Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Dumped Him Twice, But Now That He’s Moved on I Want Him Back”

I called things off with my ex-husband shortly after our son turned 1 in 2011. He was a self-centered egotistical JERK and had numerous affairs, although by his definition the whole sexting and hiding the seven other women was my being ridiculous and crazy. I filed separation papers and moved out with our two children. I would say that five months after that I knew for certain there was no chance of his ever changing. My friends set me up on a date with a mutual acquaintance — this amazing single father who is absolutely perfect in every way possible. I immediately saw myself growing old with him.

We both decided to take it slow as he has a daughter and my two young children didn’t need to be subjected to another male figure just yet. After a couple months of dating I met his daughter and fell head over heels for her, the sweetest thing ever! I included her in everything we did, and he told me she started to come out of her shell and loved being around me. He even at one point told me he wanted her to be like me — self-sufficient and independent. After dating for about eight months, I got scared and backed away, since for me it was too much too fast, and, even though everything was so natural and effortless, I still felt that I was not ready and he understood.

The tough thing was that his daughter had a very hard time with it (her mom is in and out of her life constantly). (I also had had an issue with the fact that his sister lived with him and was very unwelcoming all the time). So I gave it some time, and five months later reconnected with him. Things were great and I knew this was it and I was completely ready for things to go exactly how I knew they would go — talk about happily ever after! He was the one, every fiber of me was in love with this man, and he still has my heart today.

Now to the bad part. Shortly after our dating the second time, my ex-husband found out about him and threatened me that if he ever saw him, he would hurt him. I really took that into consideration as my ex-husband is completely immature. I truly feared that something might happen, and so I made up this story that I just thought that we should slow down and that I thought my kids were getting too attached and I didn’t want to hurt their father’s feelings, and he completely understood but told me he couldn’t go through this again. I told him I loved him and that I understood his stance. We parted ways and have had little contact since then.

I know he’s in a relationship and I want him to be happy, but I know with every ounce of me that he’s the one. He moved on quite quickly, and it’s been a year and a half since I’ve even seen him. I’ve even dated someone who was a great guy, but things just never got to what I had I had. I want to know how I re-enter his life and let him know that I love him and want to be with him. It’s crazy because I never even loved my ex-husband the way I love him. — Looking for a Third Chance

But . . . what has changed? Apparently, from day one, you felt he was “the one,” but that didn’t stop you from breaking up with him. Two times. Now, your argument for being with him is that you “know with every ounce that he’s the one.” But, you’ve BEEN saying that . . . and it didn’t work out. Why would it work out now? What has changed in your life, your mind, your heart, that would make disrupting this man’s life AGAIN worth the potential pain you might cause him (not to mention his kids and the woman he’s seeing now)?

What you did was pretty shitty. You lied to him and broke up with him without giving him the benefit of knowing the real reason. You broke his heart. And for what? Because you were afraid of your ex? Because you couldn’t bring yourself to communicate with this perfect man your fears that your ex might hurt him? Because you were ashamed? Embarrassed? Worried that, if he knew the truth, then HE might be the one to call it off, depriving you of feeling in control of the situation?

Nowhere in your letter do you suggest that you know what you did was wrong and that you’ve learned from your mistake. Nowhere do you mention why or how things would be different now. What if you get back together with this guy and your ex-husband finds out and makes threats again? What’s your plan? Are you going to break up with your boyfriend again?

Your whole letter reads like someone who’s seduced by fantasy or simply the idea of escape and has failed to ground herself in reality. Five months out of a terrible marriage (and not yet even divorced), you went out with a guy you deemed “perfect in every way possible” (come on, no one is perfect), and “immediately saw yourself growing old with him.” And then within two months, after agreeing not to move too quickly, you’re including his daughter in everything you two do (fyi: that’s moving quickly). And, apparently, you’re doing this before truly processing your divorce and thinking about what it means to be so intimately involved with this new man and his family because, suddenly, you’re talking about being “scared” and calling everything off, disappearing for five months.

And then you reconnect and you are instantly convinced that “everything will go exactly as you know they will go” and you’ll live “happily ever after,” because, sure, this man is perfect in every way and life always goes according to plan and things never get messy and life never throws curve balls.

You’ve been living in a fantasy world and I don’t see any indication that you aren’t still residing there. You have young kids and what sounds like a crazy ex. Pull it together and deal with your shit. Take your blinders off and accept that there is no “perfect” (perfect is an illusion) and no man is going to be your knight in shining armor, saving you from the ruins of your past relationship and whatever other struggles and challenges you’re dealing with. Be the self-sufficient and independent woman your ex-boyfriend first saw you as and be your own damn savior. Be your OWN happily ever. Create a stable and safe life for your kids and work on maintaining a civil co-parenting relationship with your ex so that you don’t have to live in fear of his hurting a future romantic partner.

Then, and only then, will you be ready to pursue such a relationship. And maybe by then this man you’ve dumped twice will be long gone. Or maybe he won’t be. But unless he is totally single and unattached, I would leave him alone. And keep in mind that whomever you end up with next is not, will not, and cannot be perfect. He will have his own set of baggage and he will be flawed, too. He will make mistakes and do things sometimes that hurt your feelings. And when that happens, you have to be prepared to deal with the reality of the situation and accept that these challenges aren’t always dead ends. But they are always opportunities to grow and learn. And as dreamy as “happily ever after” sounds, growing into better versions of ourselves and connecting with real people instead of chasing after idealized versions of them sounds even better.


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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.

23 comments… add one
  • cleopatra jones April 23, 2015, 8:15 am

    Yeah, WWS.
    FTR, a knight is shining armor is a myth created during the middle ages to keep women helpless and believing they couldn’t be independent and in control of their lives. This tired old myth keeps getting churned out in countless variations by Hollywood and romance novels.
    Move on from that mindset.
    The question I always pose to women when they go on an on about a knight in shining armor is, if he’s so busy saving you and you are so busy getting yourself into situations that you need to be saved from, how in the heck are you supposed to move forward and grow as a couple and an individual?
    Leave that dude alone and move on and fix yourself first. Once you do that, you will find the person who fits into your life.

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  • Addie Pray April 23, 2015, 8:34 am

    Everything Wendy said, times three.

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  • Essie April 23, 2015, 8:35 am

    What you did to him (and his daughter) would be hard to forgive once. Twice? No way.
    At some point, it’s not even a matter of forgiving. The hurt just kills any feelings of love you had.
    It’s done. Learn from the mistakes and move on. It sounds like he’s found some happiness, and I hope his daughter has as well. Leave him alone. You can’t ‘get back into his life’.

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    • juliecatharine April 23, 2015, 11:41 am

      “The hurt just kills any feelings of love you once had”. This a million times over. I was actually thinking the exact same thing last night about an ex of mine. He pulled the same crap this LW did (minus the kid drama which makes it so much worse) twice and completely obliterated my heart. It took a long while but I feel nothing for him now. Hopefully the LW’s ex is the same. Enough is enough lady, follow Wendy’s advice but take it a step further and leave this guy the hell alone even if he does wind up single at some point.

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  • Raccoon eyes April 23, 2015, 9:15 am

    WWS and WEES.
    You have idealized this guy so much in your head. Even if you did get back together with him, I doubt any man could live up to what you have built up in your mind. Just bc you now realize that you didnt love your ex-husband that way doesnt mean that this one guy is the be-all-end-all for you. On the second go round break-up, he told you “he couldn’t go through this again.” So leave him alone. Seriously.
    Find your own happiness and then remember that there are other fish in the sea, as they say. Heal yourself first and then dust off your (figurative) tackle box. 🙂

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  • Diablo April 23, 2015, 9:44 am

    Oh, FFS. Do the guy a favour and leave him be. Let him find happiness with someone who’ll treat him better than you did. Anyway, you’ve blown it. If you try to get back with him and he’s half the man you say he is, he won’t have anything to do with you. The Bell of Relationship Doom clanged a long time back.

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    • Raccoon eyes April 23, 2015, 12:49 pm

      …never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee…

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  • FireStar April 23, 2015, 9:54 am

    He already told you he can’t do this again. You said you understood. He moved on to someone else. It’s over. You already had your second chance. I’m just so sad for what you put that little girl through. Learn from your mistake and move on. If one day he is single you could test the waters…. but if he has as much integrity as you think he has then I would take him at his word that he is done and respect that.

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  • bostonpupgal April 23, 2015, 10:07 am

    I agree with Wendy, and everyone else. I’d also recommend therapy to the LW. Several things about this letter concern me: immediately idolizing the bf, moving waaay too fast then completely disappearing, even now putting him on a pedestal. She just doesn’t seem very grounded in reality and doesn’t take responsibility for her actions. There could be some mental health issues or a mental illness at play here, or if not sure could benefit from talking out her feelings and making a plan to move forward focusing on her own life and children.

    LW, I recommend talking to a therapist and getting a full evaluation. Also, how are your kids doing with all of this? You barely even mention them. It’s definitely time to stop focusing on this long ago relationship and start focusing on building a full and healthy life for yourself and your kids.

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    • Stonegypsy April 23, 2015, 11:03 am

      Yeah. I feel like instead of processing her divorce, she just jumped into the fantasy of ‘happily ever after’ with this other poor guy to distract herself. Every time she gets some distance from him, and maybe starts getting close to having to actually deal with what happened, she jumps back into this fantasy. It’s understandable, but not even a little bit healthy. LW definitely needs to get into therapy and deal with what happened before she gets into another relationship, or this is going to happen over and over again.

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  • Nookie April 23, 2015, 10:19 am

    You cannot unscrew a pooch. Thank you Dan Savage!

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  • pebblesntrix April 23, 2015, 10:24 am

    WWS x1000

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  • chief10 April 23, 2015, 11:06 am

    What struck me most about this letter was that it was pretty much all about this other guy and his daughter. What about your kids? Are they not a priority in your life? They should be. It was all about including the daughter in everything you did. Maybe you just didn’t mention them being a part of that, but that stood out like sore thumb to me. It was just you, this guy and his daughter in your own Utopian universe.

    You have no one to blame but yourself in this situation, you sank this ship not once, but twice! When faced with the slightest of confrontation with your ex you caved and ended the relationship. This guy must’ve not been that important or that perfect if you couldn’t do him the basic human decency of having a conversation with him about it. If you were both so perfect together and could see yourself growing old together, you would’ve handled this together as a couple or a team. But that didn’t happen, you’re not in a place right now that you should be in a relationship. That much should be obvious. As others have suggested, seek some help with this, focus on you and the kids. Begin to heal the damage from the past, and move forward. And don’t give your ex all that power in your life. He, like this other guy are in your past…and that is where they need to stay.

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  • TaraMonster April 23, 2015, 11:12 am

    Girl, you need to download 1989. Taylor Swift has a message for you:
    People like you always want back the love they pushed aside.
    But people like me are gone forever when you say goodbye.
    Don’t judge me, DWers. Don’t you dare judge me! 😉

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    • TaraMonster April 23, 2015, 11:13 am

      Hey, all you had to do was stay
      Had me in the palm of your hand
      Then why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in
      Stay, hey, now you say you want it
      Back now that it’s just too late
      Well, it could’ve been easy
      All you had to do was stay
      (but you didn’t so…. you done effed up. MOA)

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      • mrmidtwenties April 23, 2015, 1:49 pm

        No judgement from me, how can anyone hate T-Sweezy? Though I do prefer country her to city, but whatevs.

      • TaraMonster April 23, 2015, 2:59 pm

        Yeah. I have trouble reconciling how horrendously awful “Welcome to New York” is with how often I have 1989 on repeat during my commute. Haha.
        Also, as a New Yorker, I object to the existence of that song. And to the fact that T Swift is currently our “Global Welcome Ambassador”. The people of New York didn’t get a say in this! How is this democracy?! I cannot abide this tyranny!

  • Stillrunning April 23, 2015, 11:50 am

    I’d add that the LW needs to learn that the other person’s feelings are just as important as hers. She’s jerked this nice man and his daughter around twice with no apparent concern as to how it affects them.

    As others have commented, she comes across as a fantasist –“he’s absolutely perfect…fell head over heels with his daughter…ever fiber of my being..he has my heart…every ounce of me…” Who could possibly live up to that.

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  • MsMisery April 23, 2015, 11:53 am

    You sound like a nut! Good luck with that! (I know that’s not constructive, but I am sure other commenters will chip in there).

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  • McLovin April 23, 2015, 12:27 pm

    Leave the guy alone. Someone else will, or already is, treating him with the respect that he deserves.

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  • something random April 23, 2015, 1:34 pm

    WWS. I loved the last few sentences.

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  • Cassie April 23, 2015, 6:57 pm

    “I want to know how I re-enter his life and let him know that I love him and want to be with him.” If you insist on re-entering his life, you at least need to wait until he’s single. It’s a really shitty thing to do to try to bust up someone’s relationship. If he does end up single, then you re-enter his life by sending him a text or something along the lines of, “I’ve been thinking of you lately and just wondered how you are.” You don’t go confessing love or wanting to be with him. If there’s any chance at all, he will respond back and the door will be open to conversation. But, if he doesn’t respond or responds minimally, that’s your sign that you lost any remaining chances. If you do happen to get back together, then you for sure need to leave your kids and his kid out of it completely until you’ve been together for a good long while and are really serious. He’s an adult, so he has the ability to decide whether he wants to give you a third chance or if you’ve hurt him too much already and he doesn’t want to get back together. But his daughter, being a child, shouldn’t be jerked around like that.
    I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that, previously, you were dealing with issues from being recently separated/divorced and weren’t ready for the relationship. I still think there’s things you need to deal with (such as the idealized version of reality, dealing with your own issues from your divorce, and the fact that you don’t seem to care about the pain you caused others), but there ya go.

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  • me April 24, 2015, 12:07 am

    Everyone is right what I did was 100% shitty. If I were him I wouldn’t give me the time of day either and I left my children out of meeting him and spending time with him at all as I was divcored and sharing 50% custody. My children were both under the age of 2 and they are my everything and they are always first….this relationship existed when my children were with their father. And I concur with the therapy it has worked wonders and shortly after the last break up I did call him and tell him exactly what my ex had said and what happened. I guess in my eyes perfect was what I saw……and it wasn’t just months after I was divorced and yes I should of given myself time. I thank everyone for responding and I will stay clear. I’m in such a better place now and thought that it would be worth a shot.

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