Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Ex-Boyfriend Wants to Get Together But He’s Still in a Band With a Woman Who Has Feelings for Him”

I’m a 35-year-old female and was with a 37-year-old male for two and a half years. He ended things about a year ago, saying that he still loved me but needed to figure out his life and how to be ready for a relationship. In the time that we have been broken up, he has gone to therapy and gone back to school to try to get his life in order.

Now he is coming back wanting to get back together and it is something I really truly want, but there is a small twist. He is in a professional-level band with another woman who, throughout our relationship, caused a lot of problems – admitting at least two times to him and once to me that she had feelings for him, saying she didn’t want me around at certain times because it “ruined the band dynamic,” inviting him to things like weekend yoga retreats without me, and throwing ego fits if I was somehow involved in band business. At 34 she has never had a real relationship, and I felt a lot of times that she used him, emotionally at least, as her boyfriend. My ex had a really hard time putting up boundaries with her for fear it would ruin the creative spirit of the band, and he would make excuses for her behavior, saying things like “she does not really want to be with me, she is just confused,” and “I’m not attracted to her so it doesn’t matter how she feels.”

While we were together, I tried to be understanding of the situation since they worked together and it wasn’t going to end anytime soon. The problem was that they would do band things sometimes 40-60 hours a week, or go on week-long writing retreats together where he and I would barely talk, and then they would make sure to take time to have “friend time” to “find a connection outside the band” without me. I tried to find ways to bring harmony to the three of us, figuring out things we could all do together or sitting down to have hard conversations with her when her ego would be out of control, but I didn’t would more often find myself bending to what she wanted because she would use the fear of loss of band harmony to get him to do things her way. There was no relief from her, she was always there. When we broke up, knowing that she would no longer be a part of my life was like letting out breath that I didn’t even know I was holding.

The rest of our relationship unrelated to her was actually really wonderful, we were able to communicate on a level that I have never had with anyone, we managed to have fun no matter where we went, and our chemistry was out of this world. Aside from fights related to her, our only fights stemmed from the fact that he was afraid of commitment. Now that he wants to get back together, I find myself so torn between wanting to say yes and not wanting that tension back in my life. I know that taking him back means opening the door to her as well. He is still in the band with her, and although he and I have discussed my feelings several times since we ended things, he still has trouble understanding why I would be bothered by her. Is it fair for me to ask that he cut her out of his life? Or even just cut her out as a friend while still maintaining a professional relationship?— Missing the Music

He cannot cut his bandmate out of his life as a friend and not have it affect their professional relationship. You know that, surely you know that. And he does not understand why you are bothered by her, despite several recent conversations about it, so it’s safe to assume that nothing between them has changed as a result of his wanting to ease tensions for you, and it’s also safe to assume that, should he actually cut her out of his life completely — meaning, break up his band and what is, I gather, his main source of income, you will be the sole reason for that and the person he will blame when — not if — he feels regret about that decision.

I wish I had a different response for you, but I do not see this ending happily. The main source of the tension you felt while in the relationship with your ex is still present. Nothing has changed, she has not gone away, and asking her to go away will only ruin the otherwise happy dynamic you share with your ex because he will grow to resent you. I would express to him how happy you are that he feels ready for a relationship again, that you are flattered he wants to renew yours, that you still care for him and want him to be happy, but that you feel that what you need to be happy (his cutting his bandmate out of his life) is in direct conflict with what he needs to be happy (keeping his band together), and you can’t ask him to make a sacrifice like that for you, knowing how much that would affect so much of his life and livelihood. Tell him you wish him well and it breaks your heart to tell him no, but you know it’s the right decision for you both.

Our son and daughter-in-law are throwing a graduation party for our grandson, and they are inviting all manner of family and friends. However, our daughter has not been invited because she supposedly didn’t speak to our daughter-in-law at a recent holiday gathering. A rift first started between our daughter and daughter-in-law at our daughter’s wedding when the DIL was telling her what to do and making childish demands (like where she was going to stand in the ceremony). At an earlier family event, our DIL claimed that our daughter didn’t speak to her, but I actually saw her try twice to start a conversation. She also told my son that his sister didn’t speak then either. Now my son and daughter are at odds with each other, and the entire family is upset.

The question is: Should my husband and I attend the party since our daughter was not invited? I don’t want my son to think we are supporting this attitude. I realize the party is for our grandson, but I don’t think he really even wanted the party. He also knows what his mother is doing. — To Go or Not to Go

 
If you want to retain a relationship with your grandson and with your son, you better go to that party. Your skipping it will not only be a snub toward your DIL, it will also look as if you are indirectly taking sides in the family rift, and you better believe your DIL will frame it to her husband that you are choosing your daughter’s side over your son’s. So far, you have not been pulled directly into the in-fighting or asked to take sides, so don’t! Let your daughter, your son, and your DIL figure it out (or not) and you keep going to all the family events you are lucky enough to be included in.

I promise you, if you draw a line in the sand now and take a side, debating whether or not to attend a grandchild’s party will not be a problem you’ll contend with because you simply won’t be invited. And what would skipping the party prove anyway? You think your DIL is going to be all, “Oh, they obviously don’t support the way I’ve been treating their daughter. I totally understand and I will start acting nicer!” No way. If you skip this party to make a statement, your DIL is not going to change a damn thing except how she treats YOU. You think everyone is upset now? Just wait til you are alienated from your son and grandchild/ren. Actually, don’t wait! Just go to the party and try your best to give the appearance of being neutral in this sibling drama.

21 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Hannanas May 8, 2018, 9:19 am

    UGH it’s so depressing how some people are able to define your life by acting selfishly. Even more depressing how they can’t be called out because they control someone you love.

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    bondgirl May 8, 2018, 9:24 am

    100% agree with Wendy on both letters.

    LW1 rest assured there are plenty of other men out in the world you can find a connection with who doesn’t have a super jealous female friend/colleague to make it a love triangle. It sucks to have to reject taking him back, but remember why you broke up in the first place. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if those two were having an affair of their own.

    LW2, the feud between your son and daughter is strictly between them so let them duel it out. Stick to being the neutral party and keep an open relationship with both of them. Though perhaps don’t tell your daughter you went to the graduation party, assuming she doesn’t already know about it? We also have feuding family members but have managed to have visits with both sides without having it affect our own relationships with the individuals involved. No need to involve yourself in those messes if you’re an existing neutral party!

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    sarahbelle May 8, 2018, 10:15 am

    LW2 – go to the party, but at some point take your son to the side alone and tell him you are hurt that he would let your daughter and his wife’s disputes stop your grandson from having his aunt at his party. Do not listen to anything about the argument, don’t take sides just voice that you are hurt that he would not have his sister at his sons party.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph May 8, 2018, 12:24 pm

      I agree with voicing concerns to the son but would recommend doing it before the party so that she doesn’t get accused (rightly or wrongly) of trying to start a scene at the party.

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    keyblade May 8, 2018, 10:39 am

    Agree and agree. Great advice.

    Letter writer two, don’t turn your grandson’s graduation into an issue about you. Sticking it to your daughter-in-law because you think she is wrong won’t change anything. If your DIL and son have been together long enough to have a child graduate, your son is old enough to have his own opinion and fight his own battles.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie May 8, 2018, 10:40 am

    I agree with Wendy’s comments overall

    LW 1 – I agree that your boyfriend controls this dynamic. At some point the woman has to realize that it’s never going to happen. The two of you broke up. He figured stuff out. He still didn’t date her. So if you think that he needs to clarify his priorities to her, and you think he’ll be a little more sensitive to prioritizing your relationship, then maybe it would work. But if he doesn’t want to rock the boat with this person, then you’re going to keep running into this wall.

    LW2 Your DIL sounds like a piece of work. The only person who can resolve this is your son. The only thing you can do is ask your son to navigate to a solution. You can ask once. He’s an adult. Your daughter is an adult.

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  • TheLadyE

    TheLadyE May 8, 2018, 10:49 am

    LW1, If your relationship was really that good before and you really do want to get back together, I would think long and hard about how good it was vs how much mental and emotional energy this other woman took up in your life AND how amenable your ex is to understanding your point of view. He is in control of this, rather than her – and you certainly don’t want to be managing their professional relationship or friendship. It’s on him. I dunno; if he’s that nonchalant about it and you truly do trust him it may be worth trying to see her in the light of pity – like LisforLeslie said, you broke up for a year and he still didn’t date her, despite probably remaining just as close so as not to affect the band’s dynamics – so she has to get the point sometime.

    You have to decide if he is worth putting up with her again, and possibly thinking about enforcing some stronger boundaries – if possible – that are a condition of your reconciliation, if you decide to go that route.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star May 8, 2018, 11:07 am

    So, he broke up with you—does that mean you were able to somehow deal with the woman at the time, and would have continued dealing forever? If so, and the reason you broke up was just getting dumped by him (and you’re reasonably sure he’s changed his mind for good reasons), then OK. Give it another go.

    Just understand that absolutely nothing is going to be different this time around because “He is still in the band with her, and although he and I have discussed my feelings several times since we ended things, he still has trouble understanding why I would be bothered by her.”

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  • avatar

    Brise May 8, 2018, 11:08 am

    LW1, you focus on this other woman but it is still his fear if commitment which is the problem. If he can’t make a choice, he isn’t mature enough to have a relationship. And yes, bands change their members and dynamic frequently, of course he can make that choice. I would have a thorough discussion with him where you are more positive in your communication. Make it clear you wont be in if she isn’t out if the picture. You can’t take it anymore. But say also what you want in the relatiinship. A family? Not being excluded for days? Where do you want to go with him in your life? This way you might convince him. If not give up.
    Lw2 let it be. You can’t make invitations for the hosts. But you can invite yourself your both children fot this graduation or an other reason and help restauring their relatiinship

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  • avatar

    dinoceros May 8, 2018, 11:08 am

    LW1: You should only get back together with an ex if the issues that plagued your relationship have been resolved. They haven’t. Going back to school has much less to do with your relationship than him being in a band with someone with whom his friendship directly hurt the relationship. The only “evidence” you have that anything changed is that he went to therapy, but people can go to therapy and still not have resolved their issues. There are lots of men in the world. No reason why you have to keep circling this one.

    LW2: The party is for your grandson, not your DIL. Don’t punish him for this. The whole reason that the DIL seems so childish is that she’s using her son’s party as a hostage for her own drama. If you refuse to go, you’re doing the same thing and will likely make a bigger rift.

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  • norabb

    Norabb May 8, 2018, 11:10 am

    LW1, the only way I can see this working out for you two is if he can work through his boundary issues with his band mate and also work on getting your trust back, both of which would include therapy. Then you two would probably still need some therapy. He would have to show that things are different enough this time, and his actions would have to back that up.
    Why go into a relationship that, at the baseline, requires so much effort and emotional toll on you both? Better to move on and wish him well in my opinion. It’s nice that hes changed and wants you back, but what do you want? It just seems like way too much of a hassle for a man who hasn’t even shown he can commit! He may have worked through his issues but there’s no guarantee that they won’t resurface down the line. Cut your losses, and find someone who is on your page.

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    • avatar

      ron May 8, 2018, 1:19 pm

      If LW cannot trust ex to be a business partner of a woman who is interested in him, but in whom he isn’t interested, then she shouldn’t get back together with him. The first issue is whether the problems which caused him to call a halt are resolved (sounds like it’s partly her insistence that he essentially leave the band, or reconstitute it, which likely is the same as ending it). As for regaining trust — since there is no indication that he did anything improper with this woman, that isn’t a cause for regaining trust, but certainly she needs to trust that he won’t simply break up with her again. This does sound like a nonstarter.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros May 8, 2018, 3:52 pm

      It’s one thing, to me, to give a person you’re currently in a relationship with another “chance” to prove you can trust them. But I feel like exerting the emotional energy to get back together with someone and then spend the initial part of the relationship watching them and looking for trouble is not worth it. If you can point to an ended relationship and not find any *current* issues, then fine. But if you can still point to the same issue still existing, it just seems sort of like a waste of time and energy to go back.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark May 8, 2018, 11:50 am

    LW1) or… she could — gee, I dunno… simply grow up and not be so damn (and so pathetically) threatened by his bandmate? Apparently, this is simply far too much of a stretch though as nobody else suggested as much.
    .
    LW2) Go to the fucking party. PS — you are already too obviously taking sides here. Watch it. Honestly? They both sound like rather trying and tedious women to be around.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy May 8, 2018, 12:59 pm

      She feels threatened because the bandmate poses a threat. The bandmate has a bond with the boyfriend beyond a professional one, spends loads of time with him (beyond just work hours), has expressed interest in the boyfriend numerous times, has expressed disdain over the girlfriend’s presence, has acted manipulative toward the boyfriend, and the boyfriend sees no problem with any of this. A threat to one’s relationship doesn’t always have to be some worry that your partner is going to start dating someone else; a threat can simply be a person or situation that threatens the harmony of your relationship, and this bandmate fits that.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark May 8, 2018, 4:25 pm

        Eh. Unreliable narrator. Girlfriends fuck up more bands with their petty nonsense bullshit. Just ask any band? Or surviving Beatle…

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        Fyodor May 8, 2018, 4:53 pm

        I was actually wondering who was going to make the first Yoko joke.

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  • avatar

    Ale May 8, 2018, 2:20 pm

    LW1 Fuck that. End this and move on. She is still there, your boyfriend isn’t doing anything, asking him to leave the band is selfish and no no, this whole thing is bad for you.
    I understand because my ex boyfriend had a (woman) best friend who controlled him and manipulated him. She even wrote the text that he used to break up with me. She was a third person in our relationship and she is still there (I work with both of them). I can’t tell you how relieved I was when we broke up that I never had to deal with her again. That I never had to fight for attention from him with her. Unless they go their separate ways this is never ending. Move on and don’t subject yourself to anymore of this crap.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ May 8, 2018, 2:49 pm

    LW1: Like everyone else has said, this guy just isn’t worth it. He’s really not. Find someone who makes you feel loved and at peace, not someone who drives drama in your life.

    LW2: Unfortunately, it’s too late for your son to take the advice I gave to LW1.
    Your DIL is a shit stirrer. And, since she and your son have a child, well, he’s stuck with her. And, by virtue of her holding access to the grandchild hostage, so are you. It’s up to you whether you go to the party. I probably would for your grandchild’s sake. But I wouldn’t bother saying anything. First, your son knows exactly how his wife is and has decided to not intervene. Second, now that she’s run your daughter off, if you give her any reason at all, she’ll turn her sights on alienating him from you. Of course, odds are that she will do that, anyway, eventually. But it’s up to your son to make the changes to stop it. Stay out of it.

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    • avatar

      keyblade May 8, 2018, 3:40 pm

      I think it’s stupid and immature for the letter writer’s not to invite the DIL but is it possible they just need a breather? I have my doubts that the letter writer’s son and DIL are really throwing a party for the primary purpose of excluding the letter writer’s daughter.

      I do think it was odd for the grandma to think that her grandson doesn’t even really want the party so she should just skip it. Does she talk with him a lot? Does she talk about his mother to him? And why is the entire family upset about a stupid disagreement?

      I’m not saying this DIL isn’t a shit-stirrer, she sounds like one. But dumb things really only get blown up if other people take side and validate them as something bigger.

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    • avatar

      keyblade May 8, 2018, 3:42 pm

      * I think it’s stupid and immature for the letter writer’s DIL not to invite her SIL

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