Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Mother Takes His Paychecks”

I’m 49 and recently divorced after a 21-year marriage. I’ve become involved with a 48-year-man whom I adore and have fallen in love with. We’re amazing together and this is the most fun I have ever had with a man. I was separated for two years before my divorce, during which time I dated different men but never clicked with any of them — not like I do with this one. He lives an hour away and we have been spending every weekend with each other for the last five months and it’s been great. We have even talked about getting married! He also was married for 16 years and has been divorced eight years now.

The thing is, he recently had a job transfer and moved back into his parents’ house, which is two hours away. He’s been trying to get back on his feet and establish himself there because the money is good, but his parents are a little controlling. I know they mean well, but… His dad is very stern, and they want him to take a condo they own where the rent is very expensive and I don’t think he can make it on his own. They complain about him coming to see me on the weekends — they say it’s too expensive and too much wear and tear on his truck. So now he comes every other weekend. His mother takes his paycheck and is watching his spending.

Let me say that before he took this job his paychecks were slim, but he paid his bills and made it just fine. And I’m not a material girl — in fact, I don’t like him spending his money on me. We have had great times without spending money.

I haven’t gotten to meet the parents yet because he doesn’t want me to spend the gas money to come up just for the day. We’re both in love and serious about each other, and he’s told his parents this. But his dad says he needs a nest before he brings a woman home. I know he’s trying to find a place and that he’ll probably take his parents’ condo, but in the meantime he wants me to be strong and wait. I have no problem with that, but I’m seeing a difference in him.

I’m a very independent woman and very laid back; I enjoy life, but I’m confused about this man I’ve fallen for. Please send me a clue. — Needs a Clue

You don’t need me to give you a clue — your boyfriend has already given you several. He’s 48 years old and his mother, whom (says he) he lives with, hold his paychecks? Clue #1: that’s shady. You’ve been dating for five months and he doesn’t want you to meet his parents because he doesn’t want you to spend the gas money to drive the two hours to where they live? Clue #2: that’s shady. His mother is watching his spending and telling him that driving to see you is too expensive and too much wear and tear on his truck, and yet she wants him to move into a condo where the rent would be so expensive you don’t know how he’d manage alone? Clue #3: shady.

Something is up in your boyfriend’s world that he isn’t being forthright about. I don’t know what it is — maybe he’s in rehab and only gets out once every other weekend; maybe he has another girlfriend on the side; maybe he’s married; maybe he lost his job and is unemployed, too embarrassed to tell you, and using his parents as an excuse not to spend money he doesn’t have — but he has shown you several red flags now, and, if I were you, I’d heed the warning and consider moving on before you invest more than five months of weekend visits together. A grown man who hands his paycheck over to his mom (or says he hands it over to his mom) has baggage and issues that are preventing him from having the kind of relationship it sounds like you’d like to have with him.

Your gut is trying to tell you something. You have seen a difference in your boyfriend. You suspect something isn’t quite right. You need to tell your boyfriend you suspect he isn’t being honest with you and demand that he tell you the truth. And if he doesn’t or if he sticks with the story that, at 48, he simply has “stern” and “controlling” parents who hold his paychecks and forbid him from going to see his girlfriend, you need to MOA and let this relationship be a lesson to you that you CAN find love after your divorce and that there are men you can click and have a great time with. But just because this is the first man you’ve felt that way about since you separated from your husband doesn’t mean he is or should be the last guy you will feel this way about.


Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

69 comments… add one
  • Miss MJ June 16, 2014, 9:39 am

    Yeah, something is off here. Even assuming this guy is exactly who he says he is – which is a 48-year old man who lives with his parents, gives his mom his paycheck and won’t come see you because his dad says it’s too much wear and tear on his vehicle – then, at minimum, he’s got serious boundary and dependency issues and no ability to stand up to his parents. At 48, I don’t expect that to change. So unless you want to end up living in his parents’ too expensive condo and running every major and minor life decision by them and having them involved in literally everything you do, I’d MOA. This is just too much to even start to deal with, especially for an easy-going, independent lady who enjoys life. Go find someone easy-going and independent who will enjoy it with you!

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    • lets_be_honest June 16, 2014, 9:49 am

      If this is all a lie he came up with to cover up a marriage or unemployment, that alone should tell you to MOA because he’s only capable of coming up with embarrassing lies. He’d have been better off just telling the truth.
      If your fake life is THAT embarrassing, your real life must be beyond my imagination.

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      • katie June 16, 2014, 9:57 am

        ha! i love it.

      • MsMisery June 16, 2014, 1:08 pm

        I don’t know if any of the scenarios Wendy posits are happening, and I don’t begrudge anyone in this economy moving back “home” for a while to get their financials in order. But in this case, “home” sounds cray. The apron strings here are tied around every extremity and double-knotted. I’ve heard of grown people moving home and mom insisting on doing their laundry or something. But insisting on taking their paychecks and dictating their social life? Nuh. Uh.

  • lemongrass June 16, 2014, 9:46 am

    Whoa. You guys aren’t 16, having a relationship with your parents like that is fucked up. Run! Seriously it will not get better if you meet his parents, they won’t release control they will just start to control you. No piece of ass is worth that.

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  • katie June 16, 2014, 10:12 am

    yea, i mean, even the best case scenario here isn’t good. why would you want to be with someone in this situation?
    the *only* thing i could see here that would make sense is that this guy, after losing his job (which im guessing happened..?), was a complete idiot with his money to the point that his parents had to treat him like a child about it. that is the only reason i could see non-crazy parents having to get into their adult kid’s finances like that. and that doesnt bode well for the boyfriend either. no situation here bodes well for the boyfriend, actually.

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  • GatorGirl June 16, 2014, 10:13 am

    Whattttttt? Your almost 50 year old boyfriend is letting his parents control his life? I don’t even know what to say. He’s a grown man letting his parents treat him like a child. I don’t think I could handle that.

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  • Raccoon eyes June 16, 2014, 10:16 am

    WWS and WEES. If everything BF says is in fact true….holy sh*t. This 48 year old man can’t stand up to Mommy and Daddy AND doesn’t control his own paycheck??? And instead of wear and tear on his truck (and presumably gas expenses in their mind) he should live in an expensive condo they own? Ummm WTF????? What am I missing here?
    LW, just bc this is the first man you click with (and love, I assume, with marriage talk flying around), he will not be the last! Cut him loose and keep dating! Too many issues here.
    As a side note, the turning over the paycheck thing and mommy holding the purse strings screams some legal monetary issue to me, at first blush. Like, he can’t have a bank account, or it would be garnished if he did, bc of support of some kind or debts or bankruptcy or something. Run away!

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  • bethany June 16, 2014, 10:17 am

    WTF?? Something is shady here. His mom can’t take his paychecks. It’s like not even possible. Even if he were to receive an actual check instead of having direct deposit, she still can’t take them. Unless the banking laws have drastically changed since I was a bank teller, she cannot take his paychecks unless they have a joint account (which he would have had to agree to). She can’t cash them, she can’t deposit them into her account. Nothing, unless he is physically giving her the cash. So, your boyfriend is lying about this.

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    • lets_be_honest June 16, 2014, 10:19 am

      I think you can just sign the check over. Like if you signed your name on the back, then I can take it.

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      • katie June 16, 2014, 10:27 am

        yea its relatively easy to give a check to someone else. thats why they arent really used anymore right? its like dangerous?
        i like the theory that he is probably having to “hide” his earnings from alimony or child support or bankruptcy or something…

      • Jennylou June 16, 2014, 10:40 am

        Bethany is right – I was a teller also. Even if someone has signed the back of the check, we’re trained to reject the checks unless the payee is there in person with a photo ID to prove his/her identity, to sign it over to another person. So he is either giving her the cash, having his pay auto deposited to his mom’s account, OR he and mom are going down to the bank together every payday. No matter how you lay it out, it’s bad news.

      • bethany June 16, 2014, 10:35 am

        We didn’t allow that at my bank, unless both people were actually standing at your teller station.

      • bethany June 16, 2014, 10:36 am

        AND– Even if they were doing that, he *still* would have to be allowing it. She can’t just take his check. He’d have to sign it and hand it over

      • lets_be_honest June 16, 2014, 10:45 am

        Oh yea, he would still have to sign it. I just know my bank has allowed that a few times.

      • Breezy AM June 16, 2014, 11:27 am

        My bank allows it completely. The person has to sign like “Breezy AM to Joe Blow For Deposit Only” then Joe Blow has to sign it as well.

      • GatorGirl June 16, 2014, 10:36 am

        I think what Bethany was trying to say was more that he had to give them to her (signed or whatever) to deposit. She couldn’t just confiscate them and cash them. Like he’s at least a semi willing participant in this.
        And, I don’t think it’s that easy to cash a check in someone else’s name. Last year when trying to cash wedding checks, we went through all kinds of headaches due to nuances in names. We made multiple trips with all sorts of different documentations to finally get things cashed.

      • Ms. Simba June 16, 2014, 10:41 am

        It’s a lot easier when it’s a child and a parent. Same last name, assumed noble intent, etc. I didn’t have to be present when checks were sent in my name but deposited by my parents.

      • GatorGirl June 16, 2014, 10:43 am

        I wouldn’t assume they have the same last name necessarily. And I can see this being true for a minor, but a 48 year old man? If I was a teller I would absolutely question the deposit.

      • Ms. Simba June 16, 2014, 10:45 am

        I suppose. Though I think them having the same name is likely since he’s a male and likely didn’t change his given name after marriage/divorce.

        On the minor thing, I wonder if they know. If you’re just taking a signed check and depositing it into a large national bank ATM, it’s unlikely someone is going to realize this person is 48.

      • Ms. Simba June 16, 2014, 10:48 am

        Though to be fair, I still believe he’s complicate in this if his mom is actually controlling his checks. (I just don’t think the logistics are necessarily as complicated :))

      • Ms. Simba June 16, 2014, 10:49 am


      • katie June 16, 2014, 11:06 am

        yea, this. i mean, of course he is letting this happen, by signing them over or going to the bank with her, or whatever.
        actually, LW, that would be a great way to talk with him about it. ask him why he lets his mom do that, and if he balks at it and blames her, you can explain to him that she is either stealing his checks *and* his identity or she isnt. he is a complicit partner in this or she is a criminal.

      • GatorGirl June 16, 2014, 10:57 am

        The mom could have kept her maiden name, or be remarried. But yeah, after a few time experiencing trying to get a check cashed and the bank being a total dick about it, I can totally see a bank being difficult about this. But we can agree to disagree.

      • jlyfsh June 16, 2014, 11:01 am

        I can actually get where Ms. Simba is coming from especially in regards to depositing at the atm. I didn’t change my name when I got married but m’s family writes checks out to my married name all the time (all the time being once a year on my birthday). I deposit them in the atm and I’ve never had an issue. Probably because we share an account? I’ve never tried to cash one of these in a bank though, I’ve always used the atm. And I’m the main check casher so at birthdays I cash all of his checks as well. Never had an issue. And if you deposit them on your phone you don’t even have to sign it, you just put for deposit only. I don’t know what the checks and balances are for that.
        Not that I think any of that matters because I’m guessing this guy is either lying or hands cash over to his mother.

      • katie June 16, 2014, 11:04 am

        yea i have never had an issue with checks, ever. and i dont even sign the back of them.

      • GatorGirl June 16, 2014, 11:05 am

        That’s crazy to me. I couldn’t get checks cashed that where made out to GG MaidenName MarriedName even with a new social security card showing the new name and a marriage license. Our bank wouldn’t let me cash them until I had a new drivers license. And they are so difficult about cashing things made out only to my maiden name now. It must be bank specific how strict they are.

      • Ms. Simba June 16, 2014, 11:17 am

        Very true. I wonder how different things are with small v. large banks, ATMs/mobile deposits v. tellers, etc. Makes me think I should have a bank that is more careful with these things!

      • SpaceySteph June 16, 2014, 1:37 pm

        My bank accepted all kinds of checks from our wedding, but the teller told me it was only because I had a long history with their bank (savings account there since 1998) and had enough money in my account that they could put a hold on the account for that money until the checks cleared.
        So its possible that if the mom has banked there a long time and has sufficient funds (I assume they must not be flat broke if they own this expensive condo) that they did that with the first one, and now its been going on for a few months without issue that the bank doesn’t even question.

        I guess meaning that he could have been complicit in the first place– like, here take this paycheck for rent I haven’t paid– and now the mom does it without asking.

      • GatorGirl June 16, 2014, 1:52 pm

        I have a long history with our bank too (since 2000) but the tellers keep changing! I never recognize anyone when I go in there. Plus Wells Fargo is just the devil.

      • SpaceySteph June 16, 2014, 1:59 pm

        My grandparents have been misspelling my husband’s last name (now my last name) since before we even got married on mail and stuff. So the check they wrote us for the wedding and the one they sent for my bday have had the name misspelled (one r instead of 2). I deposited one with a teller and one in the ATM and it doesn’t seem to care.

        Since its been going on for over a year I don’t know what to do about it. How do you tell them “hey you’re spelling my name wrong” without them realizing that they’ve been doing it wrong for almost 2 years and you never said anything?

      • jlyfsh June 16, 2014, 2:05 pm

        If it’s not an issue I wouldn’t say anything. My husband’s Grandfather is in charge of all check writing and letter mailing and he always spells his last name different. We don’t ever say anything. Unless it was keeping the check from being deposited (he checks and calls to make sure you got it and are enjoying it) I would never even think to bring it up.

    • iwannatalktosampson June 16, 2014, 11:13 am

      Um you guys are going into all this shit about how she legally got the check – the most likely case is that he either deposits it and she has control of his bank account (my mom is still on mine) or he transfers it to her account once it’s deposited. It’s really not that hard to figure out.

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  • peachy June 16, 2014, 10:28 am

    Note to self: If a guy has many good reasons why you shouldn’t do, shouldn’t meet, shouldn’t see, etc [thing that pertains to him] you’re not getting the whole truth. “Transferred” for work to your hometown = fired, I think.

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  • honeybeenicki June 16, 2014, 10:32 am

    Um…what? This has so many red flags I feel like I’m at a parade. If your boyfriend comes up with reasons that you shouldn’t come to him (really, he doesn’t want you to spend the gas money to drive there?) and basically won’t let you meet his family, that’s shady. And I think there’s something else going on with the whole job situation. And what grown adult lets their parents control their money? I’m 20 years younger than him and I can’t imagine either of my parents ever thinking they’d even get a say in what I do with my paycheck, much less control it.

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  • findingtheearth June 16, 2014, 10:58 am

    You are an adult. If you want to go see him and meet his parents you are fully capable of going – regardless of what he wants. If you gut instinct is telling you not to go and listen to his excuses, then you know something is going on.

    Unless, he is mentally ill and his parents suddenly have a conservatorship over him, I don’t really understand how any adult lets his parents control his money.

    I think you need to move on. and like Wendy said, use this as an example that you can find love again.

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  • Anna June 16, 2014, 10:59 am

    My first thought was the same, that this guy is shady and full of it. Then I realized that I have a 40 year old sister who still lives with our parents and allows them to control her life decisions/finances. She is a bit learning disabled so they always babied her and she never fully grew up. So I guess the “good news” is that he may not be lying. But if that is the case, it means he is an irresponsible man child who is incapable of taking care of himself or anyone else. Is that really good news? I don’t think so. It’s time to lay it out for him. If he can’t be a grown up, he doesn’t deserve a grown up girlfriend.

    Trust me, there are great men out there who have their shit together. When you meet one, you won’t miss this one at all. My ex is still dependent on his parents (along with his new gf and their baby). Some people are just like that. My new boyfriend is a major upgrade and I’ll never look back. Go find your upgrade!!

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  • Kelly L. June 16, 2014, 11:01 am

    I feel like “parents”=wife.

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  • Painted_lady June 16, 2014, 11:21 am

    I went out years ago with this guy who lived with his mother. He told me it was necessary after a bad divorce because his ex had cleaned him out and he was getting back on his feet. I bought it, sort of, but wasn’t all that interested anyway, and after the one date just politely brushed him off for a couple of weeks in the hope that he’d get the hint. One night he asked if he could swing by for a nightcap, which was weird, and I told him no. The next morning as I was pulling into work, HIS MOTHER CALLED in a panic to see if he’d spent the night with me, and….WHAT. He’d given her my number because she had to know where he was; after the divorce, something happened where he was declared legally incompetent and he was required to live with one of his parents. I never found out what it was, but I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t batshit crazy. Anyway, LW, just pointing out how much this guy could be lying to you.

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    • HmC June 16, 2014, 11:29 am

      Ack!! Kind of related but not really- I once dated a guy a few times that I had met at a bar in LA, and I googled him at one point and found at that his girlfriend in college had committed suicide under “mysterious circumstances” ie. she had jumped from a building and he was suspected of pushing her but they couldn’t prove it. That was one time I did not feel bad about ghosting someone. You just really don’t know someone until you know them…

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      • rainbow June 16, 2014, 7:47 pm

        My boyfriend committed suicide under “mysterious circumstances” ie. he jumped from my bedroom window and I was suspected of pushing him but they couldn’t prove it. Maybe this guy didn’t do it either.

    • katie June 16, 2014, 11:37 am

      dang. i wonder what has to happen to get an order like that put on someone. it reminds me of the girl with the dragon tattoo series.

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    • MsMisery June 16, 2014, 1:12 pm


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  • HmC June 16, 2014, 11:26 am

    All else aside, I can’t imagine seriously considering marriage with someone when I haven’t even seen their house. Where and how someone lives seems like such a big part of who they are. You were married for a long time LW, you really want to jump head first into a commitment that serious when you have so much to learn about who he is? And let’s face it, even giving this guy the absolute benefit of the doubt, at the very least you guys have a lot to learn about each other still.

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  • Lucy June 16, 2014, 12:23 pm

    As I was reading the letter, I thought, “Well, it’s pretty clear how THIS guy ended up divorced. Run!” Even if this guy isn’t a lying liar, he’s not a grown up. If at almost 50 (!?!) he still needs permission from Mommy and Daddy for his day to day life, he’ll probably never be one.

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    • Raccoon eyes June 16, 2014, 11:18 pm

      Lying liar = awesome

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  • Moneypenny June 16, 2014, 12:58 pm

    Oh man. This guy is either totally playing you as Wendy said, or he’s completely under his parents’ control. Both scenarios would have me backing away as quickly as possible. If your gut is telling you something is off, most likely it is! If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… it probably is a duck. If it were me, I’d want to get to the bottom of things to find out what’s *really* going on (just because I’m curious and want to know everything!), but really, this doesn’t sound like the best relationship/environment to be in.

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  • SpaceySteph June 16, 2014, 1:39 pm

    Guys, I’ve figured it out. Mom died years ago and he has her taxidermied body on the couch!

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    • rachel June 16, 2014, 1:46 pm

      …”A boy’s best friend is his mother..”

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      • lets_be_honest June 16, 2014, 1:52 pm

        When did you hang out with Peter’s mom?!?!

  • Clue June 16, 2014, 1:42 pm

    All great feed back
    Let me say that he lived in another state with a roommate and then transfered to the state where his parents live 5 minutes from work. So he just moved back in a month ago. I’ve seen his paycheck stubs and yes, there is child support involved.
    The parents own a condo and want him to take it, over. He does hand his paycheck over to his mom because she says, she wants, to help him get back on his feet so he’ll take the condo. I’ve been on the phone and, heard her logic she says and they end up arguing. But he is, trying to respect them as he is, in there house. He is also trying to build his fiances so he can get a place. The parents mean well but r very controlling I’ve heard them.
    The part as for him n I, they think he is, wasting gas and that to come and, see me they think of everything, they think he should save that money for his, place. He just had a blow out with her ag yesterday and,told her to stay out of his, personnel life, he is trying to do her plan and bank money so he can find him a house close to work.
    I know he’s not married or, has a secret life. Also I see the difference in him as he so meserable there, I do believe I need to get to know him more before I jump into another marriage. He sticks up for me with his, parents whom I never met and, that bothers me. Because they are just worried about him, I get that but I say cmon ur 48 stand for ur self and I know it’s hard moving back in with parents. Once ag thank u for the feedback

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    • lets_be_honest June 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

      How can you respect a grown man who behaves this way??

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    • SpaceySteph June 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

      When you heard mom on the phone, did she sound suspiciously like your boyfriend talking in falsetto?

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    • Wendy (not Wendy) June 16, 2014, 7:20 pm

      Normal parents of a normal man would be thrilled that their son, who had been divorced for eight years, had fallen in love again. That’s what normal people want for their children. Don’t get distracted by all the “secret life” theories, which are fun for us; that does happen sometimes, but if you don’t think that’s it, ignore it. We’re all saying that it doesn’t NEED to be something worse for this to be REALLY, REALLY BAD. None of what you’ve said here in your comment makes anything from your letter any better.

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    • Raccoon eyes June 16, 2014, 11:11 pm

      I enjoy being right, but it is a hollow victory, my Dear Clue.
      Your additional details do not clear anything up, and in fact only serve as further reasons you need to MOA. You’ve heard his mother’s “logic” over the phone? What did that look like exactly? A grown man putting his mom, a woman you have not met, on speakerphone so you can hear her alleged incorrect logic? Huh, sounds really…immature.
      For such an independent woman, you certainly seem hell bent on chaining yourself to a sinking ship.

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  • DesiDad June 16, 2014, 1:52 pm

    LW, if you really want to forge on ahead in spite of everybody’s screaming and yelling “MOA!!!” here is what you can do. Next week, just cheerfully let him know that you are so in love and going to come over with a picnic basket to his place.

    Make careful notes and let us know how it went. 🙂

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    • ktfran June 16, 2014, 2:07 pm

      YES! Visit. Just do it. Please.

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    • Moneypenny June 16, 2014, 2:39 pm

      Yes! Because why not?

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      • katie June 16, 2014, 2:40 pm

        honestly id be like dying about curiosity anyway.

    • Cassie June 16, 2014, 8:43 pm

      I agree with DesiDad…. please visit him and give us an update down the road.

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  • Clue June 17, 2014, 1:21 am

    Ok I will do the visit next weekend,I actually brought up ag Tonight and he said lets, plan for next weekend so I’m gonna do it, we’ll let’s see what happens, between now n then stay tuned !
    Thanks for the clues ;*)

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  • Stephanie August 26, 2017, 2:56 pm

    Isn’t it nice that rich women are too good to support themselves and help out an otherwise decent boyfriend who needs help turning his life around and should be given the chance and support to do so? Women are so quick to demand financial support after divorce, after having kids, all through marriage. What a bunch of fucking bitches. You support yourself. That is the basis of feminism. Men are not here to work two or three jobs for your lazy ass. Just because an education is a good route for you does not mean it is his route in life. Are you helping him out or telling yourself that you deserve a $10,000 bracelet and he is a ‘loser’ for trying to get any job he can, support his child(ren), and expect you to cook dinner and go out and make some money for the both of you instead of whining. Chores and work are life. You want to marry? You better deal with that. If anything, you are financially responsible for fifty percent of the costs of the kids, yourself, and your spouse when necessary. And you do have to be understanding about other people’s financial difficulties and burdens. He would be right to kick your ass out not the other way around.

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    • RedRoverRedRover August 26, 2017, 9:06 pm

      What does this have to do with anything in the letter? Sounds like someone’s got issues, and I don’t mean the LW.

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  • Lisa October 9, 2017, 12:04 am

    Meet the parents? Too weird. You should be meeting his friends, maybe his children and definitely having a talk with his ex-wife. Blame your mom. lol. Tell Norman Bates your mother read in Cosmo that all potential BFS should be verified by former spouses and girlfriends. This screams emotional incest. You will always come second to his family and never have your own with him. Probably WHY he is divorced. He sounds a bit Peter Pan

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