Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Ex Is Way Too Attached to My Kids”

I dated my ex for two years and we broke up about ten months ago. He is not the father of my kids but he told his current girlfriend that she has no choice in the matter of my kids being in his life and vice versa. The interesting thing is that my kids don’t call him or even ask for him; maybe they just take him for granted. My son is a teenager and understood that my ex and I broke up and have tried to stay friends. My four-year-old never cried for him when we seperated but speaks of him as an distant friend.

When my ex calls he will ask to drop off gifts for the kids but does most of the talking when he comes by. He always wants to catch up or talk about old mutual friends or weird coincidences that reminded him of “us.” He says his girlfriend is aware of the love he feels for my kids and if she doesn’t accept the situation she can leave. (He and his girlfriend are to be married this year).

I didn’t have an issue with him being in my kids’ lives at first, but at this point I feel he’s overly attached to them and that he needs them in his life more then they want him in theirs. I also feel he’s just holding on to the past and having trouble moving forward with his new blended family-to-be. I want him to move on with his life and be happy.

Am I over-thinking this? — My Kids, Not His

You are not over-thinking this and while it’s nice that you’ve tried to remain friendly with your ex, he’s taking advantage of your friendliness and overstepping his bounds (probably because you have not made the boundaries clear). These are your kids, your family, and you have every right in the world to tell him that you’re uncomfortable with the situation. You were only together two years, you’ve been broken up for almost half as long, he’s engaged to be married, and most significant of all: your kids don’t seem interested in maintaining a relationship with him.

Nevermind how truly effed-up it is that this man would ditch his fiancée if she so much as voiced concern over his continued interest in the kids of his ex-girlfriend — that’s honestly not your problem to worry about — it’s more than enough that you feel uncomfortable with how attached he is to your kids. You’re the mother and if your intuition says that your ex’s interest in your kids is weird on any level, that’s enough. You’re not over-thinking it, but even if you are, so what? The welfare of your children is one place where it’s perfectly acceptable to put in some extra thought and care!

I’m not suggesting that your ex is dangerous to your kids, but it does seem that his presence could potentially be confusing — possibly even annoying. Like, “Why is this dude Mom dated a while back still bringing us stuff? Why is he still hanging around? Is he using us to try to get back with Mom?” If your kids loved having him over and had a strong bond with him that was hard to let go of, that would be one thing. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. And to be certain, you should ask your kids. The teenager is certainly old enough to express himself, but I would think even your four-year-old should have enough comprehension of the situation and the language to tell you whether he enjoys seeing your ex and whether he would miss him if he stopped coming by.

If your kids confirm your intuition that your ex’s presence is superfluous at this point, tell him to stop with the gifts and the drop-bys and focus on his new relationship because your kids have moved on and it’s time for him to as well. If your kids give you reason to believe they actually want your ex in their lives — at least for the time being — then you need to decide what you’re comfortable with, set some boundaries and make those boundaries clear.


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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.

100 comments… add one
  • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 9:25 am

    This is a situation I have seen a lot. LW, I think this is a very good man who is trying to navigate this relationship and you set the guidelines. I think it is very hard to go from being a parental figure and making room in your life for these kids then lose that. be firm but gentle.

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    • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 9:35 am

      I don’t know, I kind of see this guy as using the kids to stay close to her, since they don’t really care for him, or want to talk to him. I mean he goes over, and ends up talking to her about things that remind him of them, and lets it be known that he is willing to drop his fiancee pretty easily with no real feelings attached to it. I don’t think he has gotten over her, and his marraige definitely isn’t going to last if he makes it there. She needs to set boundries very quickly, and not be too harsh, but not worry about hurting his feelings either.

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      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 9:50 am

        Maybe your right. But I have known several guys who have gotten involved with women and their children. They “play house” for awhile and really fall for the kids. They all of a sudden are going to games and really become a little family. Then suddenly, it is over. They then don’t want to be a guy who just disappears from this kid’s life and then feel very empty without someone to take care of. This may or may not be the case but I know a few guys in my personal life who have had this challenge.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 9:56 am

        Could be either one, but I’m leaning on Bunnycsp’s side (lovin the name!). My SO and I split for a short time some years ago, and he was crushed about not having lil in his life as regularly. They maintained contact through the entire split, which I encouraged. I think its great this guy is at least trying to stick around, although I agree that maybe the time has come for less contact (if any at all).

      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 11:32 am

        I am liking the name too 🙂 I think it is a much bigger adjustment when you break up with a family than just a girlfriend. He might still have feelings for the LW, but I think it is him missing the vision of himself as a father figure.

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:19 pm

        Yeah but I’m thinking this vision was more on his side than the kids’… and that’s not their problem. He can go play dad with new wife now.

      • oldie July 1, 2013, 10:22 am

        YOu are correct, he wants LW back and isn’t even doing a good job of disguising this fact from his new gf, whom he supposedly wants to marry. A clean split is called for. The kids don’t seem overly attached to the guy and, sooner or later, he is going to be out of their lives. Better now as a clean break associated with the split from LW. No good can come of continued contact.

    • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:18 pm

      I suspect he was not ever a “parental” figure”. If he was, the kids would likely miss him more. I dated a lot when my eldest two were toddlers/preschoolers (send the morality paddy wagon!). Now in their late teens they’ve both told me they had no idea. Because they were just “friends” I hung out with, and they never lived with us, and I’m just not a PDA person. My kids basically had the same reaction as LW’s when a “friend” no longer came around. So maybe he was not a parental figure at all.

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  • katie July 1, 2013, 9:44 am

    i dont know, this is a hard one. on one hand, its great that he still wants a relationship with the kids- partners that just filter in and out of a child’s life isnt really great for them, no matter what they say. so i think its a good thing he wants the relationship. i also wonder how accurately you can know that your kids really dont care about seeing him or not… i kind of dont think they are just so unattached and emotionless about the whole thing as you think. they might not fully get what is happening, or the implications, because he still is in their life. if he just suddenly ends the relationship, then the kids might get it. especially the 15 year old- teens cant really even pinpoint their own emotions anyway, and being a 15 year old guy, he probably doesnt want to be a “pussy” by missing someone -anyone, really.

    but at the same time, if he is using them to get closer to you, thats bad.

    so i dont know. maybe you shouldnt introduce your kids to your new partners until they are serious, permanent relationships, going forward? you dont want this issue to crop up again and again, and its not healthy for your kids either, especially the little one.

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    • Clementine July 1, 2013, 11:38 am

      I don’t think introducing the boyfriend too soon was the problem. A two-year relationship sounds like what all parties thought was a serious, permanent relationship. The tricky thing with dating when you have children is not introducing a new partner too soon, but not waiting too long. You wouldn’t want to date a guy who your children hate or who can’t seem to get along with them.

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      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:22 pm

        Yeah. I had no desire to get involved with a guy until after I saw how he was with my kids. But I never introduced someone as “Mommy’s Boyfriend” either.

        Why is it so horrible for people we have sex with to filter in and out, but if my platonic friends filter in and out as they do for everyone nobody gets all “oh myyyyy” about that?

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 1:52 pm

        Such a dismissive view of kids….

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 1:54 pm

        The above was supposed post after your post about him playing daddy with other kids….

  • Classic July 1, 2013, 9:55 am

    WWS. Except that Wendy clearly is a much nicer person than I am.

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  • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 9:57 am

    It does sound like the ex is attached to LW and her kids in an unhealthy way. I thought this particularly because of the thing he said about his fiancée – that she could leave if she didn’t like it – and because of him mentioning the good ol’ times with LW a lot. Those are not his kids, and not even kids he’s co-parented. Just his ex’s kids. So unless they were super attached to him for some reason, he doesn’t have any special responsibility toward them. I’m guessing LW is picking up on this unhealthy attachment and getting uncomfortable. It may feel bitchy to reduce contact with someone who claims they are just staying in touch for the kids, but LW still gets to enforce boundaries with her ex. I think the best way to go about it is for her to take responsibility and make it about her. She could simply say that she’s uncomfortable with being in touch with him. I wouldn’t bring the kids into it personally, because it might really hurt the ex to hear they’re not so interested in him anymore and entice him to bargain and prove otherwise. Even if it’s also the kids’ well-being she has in mind, it might be better to leave that out of the discussion and just do the usual “You’re my ex, it feels weird to be friendly” routine. Everyone’s entitled to that if they haven’t actually co-parented and don’t share responsibility for the kids.

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    • katie July 1, 2013, 10:01 am

      how do you know he didnt co-parent the kids?

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      • oldie July 1, 2013, 10:30 am

        If he did it was for a max of two years. If LW has any smarts at all, and it sounds like she does, then she dated her ex for half a year or more, before allowing him to get at all close to her kids, let alone adopt a co-parenting role. A year and a half is just not enough time to cause big problems for the kids if contact is broken up. In fact, the kids seem to be sending the clear signal that they wouldn’t mind at all if this guy vanished from their lives. Best for all if LW stops trying to be friends with her ex and removes them from her children’s lives. They will have enough confusion. They have their birth father, who isn’t mentioned so I don’t know his role in their lives, and they will presumably have the guy who will be LW’s next long-term relationship or spouse. The ex is superfluous. LW doesn’t indicate that she needs any help from him in raising her kids. By letting her ex be so big a part of hers and her childrens lives, LW is, with the best of good and kind intentions, really messing with this other woman’s engagement and future. If it was the other woman who wrote in, I think we would all be saying yuck! about this guy and begging her to MOA instantly. That relationship seems kind of doomed. LW — you don’t want to have to think of your fingerprints being all over this woman’s future heartache.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 11:09 am

        “If LW has any smarts at all, and it sounds like she does” – how? how does it sound that she was smart about her kids and how they were introduced to this guy? for all we know he moved in a week after they met- you dont know that. if i was to guess i would think she was actually not smart because of the relationship that the guy seems to be trying to maintain. to me that indicates that it was a rushed, not very thought out thing.

        “LW is, with the best of good and kind intentions, really messing with this other woman’s engagement and future.” – again, how? how is maintaining a relationship with the kids of someone you dated a bad thing for your current relationship? thats ridiculous.

        ” If it was the other woman who wrote in, I think we would all be saying yuck! about this guy and begging her to MOA instantly.” – i really disagree there. i wouldnt be telling her that, at all, actually. i would tell her that if she gets involved with someone, she takes him as the full package, and if he is maintaining a relationship with his ex’s kids that is actually a good thing.

      • oldie July 1, 2013, 11:19 am

        The children of your short-term ex, who don’t appear anxious to keep you in their lives, are most definitely not part of a guy’s full package. You certainly don’t tell a woman you are planning to get with this plan or get out. That is sick. Please read the letter again. This guy is obviously still interested in his ex gf. How do I know she is smart and kind? She recognizes that her ex clinging to her kids and her is not proper, she doesn’t want to hurt her ex, she is actively thinking what is best for her kids.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 11:37 am

        wow, so, its sick to want a future partner to be ok with the children you care about from a previous relationship- biological or not? um, ok.

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:25 pm

        it’s a two freaking year relationship. People on DW have dated longer than that without living in the same city. I do not think this relationship was some big huge deep serious thing at all… from LW’s perspective anyway.

      • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 10:33 am

        It was a two-year relationship only, and accounting for a budding dating phase when she probably hadn’t introduced him to the kids yet, that doesn’t leave so much time for co-parenting. No living together is mentioned either. Plus, I think she would have mentioned it if he had assumed a parental role for the kids.

      • MMcG July 1, 2013, 2:27 pm

        I think you are onto something SasLinna but for a different reason… the LW should have no knowledge of the conversations he’s having with his fiance. Bringing the fiance into things and making declarative statements that he will chuck her overboard for 2 children THAT ARE NOT HIS is weird IMO.

        I’m all for fathers and father figures to remain a constant presence, but I don’t get that from what the LW wrote… he wasn’t around long enough and he seems to be using the kids, if not as a means to get back with the LW, then as a means to keep walls up in his new relationship.

  • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 10:04 am

    Is it so, so weird that he said the fiance could take it or leave it with regard to his relationship with the kids? I mean maybe at the time, he saw it as a package deal. Like, I’m not going to cut contact with kids that matter to me a lot right now just because you don’t like it. I don’t see that much wrong with it. We all have our things. I remember saying something similar about an ex who I remained great friends with. If you can’t deal with our friendship, then hit the road because its part of the package.

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    • theattack July 1, 2013, 10:09 am

      I think the key is that you were great friends with your ex. It doesn’t sound like this guy is great friends with her or the kids anymore, so that makes it odd that he’s still specifically holding out part of his life for her at the potential expense of his future.

      And btw, the one time that I told someone they could leave if they didn’t like that I was close with my ex, I ended up breaking up with that guy for the ex-boyfriend and marrying him. The ex that I said that to should have taken it as a red flag and left me for sure. Not that these situations always play out like that, but it’s something to look at anyway.

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      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 10:17 am

        I’m assuming he said that when they were still close (he and the kids). I do agree its time to start moving on, and maybe lessening it to birthday gifts or something. As time passes, it would seem like this will die out, or should, as they were only involved for 2 years. I commend this guy for trying to do the right thing (assuming his motivation is good). I’d likely do the same as him for a while until the relationship fizzled on its own.

      • theattack July 1, 2013, 10:19 am

        Yeah, I agree that it’s fine for whenever they actually were close, but it’s definitely weird to maintain anything long term with kids who don’t really care about you anymore.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:11 am

        IF we believe the LW here… God knows people never see things only the way the want to see them — or, worse, make false, self serving statements about exes just to keep them away from the kids. Oh, wait. That’s only when REAL parents are involved, I suppose.

      • theattack July 1, 2013, 11:21 am

        Ha, Well we don’t really have any information other than what the LW told us. I see no reason to doubt her. That’s the best we have to go on.

    • katie July 1, 2013, 10:12 am

      i dont think its weird either. the current girlfriend/fiance could be pulling something about him still calling is ex/the mother of the kids and he is putting his foot down.

      maybe it is weird that he is so insistent on it to the LW, specifically, though. like he is going out of his way to make sure she knows he will always be there? but again, if he is worried about the kids and isnt just being a jerk, i get it.

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      • oldie July 1, 2013, 10:33 am

        It’s very, very weird. He’s not the father of these kids. They are not clamoring to have him stay in their lives. It is doubtful he has been a significant part of their lives for more than about a year. If he actually does go through with marriage to his current gf and has his own kids with her, he is 90% likely to do a pretty fast fadeout from ex’s kids. This really is not at all a good situation.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 11:14 am

        since when do you need a biological tie to be involved and care about kids that have been in your life?

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 11:17 am

        I agree. Of course its up to mom & dad to create the boundaries/limits, but I just don’t see anything wrong if the guy is truly just trying to be someone who loves her kids. Hey, the more the merrier in my mind. I cut ties with a girlfriend a couple years ago, but I still send birthday and Christmas gifts every year. I loved those kids, and until their mom says to stop, I’ll continue to.

      • oldie July 1, 2013, 11:34 am

        He’s trying to be a far greater presence than that in their lives and seems to spend most of the visit chatting up Mom.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 11:41 am

        How is dropping off gifts occasionally trying to be a “far greater presence?” I mean, that’s like the most minimal presence possible. Haha.
        And what’s he supposed to do? Not chat with the mom when he stops by?

    • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 10:42 am

      For one thing, it’s weird he even had to say it. Like, why would the fiancée object to him visiting the kids occasionally if it were just that? That he had to say it indicates that the kids & LW play a big part in his life, big enough even to come before a commitment to a new woman. As the new woman, this would be acceptable for me for kids that one has co-parented, but certainly not for the kids of an ex of just two years. Also, with being friends with exes, I would at least accept that my new partner can voice an opinion on that. I wouldn’t cut a friendship if I thought my new partner was unreasonable in objecting to it, but if he had concerns, I would definitely hear him out and give some weight to them.

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      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 11:11 am

        I do think its weird that he told his ex that, but who knows the context of that conversation. They could’ve just been discussing how the fiance feels about his relationship with the kids, maybe?

      • MMcG July 1, 2013, 2:33 pm

        I think it’s weird that the LW knows the content of the conversations her ex is having with his fiance… I mean why is LW being sucked into his new relationship drama?

    • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 10:59 am

      The sentiment isn’t that weird, but it’s a little odd to be so forceful about it (if that’s indeed how he phrased it) when your ex doesn’t even want you around. It just sounds like he’s sort of making himself out to be more a part of the family than he is. And “take it or leave it” is the sort of thing you say when you aren’t interested in hearing the other person’s concerns or really listening to them, at least in my experience.

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      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 11:13 am

        Just for brevity’s sake, I put that in. Of course you should listen to the other person and hear them out, etc., but ultimately end with a take it or leave it if its something very important to you.

      • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 11:19 am

        I know. But the letter still phrased it as “you have no choice in the matter.” I have the same response to both.

    • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:06 am

      I agree. Wendy’s response here left me completely baffled.

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    • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:29 pm

      I don’t have a problem with that, and I’d think anyone who asked him to (um aside from mom) would be an insecure bitch. That’s not the problem and I’m surprised people are zoning on that. What I do think is weird is this was a two year relationship, you can tell by LW’s tone this was not some star crossed love thing (on her end at least) and she’s trying to be nice and this guy is holding on in a way that is painted as being way too intense. I think personally he’s projecting his missing LW onto her kids (I’m way more weirded out that he’s so attached to the kids, they’ve been broken up for a year, and he’s already engaged? WTF? He sounds like a hot mess). This just doesn’t sound like someone I want really hanging out with my kids a ton, whether I used to date them or not. I’m not sure I’d be comfy with my BFF around my kids if she was behaving like that. I might not ban her, but I’d be supervising a lot of the time together for sure.

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  • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 10:34 am

    I think it’s good that this guy, who clearly still feels a bond with the LW’s kids, is trying to maintain contact, & not suddenly leave their lives. HOWEVER, where this gets weird for me, is the fact that he’ll still bringing up relationship shit? and that he seems to be over-vocalizing his loyalty to the LW’s children (“oh, but my new girlfriend is getting the boot if she so much as suggests I can no longer see Timmy and Susie!”)

    So I do believe the LW is onto something that he’s kind of ~not~ moving on in a healthy way. He seems less attached to the kids, & more attached to the past relationship (like, is it necessary to BRING gifts over? Gifts aren’t a necessary part of maintaining a relationship…so it’s looking more like the gifts are excuses to see the LW?)

    She should establish a boundary—where the boundary is, that’s up to her.

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    • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 10:48 am

      YES. That what I found weird. It’s one thing to spend time with the kids, but coming over to rehash their relationship has nothing to do with maintaining contact with the children.

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  • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 11:01 am

    LW, if you’re uncomfortable with your ex in your and your children’s lives, then it’s definitely your right to limit his presence. Make whatever boundaries you are comfortable with. The fact that he’s so fixated on your relationship makes me think that he’s using the kids to stay close to you, which is not OK.

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  • Lucy July 1, 2013, 11:01 am

    I don’t know the circumstances of your breakup, but it sounds like he is not over you and is using your kids to try and stay in your life, LW. Maybe he’s hoping for reconciliation; maybe he’s just one of those creepy guys who can’t let go of their exes. Also, you broke up 10 months ago and he’s already marrying someone else?

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    • oldie July 1, 2013, 11:31 am

      She said blended family, so someone else with kids

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  • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:05 am

    Completely disagree with many on here today. So…I guess, when you end a relationship with somebody you need to treat their kids like garbage and just completely toss that relationship away into the trash? Good to know. No wonder so many kids today are fucked up.

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    • theattack July 1, 2013, 11:08 am

      There’s a big difference between treating a kid like garbage and trying to maintain a relationship with them past the time that the kids are interested in it.

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      • katie July 1, 2013, 11:13 am

        well, again, though- how can the mom really know that for sure? i really dont believe that they will just be a-ok with this guy coming and going, and then presumably the next boyfriend coming and going, ect.

        the whole situation doesnt seem healthy for them at all

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:15 am


      • theattack July 1, 2013, 11:18 am

        I agree it doesn’t seem healthy to have several people in and out of their lives. That’s kind of my point. When the relationship between the ex and the kids naturally fizzles out, everyone should just let it be. And mom can just communicate with her kids and find out. It’s really not that hard.

    • katie July 1, 2013, 11:12 am

      yea, im kind of surprised that people are really advocating to just have all contact cut off. and im surprised the LW has gotten any shit for even getting her kids into this situation in the first place, too..

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    • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 11:18 am

      He drops off gifts and chats up their mom about their relationship that ended 10 months ago. I’m not sure how that’s really helping the kids, except to give them more stuff.

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      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:40 am

        I dunno. I think many of you are selling him massively short. The guy was a defacto step parent for two years if they lived together. Which I am SURE they did as people with children always somehow RUSH to play house even when they should be a whole lot smarter about things… So two years. From the time the kid was one to three… Honestly? Nobody here think he sincerely could be reasonably attached? God, what a horribly bleak view of men so many of you have. Seriously…

      • Jodee July 1, 2013, 11:52 am

        There’s a reason for that bleak view. But that notwithstanding, it doesn’t matter what he thinks or feels. It just doesn’t. Because the priority for the LW should be her kids. And if they’re not benefiting from this, there’s simply no reason to continue. I’m with the “ask the kids what they want” camp. If they’re into spending time with this guy – in which case, we have no evidence that he’s a bad person, really – then, cool. But LW needs to think seriously about that, and discuss it with them. If they don’t care/find it weird/dont like this guy, there’s no reason for him to be sticking around. And I’d say the same for a man or a woman – 2 years IS short term. When the kid is 8, they’ll have forgotten this guy even existed. So, no, I don’t see it as an important relationship. They broke up. We don’t know that they cohabitated, or if they saw each other once a week or less. Without more info about what the kids want – not what the LW or the ex want – it’s hard to make a real call here. If the kids truly don’t care/like him, though, there’s no reason for him to be around. And, honestly, too bad if he doesn’t like that. They’re not his family. Breakups suck. That’s life, and adults deal with it appropriately by prioritizing the kids in the situation. He may be thinking he’s doing just that, here, but may really, really not be.

      • comeoneileen July 1, 2013, 7:14 pm

        @bittergaymark actually had a really, really good point about all of this that is backed by science. Studies show that the first few years of a child’s life are absolutely crucial in how they form relationships and attachments with caregivers in their lives. Fact of the matter is, during this critical time in this child’s life this man was a big part of his life and it’s likely served as a father figure. Having a traumatic end to this relationship, such as having this man leave abruptly never to be seen again, could be really devastating to this child on a psychological level. It’s not likely as simple as the kid just forgetting about this guy after a few years, especially if he was a big presence in the child’s life for the duration of the relationship.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 7:20 pm

        Yeah, I remain amazed at how very little many around here know about even the most basic levels of child psychology. The kids is three and this guy is just supposed to vanish away into the ether simply because yet another of one the mother’s relationships have failed. How many more guys will pass in and out of these children’s lives? How many already have? It all has consequences down the line… No matter how much she tells herself otherwise.

      • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 12:22 pm

        So because you want to add a buch of stuff to the story that may or may not be true everyone has a horribly bleak view of men? The problems is you alway think of the worse case scenario, and apply it to every situation. Not every body with kids rush to play house.

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:39 pm

        BGM that’s actually why I don’t think they lived together, or if they did it seems more roommatey. No one moves in THAT Fast…. at most they lived together 18 months. I just… no I really don’t see where this guy was a stepparent, and yes, it’s possible even if they lived together that it was presented more as “roommates” to the kids. Should people never have roomies either if they have kids? I’m not understanding what is so sacred about someone I fuck for two years having lifetime access to my kids, but my bff who I might see three to four times a week it’s totally fine if we have a falling out to not let her see my kids? What’s up with that?

        Interestingly it’s not a bleak view of men I have at all. In fact I’ve seen this situation far more often in reverse; with the dad trying to get rid of the exGF who won’t shutup about his kids. She often thinks herself far more important to the kids than she actually is. If the partner was never in a parent role, this is not a lot different than changing daycares. I know you think all women shove parenting off onto the first man they come home from the bar with but some of us are actually really fucking picky that our children have one father and do not need another and our partner can keep his opinions to himself. I think MrAM and I were married a good 4-5 years before either of us felt more comfortable with him “parenting” my older two, and same with MrExAM’s wife. Prior to that their role was more like… an aunt or uncle. Someone you need to respect, treat well, who your parents expect good behaviour around, someone important to your parents, but not at all a parent. NOW 10 years in it’s entirely different and my youngest two think of my ex and his wife as their stepparents (convoluted, I know, but the more love the merrier, and they’re wonderful influences on my kids, so… not going to complain!)

      • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 1:15 pm

        I, for one, don’t respond to LW questions based on my view of an entire gender. That’s you.

        Maybe they were attached to him, but 10 months has passed. It’s a fact of life that friendships and relationships fade out over time, specifically if they no longer live with him or see him as much as they used to. My best friend’s mom was my godmother growing up, and she and my mom grew apart when my mom went back to work (and my BFF started at a new school) and I stopped seeing her. I never thought I was being treated like trash. I may have missed seeing her as much initially, but then I made got to know other friends of my mom at church or wherever, and eventually stopped caring.

        This dude is going to likely start a family with his soon-to-be wife, and I think it’s unrealistic to think that he’s going to continue visiting these kids regularly. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, but I think that at some point, he’s going to have to move on, and if the mother feels that now is the right time, then that’s her decision.

        You’re also ignoring the fact that he’s making this just as much about seeing his ex and talking about them as a former couple as seeing the children, which is bizarre.

    • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 12:19 pm

      Good thing you like to blow things way out of proportion, just to find a reason so you can call somebody fucked up. It’s amazing the nonsense you add to things sometimes just to get attention. I haven’t seen any post on here we somebody said they think the guy should treat the kids like garbage.

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      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 12:46 pm

        Whatever everybody saying he should just move on and leave them in the dust. That is treating them like garbage

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 1:00 pm

        Moreover, I’m the one saying nothing is odd about him wanting to the the kids. Everybidy else thinks (with zero evidence!) that he wants to get back together with the LW. Or that he’s a pedophile… And you’re taking ME to task for making shit up? Hilarious…

      • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 1:25 pm

        No I’m taking you to “task”, because you use things like this to tell people they are fucked up, or bitches, or whatever else you want to say that day to get attention (sure not as bad today, but everyone knows that is what you love to do). You can’t have an opinion without thinking the worst of everyone, and then lumping everyone else on here in to one group of man hating bitches. Yes it is hilarious, just not the way you think it is. I don’t see people on here saying, “LW: this guy wants to get back together with you, you should punch this guy in the dick, tell your kids to stop fucking crying, and all of the other commenters on here are fucking morons.”

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 2:15 pm

        Stop putting words in my mouth. Have i called anybody tiday a bitch? Um, no. But it is m opinion that the view that you just shut out kids you’ve spent two years around IS fucked up. Its also absurdly disengenuous to expect somebody to bond with your kids if they know upon break up they are expected to just vanish from their lives completely. And that expect otherwise would be suspicious…

      • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 2:49 pm

        I’m not really putting words into your mouth those are all things you have said in the past about posters here, and that is what I was referencing in that particular post. But hey you didn’t call somebody a bitch today so congrats on that one.
        You should stop putting words into people’s mouths. Again I didn’t see anybody on here say this “So…I guess, when you end a relationship with somebody you need to treat their kids like garbage and just completely toss that relationship away into the trash” or this “God, what a horribly bleak view of men so many of you have”.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 7:22 pm

        Answer the fucking question. How is the suggestion that many on here seem to be making — that the guy just move on and simply never look back at the kids now that the relationship is over… how is that NOT treating them like they are completely disposable? And that in the end, never really mattered to him in the first place?

      • bagge72 July 2, 2013, 8:43 am

        You do realize this is the first time you have asked me this question, right? No need to swear like a 6 year, who’s mad they didn’t get their way. The question is a pointless one, because none of what we were talking about has to do with what you believe with the situation, it was about the way you go about it, by trying to put everyone else down, because they don’t think the same thing as you. At least you kept with the script though… or you could just read the posts on here about the people who were in that situation as a kid, and either wished they weren’t forced to hangout with a guy they didn’t like, or didn’t even remember the person.

  • findingtheearth July 1, 2013, 11:19 am

    To me, these kids don’t sound very attached. Maybe she needs to have a conversation with the kids, see if they really want the ex in their life, and then discuss it with the ex. If the kids don’t care, then maybe she needs to ask him to bow out gracefully.

    It honestly seems kind of weird to me. I mean, if he did not assume a parental role and their biological father is still involved, it is odd that he would want to hang on so much.

    I have been seeing an insurgence of non-biological parents fighting for parental rights for children of ex-significant others. But, usually these parents co-parented, contributed to the child, and had a very huge bond with the child.

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  • bethany July 1, 2013, 11:26 am

    I’m torn on this. A big part of me agrees with Wendy- the kids don’t seem that into keeping up a relationship with him, plus they were only dating for 2 years. Say she waited 6 months to introduce him to the kids, that’s only a year and a half of knowing the kids… I dunno, it just seems odd to me that he’s forcing himself on these kids.

    On the other hand, I think that children benefit greatly from having positive adult role models in their lives- especially male role models.

    I don’t think we really know enough about his relationship with the children, or their interest in a relationship with him to really say what to do.

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  • oldie July 1, 2013, 11:51 am

    I am surprised that LW hasn’t had an explicit conversation with her kids. Apart from him bringing goodies, do they have any interest in seeing this guy? Exactly what are their feelings toward him? Tell them Mommy will buy them gifts if that is what is attaching them to this guy. Frankly, the guy is buying too many gifts. He is trying to buy something — either LW or her kids. LW’s tone at the end suggests she senses something unhealthy is going on here. The guy wants her back, despite being engaged? Pedophilia?

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    • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 12:06 pm

      I can’t even. Pedophilia? Really?!

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    • katie July 1, 2013, 12:10 pm

      Seriously, pedophilia? Seriously?

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    • TECH July 1, 2013, 12:20 pm

      So if man takes an interest in the life of a child, that’s an indication of pedophilia?
      Can we please set the bar higher for this discussion?

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      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 12:49 pm

        Seriously. Talk about fucked up…

      • oldie July 1, 2013, 1:23 pm

        No, that is not an automatic assumption. This guy’s behavior is odd. I offered two possible explanations. LW’s intuition will tell her which, if either, is correct. There are guys who pursue single Moms with more interest in the kids than the Mom. This is a guy who hasn’t cut the cord, engages in excessive gift giving to the kids, makes the LW uneasy, and within 10 months of breaking up with LW is engaged to be married to another single Mom. Something reads strange.

      • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 1:39 pm

        This is just way to far of a reach. There really is nothing in the letters to suggest this. He only sees the kids when they are with her, never asks for time alone, and spends most of his time there talking to her. I think the LW would have mentioned this if she thought this at all.

    • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:42 pm

      Before everyone trips I think oldie was saying the LW seems to see something wrong and isn’t sure what, perhaps that he wants or back or is a pedophile? and Oldie is wondering what exactly the LW is worried about or if LW knows?

      Am I right, Oldie?

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      • oldie July 1, 2013, 12:53 pm


      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 12:54 pm

        But the LW specifically DOESN’T go there….

      • oldie July 1, 2013, 1:25 pm

        I admit that the title of the letter, likely added by Wendy, does tip one’s thinking in that direction. Clearly the LW is uncomfortable with the situation.

    • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 1:19 pm

      This sort of reaction is exactly why some men have joined the Men’s Rights Movement. Seriously, what a disgusting and insulting place to go.

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    • Amanda July 1, 2013, 2:32 pm


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  • Tracey July 1, 2013, 12:12 pm

    This letter just made me feel all kinds of weird. He’s still coming around and working to keep in touch with kids who don’t reach out to or even seem to miss him? The ultimatum to the new girlfriend, now fiancee? The gut feeling that LW has that something’s not right? If it were me, I’d tell him that the relationships – the one with her and her children – are done. Now. Then I’d mean it and end his access to them. IMO, it’s time for everyone to MOA in this case.

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    • rachel July 1, 2013, 12:17 pm

      I dunno, it sounded to me as less of a feeling that something’s not right and more…being annoyed at still having to see him all the time.

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      • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 1:17 pm

        That seems like enough to me, though. I think the first rule of keeping in contact with an ex’s children is to make sure the ex is comfortable with what you’re doing. It’s on the LW to communicate with him what her boundaries are, but being annoyed seems like a valid feeling that needs to be addressed.

  • Liquid Luck July 1, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Eh, I’m not completely convinced that this guy wants her back as much as some other posters are. I mean, they broke up and don’t seem to spend too much time together, so it’s possible that they really don’t have much in common to talk about other than the kids and their shared history. It’s like when you run into someone you knew in high school, say hello, and then realize the only way to fill the awkward silence is by asking about people you both knew or reminiscing about that one awesome moment at prom.

    As for the kids not wanting to talk to him when he comes over,that isn’t (in and of itself) a sign that they wouldn’t be upset if he stopped caring about them. I mean, what teenage boy is really interested in hanging out with his mom and her friend, even if he does like the other person? Only a few that I’ve ever met. But they tend to understand and appreciate those relationships once they leave the moody teenager phase. And as for the four-year-old, kids that age are a lot better at just accepting realities than adults seem to think. The mom probably explained that he wouldn’t be around anymore, and if he accepted that then it’s probably confusing when he does come over. I don’t think that means it’s necessarily what the child wants, just what he thinks is happening simply because the adults say so. The fact that he even mentions the ex at all is probably a sign that some kind of relationship with him would be beneficial.

    So yeah, maybe the LW should cut down in the frequency of visits if it makes her uncomfortable, but she should still encourage a relationship that works for all of them. Maybe cut presents down to birthday/holidays/milestone events and do visits on a case-by-case basis, asking the kids if they’d be interested in scheduling one and then reaching out to him. It sounds like he’s been shoved out by the mom (since she and the kids aren’t reaching out to him), and he just doesn’t know how to have a relationship with them. It sounds like he just needs a little guidance and some help navigating the new situation.

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    • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 1:26 pm

      Agreed… Especially about the teenager…

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    • bagge72 July 2, 2013, 8:40 am

      What teenage boy actually likes the dude that is trying to take his mothers place? Do you think there is a chance that this kid never actually liked the BF, because he’s not his father?

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      • bagge72 July 2, 2013, 8:41 am

        Ugh take his fathers place, not his mothers.

      • Liquid Luck July 2, 2013, 11:13 am

        Of course there’s a chance, we don’t have nearly enough information to be sure of anything here (as it is with all the letters we read here). But sometimes kids have to do what’s in their best interest, as decided by their parents, and you just pray that they appreciate it when they’re old enough to understand it. The son will be an adult in just a few years, and then it will be his choice to continue the relationship or not. But for now, I think having him accept a few birthday and Christmas gifts and occasionally sacrifice a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon every once in a while to ensure that he doesn’t feel abandoned by this guy (who’s only negative quality mentioned is that he’s trying too hard to have a relationship with children he loves) is the best course of action. The worst case of keeping contact is that when he’s old enough to choose, he no longer speaks to this guy. The worst case of cutting off contact is a set of abandonment issues that can affect his own attachments in relationships (both romantic and familial) for the rest of his life.

  • Boosker July 1, 2013, 11:43 am

    I think the ex might have his heart in the right place, but you definitely need to help him out by letting him know that the situation needs to change. Everyone will benefit: you, your kids, his fiancee, and even him, if you relieve him of whatever sense of obligation he’s conjured up. Maybe his dad was never around, maybe he had very set ideas on how a man should step into the father role if there are no other takers. But this is clearly about him, not your kids. Let him know that this obligation and connection needs to fade out, so everyone involved can move on.

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  • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 12:45 pm

    I don’t think you should have an explicit talk with him LW, but I do think I’d start being a whole lot more busy and not so available. Hopefully he will get his new wife knocked up and figure out that yes, sorry, there is a difference between kids you “co-parent” (I’ll use the term for argument’s sake but I don’t believe that’s what went on here) for two years versus having one of your own. No I am not dissing stepparents but every step-parent and even adoptive parent I know admits flat out there’s a difference. That doesn’t mean a bad thing, or worse, or something like that. It simply means DIFFERENT.

    I would talk to the kids, honestly, about what they want. Because they may be feigning disinterest out of loyalty to you.

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  • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 1:17 pm

    My stepfather was wayyy more invested in having a father-daughter relationship with me than I was. To the point where he went to court to fight for partial custody after the divorce. My family continued to force me to go see him because “he’s a good man” and “he loves you, why don’t you want to see him?!”. Frankly, I just never formed an attachment, and it really sucked being guilt tripped and forced to spend weekends with somebody I didn’t even like. I think the rejection really got to him, as he became increasingly alcoholic and reactive over the years.

    Eventually I started acting out, and things came to a head when I had to cut him out of my life in a very ugly way at 16. Seriously, if your kids don’t care about him, stop letting him into their lives.

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  • AKchic_ July 1, 2013, 8:48 pm

    Not having read any of the other comments, I am going to give my interpretation, based on my own experiences.
    However, I do have a question first: What kind of relationship did the ex have with HIS father?

    Why do I ask this? Because the ex could be projecting his own paternal abandonment issues onto your children. Example: Dad left ex at an early age, and it became a revolving door of boyfriends. One boyfriend and ex connected, but as soon as the relationship was over with Mom, the boyfriend left and the ex felt abandoned. He doesn’t want to be the abandonee in this scenario and is overcompensating, both for the lack of real father, and the missed boyfriend of mom.

    It’s been 10 months since the two of you separated, yet he is already engaged to a new woman.

    I have four kids, LW. by four different fathers. My 2nd husband is my 3rd child’s biological father. However, he’s known the older two since they were 2 years and roughly 1 month old. They know him as “Dad”. Even after our divorce, even though he backed out of adopting them, he is still “Dad”. He sends gifts, he talks to them regularly, he spends time with them when he is up here in AK, and they know that they can call him at any time if they need something.
    You need to set boundaries. It’s all well and good that you’re friendly with him, but you really do need to figure out some boundaries. Some good ones are:
    1) No dropping over unannounced.
    2) Setting time limits on how long they can spend together each week (i.e., 4 hours once a week, unless it’s an outing that the kids want, such as a theme park).
    3) No gifts outside of socially acceptable gift-giving times (i.e., holidays, birthdays, graduations).
    4) Limit the amount of gifts the kids receive, either by setting a monetary limit, or a quantitative limit.

    See if you can talk to the new(ish) girlfriend and see what she thinks.
    I personally think that he is truly attached to your kids, and even if your kids don’t say it to you, they have some attachment to him (even if it’s because he brings them things). There is nothing wrong with a decent male figure around, but I really do think that once he starts his OWN family with his new(ish) girlfriend, he may lessen the contact. He’s using your kids as a pseudo-family. Setting boundaries now will save a lot of hassle in the long run. Try to befriend the girlfriend to help you in that endeavor.

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  • Rios June 23, 2019, 8:08 pm

    Maybe this lady had soo many men that the kids are just fed up of being attached to another ex. It’s bad that he said she would drop the newgf is she doesn’t accept his relationship with these kids and it’s bad that the kids are not really into it but let’s face it these story is coming from her so maybe she is manipulating the facts a bit??? Of course it would be better a clean split but it’s not easy without thinking about the kids although if this guy is manipulating the situation and using the kids should be out of their lives

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  • Marta May 24, 2022, 9:22 am

    I was the fiance/other woman in this situation. I dated a guy who was obsessed with his ex’s kid and also told me it was none of my business. When he exposed me to illness to get access to his ex’s kid, I learned how unhealthy his relationship with the kid and ex was. He claimed he didn’t have a relationship with his ex even though his ex’s kid was 2 and he had only been in the ex’s life for a year and half. The more I learned the worse the situation was: (1) his ex had denied him access to the child for months because he obsessively watched the kid on the baby monitor after the break up, (2) he went by his ex’s house 3 times everyday because his ex would let him see the kid if they were playing in the yard, (3) he fantasized about how the kid was going to need him for emotional support at every significant stage of his life, and (4) in the post-breakup, he wanted to sabotage the kid’s relationship with his mom. Perhaps, the worst part was my perspective was he didn’t care about his ex at all – she was a means to an end – access to the 2 yr old. Based on my experience, the statement to the current fiance is a huge red flag and may speak to a very unhealthy obsession with this person’s kids

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  • ron May 24, 2022, 8:58 pm

    99% chance the guy you dated was a pedophile.

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