“My Boyfriend Wants to Give My Niece a Bracelet Because He Thinks She’s Pretty”

My close girl friend gave me a gold bracelet for Christmas, and when I showed it to my boyfriend, he commented that it was pretty and he then said: “I hope you won’t feel bad, but I want to buy Lily a gold bracelet, too.” Lily is my 7-year-old niece whom he’s met only once when we visited my sister a year ago. He finds her really pretty. I just find it weird that out of nowhere he would suddenly think of buying her something when he’s never bought something like that for me and didn’t even remember to give me something for my birthday (I’m not really after material things). Do you think this is anything abnormal or should I just be okay with it? — A Little Concerned

No, it’s extremely abnormal and if every bit of your internal radar and intuition signaling to you that something is really fucked up here isn’t going off, it should be. It is not normal for a grown man to think about giving a gift of jewelry to a young girl he’s met only once, whom he isn’t related to, and whom he finds “really pretty.” This is child predator behavior, and that you took this freak to visit your niece should be giving you a serious case of anxiety. Was he at any time left alone with her? Alert your sister immediately about what this loser has said, dump his ass, block him every which way he has of getting in touch with you, and then congratulate yourself for listening to your gut, for feeling deep down that something was off, because something IS off. This is not normal behavior, and you need to stay as far away from this guy as you can and cut all ties with him. He’s one of the bad guys.

I’m 45 years old and met a guy on a dating site ten months ago. After five months of dating, he proposed. At first, he was working, but now he doesn’t work because he said he hurt his back (which was confirmed with an X-ray report). When I first met his roommates, they asked if he’d told me about his drinking. Over the last stressful ten months, it’s become clear he is an alcoholic. I have become anxious and sad. I’ve tried to end the engagement, but he refuses. My family is not happy. I think I love him but worry about his well-being. My family is very financially well off, but everything is in a trust so no one can play games. I’m super caring and slightly naive. My father and brother have always sheltered me. I told my boyfriend from the beginning that he must have a job, have savings, and stop drinking. But the drinking hasn’t changed. I don’t even know what to do with the ring. He cries when I try to end it. I’m so tired and cannot sleep.

I don’t want to be alone, but I can’t deal with so many issues. — What To Do with the Ring?

You owe this guy absolutely nothing. Who cares if he cries when you try to end it? That’s his problem. You don’t need to see his tears anymore. Put the ring in the mail along with a letter stating that your relationship is over and that you request that he not contact you, the end, good-bye. It’s good that your brother and father shelter you, because you may need some protection if this guy won’t leave you alone. Let them know you’re breaking up with him and that you could use their support moving forward as your grieve the end of the relationship and prepare for the potential of his harassing you. Harassment isn’t love though. And fear of being alone is not a good reason to stay with someone who makes you sad, anxious, and worried. You have to MOA.

I am a 62-year-old female and still in good shape. I have no health issues and I keep myself looking stylish. The man that I’m dating is 68 years old. He is educated, he has his own home, and he is a fairly attractive man. There are a few issues that I have regarding him, and I’m trying to decide if I should move on or stay in the relationship.

Before Christmas, we had a big blow-up. The blow-up involved his demeanor when his sister comes to town. He becomes somewhat quiet, whereas he is usually a fun guy when it’s the two of us together. He sometimes contradicts what I say in front of her and excludes me from conversation. While she was visiting, I went back to my home — I had been staying at my boyfriend’s house — to allow them to have time together. When I returned, he and I got into a bad argument. Because I hollered at him, he pushed me into the bathtub, held his hand out to help me get up, then took me and began choking me, and pulled/threw me around, banging my head against the mirror. I was in total shock. After this, I got all of my things together and I moved out.

This alone, I know, should have been the end of us. However, after a month and a half, I went back to him, but I didn’t move in with him. I own my own home. He made more to do about the fact that I hollered at him and not about the fact that he physically assaulted me. My overlooking this fact and going back with him bothers me. Because I love him, my judgment is clouded.

Since I have been back with him, I keep having a gut feeling about him. I have a problem with the fact that he doesn’t seem to be putting forth an effort to text or call me. I’m usually the one that will text or call. Also, he mentioned that he is about to take on studying for a test that he plans to take to increase his financial situation. He mentioned that we could talk about how we will see each other in between his studying for the test. I’m not a selfish person, but this doesn’t feel right. My thought is if you love someone, you don’t put limits on them. When I mentioned to him that I saw this as a control issue and that I didn’t like the idea, he stated that he said that WE can talk about it–that my input was required.

Any advice or thoughts that you have or something that you see from reading this would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want to discuss this with my best friend because she has no idea that I have gone back to him and, plus, she would side with me. — Clouded Judgment

Forget that he doesn’t text or call you or that he wants time to study for a test. Those are minor issues. You know what ISN’T a minor issue? THAT HE BEATS YOU. You know this is fucked up. You KNOW you should not be with him. You can’t even tell your best friend you’re back together with him because you know it’s the worst idea and she’d be so upset. His lack of texts and calls is not the issue here. Throwing you into a bathtub, choking you, pushing you around, and shoving your head into a mirror are the issues here. He is an abusive, horrible person. (Is he, by chance, in the Trump administration?)

MOA, MOA, MOA. And get yourself to therapy to get the support you need to never, ever fall into this kind of trap again.


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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. My goodness! These three posts could be examples of masochism. Sad. Ladies, you deserve better. You know this is wrong. You are free, you can end it. Please don’t stay a day more in these false, dangerous situations.

  2. LW1: He KNOWS this is predatory and abnormal behavior because he said: “I hope you won’t feel bad, but I want to buy Lily a gold bracelet, too.” I HOPE YOU WON’T FEEL BAD is code for: I’m attracted to this girl and hope you’re not jealous. Terrible, I’m so sorry LW.
    WWS in terms of next actions!

    1. Also, he wants to give her a present for being pretty! Like she’s being pretty for HIM! A kid!
      I mean I just can’t wrap my head around how wrong this is.

    2. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! That’s totally what I was thinking!

      And then she kind of goes along with the comparison… “he’s never bought something like that for me and didn’t even remember to give me something for my birthday” I mean, no, you’re clearly not his type.

      Run – RUN.

      1. dinoceros says:

        He’s probably only with her because she has a niece. (Not to say the LW doesn’t have nice qualities, but doesn’t seem to be what this guy is looking for.)

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 This is the time to dump him and never look back. It is creepy behavior on his part. Protect your niece.

  4. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW2 “I’ve tried to end the engagement but he refuses.”

    You don’t need his permission to end the relationship. It requires two people to keep a relationship but only one to end it. This isn’t working for you so end it. Do what Wendy suggested and mail him the ring, registered mail, so that you know he received it. His roommates were warning you about his drinking because they knew it was a problem. They were looking out for someone they didn’t know. Now it is time for you to take care of yourself. Go no contact. Don’t listen to his reasons and don’t be around to see him crying. His tears are manipulative. He probably has his eyes on your trust fund and he cries in frustration at the thought of losing out on it. He feels like he has it made, with no need to work, if he can keep you from breaking up. Remember, he can’t veto you breaking up with him. You get to do that without his permission.

    There are things worse than being alone. Also, he isn’t the only available man in the world. You can find a better one.

    1. I pulled out that exact quote. He can’t force you to stay with him or to marry him. If you want to end it then it’s over.

      Its not loving to threaten self-harm to keep you, its cruel. Alert his support group (family, friends, roommates) if you are truly concerned that he may self-harm, but also be aware that this is a common abuser tactic that is frequently a bluff. Don’t let him hold you hostage.

  5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    “He made more to do about the fact that I hollered at him and not about the fact that he physically assaulted me.”

    This is classic abusive behavior. He is making himself the victim in a situation where he attacked you. From his point of view you forced him to attack because you hollered. If you were a better person he wouldn’t have to defend himself by attacking you.

    This is another run from this man situation. If you stay with him he will attack you again. You may not come out as well in the future. You could be crippled or injured for life. Being shoved into a bathtub could have resulted in a brain injury. You could have ended up with a broken him.

    You could end up dead. From his point of view it will always be your fault. If you just treated him better he wouldn’t have to assault you. Run while you can. Run.

  6. LW1: Ick! This is really weird! It sounds like he’s previously told you that he thinks your niece is “really pretty,” and that really should’ve been your first clue!

    LW2: He doesn’t get to refuse to end the engagement here! That’s not how relationships work! The drinking isn’t going to change. I’m not sure what it means to be sheltered at 45, but get the impression that you would’ve put an end to this way sooner if you hadn’t been so sheltered.

    LW3: OMG, just no! You know this is wrong! This is really, really wrong and awful. I actually gasped aloud when I read your description of the violence — I thought this was going to be about a screaming match, not about someone who smashes your head into the wall. Listen to your gut and get on out of there.

  7. Northern Star says:

    LW, that made me cringe. Ugh, dump him flat and tell your sister why (in case he tries to contact Lily). Creepy in the extreme.

  8. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) There is simply no innocent explanation for this seriously OFF behavior regarding this bracelet. run. Run! RUN!! This screams sexual predator…

    Aa for the rest of theses WTF letters? Good grief, ladies! GET A FUCKING CLUE. How is there even any debate in your minds about these men you’ve all written in about?! How can anybody be this desperate? I am just so confused…

  9. convexexed says:

    LW1, it would be normal if you were already talking to your boyfriend about your sister and niece, and he said offhandedly, ‘she’s a cute little girl,’ or ‘i love kids, they’re so goofy’, or suggest an age-appropriate gift if her birthday was coming up. Kids are cute; it’s not predatory by itself for a man to think a little girl is adorable. But it is abnormal for him to bring up your niece in an unrelated conversation, and say she’s really pretty and that he wants to buy her gold jewelry. The word ‘pretty’ and the gift of fine jewelry is appropriate for YOU, his girlfriend. It’s romantic. The word ‘cute’ and the gift of a toy (given from the both of you together) for the occasion of Christmas, a birthday, or a visit is appropriate for the seven year old daughter of his girlfriend’s sister whom he barely knows. And what is normal is that YOU would be initiating conversations about giving gifts to the niece, as in ‘Don’t let me forget Lily’s birthday is coming up, boyfriend. Do you want to help me pick something out for her? You can sign the card, too.’ Using the language and gestures of courting with a 7 year old girl is a huge red flag! And the fact that he brought this up in a conversation not remotely related to your niece, who he has met once, is a warning that he has been perseverating, musing, obsessing over her and making plans to groom her. I am not one of those people who think men can’t be kindergarten teachers or that every man who works with kids has a suspect agenda, but I think your gut is absolutely right and you cannot ignore it. I’m sure you weren’t expecting to hear Wendy say MOA, but you should. I know many men with adorable nieces, or who have friends with adorable little kids, etc, and none of them consider buying extravagant gifts for them or describe them as ‘really pretty’ like they would an adult woman. They describe them as cute, or funny, or silly, or bright, and buy them age appropriate gifts at conventional times when expected.

    1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

      I might even be willing to say “Awkward, but not creepy” if the adjective “pretty” was used in that off-hand conversation you first describe, because I could see someone meaning something more innocent than the adult tone the word connotes. And I could even see buying a child jewelry (like a bracelet) as a gift from both of them, because I had younger female cousins who really DID want something fancy like that at that age BECAUSE it made them feel special (and because, of course, this is a family connection I’m talking here, NOT the one in the letter). And I could even see a non-family member wanting to give a present of that nature if they had a long-term connection with the child such that they were “like family.” But given the circumstances as described in the letter, there’s just no way to spin them in a way that isn’t predatory, honestly. I mean, I do this for a living, and I’m at a loss as to how to explain it away. It just can’t be.

      1. convexexed says:

        Yeah, after I wrote that I thought of scenarios where *one* of those aspects at a time might not be creepy. I bought my friend’s daughter gold earrings when she was born; they have a tradition of infant ear piercing in her culture. And I know several little girls who’ve received fine religious jewelry at young ages from family friends. But in the LW’s situation, I can’t come up with any plausible explanation for the combination of factors at play, other than that he has taken an excessive, utterly inappropriate interest in a little girl he barely knows.

  10. Juliecatharine says:

    Well it looks like the unemployed, manipulative alcoholic is the winner of this pack…yikes.

    Ladies, run and please aim higher.

  11. dinoceros says:

    LW1: That is SO creepy. It would be one thing if you two spent al ot of time with her and he saw a stuffed panda and was like, “Oh, your niece likes pandas, we should get this.” But the fact that he is trying to buy a young girl he barely knows adult jewelry because she’s pretty is just SO CREEPY. He’s basically grooming her but too stupid to pretend not to be creepy. Dump him dump him dump him. And yes, tell your family so that if they ever see him, they know he’s bad news.

    LW2: Um, he doesn’t get to refuse a breakup. You know that, right? I think what you meant was that he cries and you feel bad and then give in, because if you choose to dump him, then he’s dumped. He can’t change that. In an ideal world, we’d be guaranteed that whenever we break up with someone, they handle it very well, aren’t hurt, don’t cry, and don’t ask for us to reconsider. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Human beings will have reactions, and you have to learn how to deal with them. If you’re not capable of breaking up with someone, then best not to get into a relationship at all. Also, don’t get engaged to someone you barely know.

    LW3: I’m concerned that you’re more worried about whether he texts you than the fact that he almost killed you. YOUR BOYFRIEND ALMOST KILLED YOU. You are correct in that it should have been the end. Now that you know that, what are you waiting for?

  12. RandomAnon says:

    LW#1: He might have only met her once, but is he friends with your sister on social media? Or at least following her on something like Instagram? Is he looking at photos of this little girl in his spare time? It sounds like though he only met your niece once, a year ago, he’s still be following her or seeing her some how.

    1. Doesn’t matter. In fact, the LW says this is “out of nowhere” which makes it even creepier because that means he’s quietly been stalking this girl on social media. It’s really weird that he would independently (not from LW and him – just him alone) give this girl a gift since they have no relationship whatsoever. He’s trying to develop a relationship with this young girl exclusive of everyone else, for no other reason than “he finds her really pretty”.

      He doesn’t want to buy her something because the LW is really close to her niece, and he’s becoming part of the family, and he’s trying to forge a relationship with her siblings. He wants to buy this child something because he likes how she looks. That is SO creepy.

      1. RandomAnon says:

        Oh I agree 100%! I’m just concerned he might have photos of this child saved on his phone or computer or something. That it might be even worse that what was in this letter.

  13. LW3, your letter legit sounds like the Dirty John story, you can read it or listen to a podcast about it. Don’t wanna scare you, but it happens even to the best of people. Listen to your gut and GTFO (This advice is good for all these letters omg)

  14. LW 1 and LW 3 You both know these men are f’ed up. Run, don’t walk.
    LW 2 I can tell you from experience that dealing with alcoholism is an unending nightmare. I have been through this more than once (more than twice even including my best friend and my father who are both deceased because of alcohol) and I would not wish it in my worst enemy. Alcoholics search out partners like you. Ones that will feel sympathy for them and help support them financially. Most alcoholics cannot hold down a job and expecting them to is unrealistic. The reason he has asked you to marry him so quickly is because he sees you as the PERFECT ENABLER. This isn’t about love, this is about his finding a situation where he can continue his lifestyle. He loves the bottle and wants to marry it, you are his means to do that. He knows how to quit, every alcoholic does…but they have to WANT to. There is nothing you could do to facilitate that happening. Believe me on this one! You will waste your life having this person suck every bit of your life away. RUN RIGHT NOW AND DON’T LOOK BACK!!!!!!

    1. TheOtherOtherMe says:

      Seconding carolann’s comment about LW2. DO NOT STAY WITH THIS MAN. YOU ARE WALKING INTO A LIFETIME OF MISERY AND HEARTACHE. Alcoholics love the bottle above anything. You cannot change them, you cannot reason with them, you cannot save them from themselves. They will say what you want to hear in order to keep you from leaving them and to keep you enabling them. It is all lies and manipulation, trust me. Please LW2, listen to people who have been there before and wasted countless years before wising up. (On a related note, all schools should have a REQUIRED class in how to spot alcoholics and how to avoid getting sucked into relationships with them, because SO MANY people – like myself, when I was young and dumb – have no clue, and naively waltz right into a nightmare.)

      1. You are right there should be a class. Most alcoholics I have encountered are so charming and easy to get close to…almost predatory.
        (Both male AND female ones) Unfortunately many of us are related to one and those we have a hard time avoiding. I didn’t speak to my father for 8 years before he died. It was hard, SO hard, but if I could turn my back on my own father. (I had to for my own safety and sanity) then the LW should be able to walk away from some manipulative guy she barely knows.

  15. LW1, it creeps me out that you don’t seem to see the implications of your bf wanting to give jewelry to a child he’s met once, beyond that he doesn’t buy you gifts. What the hell?? This is completely and totally inappropriate. A family friend can give a little girl a present, like a stuffed animal or a ball cap or something he knows she’d be into, if he’s close with the kid and her parents. But gold jewelry? For a 7 year old he doesn’t know but thinks is pretty? You need to RUN. And warn Lily’s parents.

    1. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

      So, I get the intent of “warn Lily’s parents”, but here’s where I’d differ: I’d do it only if there was any chance he had ever been alone with the child. It sounds like his interaction, such as it may have been, with the child was very brief and limited, so if there was never a time where he was alone with her I think dumping him and blocking him on social media probably severs any contact. I think there’s a good chance if she went “By the way, I dumped [BF] because he was creepy and was perving after Lily” the child’s parents would take it out on the LW because, hey, she’s the one who exposed the child to a pervert! And maybe she really IS oblivious to this stuff or is indifferent to it, but it’s hard to tell from the letter if it’s actually that or if it’s “bad guy hid his perversion for some time.”

      1. I was thinking warn them if they’ve got her on public social media. Some parents are really careless online, not only posting pics of kids topless or in bathing suits or dance costumes or whatever, but also tagging their location, so theoretically a perv could show up and see them. I wouldn’t worry about the parents taking it out on her. I’d tell them, “Bob and I are no longer together. Something he said really disturbed me:” and say what it is. If they need to lock down their social media, they should know. A guy I worked with had a little girl who was doing some modeling, and it came to his attention that some dude was creeping, so he not only locked down Facebook but, I think, stopped the modeling as well.

      2. Because I’m not convinced he saw the kid once, a whole year ago, and yet wants to buy her jewelry. I would guess he’s looking at her pics online and fantasizing. The LW blocking him won’t stop that behavior.

      3. dinoceros says:

        Well, I think the LW would get blamed only if they had a bad relationship. Rather than saying he was “perving” on her, I think if she just said, “He mentioned her being pretty in an uncomfortable way, and I immediately decided it was over,” most reasonable people would be like, “Oh, you made the right call, how could you have known?” If for some reason, he turns up again (social media, running into them, whatever) and the LW has to tell her sister later what happened, it’s going to be a lot worse.

      4. No they need to know in case they ever see him out, so that they can be sure to keep their child away from him. If they don’t know and they see him out it could set this little girl up to be harmed.

  16. LW 3 – WWS. I also wanted to add that choking is especially alarming, since it is often a precursor to even more violent behavior by abusers. In fact, choking is considered a felony in some states for that reason.

    All LW’s – drop these guys yesterday!

  17. Heatherly says:

    I for one am glad that LW1 boyfriend is unable to hide his interest in her niece. A lot of predators are very good at hiding it. Dump him & warn your sister. Ughh. My skins crawls.

  18. I agree that the LW1’s boyfriend’s behaviour is creepy and alarming and based on this letter LW1 should dump him, but it doesn’t make him a freak and calling him such does not help. I get that it’s a gut reaction that most people get, but all it does is feed fear and the lynch mob mentality which are the reasons people won’t and are scared to get help that they need. It doesn’t make the world a safer place, it does the exact opposite.

    1. So you think he is creepy and alarming, but not a freak?

      1. No, his behaviour is creepy and alarming, which can be kept under control with getting help, if he really is attracted to children. It doesn’t make him a freak as a person and using names like that only makes it more difficult for anyone in a similar situation to get help. Not productive or helpful.

      2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:


    2. Anonymous says:

      I guess I can see where you’re coming from (not really, but a little.) It would be different if he WAS getting help for his problem instead of showing typical grooming behavior, and probably hoping to eventually act on his feelings. He’s a freak, plain and simple. There’s not really any help for people like this.

    3. dinoceros says:

      “Make pedophiles feel comfortable being a pedophile and they’ll definitely have incentive to get help.”

  19. He beats the shit out of me but I love him. Maybe I should stay? Yeah it sounds ridiculous to read because it IS ridiculous. MOA and go see a counselor because it seems like you have some sort of esteem or confidence issue. Good luck!

  20. To the commenter who says that calling a pedo a freak is non productive… pedos by nature are predators because they are sexually attracted to someone that is not old enough to decide for themselves if they want to be with someone in that way or not. They are attracted to forcing themselves on the innocent. (“Pedophilia is considered a paraphilia, a condition in which a person’s sexual arousal and gratification depend on fantasizing about and engaging in sexual behavior that is atypical and extreme. “)
    They have proven that they cannot help themselves and it is well known that they cannot be rehabilitated. It is best to call them out for what they are so that we can protect our children.
    To quote Psychology Today
    “There are a number of difficulties with the diagnosis of pedophilia. People who have this condition rarely seek help voluntarily—counseling and treatment are often the result of a court order. ”
    Being nice to them is not going to convince them that they should voluntarily seek help.

    1. “It is best to call them out for what they are so that we can protect our children.”

      Yes, and that means calling out their behaviour, and calling them pedophiles. I don’t think any psychologist or a psychiatrist would recommend calling anybody with a paraphelia a “freak”. I also don’t think calling anybody a freak is particularly productive, but hey, that’s just me I guess.

      I also don’t know much about pedophilia, but this interview of James Cantor, a Ph.D. psychologist was a interesting read and I’ve seen the documentary he has worked on. Not sure if I agree with everything, but it’s worth the read.


      1. I think it’s very important to call a pedophile a pedophile. When people are reluctant to do that, we end up with a Larry Nassar.

        THIS guy, well, we don’t know he’s a pedophile, but he’s definitely weird, disturbed, creepy, and yes, probably a freak, if he wants to give fine jewelry to a “pretty” seven-year-old he met once, a year ago.

      2. But I agree, freak isn’t productive here. I’d just call him a threat to kids.

  21. katmich15 says:

    I’m late to the party on this but in case there is any chance LW1 is still looking at this page – TELL YOUR SISTER NOW!!! There is no discussion to be had on this, she needs to know. Her daughter needs to know. This creep could come at her at school or on a playground, and she would probably think she could trust him because she met him when he was with her aunt. Breaking up with him and blocking him in no way protects your niece, if he’s been thinking about her ever since he met her ONCE, he may not give up. Give them the information they need to protect this little girl!!!

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