do was to say goodbye to both of them. This broke my heart along with his because he had previously described Lucy as his reason for living, the only thing that made him happy. He made his choice and said he didn’t want to talk about it.

The ex now has cut him off and vice versa. I’ve reached out asking if we could try to reconcile for possible visits, and he shuts it down and says this is the right thing to do. However, he hasn’t cleaned out her room and still mourns her, mainly in secret. It’s as if he’s mourning a death almost. He raised her for four years so it’s understandable, but I’m not sure if I should pry or let it run its course. I’m afraid he’s trying to fill the hole in his heart with more time with me — which I don’t mind except I worry it’s unhealthy as he sometimes shuts down.

I’ve also noticed he says he’s “proud of me” when I’m doing well and uses flowery compliments like, “you are my whole heart” and I’ve seen on social media that he said the same phrases to Lucy. Should I be concerned? — Dating a Dad

Yeah, there are some red flags here that you shouldn’t ignore. The most obvious ones to me are that he doesn’t seem to have the same interest in his biological daughter as he has with Lucy and also he has told you that Lucy was his reason for living and the only thing that made him happy. Again, what about his other daughter – his biological daughter? It’s weird. And it’s unhealthy to declare one person your “whole heart” and your “reason for living.” Does Greg not have friends, hobbies, or anything else that fulfills him or excites him? It sounds like maybe not. And now that Lucy is out of the picture — without much fight on his part to keep her in his life — he’s directing all his neediness onto you, which you already feel is unhealthy (because it is). Again, what about his bio daughter?

Frankly, I think that you moved in with Greg too quickly. With two young daughters in the picture, he needed to make sure you were well-integrated into the rest of his life before even introducing you to them and fostering a relationship between you and them. It’s obvious that didn’t happen (and how could it in only seven months?). If you both had taken your time and gotten to know each other better, and you had gotten to know the daughters better, as well as their mothers, the chance of jealousy—-on everyone’s part, but especially on Lucy’s mother’s part—-would have been greatly reduced. It’s unfortunate that Greg, with at least two long-term, serious relationships under his belt, didn’t more thoughtfully consider how his actions would affect all these females in his life and how they relate to each other. But it’s also likely that Greg suspects if you had a chance to know him better before moving in with him, you would have lost interest in pursuing a serious relationship with him, and maybe that’s why he wanted to progress so quickly.

At this point, I think there are enough reasons for you to put the breaks on this relationship, back up, and reflect on whether this is something that feels right for you or not. I would tell Greg that you now realize that things moved more quickly than they should have and you want to move back out for a while and let him figure out what’s going on with Lucy. Tell him you don’t want to feel any responsibility in ending their relationship and until there’s some resolution on that front that Greg feels satisfied with, you won’t be ready to live with him again. In the meantime, keep an eye out for other potential red flags, especially in regards to Greg’s relationship with his bio daughter and how and whether he continues to use similar phrases of affection for you that he uses for his young daughter(s).

***************

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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.

11 comments… add one
  • avatar

    FYI June 3, 2019, 8:48 am

    LW, you aren’t asking enough questions.

    If Greg started seeing Lucy’s mom when their daughters were roughly the same age (six months), that means he moved very quickly in that scenario too. I’d want to know WHY he just turned on a dime and cut them both out. Just because his ex got uncomfortable with you being around her child? She SHOULD be uncomfortable; she doesn’t know you.

    He sounds extremely immature. What in the world is your hurry to move in with someone?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 3, 2019, 11:14 am

      Right, exactly! By the time his bio baby is around six months old, he’s already shacking up with a different woman and *her* 6-month-old baby, forming a closer bond with this child than with his own? And that didn’t give the LW pause? At least, not enough pause to say, “Hmm, this guy has a history of moving kind of fast and maybe that isn’t a good thing, especially when there are young children in the picture.”? It’s a great big red flag that should have, at the very least, persuaded the LW to take an extra few months to feel things out and get to know everyone — the daughters, their mothers — before moving in with the new boyfriend.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 3, 2019, 10:08 am

    I suspect it’s simply much easier to bond with the child you’re actually living with. So that’s what is up with that. Still, this guy is a mess. I’d pump up the brakes a bit…
    .
    When did you two meet? Had he already broken up with his Ex? It’s curious this info is left out. Or maybe I missed it?
    .
    I feel so sorry for the kid as what a fucking mess.

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  • avatar

    RedBlue June 3, 2019, 11:05 am

    Red flags all over this. I want to say more about this but I have too many conflicting thoughts. The others are right, seven months is to short to either be talking cohabiting or marriage. Sometimes I get the that a year is too short.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 3, 2019, 11:17 am

      Honestly, I think it should be mandatory for people who have young kids in the picture to wait *at least* a year before moving in with a new partner. Two years would be better (like, wait at least six months-12 months before even introducing your kids to your new significant other, and then spend another year at least letting everyone get to know each other and before testing out co-habitation).

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  • avatar

    Sapphire June 3, 2019, 12:29 pm

    This is confusing. I don’t understand how he doesn’t have much of a relationship with his daughter. Doesn’t he spend time with her? Why isn’t he as invested in having a close relationship to his daughter like his unofficial adopted daughter? How could he be in a child’s life for 4 years, even having her own room at his place? He took care of her, spend time with her. He watched this 5 months turn into a 1 year old, a 2 year old, a 3 year old, and now four. Why the hell did he cut Lucy out? Just like that?

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  • avatar

    Allornone June 3, 2019, 1:04 pm

    Nothing about this guy makes any kind of sense.

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  • avatar

    Moe June 3, 2019, 1:15 pm

    I think there is probably much more to this than the confusing narrative communicates.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse June 3, 2019, 1:33 pm

    It’s really sad that he would do that to a child. To me, this sounds like the beginning of a bad relationship. You now have seen that he can be ruthless. He’s cut a child that he professed to love out of his life completely to spite his ex. He’s hurting a four year old to punish his ex. He decided he had to make a choice between you and Lucy, and he chose you. That is a pretty fucked up way to prove his devotion to you. He never had to make that choice, but he did. I think you know that’s very strange. It’s unnecessary and over the top, like the language he uses. You know Lucy was never his whole heart, and you aren’t now. He makes these motions to endear you to him. He is playing a part. He played the part of a devoted dad until it got complicated. Now he’s pretending that you’re the only thing that can fill that void.

    Do you know what happened with his previous relationships?

    If you can move out, you should. You don’t have to stop dating, but I think you should take a step back and spend more time getting to know him a lot better and learning about him before you combine households. Watch for more red flags.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros June 3, 2019, 6:43 pm

    What Wendy said. I think that he has a lot of unhealthy ways of relating to other people. I also think you guys moved too fast. Seven months is too fast to give up someone he considers his daughter for you. Plenty of people don’t even become exclusive in seven months and the fact that he’s just cutting off family for your relationship is extremely weird. It would have creeped me out a lot, and I probably would have felt sort of suffocated.

    I think he’s someone who becomes obsessive over people and doesn’t have his own sense of self outside them. Maybe it’s true, maybe not. But I think moving in with him this early was a bad idea, and I think you need to reel it back in a little and be very careful not to get overly committed to him before you find out more about why he’s like this.

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  • avatar

    Hazel June 4, 2019, 3:53 am

    He seems volatile in his emotions. If you stay with him, I can forsee a time where his heartbreak over “losing Lucy” becomes somehow all your fault. If you can’t get him to take a more moderate path (and stop punishing this child for no good reason) I’d proceed with great caution and make sure you always have a plan in place to get out of this relationship if necessary.

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