“My Boyfriend Was Secretly Hiding his Ex in His House”

I met my boyfriend four years ago. I was married for 26 years and got divorced after my youngest graduated high school. I lived alone and did a lot of self-reflection and healing. I met “Ben,” a Marine Corps vet and father of two boys, at a local sports bar. He had been divorced twelve years earlier and was in the midst of breaking up with a woman who was a drug addict. He dated her during his divorce because she made him feel like he was still a good guy.
After we began dating, he invited me to his home and wouldn’t let me go upstairs, which was fine with me because it was a new relationship. Three months later, he begged me to move in. I avoided answering his question because I didn’t understand his motive. Another three months later, he begged me again to move in and I felt maybe we were moving in the right direction. But then I found out that his ex-girlfriend had been living in the upstairs bedroom that he wouldn’t let me see!!
I was so upset that he had lied, and I told him so. He then said I was a psycho and that he was just being a nice guy and allowing her to live there until she found another place. Ok, sooo… you can’t tell your new girlfriend this information?? I worked as a nurse at the sheriff’s station. The ex is a drug addict who was busted stealing money from a local shop. It seems to me like this man wanted me to come into HIS home and clean up a mess because he didn’t want to do it. Am I a jerk for questioning his integrity and motives in this situation? — Former Sheriff’s Nurse

You need to reframe how you’re looking at this. You aren’t “questioning his integrity and motives.” You’re listening to your intuition. This isn’t really a judgment call on your boyfriend. I mean, it could be, of course, but then that puts you in a position of questioning your own judgment, like you’re doing (i.e. “Am I a jerk?”). Instead, if you viewed ending this relationship because your intuition has repeatedly alerted you to a potential issue, you shift the dynamic to a more empowering position for yourself. And then learning about the girlfriend being hidden away in an upstairs bedroom validates your intuition. It was right! This IS a problem.

While it’s alarming and upsetting to learn that your boyfriend is a weirdo and to feel troubled by his secrecy and his judgment and the way he’s now calling you a psycho (ALWAYS a huge red flag in a relationship, btw, if not an outright deal-breaker), I hope you also feel affirmed in this experience. All the healing and self-reflecting you did following your divorce is going to protect you in relationships going forward. You can trust your gut feeling when it alerts you that something is a little off. That’s practically a superpower.

I went on three dates with a guy, and I really liked him. The vibes were great. He confessed, after the first date, to having immediately been attracted to me physically and mentally. However, before I could even process my own feelings and tell him that I really love him (which I think I do), I discovered that he was already engaged when we first met. He got married yesterday, and he hid the fact of his impending marriage from me throughout our dating period, which was roughly one and a half months.

I am very hurt. And I feel this self-doubt that I was not clear enough or fast enough or assertive enough to tell him I love him and that I’m serious about us. We did have a brief conversation over text regarding commitment, to which he replied that he needs time to commit. He never revealed his marriage thing to me.

Please help me make sense of all this. How should I approach this situation if I really do have strong feelings for him, even now? — The Vibes Were Great

There’s not much to make sense of. You met a guy who wanted to cheat on the woman he was about to marry and he did. He didn’t love you. Your telling him you loved him would not have changed anything except making you feel even worse about his “marriage thing.” There is no situation here to approach, and any feelings you think you have for this guy would be misdirected and certainly undeserved. You can harness those feelings into self-love and self-compassion and the belief that when you find the right person, there will never be a question about whether you are “enough” anything. Any urgency you might have when you meet the right person to express your feelings will be borne from a desire to open your heart and not a desire to “lock it down.”

Bottom line: There’s nothing you could have or should have done differently. Don’t let this experience shake your self-confidence. Sometimes we read people wrong. We get so excited by the idea of someone that we want to rush the relationship timeline. There’s never anything wrong with taking time to get to know someone – really know them – before expressing love. And not every heart swell is an indication of love. Sometimes the fireworks are just that – something explosive that grabs our attention but fades before our eyes even have time to adjust.

I have been with my boyfriend for a year and half. We’re both 33. We are also living together. We have a great relationship when we are together, just the two of us – laughing, talking, just enjoying each other. However, once we leave the house and socialize, it’s like we are two strangers. He doesn’t make much of an effort with my family and friends. I feel like I can’t be a “couple” with him. He said it’s because he’s not used to being in a relationship (I’m his first serious girlfriend).

He doesn’t want me putting my arm around him or anything like that as it makes him uncomfortable. He doesn’t like bringing me anywhere with him because he’s afraid of other people looking at me. He also said it messes with his head when I wear nice clothes. I reassured him it was only to make myself feel good and not to impress anyone, but he can’t get his head around this. On the other hand, he has never stopped me from doing any of this (just tries to put me off it, I guess). He never stops me going anywhere and doesn’t stop me hanging out with any of my friends (male or female).

I’m not sure what to do here. Considering we have a house together and we’re starting a future together, would I be throwing it all away? When I raised all these issues with him, he said that the main thing is that we get on in the house together – that’s where we spend most of our time and that’s all that’s important (which I disagree with).

I’m worried that if I leave, I won’t find someone I connect as well with again. Is this something that can be worked on? Should I stay and hope his insecurities fade in time, or should I walk? — His First Serious Girlfriend


Don’t walk; RUN! Your boyfriend is exhibiting hallmark signs of emotional abuse. Here’s a link outlining some examples of such signs, and I would encourage you to do some research about emotional abuse, and I would imagine that what you will learn will resonate with you. The link I included has good advice for how to leave such a relationship. This is the time to lean on your support circle, and if you own property together, you should consult with a lawyer and make sure you protect your assets.

Beyond getting out of this harmful relationship, please know that you will find someone you connect well with again. Take some time to heal and be patient. It may not happen with the next person you date, but eventually you will find someone whom you not only connect with but also who shows up for you in the ways your boyfriend isn’t able to. He will want to know your friends and family and share experiences with you out in the world because all of that is part of building a healthy relationship. Your right person is someone who will want that with you. And someone who doesn’t want that isn’t for you.

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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. Anonymousse says:

    I hope you all take some time to reflect and slowdownin your next relationships. LW3- why do you own a house with a man who’s never been in a relationship? That seems super fast. Call a lawyer.

  2. LW1 – You’ve been together for four years, but you’re writing in about something that happened three months into the relationship!? Am I understanding this timeline correctly?

    My thoughts are the same for LW1 & LW2: Someone who lies to you, even by omission, at the beginning of a relationship about something that would be a dealbreaker for many is a red flag on legs. It’s a form of manipulation. These aren’t good men.

    LW3 – I’d walk away (in my nicest clothes). In my experience dating men with deep insecurities, they don’t get better. Please don’t let the fear of not finding better hold you back from ending something that isn’t fulfilling you. I know the dating scene can be rough, but I do believe people can find good partners at all stages of life.

  3. LisforLeslie says:

    I’m stunned by all of this.

    LW1 – this guy needs to be propped up too much. He is fine lying to one person because he gets something from feeling needed. He will let himself burn to keep someone else warm. As long as you don’t need him and can function like a normal human adult – you will never be important enough to him. MOA.

    LW2 – Once you found out he was getting married, and he did get married – why did you spend any more time thinking about this guy as a catch that you lost? He is a shit human being that cheated on his fiancée and will likely cheat on his wife? He may have made you feel important, but that can’t possibly be worth the cost. You need to set your meter because this guy was a skunk and even after you found out, you wanted more.

    LW3 – You deserve someone that proudly stands next to you and says “not only did I choose her, but she chose me! Do you know how lucky I am!? I’m dating the most awesome person in the world!” The only time a person should be embarrassed by their partner is when their partner is actively doing something embarrassing – like singing the chia pet song at full volume in Home Goods. Honestly, it sounds like he doesn’t even like you, he just likes what you do for him.

  4. HeartsMum says:

    What LisforLeslie said! All these timelines are headscratchers. There is no additional information any of the LWs can provide that will make the people they wrote about any better, or worth wasting more of their precious time on Earth for. I sincerely hope they all follow Wendy’s advice!

  5. Anonymousse says:

    The “he doesn’t want people looking at me,” why? Question that. If he says they’ll honk sexual thoughts of you, ask him if he thinks sexual thoughts of every woman he sees. He’s gross and views you as an object and is treating you like one.

  6. Former Sherriff’s Nurse… instead of questioning your questioning try thinking of this more about his character. You don’t want someone who avoids and hides the truth in order to avoid awkward, embarrassing, or painful situations. You don’t want someone who pushes you to move in with them who you have ONLY known 3 months (pushing for fast commitment HUGE red flag). You don’t want someone who calls you names when you question their lying and avoidance. See none of this is about his addict ex (*cough* current) girlfriend, this is about his character and what type of person you want to be with.

  7. The vibes were great, Sure they were since he put on a fake mask and made all the right mouth noises (conveniently leaving out that he had a fiancé and was getting married). This guy has no character. He was CHEATING on his fiancé. His confession of being attracted to you physically and mentally on the first date is his tried and true stick the landing words he uses with all the women he seduces to cheat on who ever his current partner is. Mourn the relationship you THOUGHT you were building with the guy he pretended to be, but trust me this guy was never going to be what you hoped. Be glad he isn’t your husband.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      @KA “mouth noises” snert – love that.

    2. What’s her character ? She sounds totally willing to cheat with him and even loves that way.

  8. His First Serious Girlfriend, you are worried, “I won’t find someone I connect as well with again. ” what connection.. you can’t touch him in public and doesn’t want to bring you anywhere because people might look at you. WTF. That is some serious disordered thinking. Also are you SURE you are his first girlfriend or did the others flee and get a restraining order. Please follow Wendy’s advice and see this for the walking red flag of abuse that this guys is. Please guard your birth control and stop sleeping with him until you make a safe exit plan.

  9. I am stuck on the “three dates” to “he got married in the middle of our THREE dates and I LOVE HIM”…? Three dates?! Three. I just… I am stuck.

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