“My Boyfriend Gives Gifts to His Ex”

I have a partner of five years who has two children with two ex-fiancées. Over the years it has, needless to say, been very challenging, especially since each of the exes has pulled strings and it has been constant court cases, mediation, and volatility. He always told me how they were both petty, selfish, and untrustworthy and he referred to them both as b****es. Both exes are married and have other kids. Anyway, I have supported my boyfriend as best I could and I share a great relationship with both of his children.

My boyfriend’s daughter is almost 18, so he has minimum contact with her mother. However, his son is only 8, and so he has to communicate with his son’s mother from time to time, which is business he says, and I think, is totally appropriate. He would originally take her calls in my presence and I could hear that it was just arrangements being made. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that he seems to be texting all the time, and, when she calls, he leaves the room to take the call. It’s been a bit odd, so a few times I snooped and looked into his text messages. He has been sharing random pictures and texts with her that have nothing to do with their son. For example, he went for an art show and sent heaps of photos to her (none to me), and she replied with an “xoxo.” And just a few days ago, I saw a text from her thanking him for something that she promised to wear “all the time.” He replied, “I’m glad you like it: It’s “tres stylish.” He obviously bought her a pretty gift.

I don’t know what to make of this, but I’m finding it hard to get past it and be my normal self. I know I need to talk to him, but he has a temper issue and has been in and out of anger management, so I can’t admit I snooped. Plus, I know he’ll just say that I’m being unreasonable and twisted, which is his standard response to most issues I discuss with him. What should I make of this? — Not So Unreasonable

Let’s count off how many red flags are mentioned in your three-paragraph letter, shall we?

1. Your boyfriend has not one, but two ex-fiancées, both of whom he shares a child with.
Now, having one ex-fiancé is not such a big deal, but TWO? He has two women whom he has gotten serious enough with to plan marrying and then not gone through with it despite having children with them? Dude has commitment issues. Or, just issues, period.

2. He has had “constant court cases, mediation, and volatility,” with each of his ex-fiancées.
What’s the common denominator here? Oh, yeah, HE IS. If he can’t reach compromises with the mother of his children without “constant court cases” — not just one or two, but CONSTANT court cases — “mediation and volatility,” issues, man, issues.

3. He calls these exes, the mother of his children: “petty, selfish, and untrustworthy and he referred to them both as b****es.” Again, who is the common denominator here? HE IS. These women are so awful, yet he chose them… and, somehow, both of them have gone on to marry other people.

4. Your boyfriend is acting untrustworthy — you know, that very characteristic he claimed his exes were guilty of being — in regard to one of his exes, leaving the room when she calls, texting her inappropriate comments, and buying her personal gifts. The reason you’re finding it hard to get past this and “be your normal self” is because THIS ISN’T NORMAL. This is fucked up, is what it is.

5. Your boyfriend has “a temper issue and has been in and out of anger management,” so you don’t feel you can communicate openly with him. Because you’re afraid of him, I guess? Yeah, red flag.

6. His standard response to most issues you discuss with him is to say that you’re being unreasonable and twisted. You know, kind of like his standard response to any issue with his exes is to say they’re being petty, selfish, and untrustworthy bitches.

This is not a man who takes personal responsibility for his behavior or his choices. This is not a man who has respect for women. And this is not a man who is currently capable of a healthy adult relationship. This is a man who has lots of issues, none of which he seems interested in addressing or even discussing in a calm manner. You’ve spent five years with him and are scared to talk to him? Scared of his anger and temper? Oh, honey. It’s time to MOA.


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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. Sunshine Brite says:

    Just the fact you can’t talk to him about this without fear of his anger should be enough of an answer for you. MOA.

  2. Yeah the sheer fact that he has two fiancees was the first of MANY red flags in your letter…and that was your FIRST sentence. I completely agree with Wendy, this guy is a walking, talking red flag.

  3. Ahhh, get away from this dude before you end up having his third child and have to deal with his bullshit forever. And in the future, be wary of any guy who describes his exes as crazy bitches. Huge red flag.

    1. God, yes. This guy will be telling his next girlfriend that you were a crazy bitch. You know he will.

  4. Oh for crying out loud. Just ONE of those huge red flags would be enough to heave ho, but 6?? FFS, aim higher.

    1. Concur with the FFS!

      LW, we accept the type of love we think we deserve. Do you really think you deserve to deal with this bullcrap? Cause let’s call an ass an ass. And your BF is an ass.

  5. Most important sentence in your letter: “I know I need to talk to him, but he has a temper issue and has been in and out of anger management, so I can’t admit I snooped.”
    If you can’t speak openly to your partner; if you’re afraid to discuss legitimate concerns; if you have to edit what you say….then you can’t be yourself with this person. And if you can’t be yourself with him, why the heck do you want to be in a relationship with him?
    Given that, nothing else in your letter matters. But it’s obvious that he’s either back with the ex or trying to be, from the secretiveness and the texts. There’s nothing worth saving here. Go. MOA. There are MUCH better guys out there.

  6. Bottom line: If you cannot talk to your boyfriend of FIVE years because you are afraid of his anger – leave.

  7. Yes there are plenty red flags you have ignored before now but with respect to the issue you wrote in about you know your boyfriend is intentionally hiding something from you…something that really shouldn’t be hidden if it was innocent. Clearly there is a reason he feels he should hide it and since YOU aren’t the one with the anger issues and unreasonable behaviour….why do you think he is being deceptive? You already know. We all do. You know he is being shady or laying the groundwork for being shady…soooo why do you even need to confront him? Particular if doing so is a danger given his temper? Why cant you just walk and leave him to figure out how you found out what he was up to on his own? Some times you don’t even need the talk. Some times you just need to pack your bag. The writing is on the wall. Sorry.

  8. Here, here Wendy!
    I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even be friends with a dude who called women bitches and thinks nothing of it. That speaks a lot to his character.
    And pretty much what everyone else said about his anger management issues. Come on LW, you can do better.

  9. wobster109 says:

    If you are afraid to talk to him then you are in danger every day. Get the heck out of there!

  10. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Some people… will date anyone.
    Some people… just love to take shit and abuse.
    Some people… are absurdly afraid to be alone.
    Some people… create their all of their own problems.
    Some people… will never be happy.

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