“My Boyfriend’s Daughter is Making Him Choose Between Her and Me”

I was introduced to a wonderful man, “Derek,” by our 23-year-old daughters after both of our recent divorces. Everything started out great, and then all of a sudden his daughter decided that she didn’t like me. She told Derek’s mother horrible lies about me before I had a chance to meet her, and now my reputation has been ruined by these lies.

“My Boyfriend Treats His Daughter Like SHE is His Girlfriend”

Derek and I are both very much in love with each other and felt we had everyone’s blessings, so we probably moved the relationship forward a little faster than we would have otherwise done. I fear that Derek’s daughter became jealous, and scared that she may lose her father, when she saw that there was a potential for a real future for us. I’ve tried to reassure her that I don’t want to be a mother to her or her 17-year-old brother and that I’m not looking for a father figure for my daughter and my 15-year-old son. Both of the exes are still in the picture and active with the children. Her father and I have both tried to reassure her that he will still always be there for her and that she has nothing to worry about, but she is having no part of it, and now the mother is also hell-bent on our not being together. The daughter has even threatened to not be a part of her father’s life if he is with me, and the mother has said some very nasty things to him about me that hurt him so badly that he won’t even tell me what was said.

All of this has forced Derek into making a choice. He decided that he could not risk losing his daughter and mother, and he has chosen to end our relationship. We are both heartbroken, but he has built a wall around himself and completely shut down. He says that he raised his daughter and so made her the way she is and that now he has the obligation to deal with her. He also says that he doesn’t feel like he has the right to be happy as long as his kids need him. He isn’t even able to show these family members how much he is hurting because he is holding everything inside.

I feel totally betrayed because his daughter and I had a great relationship at the beginning and then overnight she completely flipped on me. I am completely lost and have no idea what to do from here. Do I accept it and move on or fight for our relationship? — Relationship Ruined By His Daughter

Is there more to the story here that we’re missing? Derek’s daughter went from introducing you to her father to threatening to never be a part of her father’s life if he continues seeing you? And that happened, apparently, very quickly? Sure, you could — and have — argued that she’s jealous and afraid of losing her father, but this is a 23-year-old woman; how much of her father does a 23-year-old woman really need on a daily basis? And what, on earth, would make Derek’s mother so hostile to you? Surely, she’s not afraid of losing her son when he’s already been married and raised two kids. Something doesn’t add up. Is he very wealthy? Is his family afraid you’re using him for money? What are the lies Derek’s daughter has been spreading about you? Does she believe you’re betraying her father? Is there any chance she believes the lies (as in, she isn’t making them up, but is being told them by someone else)?

I would make an effort to find out what exactly the daughter is saying about you so you can defend yourself and prove the accusations false. But if she and the mother don’t believe you and have decided they don’t like you and Derek feels forced to choose and he chooses them over you, then that says something about his character and it points to a possibility that Derek, on some level, may believe the claims against you. In short: It not only doesn’t bode well for the future of your relationship, but it also doesn’t bode well for Derek’s ability to fully commit to a future with anyone. He is saying loudly and clearly that his grown-ass daughter and his elderly mother control him. And that’s… pitiful.

Then when you factor in Derek’s wall-building, and his admission that he “made his daughter the way she is” and now has “an obligation to deal with her,” it all sounds so… fishy and defeatist and not like someone who is prepared to love openly and fully.

I know it sucks, but I think you need to let this one go. He clearly has some stuff he has to work through before he’s ready for a relationship with you or anyone. A grown-up, who has raised kids and has a long marriage and divorce under his belt, already should be able to stand up to people (even, and especially, his family), defend the honor of someone he claims to love, and fight for a relationship he says he wants. Unless he’s lying and he doesn’t actually want a relationship with you, and his daughter and mother’s behavior gives him an out that saves him from owning his own feelings and reservations about you.

At any rate, if there’s a fight to be had here, it needs more than just your participation. Derek needs to be the one to put forth some effort, and, if he isn’t doing that, then this isn’t something worth fighting for anyway. Being in love doesn’t mean squat if the person you’re in love with could walk away from you so easily, shrugging his shoulders in quick and pitiful defeat. Don’t you want more than that?


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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. I agree with Wendy; lw, you can’t “fight” someone into a relationship. I, too, get the feeling some information is missing. I’m wondering just how “recent” both of your divorces were and how much time “much faster than we would have otherwise” indicates? Were you talking marriage again? While the daughter should not be treating her father the way that she is treating him, I’m wondering if he might be having his own second thoughts. I only bring up the possibility because it of how intense the relationship sounds. I’m sorry, but your boyfriend doesn’t sound ready. Whether or not it all has to do with his inability to create boundaries with his daughter, or he believes her rumors, he doesn’t seem open to troubleshooting with you.

  2. Northern Star says:

    I don’t think you can “fight” for a relationship if the other person ends it. His family hates you. That sucks, and it’s not going to change any time soon. Derek has decided that the joy of your relationship is NOT outweighed by the pain of his mother and daughter’s displeasure. Definitely move on.

  3. I agree that there is something fishy here, and that what Derek’s mother and daughter are doing is unfair and petty, but you really have no choice in the matter. Derek has made his decision and you can’t force someone to be in a relationship with you. Wendy is right that Derek has some stuff to work out on his own. You need to move on. It sucks, but it’s really the only thing you can do. Chalk it up as one of life’s WTF? moments. You may never understand what really happened here and I advise you not to waste much time on it. Besides, these people seem like they are full of drama and you are probably better off without them.

  4. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    When someone breaks up with you there is no longer a relationship. It is over and there is nothing to fight for. Move on graciously.

    How do you know his daughter is telling malicious lies. That sounds like an easy excuse to break up with you. It’s not you it’s my daughter. You’ve heard nothing about what these lies are so you don’t know whether she’s telling lies or maybe he is or maybe no one is.

    In the future try to move much more slowly so you don’t get blindsided. Take your time with any relationship, especially when it involves your kids and their kids and extended families. Give yourself time for it to fall apart because that is what happens to most relationships. The right relationship will last and it won’t be filled with this type of drama.

  5. He’s broken up with you. What is there to fight for?

    Look, we all have our priorities in life. We make choices about what’s most important to us. Derek has chosen peace with his daughter and family over being with you. He’s shown you what’s most important to him, and sadly, it’s not you.

    Maybe his daughter did and said terrible things, maybe her behavior did damage your relationship. But in the end, he was the one who chose to walk away. Your “problem” isn’t the daughter, it’s Derek. Plenty of people have adult children who are opposed to their new partners. They stay in the relationship anyway. He didn’t. I’m sorry, I know it must hurt like crazy, but it’s time to move on.

  6. Bittergaymark says:

    Huh? Wendy, its NOT Derek’s mother — but the Mother of Derek’s children that is suddenly going batshitcrazy. A huge difference. At any rate — there is A LOT missing from this letter. So much so that it makes me suspect…

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      “She told Derek’s mother horrible lies about me before I had a chance to meet her…”

      “He decided that he could not risk losing his daughter and mother, and he has chosen to end our relationship.”

      1. bittergaymark says:

        Hah. Whoops. That’s what I get for attempting this before my coffee.

    2. I read it the same way at first, BGM. After reading Wendy’s advice, I realized my reading comprehension skills could use some work 😉

    3. Monkeysmommy says:

      I misread that too, but after I reread the info, I realized it was his mother. At first I was really wondering why the ex had so much power!

  7. Bittergaymark says:

    There is A LOT missing from this letter. So much so that it makes me suspect… But RUSHING into marriage like a coupla dumb teenagers is NEVER a good idea anyway — so count your blessings, LW. Focus on your kids for the last few years you have one at home…

  8. Katmich15 says:

    Unless there is something mentally wrong with his daughter, it sounds to me like she was told something bad about the LW and believes it, true or untrue. It makes no sense that she would flip so totally that she starts making up lies. And I’m guessing the BF believes them too.

  9. The fact the letter doesn’t mention how long they’ve been together, how long they were divorced before getting together, and what lies have been said is very suspect. I feel like those are things you conveniently leave out because you know the advice will be something along the line so slow down, MOA, etc. Of course that advice still stands, so I wish the LW would elaborate a bit.

  10. Monkeysmommy says:

    Wendy is spot on. He isn’t worth it.
    What is curious though, is what the rumors are. Someone doesn’t just decide they don’t like you. It is entirely possible that you unknowingly said or did something that his daughter was greatly offende over. It may be something so benign that you cannot imagine what it may have been, but she has been seething in anger ever since. There is definitely more to the story.

  11. dinoceros says:

    I agree that there’s some info that we don’t have but that we need. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that far-fetched that she would change her mind. I mean, wanting to set your dad up is different from wanting him to dive headfirst into a serious relationship. You make several references to how fast things went. I can see how she might be in favor of the relationship when she assumed that it would move at a normal pace and then be less pleased when it didn’t. A lot of people see red flags in that.
    Regardless, there’s not much you can do when someone breaks up with you. A lot of people write in about the context and how to handle it, but you can’t just solve the problem when he’s actively made the decision to stop dating you. And you can’t just assume that if you fix the other issues, he’ll jump on board. Someone who is ready to throw in the towel that quickly either is not all that tied to the idea in the first place or is just not willing to upset the apple cart. If it’s the latter, even if you fix this situation, it’ll come up again.

  12. Karen Fletcher says:

    I’m in this situation right now! My so-called boyfriend let his daughter &her child move in because her baby’s father had abandoned them after doing rotten tomatoes (drugs/stealing). She would take my personal things without asking. If I tell him He’ll go into a defense to protect her even when he knows that she’s doing wrong. So I made a personal choice & my solution is very simple: LEAVE HIM & MOVE ON! For the sake vof his daughter it’s best that you move forward because if he’s having a hard time trying to get you to accept his daughter’s behavior, than he really don’t love you. It seems to me that he’s letting his children disrespect you. Take it from me I know what you’re going through. It’s not worth it!

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      My yes! Men should ALWAYS respect/choose the woman they’ve just begun to bang and whi isn’t more than so-called-girlfriend over their own fucking daughter in legitimate crisis!

  13. Kimberly Murray says:

    I disagree with the comments about the daughter and turning it back to the lies that she spread. I think the daughter is manipulative and has her father under her thumb and she feels threatened by someone coming into the picture. I am going through the same at my house. Stepdaughte r is narcisstic and started a lot of drama and problem because it all has to be about her and no one else’s feelings matter but hers. Until your in that situation you don’t know exactly how it really is.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Totally agree with all of you!
    29 yr old daughter gives ultimatum after having grandbaby! Her or me! Says when he choose me, daughter threatened he would never meet the baby and her sister and brother both adults would never speak to him.
    I didn’t know til he was packing to drive to meet them, yelling to pack my things and lv for good and he would never contact me again. WTF moment forsure, 62 yrs old doesn’t love with no commitment to after 10yrs. His kids would have him go away for weekend while they visited him, or ski trips, BB’s
    Not their fault he is guilted and manipulated. Super hard moving on…

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