“My Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Spend Holidays With His Kids”

Today is Giving Tuesday, and also day two of our fifth annual DW holiday book drive. We’re nearly 90% to our goal of 215 books, but still have a few more left to be purchased. Please consider contributing to this drive and giving a memorable gift to some high-needs kids who might not otherwise feel so acknowledged and remembered this holiday season. Thank you!! And here’s today’s column:

I’m 53 and my boyfriend is 58. We’re “engaged,” and I use quotations because it’s not publicly announced or acknowledged, all to protect his 17-year-old daughter. She probably knows, but “Carl” makes sure that, since the divorce nearly three years ago, their time together is void of any mention of my existence. Carl and I have been together five and a half years, and, unfortunately, his daughter knew about us before he was divorced.

I’ve met his 36-year-old son and his wife, and I just helped welcome the first grandchild at the hospital along with other family members and friends. I’ve spoken to one of his other grown sons (age 24) on FaceTime and we’ve texted. I’ve been to his elderly parents home many times, eaten there, visited, etc. I’ve met Carl’s sister and her family as well as his cousins and the like. But ANYTIME the 17-year-old daughter and her 27-year-old brother are in town for holidays, I am discarded. I end up alone.

This has become a deal-breaker. We hash it out. We split up. He always defends “protecting her young heart.” I’d be really happy if he’d protect my old one and show some respect toward me. He’s very conflicted.

I know he loves me, but, after all this time, I’m concerned with the future. Will I always be the runner-up? Will our lives revolve around creating and perpetuating this illusion for her? I desperately seek your advice. I’m in terrible pain. — The Runner-Up

So, his daughter lives in another town? Why is that? Did Carl move after his divorce or did his daughter move? Was Carl separated from his wife before you started dating or did your relationship begin as an affair? Does Carl’s older son have a different mom?

Yes, his daughter lives four hours away with her mother and older brother. Carl transferred his job and moved away after the divorce to be close to me and to get away from his ex.

He still sees his kids as much as possible — he’s at every award ceremony, every achievement, etc. He’s very involved, considering he’s one state away.

Our relationship did start as an affair, but I was already well into my divorce proceedings when we met, and his marriage had been in serious trouble for years. He only stayed as long as he did because he loves his kids and was very into every aspect of their lives.

On holidays they gather at the grandparents’ house. The ex goes to her family, and the children stay with the grandparents. He has four children. The 36-year-old is from an unplanned pregnancy and short marriage. The other three are from the second marriage. His daughter is the apple of his eye, naturally. She’s beautiful and very academic. One of her brothers is okay with me.

Carl and I are house-shopping and planning to get married in July, but I am so hurt. All my friends tell me this is horrible and he needs to talk to his daughter.

I’ve suffered through this for many years, many lonely holidays. And I don’t want it to be this way for the rest of my life. Is that how other poorly-blended families exist?

Since you’re planning to get married in July, does he ever plan to tell his kids this or will it be a secret marriage? Have you discussed where and with whom you’ll spend holidays as a married couple?

In every sense of the word we are a couple, except for every single holiday. Then, I’m invisible. Also, when he goes to see them or if they just come up for a random visit, I’m out of the picture.

He says things will be different, that we will start traditions at our house. But if his daughter resists, it won’t happen. He’ll go to his parents to see her. That is my prediction.

Well, why are planning to marry him when you’ve never been included in his family holiday get-togethers and don’t believe you will be? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be included in at least a few family holidays before you agree to marry him?

Yes, you’re right. If it were only that easy to walk away when you’re so in love.

Well, yeah, no one said that breaking up with someone, even if the relationship isn’t working, is easy. But, as you know, ending a marriage that doesn’t work isn’t easy either. You know what else isn’t easy? Learning that your husband is having an affair with another woman. You know what’s probably even harder than that? Being 11 or 12 years old, learning that your father is having an affair, and then watching helplessly as he leaves your family and moves to another state, four hours away, to be closer to his mistress.

Look, maybe your boyfriend stayed within a miserable marriage for years because, as you say, “He loves his kids and was very into every aspect of their lives.” Or maybe that’s just a line he fed you. Who knows. But, the truth is, at some point — a point that was exactly or very close to the time he got involved with you — “being into every aspect” of his kids’ lives wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to keep him married to their mom and it wasn’t even enough to keep him in the same state as theirs. He moved to be close to you. You, essentially, were more important than his kids. Or, at least, that’s probably how it looks to them. Can you blame them for not wanting to spend the little time they have with their dad with you, too — the woman who, in their mind, broke up their family and stole their father from them?

I am not completely unsympathetic to you. I can appreciate how frustrating it is to not have the man you love by your side for special occasions. I can appreciate that you must feel lonely when he ditches you to spend Christmas with his kids. I can also appreciate how lonely their mother probably feels to not have her kids with her on Christmas because they’re spending the holiday with their dad–who left her and them, for you. You say she spends the holidays with her family. Is that not something you can do? Do you not have anyone beside Carl to spend special occasions with?

Because Carl has made clear that, for the time-being, you will not be part of his family holiday get-togethers where/when his daughter is present, and you find that is a deal-breaker for you (fair enough), you need to make other plans and MOA. Don’t plan a wedding with a man who won’t invite you to spend Christmas with his family. That’s just stupid. Don’t plan on moving in with someone who can’t share, or at least introduce you to, all the major parts of his life. That’s dumb. Just move on. Or… accept this relationship for what it is — a relationship that began as an extramarital affair that deeply hurt several people and that will remain complicated for the foreseeable future.

Love isn’t always easy. And your love and its challenges have caused pain for more than just you. Accept that (as his ex-wife and kids were forced to) or move on.


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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. Your old heart decided you were totally fine playing a key role in breaking up a family and moving a father across state lines from his kids. I’m thinking your old heart will be fine. And sorry… going to every award ceremony isn’t being very involved. Seeing your kids just at Christmas and random visits isn’t being very involved. Those are scraps. And then the mistress wants in on the scraps of attention the kids get? Seriously lady? You reap what you sow. You took a father from a 12 year old. Hurt her mother. Destroyed her family life. She hates you. That’s understandable. What she gets now is a handful of days with her dad. And you’re devastated over not being included? How about she’s devastated the other 350 days of the year? Times 5? If you met after the divorce my answer would be different. But you thought what? There are no consequences for my actions? I’m the victim here? Nope. You are the mistress the father left his family for. You are the villain in her life story. The villain isn’t invited for Christmas cookies around the tree. No one has shame anymore. You chose your role in this girl’s life… so know your damn place now.

  2. RedRoverRedRover says:

    You’re the mistress. It doesn’t matter if his marriage was in “serious trouble”. The fact is that he was married and hadn’t yet chosen to divorce his wife. You knew that and got involved anyway. That was your choice, and now you have consequences to deal with. If your bf wants to protect his kids from even more hurt, you have to let him. They’ve already lost enough, now you want them to have to put up with their dad’s mistress on the holidays? I don’t think so.

    I agree it sucks for you, I wouldn’t want to be alone on the holidays either. But what did you think would happen when you slept with a married man? Happily ever after? That’s generally not how it works. If this is a dealbreaker for you, then leave him. Otherwise do what Wendy said and make your own plans for the holidays. Let the kids have their time with their dad in peace.

  3. I was a young teenager when my dad cheated on my mom. While they were still married, he cheated with a second woman. That relationship lasted 10 years or so, but I never liked her. Now my dad has had a girlfriend for a few years who I really like. I’m also an adult now. But being the “other woman” and the daughter being so young, she’ll probably never really like you. Or, she may end up tolerating you, but you’ll never be close. My dad’s ex tried – she wanted to go shopping with me, etc. I never wanted to spend any time with her. I know it sucks, but when you’re that age especially, you just have trouble welcoming someone who’s hurt your mom so much.

  4. I’m with Wendy and Firestar. And I would be a lot more sympathetic if the affair didn’t begin while he was still married and living at home or if all the kids were grown adults. But they weren’t. His daughter was what, at a minimum, 14 or 15 when the affair started? That’s already a fraught time for teenage girls who live in happy, two parent households. Add to that the falling apart of a marriage and a mistress. Of course her father still wants to protect her. And he should! At least until she is older and out on her own. My god. Think about what you’re asking this man to do.

    If you ever want a relationship with his entire family, including children, you need to move slowly and take his cues. I’d hold off marriage a few more years until things are a little more comfortable and the daughter might consider welcoming you.

    Finally, I don’t understand why you have to spend the holiday’s with him. Do you have no life outside of him? I’m assuming you spend a vast majority of your days together. What’s a week during the holiday’s so he can spend it with his children? You two can celebrate before he leaves or when he gets back. Seriously. You’re the adult. His children were thrown into this mess without being asked. Have some compassion. If you can’t do that, MOA and let this man help his daughter and his family the best that he can.

    Also, you sound a little jealous of the daughter. What was the point of mentioning how pretty and smart she is?

    1. My math sucks. Wendy’s is way better. She was probably around 12.

  5. LW, you’re very lucky that the rest of his family has been so accepting of you, considering that you played a key role in breaking up the marriage. No, it doesn’t matter that he was unhappy before you came along. You had an affair with a married man, and that affair with you precipitated the divorce. There are consequences that go with that, and you’ve gotten past a lot of them.

    It sounds like the 17-year-old was the only one still living at home when the split happened? I am not the least bit surprised that she despises you, and that her relationship with her dad is so fragile that he’s afraid to do anything to upset her. The two of you destroyed her family. When she was only 11 or 12. To her, that may well be unforgivable. Forever. And you’re just going to have to accept that.

    The solution, to me, is to have two holiday celebrations. One with the members of his family who accept you as a couple, your own family, friends, however you want to do it. And then your fiance celebrates separately with the kids who want a separate celebration.

    Lots of families have two or more celebrations, especially as the kids get older. My BF and his kids have always done three. A big family and friends party at his brother’s home, a smaller celebration on the day at his parent’s home, and then he goes to his ex’s home and has dessert with her and the kids. The “kids” are in their 30s now, with their own spouses, but they still have that tradition. I don’t go to that one. I’ve been invited (I met him well after they split up, so no hard feelings), but I want him to have that time with his kids.

  6. Avatar photo courtney89 says:

    Yikes. I feel for the daughter in this, sorry LW. She will probably never welcome you. Makes me think of a similar story with my cousin’s best friend – – -she was the middle of 3 kids, around 10, older sis was around 15, younger brother was around 8 when their dad had an affair on their mom and left her for a young woman, myabe 12 years older than his oldest ,who worked at their business, where she KNEW he was married WITH CHILDREN. The oldest daughter hates the stepmom. With a passion (She’s in her 30s now.) She tolerates her, but will never give her the time of day (and doesn’t give the 10 year old half-brother the time of day really either (She loves him but.) whereas, my cousin’s friend is extremely close to the half brother, adores the shit out of him, but despises the stepmom. Tough situation.

  7. Skyblossom says:

    “He still sees his kids as much as possible — he’s at every award ceremony, every achievement, etc. He’s very involved, considering he’s one state away.”

    Actually, he’s giving her scraps of attention. He moved a state away from her. He couldn’t be more clear about where she was in his priorities. She didn’t count. Not enough to stick around and raise her. When her dad cheated on her mom he also cheated on the entire family. When he was lying about where he was and what he was doing and skipping being at home to be with you he was doing that to the entire family. Of course she doesn’t like you. She probably hates you. You and her dad hurt every member of her immediate family. Your old heart didn’t mind hurting her and now you want to share in her scraps because your old heart hurts. Maybe you should have thought about that before becoming a mistress. A mistress rarely gets happily ever after. If you were included in her Christmas you would be the recipient of cold faced glares and no one talking to you. That wouldn’t be any better. They would hate having you there. They probably despise you. Why would you want to be a part of that? You reap what you sow and you sowed ugly so you reap ugly. You can’t change her feelings toward you. She will never like you. Accept that because it just is in the same way you are married to her dad. You can’t change her and she can’t change the fact that you exist. Five years didn’t fix this and another five or ten years will probably not fix this.

    You can accept the situation and live with it or you can move on and start another relationship in a more dignified and honest way and have a much greater chance at being welcomed into a family.

    1. It really bothered me when she said he was there at every award and achievement – so he’s setting the precedent that she has to do something spectacular to get daddy’s time and attention. This is why there is the phrase “daddy issues” and the poor thing probably puts a ton of pressure on herself to achieve just to “earn” his love. A good father is there for the good AND the bad, I get the feeling he just likes to be there for the good and ignore the bad.

  8. Wendy’s advice and seeing all the sides is excellent on this one. LW does not sound as if she has children? This man she is with seems to know he messed up and feels enough guilt to be trying to make it right in his own way (and terms) with his daughter and other hurting children (whatever their ages). His attempts aren’t perfect (he’s human as the rest of us), but I give him credit for finally taking into account his children and their feelings. Parental guilt is hard to live with in the first place, and it sounds as if this man has enough love in his heart to try to make it right with them. It sounds as if he too associates LW with the pain his children feel. In other words, I sense a lack of past accountability/honesty and a current lack of accountability/honesty on his part. My heart goes out to all of the people suffering in this painful situation.

  9. Sue Wilson says:

    You should break up with him because he’s an idiot.
    I’m not going to focus on the affair, presumably you know how much you’ve hurt the other parties. I do get the sense in your letter that you’re trying to walk the line between being respectful and being a little selfish. No way would you have put up with this ridiculousness if you weren’t so:

    1) How is it going to be any less hurtful to the daughter to find out her father got affianced and MARRIED to the mistress while he was supposedly trying to be respectful to her feelings? She’s not going to feel less betrayed that he kept this from her. How is springing this on her going to protect anything? This is dumb.

    2) So is he going to kick you out of your own house when you buy one together if they visit or what?

    3) Your fiance is deliberately trying to keep putting off hard decisions and conversations until they come to a head and that’s incredibly dumb and ripe for drama.

    4) She’s 17 now and she has a right to be hurt, but he’s her father not her friend. It’s his responsibility to her to acclimate her to the environment as it exists, not the one she wishes exists.

    5) It’s just bothering me that this dude put all of you in this shitty situation, with your help, but doesn’t actually want to figure it out or do anything concrete to figure out how to make it work long term. wth?

    6) When you say you’re invisible, do you mean he doesn’t even give you a fucking call or whatever? Honestly, if you can’t even be mentioned in front of his daughter, then he should already know he should he shouldn’t be getting married. This is so dumb.

    6) The holidays are the least of your problems, tbh. Your dumb fiance is your problem.

      1. +1. Sue for the win.

  10. Wendy’s advice and her seeing all the sides is excellent on this one. LW does not sound as if she has children? This man she is with seems to know he messed up and feels enough guilt to be trying to make this right in his own way (and terms) with his daughter and other hurting children (whatever their ages). His attempts aren’t perfect (he’s human as the rest of us), but I give him credit for finally taking into account his children and their feelings. Parental guilt is hard to live with in the first place, and it sounds as if this man has enough love in his heart to try to make it right now with them. It sounds as if he too associates LW with the pain his children feel. In other words, I sense a lack of past accountability/honesty and a current lack of accountability/honesty on his part. His lack of honesty in the past and his current lack of honesty is causing pain, not healing anything or anyone. My heart goes out to all who are hurting in this painful situation.

  11. Juliecatharine says:

    LW, you must know somewhere in your old heart that everyone is right. You tried to gloss over the fact that your ‘fiancé’ cheated, left his wife and children, and moved a state away FOR YOU. Happily ever after doesn’t usually start out with shitty, selfish behavior. Grow up and try to grasp the damage you and your boyfriend have done to his children. Maybe then you can come to some kind of arrangement for holidays that doesn’t involve shoving your presence down his daughter’s throat or leave you feeling slighted. It takes a real set of balls to play the victim here.

  12. Bittergaymark says:

    Dear Wendy! Years ago, I did a terrible, terrible thing. Now, years later I find I must pay a not so terrible price for it?! This is so unfair! How can I simply avoid this? And don’t tell me that my past actions must have present consequences because that’s super inconvenient to ME…

    1. The daughter seems to be coping fine with the father who actually betrayed his family. So she should ok with the stepmom too.

      1. It’s different…it’s way easier to hate the other woman than your own father.

      2. SpaceySteph says:

        Sure, logically, she should. Logically, the husband is the one who made a promise to his wife and he’s the one who broke that promise and broke the home, not the other woman.
        But this stuff is rarely logical. The daughter could be taking her anger at her father out on “the other woman” because its easier than accepting that her dad is the real betrayer of the family. Or maybe the dad is deflecting blame to the gf so he doesn’t have to bear the full brunt of the consequences of his actions.

      3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        First of all, there’s no indication that the daughter is “coping fine” with her dad. And even if she were, why would that mean she should cope fine with the woman who helped break up her family?
        Does she have 17 years of history with the mistress (NOT stepmom — they don’t even live together)? Does she have a bond with this woman? Did this woman love her for 17 years and help raise her and teach her important lessons? No? Then, I fail to see the similarities between her and the girl’s dad and why they should be regarded the same way.

      4. Nor is this woman even married to the girl’s father. Why in the world would you call the LW this girl’s stepmom and expect her to just accept her, since she has chosen to maintain a relationship with her actual father, SaneInca? The divorce turned LW from mistress to gf, but that’s all she is and to this still teen-aged girl, the LW will always be the woman who chose to tear apart her family and steal her father. The LW is nothing but a villain to this girl.

      5. Could not see ‘reply’ on any other responses so responding on the same thread. I am not blaming the daughter although it illogical to hate someone she has not even met.

        I am blaming the BF for being shitty to everyone including the LW. The daughter need not love the LW ( would be stepmom if people are particular and if the BF and LW end up marrying).

        But she is old enough to be polite to everyone if BF works on it. He is just not doing the work.

      6. But she isn’t required to be polite to LW. If her father pushes his gf on her, she is also old enough to decide that she wants nothing to do with her father if that is to be the ground rule.

      7. And no, she won’t technically be the LW’s stepdaughter. You have to actually mother somebody to be their stepmom. The LW will merely be her father’s third wife, assuming he actually marries LW at some point, which probably isn’t going to happen.

      8. Northern Star says:

        Why is it “illogical” to dislike someone you’ve never met, but whose actions directly hurt you and your entire family? And why in the WORLD are you “required” to be fine with a random stranger if you manage to make peace with your own father?

        What is this LW to the girl? Some selfish still-married-at-the-time-herself jerk who screwed her father and screwed over her mother and siblings. Why is the daughter required to have a relationship with that person?

        She’s not, really. She’s not required to see her father once she turns 18, either. So, the LW could go ahead and push to be included—and maybe cause an estrangement right when daughter is about to become an adult completely capable of making her own holiday plans.

        Sounds like a plan!

      9. LMAO. To borrow a phrase: do you even family, bro?

      10. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Lol @Ange. Exactly! This isn’t a logic puzzle to solve, it’s a young girl’s feelings!

      11. @Ange – OMG perfect! That’s the funniest thing I read today!

  13. LW, trying to build a life and a family on as shaky ground as this is hard. We have family friends that were married for 35 years when they divorced and he was with another woman for 10 years of that marriage. This other woman and him eventually got together officially and married after the divorce and they seem happy. They have now been married for almost 10 years. The children from this marriage range from 30-45 years of age. It is still rocky but they eventually established a normal. I am saying this because it took almost 20 years to get to a place where she was accepted.

    Look, it is hard to sit there feeling like you are somehow shameful. It is hard to feel hidden and like you are less respectable. The question is if he is worth it. It sounds like he has given up a lot for you. How much have you given up for him?

  14. Your bf doesn’t just talk to his daughter, because he knows that is impossible. She hates you, the very idea of you, and for good reason. She sees you as the woman who destroyed her family and her childhood by selfishly deciding to date a married father. Your bf knows full well that his daughter will never accept you. I’m sure they’ve discussed his situation with you sufficiently that the daughter has made that very clear. His marriage was so awful that he decided to have the youngest daughter with his wife?

    Your bf has already divorced two mothers of his children. Don’t expect much permanence or loyalty to you in this relationship. It’s not his style.

    Your bf naturally wants to spend some time with his youngest child. She is determined that this time does not include you. That is her right. I think she, and your bf by his actions, have made their position on this issue totally clear. You either accept it or you MOA. The daughter is not going to suddenly accept you just because you and your bf get married at some point. You injured her badly when she was only 12. That is not something she is required to just get over, because of the passage of time or for the convenience of you and her father.

    This is what comes of choosing to date married fathers who are still living with their families. You will always be seen as the cause of her parents’ divorce.

  15. Northern Star says:

    So, you’re mad that your “fiancé” won’t bring you along to be with him and his kids on the holidays—and you merrily skip past the fact that your fiancé’s ex doesn’t get to be with her kids on the holidays AT ALL because you helped destroy their family?

    Nice perspective, there.

    Let me tell you a story from real life. There were a pair of couples. They were friends. One couple divorced. There was suspicion that one man was cheating with the other’s wife, and that was the cause of the breakup. The other couple divorced, too, and now the two “possible cheaters” are engaged.

    10+ years later, the cheater’s daughter has not forgiven him. He has no ties with her. He was not invited to her wedding. He hasn’t met his grandson. Cheating can completely destroy a relationship between a parent and child, and maintaining that fragile connection by bending over backwards may be more important to him than protecting your feelings (clearly, you’re not all that sensitive, since you’re willing to screw a married man with kids).

    Leave him if you want. But don’t pretend that you “deserve” better from his family on the holidays. You hurt too many people to get where you are.

  16. for_cutie says:

    Anyone else get the feeling from the LW and her responses, that nothing is going to change? Great advice all around, but her “old heart” is “so in love” that she thinks an air-quotes engagement is actually a sign of commitment.

  17. Stilgar666 says:

    Sounds like he should get a new mistress. This one is getting a little long in the tooth and doesn’t sound like much fun anymore. I say “mistress” because that still seems like the most appropriate word for the dynamic.

    “Fiance” and “wife” are words for people you publicly acknowledge and honor. “Secret” anything is sterno for keeping the side dish happy.

    She does not realize how close to the sun she has gotten to fly, and should be happy the wings held together this long. Mistresses over 50 shouldn’t complain.

  18. As someone who’s father left her at a young age, let me tell you, HE chose to leave her. He did not have to. You can be divorced and in the same state. He was wrong (on top of an affair) and showing up sometimes doesn’t make him right. A good man would never leave. He should’ve moved you there….especially since it sounds like you don’t have a support system there anyway.

    He did wrong (as did you) and now you both must live with the consequences for your actions. Staying together for the kids then abandoning said kids? How is that even logic to you?

  19. I think this guy (not really a man, is he) is escaping his responsability towards everybody. He had accidentally a son (!), then was unfaithful to his wife, left his family, fled to an other state to be close to (but not official with) his third partner… whom he frustrates as well. What a mess. All these women who suffer and pursue this big human void…He is just that: a void.

  20. dinoceros says:

    Wendy does a good job of hitting both of the big things here. If this is a deal breaker for you, then why are you still around? You can’t say something is a deal breaker, the person keeps doing it, and then stay together. That is the opposite of a deal breaker. Regardless of the reasons, he can’t give you what you want, which is to be accepted fully into his life. You don’t ever marry someone when there are big issues with the relationship that haven’t been resolved. What if you marry him and he doesn’t change? What if he changes at first and it doesn’t go well, so he reverts back?

    That being said, this is a consequence of having an affair. Doesn’t matter if you were about divorced. He wasn’t. Sure, it was his commitment and his marriage may have been in shambles (or it was just a line — considering that’s the exact same line every cheater gives), or whatever. But he was still married and it was still cheating. And unfortunately, if you are the one who participated in the affair, you’re unlikely to ever be accepted in the same way as someone who wasn’t part of an affair. That’s the tradeoff. You said, “OK, sure, I’ll take that,” and this is the result.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Isn’t moving out of state a way to avoid child support? Wonder if that’s a factor here.

      Also, I don’t know if the title is LW’s or Wendy’s, but it’s actually not even the bf’s call to “let” the LW spend time with his kids. They’re all adults except one who’s almost an adult. The bf can’t force them to spend time with the LW. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to. The only thing the bf could possibly do is to refuse to go if the LW isn’t invited. Is that what you want, LW? Because it sounds like that’s what it will take. And I hardly think it’s going to endear you any further to the kids to give them an ultimatum. Especially if it results in then not seeing their dad over the holidays.

      1. No, you don’t get out of child support if you move to another state- and it goes thru the courts of where the child lives not where he lives.

  21. Skyblossom says:

    ” We’re “engaged,” and I use quotations because it’s not publicly announced or acknowledged”

    I went back and started rereading the letter and this really stuck out. If you can’t announce your engagement you aren’t engaged. Unless you intend to have a secret marriage, unannounced to anyone, a hidden marriage that can’t be acknowledged, you aren’t really engaged. A secret engagement is something your boyfriend has done to keep you from leaving but it has to be secret because he doesn’t want to announce any commitment to you. When a man refuses to commit publicly he is refusing to commit. He’s stringing you along to keep you from leaving but you shouldn’t be too surprised by that because you watched him lie to his wife while having an affair with you. You’re just on the receiving end of the lie this time. What you see is what you get.

  22. LW, children cannot dictate who their parents can date any more than parents can tell their children when they are adults.

    If your BF wants both you and his children to be in his life, he needs to start working for that. Otherwise, what is he going to do when you start living together and his kids are visiting ? Ask you to leave house ? Keep the kids in alternative housing ?

    Or if you get married, are you still going to be invisible to his kids ? However your relationship started, now you are part of his life. If he cannot acknowledge that, then I doubt your relationship has much of a future.

    You need to have a clear conversation with BF about both your futures and if they are ever going to mesh. Based on that you should make your decisions, however tough they might be.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      The dad could try to force a relationship but he knows that the daughter will soon be an adult and then she will decide whether to have any relationship with him. I’m assuming he knows that if he brings along the girlfriend his daughter will have nothing to do with him in the future and he does want that relationship. The dad could for a short period of time try to force a relationship, which we all know would be icy cold at the very best, and then the daughter gets to decide whether she will allow dad in her life. Dad probably sees a longer term future with the daughter than the LW and so when he chooses which relationship to save he’s saving the one with the daughter, even though he seriously damaged that relationship and has for the most part emotionally abandoned her.

      I’m also guessing that dad is feeling some guilt for destroying his daughter’s childhood and so he is doing her the small favor of not forcing her to spend Christmas with his mistress. That really is a small favor compared to moving a state away from her to live with the mistress.

  23. This is not a question of kids being able to tell their parents whom they may date. It is a question of whether it is possible/advisable for a dating parent to force a child to have a relationship with the person they are dating. Depending upon the reason for the child’s objection, forcing the issue could be harmful to the child. It also could have legal ramifications including the re-opening of custody/visitation rights. Will a court force a 17-year old child to spend time with her father and the woman who broke up her parents’ marriage when she was 12, if the child and the child’s mother decide this will be to psychologically traumatic for the child? The child is months from being an adult and I suspect many judges would not force her to spend time with her father’s mistress.

    1. I guess in the above I should change parent to noncustodial parent.

      And… the father does have both the LW and his daughter in his life. It is the LW who doesn’t have her bf’s daughter in her life. It is not really a question of moving the gf out when the daughter visits. If I’m reading the letter correctly, the daughter doesn’t visit. Father and daughter spend the holidays together at his family’s home.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        Noncustodial parent who chose to move a state away and become an award ceremony dad rather than a day to day dad.

      2. And how long should the LW wait until the BF acknowledges her as his partner to his family ?

        And how do we know that the BF’s daughter actually hates her LW or not ? May be they will get along if the BF makes some effort. Everyone has choices. The LW can stay or leave. The BF can marry the LW or not. And the daughter can choose to have her father in her life or not despite who he marries.

      3. Huh? The family knows this woman is the father’s partner. They’ve known since they found out about the affair and the divorce and the father changed jobs and moved to another state to be close to this woman. They know he’s still with LW, which is why he has to see his daughter at the grandparents’ house. How do we know she hates LW? Well, perhaps not actual hate, merely strong disdain and dislike, but we know daughter is adament about not spending holidays with her father’s gf/former mistress.

        Father has not told his family about the ‘engagement’, likely because he has no intention of ever marrying LW. He doesn’t seem the monogamous sort, not even serial monogamy.

        Yes, everyone has decisions. LW should MOA. I think the daughter has already made her decision and made it very clear to her father. She is willing to spend time with him, but not if that involves spending time with the woman whose affair with her father ended her parents’ marriage and her daily connection with her father. Her father moved out of state for this woman. It is up to him to decide how badly he wants a relationship with his daughter. Apparently he still wants one and wants one badly enough not to issue the ultimatum: if the woman you blame for breaking up your family is barred from the get-together, then your father won’t be there either. He knows how that ultimatum will be received and answered — it will be just another abandonment of his children, whom he sees not very much in any case.

        It is pathetic that this woman is so jealous and insecure that she is trying to deny this girl a few days a year alone with her father and his family. How selfish is that?

    2. THIS!

      This is about what’s in the best interest of a teenage girl whose dad divorced her mom and left the family home for his mistress. I personally think the LW should have a little compassion and understanding while the daughter is still in high school and dependent on her parents. She should let her “fiance” have the relationship he wants with his daughter right now without interfering. I truly don’t understand why they can’t celebrate Christmas a few days before or after the actual date of the holiday. Especially a holiday built around family and traditions and is probably way more important to a child than an adult over the age of 50. And yes, despite this girl being 17, she is still a child to her parents.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        “Fiance” because the engagement has to be kept secret. This guy is stringing along the LW for as long as he can. Sometime, in the magical, distant future they will get married and live happily ever after. In the meantime all must be a big secret.

      2. And that is the problem, Skyblossom. LW knows that her relationship with her bf isn’t progressing and is selfishly seeking reassurance at the expense of the daughter by setting up the test that her bf has to slap down his daughter as if she were a spoiled brat and not a girl whom LW has harmed. If she needs relationship reassurance, why doesn’t she just leave the poor girl alone and demand that the bf have a photo engagement announcement in their local and his former home newspapers within the month or she is gone. That keeps the issue between the two of them as much as possible.

  24. Just introducing another perspective but what if he had left his wife first and after that met a new woman. And he treated her like this.keeping relationship a secret. Refusing to include her at holidays with his parents and children.Keeping the engagement a secret. Think of how hurtful it would feel to be kept a secret and hidden and not to get to spend any holidays with your fiance and not to be included as a family. The divorce already happened for both of them. They are both single and free to date. He is no longer a married man with something to hide. Time to move forward. Its not clear if the 17 year old is the youngest of the three or oldest. But at 18 she will be more or less of an adult and want to be with boyfriends, friends or away at college. My Dad was way happier with my step mom than he ever was with my mother and i was glad he was happy. Im glad my step mom brought happiness to my father. They rarely argued and always loving to each other. He put her first in his life and rightly so. Although my parents marriage failed it was nice to see him in a loving and stable marriage! They treated each other with respect and love. And although he failed with my mother he succeeded with someone else and it was powerful to see that. He would never dump my step mom for us and we were there when he announced his engagement.She was 40 something and he was 50 something. And i was around 15 or 16.

  25. Eva Szekely says:

    I never really understood why is it always the third party that is held responsible for the breaking up of a marriage. It doesn’t make sense. It is the husband and the wife who are responsible for the keeping of their marriage vows. They should work on their marriage on a regular basis. They should communicate. If they fail to do that, then they will grow apart. Marriage is not a holiday, it is a job. If you want to keep it, you have to work on it.

    1. Totally agree. We can’t assume that the man had a happy marriage before meeting LW. Did his daughter and ex wife really had a happier life before the divorce? Many children psychologists said it’s better for children that their parents divorce if the marriage doesn’t work. My parents wanted to divorce when I was a teenage, I love them so I would rather to see them divorce if that made them happier. It actually hurt me a lot to see them in pain everyday in their marriage.
      And don’t assume the man sacrificed everything for LW by leaving his family, he did not necessarily leave his family for LW, it’s for HIMSELF (and for the ex and children too if the marriage didn’t work before LW came). My friend left his family for his mistress but the relationship didn’t last long so he is now living alone. He misses his kids terribly everyday and sees them as much as he can but he never regrets the divorce, instead he is thankful that the relationship woke him up to end the toxic marriage, which he stayed for years just for the kids. Perhaps instead of blaming the mistress, we should blame the couple for not taking responsibility to end the marriage earlier when it doesn’t work.

  26. Actually I’m with her. I’ve never been the other woman. But it’s bullshit what’s going on. And we all know love and marriage isn’t simple. He got divorced to someone he probably didn’t love way before her. A lot of men just stay complacent in a mediocre marriage. Because men are simple. I think it would be more unfair to him and his ex to stillll be in a mediocre contempt relationship.

  27. I love how judgmental you folks are. You really think this ex wife was a saint? She’s most likely working overtime poisoning the kids against this woman. It’s abusive and disgusting, yet you blindly tear OP apart. You must be battleaxes in your own lives.
    It’s total bullshit for everyone to hate her and leave her out in the cold. Anything dad provides for the kids is coming out of her pocket as well, and they have zero problem accepting THAT.
    So sorry people are so rude to you, OP. You don’t deserve that and you deserve a partner that will respect you and stand up for you. Of course, introductions should be handled with care, but you’re 100% not the reason he got divorced, no matter how much the pearl clutchers want to believe that.

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