Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Ex’s Daughter Keeps Tagging Me on Facebook”

You posted my letter in January, about whether I should contact my ex’s kids about a couple of items of theirs still in my possession. I have followed your secondary advice and the advice of some of the commenters, which was to do nothing. The book and the pants are still in my car, after almost four months, and it seems like it would be weird to send them now, but I also haven’t managed to make that decision final and get rid of them.

Anyway, I actually have a follow-up question:

I haven’t heard from my ex at all, and after four months I’m pretty confident that I won’t. I’m really happy being single after four years with him and have no regrets as far as ending things, BUT his daughter, who is 14, keeps tagging me in pictures of herself on Facebook, liking and reposting pictures that I post of my pets (whom she was pretty attached to) on her profile, etc. So far, I’ve ignored these things, but I feel guilty about not acknowledging what seem like efforts to connect with me. I haven’t deleted her from my friends list because I thought it would hurt her feelings, but I did hide anything posted by everyone in my ex’s family from my news feed long ago, so I only find out about stuff she posts when she tags me in it or shares/likes my photos. I’ve told myself I’ll only respond if she sends me an actual message. Is that the right thing to do? — Still Wanting Drama-Free Breakup

Yes, at least for the time being. You spent four years with her father, from the time she was 10 until 14 — very formative years. If you had a good relationship, it’s only natural that she misses you and wants to stay connected, which is what she’s attempting to do with the Facebook tagging. But for now, let her continue staying connected that way without encouraging her by responding or commenting on the photos she tags you in.

Eventually, she’s going to stop trying to reach out if you aren’t responding to her. I can’t imagine she’s going to be tagging you in random photos of herself when she’s 20, but who knows, maybe you’ll get tagged in her prom photo or something like that, in which case, you could always passively “like” it — Facebook makes it so easy to stay passively connected to people like ex’s friends and family or a former co-worker you never liked but don’t want to totally lose touch with in case you need the career contact. And if she doesn’t eventually stop reaching out to you, I’d reach out to her father — your ex — and express your concern to him. Never communicate with his kids — as long as they’re under-aged — without first communicating with him. To go behind his back would be to invite speculation and drama, neither of which you want or need.

As for the book and the pants, I’d give them to Goodwill. If they were missed, you would have been contacted by now. Keeping them in your car is just a sad reminder of something you lost in the breakup (a relationship with your ex’s kids), which can’t be fun to think about and may even be hindering, at least on a subconscious level, your momentum forward. For the longest time after I broke up with an ex-boyfriend years ago, I kept a picture of him in my digital camera. I remember months after the breakup, a friend of mine going through my photos and seeing one of him and saying, “Oh, Wendy, it’s time to hit delete.” I was embarrassed, of course, but more than that, I knew she was right. And so I deleted his photo and instantly felt better. Sometimes those tangible connections to a relationship past keep us anchored a little too firmly in a transitional place, almost afraid of moving forward and losing some of who we used to be and any hope of re-gaining what we’ve given up.

I hope you’ll continue focusing on your future — on moving forward, and using memories of your past not as an anchor to this place of transition, but instead as motivation to keep becoming who you’re meant to be.


You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

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

117 comments… add one
  • TECH May 2, 2013, 9:07 am

    Wendy’s advice is awesome. Especially, “Never communicate with his kids — as long as they’re under-aged — without first communicating with him. To go behind his back would be to invite speculation and drama, neither of which you want or need.” That’s a really important point. You don’t need to invite any more drama into your life.

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    • Addie Pray May 2, 2013, 12:03 pm

      WTS. I liked that part of W’s advice too.

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    • LW May 6, 2013, 12:39 pm

      Thanks everyone for your comments.

      I see after reading some of these that some people assume that I’ve been obsessing over the pants/book since my first letter, and I guess that assumption makes sense given that these two letters are all you know of me. But I assure you that’s not the case. I sent an update because Wendy sent out a request for updates and because I was unsure about the daughter/Facebook issue. I only remember that the box of stuff exists when I see it in my trunk.

      I am surprised by BGM’s (and some others) vitriol and accusations that I am immature and didn’t handle dating a man with kids well. I wonder what I’ve said that led you to believe that I’m not a good candidate to date a man with kids? This relationship did not end because of anything having to do with the kids; I had great relationships with them. I wrote this letter because I feel bad about cutting ties with them without a word after being a significant part of their lives, but I did that because I though that it would be out of bounds, disrespectful of their father, and drama-inducing for me to try to stay in their lives, even though I really would have liked to be able to.

      Please tell me, if you broke up with someone who had become emotionally abusive, volatile, and physically intimidating, what would you have done about his kids? Would you continue to contact them, regardless of how their father reacted?

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      • lets_be_honest May 6, 2013, 12:41 pm

        I think you did the right thing. Its a crappy situation to be in and you handled it very well.

      • GatorGirl May 6, 2013, 12:44 pm

        I think you made the right choices. And I don’t think you’re immature.

      • Fabelle May 6, 2013, 12:47 pm

        I would honestly just ignore those comments. None of your actions make you seem immature to me—you clearly care about the daughter, & wanted to (& are) doing the right thing. If she’s still tagging you, etc., then you must’ve had a good relationship with her (so I really don’t get why a few decided to disparage your ability to be a good quasi-stepmom)

  • AmyP May 2, 2013, 9:12 am

    I love DW, but I really hate the advice about not returning the stuff. If you manage it properly, it can be handed to the ex, and he can make the stuff reappear in the kid’s closet without mentioning where it came from.

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    • Wendy May 2, 2013, 9:26 am

      One of the items is not a return item, but a gift. A gift, especially a specific gift that your father’s ex-girlfriend said she was going to get you, can’t really magically appear in your closet without raising some questions.

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      • savannah May 2, 2013, 10:52 am

        The dynamics of my situation were a little different, and I did decided to send a gift to the young sister of my ex after we broke up. Their family dog had died and I bought her a necklace with boston terrier charm in the last few weeks of our relationship. I debated on weather or not to send it and she was about 13 at the time. Since we were pretty close and she doesnt have a mom figure in her life, I sent it and it keep the communication channels open, but in the passive fb way Wendy is talking about. When she called me put of the blue two years later talk about her boyfriend who may have tried to pass off hitting her as an accident, I knew I had done the right thing.

      • AmyP May 2, 2013, 11:03 am

        That is a problem. The old stuff can magically appear, though–kids are always losing track of things and rediscovering them.

  • Fabelle May 2, 2013, 9:16 am

    LW, I think your instinct is right—don’t respond unless she makes an actual point to message you rather than just tagging you or “liking” your stuff. It’s a little sad, but you haven’t deleted her or anything, so don’t think you’re rejecting her just by ~not~ acknowledging her.

    As for the stuff, Wendy is right. Don’t leave it in your car. Time to give it away (or at least stuff it in a forgotten closet).

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  • theattack May 2, 2013, 9:21 am

    I’m not crazy about not returning the stuff. Maybe I’m just bitter because my ex never returned a bunch of stuff that was expensive and sentimental to me after he said he would, but I just think that’s kind of crappy. Maybe he just doesn’t want to see her so he hasn’t contacted her? You can’t assume that something isn’t important to someone else.

    WWS about the kid.

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    • Fabelle May 2, 2013, 9:31 am

      But, like, they’re pants. It’s not a limited edition vinyl or an expensive watch he left on the nightstand or whatever.

      I dunno, I feel like during a breakup, it’s almost expected for some items to be lost? My boyfriend’s ex still has (or, probably not anymore) one of his hoodies. My ex still has a shit ton of digital photos of me/us from my entire 18-21 year old life (which, okay, I actually would like those. But he won’t give them up, even though we still talk. Maybe I should write to Wendy?)

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      • katie May 2, 2013, 9:35 am

        i dunno, i dont think thats right. if its your stuff, it should be returned to you, just in general, not counting how valuable/sentimental the items are. as the person in possession of them, they are not yours, you should give them back.

        in high school when my boyfriend broke up with me i got really sad-angry and put everything of him and me (pictures, ect) and anything he had given me in a bag and i left it on his doorstep (and apparently his mom found it.. haha). so then after i cooled down i was like “oh sorry i actually want those pictures back” and he was fine with it and gave me my stuff. it wasnt dramatic. it doesnt have to be some big thing. just be polite and give the stuff back and be done with it. its so easy…

      • theattack May 2, 2013, 9:39 am

        I agree! It’s stupidly easy. Leave it somewhere for them if you don’t want to see them. Have a mutual friend do the exchange. Meet up a few months later to exchange the stuff. It’s just so not a big deal, and it’s kind of an asshole move to just decide not to do that. Maybe it’s just pants, but if they were my favorite pants that make my butt look good, I would want them back, ya know?

      • Fabelle May 2, 2013, 9:46 am

        I mean, I do see what you guys are saying (& I agree on some level), but ehh. Haha. Maybe I’m just too content to let certain items go.

      • theattack May 2, 2013, 9:49 am

        Yeah, and I guess in an ideal world we would all be able to handle that as well as you do. I definitely see what you’re saying that we should all accept it as a risk, but I just don’t want to. haha

      • katie May 2, 2013, 9:52 am

        well, i dont think thats a “bad” thing at all- if you dont care about certain things, thats ok. thats like when you leave a hoodie on a plane or something and you dont care about going through a lost and found because its *just* a hoodie, its totally fine to do that.

        but you said yourself you would like those pictures back.

        also, it would be really terrible if people used this basic principal to weasel their way back into your life, a la AP’s ex. its a bad thing as well to be like “oh, well you left this one old sleeping shirt at my house, and i know that its yours, so i dont feel right keeping it.. anyway, how are you doing”.

        overall people just need to be mature about things. thats my overall thought about this. just be an adult, give the stuff back that is theirs, dont turn it into manipulation, be polite, and be done. thats all that is required.

      • GatorGirl May 2, 2013, 9:53 am

        I agree and have always returned everything when breaking up with someone. I’ve even mailed a package so I could avoid face-to-face contact. Just because you break up doesn’t mean you forfeit your rights to your belongings. (This situation is way more compilated though, with kids and gifts and such.)

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:46 am

        In your case, you asked for things back. This guy hasn’t, so its pretty different to me.

      • Amanda May 2, 2013, 11:02 am

        Yeah, my ex and I used to play baseball with our friends during the summer, so I left my glove in the trunk of his car. Then he broke up with me and never gave me my glove back. 11 years later, I still miss that glove and wish that I had it. Oh well 🙁

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 10:00 am

        I’m with Fabelle on this. It’s one pair of pants, and he hasn’t asked for them back so I doubt they’re that important to him. It’s not worth returning them at this point. She left this guy because his behavior was irrational, so she’s better off not sending them back in case he thinks it’s an invitation to resume contact.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:38 am

        I’d agree with the rest of the gang IF they asked for the pants back and she just kept ignoring him.

      • Temperance May 2, 2013, 11:56 am

        I left a bridesmaid dress and a pair of shoes at my ex’s apartment, and he never returned them to me. It made me really sad, because that dress fit me perfectly.

        He dumped me, so I didn’t know how to get my stuff back (and I sort of went nuts when he dumped me, because I wasn’t expecting it).

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:58 am

        Did you ever ask for them back?

    • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:32 am

      Like Fab said, its pants. Let’s assume she completely forgot about the pants. If they wanted the pants, they could contact her looking for them. If I left something somewhere, its my job to go get it back, not anyone else’s.

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      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 10:37 am

        This is exactly what I was thinking, just put into words (which was apparently too difficult for me to do).

      • katie May 2, 2013, 10:40 am

        i dont disagree with you, my general confusion is coming from this LW’s dramatic months long ordeal with the pants. just give them back. or dont give them back. but seriously, its becoming a months long ordeal, over pants and a book. thats weird.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:48 am

        I kinda saw it more as a ‘if you don’t know what to do, do nothing’ and she’s literally done nothing. Just left them where they last were. Its possible she spends every day wondering what to do with them, but I can’t imagine that’s whats happening.

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 11:46 am

        Again, WLBHS. I just don’t see any “dramatics” here.

  • katie May 2, 2013, 9:25 am

    i am still confused as to why returning stuff was such a dramatic decision… and continues to be…

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    • SasaLinna May 2, 2013, 9:53 am

      from the first letter it’s clear that she just really doesn’t want any contact with him. even if she just leaves the stuff for him at his door, or mails it, it could give him reason to get in touch, and she doesn’t want that. with some break-ups, everything becomes fraught& dramatic, including simple things like the exchange of stuff. it’s sometimes kinder not to remind the ex of you by sending a package. and honestly, the pants & book just aren’t that important in the big picture. and he could always ask for his pants if he truly wanted them. I would put them somewhere in a cupboard where I don’t have to look at them, then throw them out after a few months. and the book was a gift that hadn’t been given yet, it never belonged to the kid in the first place.

      also totally agree with wendy’s advice about not reacting to the daughter’s “likes” on facebook. the lw could also make sure that the daughter doesn’t see her pets pictures anymore by only making those visible to a subset of her fb friends.

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    • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 9:57 am

      I wouldn’t want to have an encounter with an ex who was emotionally unstable, irrational, and prone to violence just to return a pair of pants either. I don’t think she’s being dramatic, she just wants to leave the relationship in the past.

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      • katie May 2, 2013, 10:14 am

        so why doesnt she just get rid of them?? she has been staring at them, pining over whether or not to mail them, for MONTHS. thats drama she is inviting into her life. if its really so potentially dangerous to contact the ex in any way again, *throw his stuff out and be done with it*

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 10:22 am

        There is this fucking amazing, new invention. It’s called the “mail.” Here is how it works. You pack up items in a box. (Another recent invention.) You then write the mailing address onto the box and pay a small fee to people at the post office (google it.). The items then arrive at the recipient’s (sorry if these words are too big) house. Item returned. Zero contact with the big, bad ex.,.

      • Scooze May 2, 2013, 10:28 am

        My thoughts exactly. Presto – drama gone!

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 10:39 am

        Yes, but to an irrational person, mail from an ex might not just be seen as mail from an ex. It might be seen as an invitation to contact them. If she hadn’t broken up with this guy for being unstable, then I’d agree with just sending them back. But in this case, I say better safe then sorry. She should just get rid of the pants.

      • Fabelle May 2, 2013, 10:46 am

        This. I applaud everyone who can unceremoniously exchange items, but I’ve seen too many examples (& this LW and her ex are one, in my opinion) where “here’s some stuff of yours” really means (or is interpreted to mean) “I miss you, let’s start something up again.” (‘Something’=drama, unnecessary anxiety, sex, I dunno. Something!)

        Sending them back or contacting him to give the items over, especially when she hasn’t even heard from him, will be “starting something” I think.

      • Fabelle May 2, 2013, 10:48 am

        But also, yeah, like katie is saying…I’m NOT entirely sure why the pants and book are still rolling around in her car.

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 10:49 am

        After NO contact from the Ex for four months, it seems like this was beyond unlikely…

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:52 am

        Sure, but 4 months ago she wouldn’t have known if he wouldn’t contact her for 4 months, thereby making it seem unlikely that he would harass her. You know? Unless of course she can see into the future. In that event, she should’ve returned the pants immediately.

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:05 am

        Do you really ALL end each and every relationship assuming your (instantly) evil ex is now going to stalk and/or forever obsess over you? Seriously? Get over yourselves…

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:13 am

        No Mark. Calm down and try to be reasonable, I know, its hard.

        This specific LW had a bad, scary experience with the ex, which is why they split, therefore I understand her worrying that a crazy man may continue to be crazy after a split.

      • KKZ May 2, 2013, 11:37 am

        THIS! If this were a normal “things just didnt work out” breakup then yes, hesitancy over the returning of the pants would be silly. But she has legit reasons to be hesitant over the potential reaction of her unpredictable, unstable ex. She has a reason to fear that contacting him over either pants or kid would invite drama back into her life that she left him to be rid of.

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 11:48 am

        I never assume that of an ex, unless he’s given me reason to. This guy, through his own actions, HAS given LW reason to believe he might fly off the handle. My own safety (both physical and emotional) is more important than making sure this guy gets his pants back.

      • BreezyAM May 6, 2013, 11:49 am

        then don’t answer the phone/email/etc if he considers it an invitation to resume contact.

  • GatorGirl May 2, 2013, 9:56 am

    My aunt tags herself in my pictures on FB all the time. It’s weird.

    I have no advice on how to deal with the child, but ignoring her doesn’t seem right to me. Tagging you on fb is sort of reaching out, maybe she needs support or a friend or something. I agree you shouldn’t go behind the ex’s back, but just ignoring someone doesn’t seem right either. (I don’t have a good solution.)

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    • MMcG May 2, 2013, 10:10 am

      ITA GG… On one hand it makes total sense to not respond, and send all communication to a minor via her father, but it just seems so sad for that 14 year old girl. It’s a shame… I wonder if she has any other female role models in her life.

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      • GatorGirl May 2, 2013, 10:26 am

        Yup. I don’t know what she should do, but I kinda feel bad for the daughter. Maybe she doesn’t have anyone to lean on, or maybe she really valued the realtionship with the LW. I don’t think the LW should go behind her ex’s back and talk to the daughter, but maybe reach out to the mom? That’s not a great idea either but if the kid needs support…

    • csp May 2, 2013, 10:26 am

      So right. I mean, the LW left an unhealthy relationship with an unhealthy man but these kids are still with him. She might be reaching out for some normal adult interaction.

      It reminds me of the movie Clueless, “You don’t divorce children”

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    • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:42 am

      I agree. I’m not sure if I’m right, but the idea of this girl being ignored just makes me really sad for her. What’s the harm in just “liking” whatever she’s tagged in, here and there?
      10 to 14 is a lifetime for a kid. Peter and I had problems a few years ago and throughout that time, unsure if we would even get back together, he still maintained a nice relationship with my daughter. I thought it was lovely.
      As time goes on, the LW can fade out and presumably the girl will fade too. I just don’t see the harm in making a short comment or a like here and there.

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      • csp May 2, 2013, 11:49 am

        That’s what I was thinking too.

    • Sasa May 2, 2013, 11:15 am

      It is sad, but there’s really no good way for the LW to stay in touch with the girl. She could actually do damage, making the girl think she will get back together with her father, for example. And since she shouldn’t contact her behind the father’s back, it would be necessary to get back in touch with him too, which would likely start unnecessary drama. So there’s no good way to do this, at least for now. And let’s keep in mind, this girl is just liking and sharing pictures, nothing else. Depending on how often she does this with other people’s pictures, it’s normal facebook behavior for a girl her age. It doesn’t sound alarming to me at all.

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    • bethany May 2, 2013, 12:04 pm

      My MIL tags me in pictures of my nephew. It’s also weird.

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  • Lindsay May 2, 2013, 10:00 am

    I don’t think I posted on the original letter, but I don’t think it was unreasonable not to return a pair of pants and choose not to give a gift that was already bought. The LW expressed how he was the type to fly off the handle irrationally to the point where he scared her and how she was afraid to meet up with him to break up. Good enough reason for me. Anyway, like Wendy said, if you’re not giving him the stuff, then get rid of it. No need to keep it around.

    Also, I’d venture to say that even though letting the daughter “like” stuff on Facebook is a way to let her continue keeping in touch, it’s probably just as hard to move on with that as having the family’s stuff sloshing around in your backseat. Personally, I wouldn’t block her, but I’d set my future statuses and posts to be hidden from her. All she’ll see is that you haven’t posted lately. I just don’t think that continuing to get “likes” from someone you don’t plan to respond to is going to really help the whole breakup thing.

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  • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 10:07 am

    I don’t agree with ANY of this advice… To me, it assumes that women are all very weak, fragile, and, frankly, rather pathetic. So much so that they can’t even handle the most basic of break up issues… i.e. returning stuff. Nor can they simply “handle” reaching out to an ex to craft an intelligent response regarding a child whose sole crime is missing somebody who was all but a step parent for four years… It’s all just pathetic and so I must advise the LW to simply never ever date anyone with children again… Epic miss, Wendy. Just Epic.

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    • Lindsay May 2, 2013, 10:27 am

      Yeah, it’s clearly a sign that all women ever are awful. Oh well, we already knew that, I suppose. We’re just so terrible at figuring out priorities in life. Like pants! Pants are the most important ever!

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      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 10:34 am

        Honestly? Grown ups don’t pathetically fret about a pair of pants and a book in their car for months on end. Nor do they abandon children in their lives without so much as a word.

        PS. Lindsay, go take a reading comprehension class. I never said that this letter was a sign that all women were awful. I pointedly stated instead that Wendy’s (in this case, poor) advice more or less implied that they were rather childish. That’s two VASTLY different things.

      • Lindsay May 2, 2013, 10:41 am

        I agree that she shouldn’t still be fretting over it. Just make a decision one way or the other, you know? I just think it’s a pair of pants and doesn’t really matter what she does with them. And it’s sad about the daughter, but if you’re cutting off ties with your ex because he’s unhinged, then sometimes there are unfortunate results to that.

        And, that’s the thing, though. I don’t see how advice to one person who happens to have an ex with an anger problem implies anything about any other women. Wendy’s advice was tailored, as it usually is, to the LW’s particular problem. I think it’s reasonable to assume that she would have had different advice for someone who hadn’t been so afraid of their boyfriend that they had to break up in public.

      • KKZ May 2, 2013, 11:13 am

        Exactly. While I’m not Wendy, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t write her advice thinking “Hmm, this LW is female, and females are unstable, irrational, and weak, so I should treat her with kid gloves because of that.” I’m sure she looks at the details given about the particular situation and applies her advice specifically to that LW, not to women at large.

        Did BGM miss the whole story about the digital photo? Sometimes people – yes, PEOPLE, not just women, not just straights – get hung up on things and need others to point out the pointlessness of it. Wendy understands this and handles it with compassion. Her compassion is probably a large part of why she’s a popular advice columnist. If you want bitchy uncompassionate responses to letters, look elsewhere.

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 10:43 am

        Yes, because being afraid of a man who’s irrational, volatile, and possibly violent are such ridiculous thoughts that it MUST imply that women are childish. Adults are never afraid of anything, because showing fear is super immature.

    • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 10:45 am

      I agree that this woman shouldn’t date someone with kids again. Its just sad all around. I think it takes an especially mature person to handle “stepkids” during and after a relationship. I’ve seen it done right, and I’ve seen it done wrong and its just heartbreaking to see when its done wrong.

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      • Sasa May 2, 2013, 11:18 am

        Agreed, but it also takes an especially mature person to let one’s kids interact with an ex in a healthy way after a break up. I think this is on both of them.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:21 am

        Agree completely.

    • KKZ May 2, 2013, 11:04 am

      Oh jezus with the hyperbolic language already, Mark. An epic miss would be Wendy encouraging an LW to stay with an abusive spouse or forgive their rapist. Telling this woman to get rid of these pants and use caution when dealing with the kid on Facebook is not EPIC in any sense of the word.

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      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:14 am

        It’s just all so cowardly. Sorry, but to me, needlessly advising women to be cowardly is an epic fail. Seriously? You’re ALL better than this…

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:22 am

        I don’t see what is cowardly. She’s just not returning pants. PANTS. Do people really care that much about one pair of pants?!?! Clearly the ex doesn’t, since he’s never asked for them.

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:29 am

        I’m talking more about the kid. But a grown adult would mail everything back and be done with it. Be the bigger person. To fret over the pants and book for months in a odd state of paralysis? How is that NOT cowardly?

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:30 am

        And then — after all that to give up and just give then away? Again — cowardly.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:37 am

        I can’t imagine anything more unreasonable than thinking not returning a pair of pants (that were never asked to be returned) is cowardly. I’m sure you will surprise me though.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:33 am

        You realize “everything” is literally one pair of pants that the ex never even asked for. I could give a shit about the pants, sending them, saving them, losing them. Whatever. They’re pants. I’ve got better things to do with my time then worry about pants. If they sat in my truck for 5 years, that’d be fine.

        The kid issue – she’s trying to be respectful of the fact that the kid’s a minor and therefore isn’t contacting her. She’s apparently scared of the ex, and not contacting him to see if its ok to talk to her. OR, she just wants to move on from that relationship and the daughter. That’s really fine too. Its sad for the kid, but that’s the only bad thing about it. She’s just moving on. It’d be nice if ex’s always kept in touch with their “stepkids” but obviously that can’t always happen. Personally, I’d just like whatever she was tagged in and call it a day.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:39 am

        She’s just walking away from unnecessary drama. I see little wrong with that.

      • A La Mode May 2, 2013, 4:06 pm

        I don’t think she’s walking away from it, though, if she obsesses about it enough to write in to Wendy 4 months later. Those pants would’ve been in the garbage can a week after a breakup, if I were in her shoes.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 4:10 pm

        Wendy sent requests for updates to anyone who has emailed her a letter, so its very possible she wasn’t obsessing, but just sharing an update.

      • LW May 6, 2013, 11:45 am

        Yes, this is pretty much it. No obsessing going on. Wendy recently sent out a request for updates, and that’s why I wrote in again. The stuff is in my trunk, and I only notice it when I need to put something else in there.

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 11:52 am

        As sad as it is that she’s cutting the kid out, that’s on the father. It’s why it’s such a risk to introduce your kids to a partner-because it might not work out and the kids might get hurt. It’s up to the PARENT to help the child deal with the loss of the girlfriend. Especially if it’s a situation like this, where his actions and behavior are the direct cause for the breakup.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:57 am

        That’s very true. Fair enough.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:26 am

        Also, I highly doubt you really think any one of us is better than this, regardless of what “this” is.

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:37 am

        Oh, fucks sake. I give up…

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:40 am

        Well let’s be real here, Mark. You think we’re all idiots, so you know you don’t think we’re better than any behavior you deem to be dumb.

      • KKZ May 2, 2013, 11:32 am

        CAUTION = Looking out for yourself and considering the potential outcomes of your actions, and deciding whether you’re willing & ready to handle those outcomes should they happen.

      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:41 am

        We are talking about NOW… Months later.

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 11:56 am

        It doesn’t matter. She hasn’t contacted him in four months, so she doesn’t know whether he’s gotten help and would be rational, or if he’s continued to act in a way that would lead to a bad situation if she tried to contact him, even indirectly. She’s better off assuming the worst and not getting in touch with this guy, either through the pants or his children. Her mental health and physical safety are her first priority, and that’s a GOOD thing.

      • FireStar May 2, 2013, 12:16 pm

        And you are talking about a rational guy. If he was a level headed guy everything you said would be on point – but with someone with a violent side? It’s a different set of rules…months later, years later – until there is proof to the contrary – those rules stand.

      • bethany May 2, 2013, 12:19 pm

        I agree. If it was a normal breakup, then give him his stuff back and be an adult about it. But in THIS situation, just toss the stuff and move on.

  • Miss MJ May 2, 2013, 10:52 am

    I actually agree a bit with BGM. Not about the generalization that this makes all women look bad, but about the fact that the LW seems to be having trouble with the most basic of breakup issues. I don’t understand why it is so hard to just reach out to her ex, the girl’s father, via email or even Facebook!, with a short message that says something along the lines of “Hey. Just wanted to let you know that X has been reaching out to me a bit on Facebook – nothing major, just liking pictures and updates and tagging herself in photos – she hasn’t contacted me directly. I haven’t contacted her or responded, and I will not unless you are okay with that (LW could just leave it at “I will not.”). I just wanted to let you know what was going on. I’m not sure if this is just her normal Facebooking behavior or if she’s having some trouble processing our breakup or having another issue and may want to talk to someone.” The end. Nothing to it, really. And if he tries to contact her further, ignore him. Keep the contact short, direct and solely about the daughter. Maybe this girl is just playing around on Facebook or maybe there is something going on in her life where she wants to talk to or reconnect to a trusted adult who was a major part of her life for 4 very important years. I mean, I know these aren’t the LW’s children, and it isn’t her responsibilty to take care of her, but it seems callous to just ignore the poor girl.

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    • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:08 am

      EXACTLY!! The utter inability to do this speaks volumes… As does the fact that so many here think it’s both normal and acceptable…

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      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 12:01 pm

        In an amicable breakup, this wouldn’t be a problem. This woman left a relationship with a violent, irrational person (who she was so afraid of, she had to break up with him in public). It is a totally different situation, and if you really can’t see the difference then you obviously aren’t as insightful as you believe yourself to be.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 12:03 pm

        I betcha (in my best Palin voice) that if this LW sent the pants back then, and the ex went crazy on her, BGM would be saying how dumb she was to send the pants.

      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Of course he would, and he’d be right then too. Who in their right mind would try to contact a guy she broke up with for being violent? A woman, that’s who.

    • Sasa May 2, 2013, 11:20 am

      I’m sorry but tagging someone in a picture and liking and re-posting pictures means there’s something bad going on in this girl’s life? It sounds like normal behavior and if the LW inquired about this it would make her look weird and possibly offend her ex.

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      • Miss MJ May 2, 2013, 12:29 pm

        “I’m sorry but tagging someone in a picture and liking and re-posting pictures means there’s something bad going on in this girl’s life?”

        Of course not. That’s why in my post I said it could just be normal behavior or it could be something more, and “something more” doesn’t necessarily mean something horrific. Honestly, there were a lot of things — normal teenaged girl things — going on in my life when I was 14 that I might not want to talk to my single dad about (boys, periods, boobs, friend stuff, etc.), and it might make me think about wanting to be closer to the woman who had been my de facto step mom for 4 years. 14 is a rough age, as I remember it. Or maybe the daughter just misses the LW. Or maybe, she just really, really likes what the LW posts. Point is, the LW wrote in asking what to do. Since it’s an issue for the LW and I would never recommend the LW contacting the ex’s minor daughter without his knowledge (or really have any sort of FB relationship with her, for that matter), she should let the dad know what’s going on. NBD, in my opinion.

    • FireStar May 2, 2013, 11:49 am

      She didn’t want to mail the items to begin with because she didn’t want to give the ex an excuse to contact her. Directly contacting him on Facebook is the complete opposite of what she was trying to achieve. I would hope in a normal relationship you can sit down with your ex and figure out what, if any, relationship you have with the kids going forward. But this LW was scared of her ex at the end of her relationship and even broke up with him in public outside of his work to avoid a scene. I think mailing back the items immediately after the break up wouldn’t have warranted contact but expressly reaching out to him to let him know that his kid is doing something innocuous online – what’s the point? Let the kid tag away. I wouldn’t even contact the dad if the kid wrote me – I would just write a quick note back explaining why we can’t be friends anymore but how I wish him the best and how sometimes these things happen and how unfair it is. If she wanted to continue a relationship with the kid – then she should talk to the ex to set parameters but to let the kid down gently? Given an ex with a violent side? Less is more.

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      • Lindsay May 2, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Exactly. If someone is scared of their ex, who is mentally unstable, initiating contact just seems like a bad idea. In any other relationship, I would support her contacting him and trying to figure out a way to keep in touch with the daughter, but it’s not worth it to jeopardize her own safety. And honestly, if he’s still unhinged, riling him up would not help his daughter either.

    • EricaSwagger May 2, 2013, 12:30 pm

      I completely agree with your Facebook message idea and I would do the exact same thing if it were any run of the mill relationship. I’m sure the girl just misses the woman that was in her life for the past 4 years, and it shouldn’t be a big deal to remain in contact with an ex’s child if all parties are comfortable with it. I remember being 14 and I could certainly have handled it.
      The issue here though, is that the ex seems to be unstable. So for me, reaching out to him may not be a good idea. Only the LW can really judge her ex’s reaction, and if she thinks it’s a bad idea to contact him, then I guess that’s that.

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  • KKZ May 2, 2013, 11:28 am

    I don’t think the LW should do any kind of reaching out about the daughter’s Facebook behavior – not because of her fears about the ex or anything, but frankly it’s just not her responsibility for one, and for two, there’s nothing to “step in” about.

    If the daughter was doing something really dangerous/stupid (like posting provocative photos), or giving any kind of specific hint that she needs help, that would be one thing. I’d understand contact at that point. But she’s tagging the LW in photos. Big f’in whoop! Let’s not turn “tagging” into “possible cry for help” when there’s no other indication of that (that we’ve been told, anyway). I mean, if the teen was tagging the LW in some super emo suicidal poem or photo, yes, cause for concern. This behavior? Not alarming in the least, not worth reading into, and certainly not worth opening communication with an unstable ex over.

    Finally, no one is obligated to respond to ANYTHING on social media. There’s no harm in keeping the girl on her friends list but ignoring the tags or re-shares. Again, don’t make this out like it’s a bigger deal than it is I got into a Poke War with my cousin (a distant cousin I don’t know well) across the country that we kept up for a few weeks, but I faded out and stopped poking back, and it hasn’t had any effect whatsoever on either of our lives.

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    • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:34 am

      And for all she knows, the LW never goes on facebook or checks it. I’m like that, so I hope people don’t think I’m ignoring them.

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      • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 11:49 am

        Uh, the fact that the LW keeps posting pics reveals rather plainly that she is logging on to facebook…

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:50 am

        Oh, I read quickly. Thought it was the kid posting and tagging.

  • findingtheearth May 2, 2013, 10:44 am

    My dad dated someone for 5 years, from when I was 18 to 23. I was very attached to her, and when he cheated on her and they broke up- she cut me completely out of her life and it was very hard on me. I can relate to the daughter in this letter. I think you should reach out to her, but as she is a minor, make sure her father is aware. You have an interest in this girl, and she is probably more bewildered by the incident and situation than you are.

    Regarding the pants and book – it’s their stuff, but if they aren’t missing it, no big deal. I do know how lame it is to not have someone return my own items, but it they aren’t clamoring for them, just donate them.

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    • Sasa May 2, 2013, 11:09 am

      The age of the kid really makes a huge difference here. I think keeping contact with a 23 year old child of an ex partner is wildly different from keeping contact with a 13 year old. A 23 year old can handle a relationship with a parent’s ex partner without any interference by the parent.

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      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 11:58 am

        Exactly. This girl is a minor, and contacting her without her father’s permission could have some serious repercussions if the dad is unstable. And because of his prior behavior, it’s understandable that she doesn’t want to keep in contact with him at her own risk for the sake of hi children. It’s on the girl’s father to help her get through the breakup, not the ex.

  • sobriquet May 2, 2013, 11:48 am

    I actually really like the advice not to return the stuff. It’s one thing if he specifically asked for the pants and then she refused to return them, but he didn’t. Sending a package would initiate contact. I’m not saying that he would use that to start stalking her or something, but it would give him an opening that the LW just doesn’t want to deal with. Since she’s not ready to talk to him, it’s wise to just let it go.

    I’ve given up so much stuff throughout breakups over the years. Random articles of clothing are just not worth it some times! I actually ended up leaving behind my ENTIRE jewelry collection when I hastily moved out of my ex’s house last year. I’m not a huge jewelry person, but it really sucks to have lost all of that. I need to start re-stocking, but it’s really hard because I’m broke and I just need so MUCH that I get overwhelmed and don’t end up buying anything. If anyone has any recommendations for cheapo, simple necklaces, I’m all ears.

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    • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 11:51 am

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      • sobriquet May 2, 2013, 12:03 pm

        I love that! My ex’s sister gave me a necklace with my initials exactly like that a few Christmases ago.

      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 12:05 pm

        I got one like that as a gift and I always get compliments on it. With initial necklaces being so popular, I love that this one is a little different than all the rest. Great gift for a writer.

  • Kelly May 2, 2013, 11:58 am

    As long as LW is getting herself back on track, it’s okay to throw away a fourteen year old girl. Don’t respond or acknowledge her with an occasional “Like”, that would take super-human strength. Just focus, focus, focus on yourself, LW. What are your feelings about the pants today? Are they enjoying being driven around in your car? When you look in the rear view mirror, do you sometimes see an image of a fourteen year old who apparently (for some reason) is still attached to you? Throw them out. And next time you’re in a relationship make sure it doesn’t come with children. Kids form uncomfortable attachments, much like pants.

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    • bittergaymark May 2, 2013, 12:36 pm

      Yeah, fourteen year olds are all disposable. And, somehow around here I am the asshole? Oh, the irony… 😉

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      • lets_be_honest May 2, 2013, 12:37 pm

        Aren’t you a proponent of moving on though? Leaving this kid behind is a part of that, unfortunately.

    • sobriquet May 2, 2013, 12:51 pm

      Youch. I think every situation is a little different and just because the LW is unsure whether or not she should maintain contact with the daughter does not make her a bad person. In many circumstances, I can see how that kind of relationship could be very healthy and rewarding, but there are also many circumstances in which it would not. Since the LW and the father ended things on bad terms, I’d say it’s probably wise to keep the relationship passive or non-existent.

      My mom dated some awesome men when I was a kid/early teen and I bonded with a couple of them. It was never traumatizing whenever they broke up because my mom was good about it. I never felt like they were throwing me away, jeez. It wasn’t their place to reach out, it was my mom’s duty to make sure us kids were okay.

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      • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 1:38 pm

        Your last paragraph is exactly what I think about this situation. Yeah, it sucks that the girl is losing someone close to her. But she isn’t the LW’s daughter, and it’s the parent’s job to help the kid deal with the breakup. It part of the deal when you introduce you SO to your kids. You put them in the situation, so it’s your job to get them through it if it doesn’t work out.

    • Apres Moi May 2, 2013, 9:09 pm

      Am I the only one who read this sarcastically?

      I guess I can understand the predicament of the LW when it comes to keeping in touch with a minor, but I also think it’s unreasonable and honestly a bit mean to completely ignore her on fb.
      This girl is reaching out to you in the way she knows how. I don’t see any harm in engaging with her occasionally, and leaving the lines of communication open- that doesn’t mean becoming her new best friend, but It’s clear that you guys still miss each other. I would feel really hurt if I when I was kid an adult that I cared about and looked up to ignored me for months after me reaching out in one way or another.

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  • katie May 2, 2013, 12:36 pm

    i would just like to point out to everyone that this guy isnt violet- from the LW on her first letter:

    “He would read non-existent ulterior motives into things I said and get mad about them. He would always snap out of it later, acknowledge that he was being irrational, and apologize, but I felt like I had to talk him into trusting me all the time, which as you might imagine, is very draining. He is not schizophrenic. He does have a lot of baggage from past hurtful, manipulative relationships (both romantic and family) and major trust issues that come out when he’s unhappy, and he could certainly use a healthy dose of counseling. *****No, he was not violent with me and he’s not going to hurt his kids.****”

    im not saying that this is justification enough to “initiate contact” by mailing the stupid pants or whatever, but this isnt an abusive situation we are talking about….

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    • Liquid Luck May 2, 2013, 1:57 pm

      Even though he hasn’t resorted to violence, his behavior has been unpredictable and she felt afraid enough to not want to be alone with him. To me, that’s reason enough to be wary of this guy, and it’s not a stretch that he could lash out at some point in the future if she tries to interfere with his family.

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  • AndreaMarie May 2, 2013, 12:56 pm

    Just throw away the stuff and move on. If they were dearly missed and needed, action would have been taken to retrieve them. Also, the FB thing is not worth stressing about and overanalyzing. She’s 14, and kids that age love their social media and tagging and ‘liking’ and tweeting etc, everything. I don’t think it’s a cry for help of any sort. She’s merely ‘liking’ pictures of pets that she used to play with for 4 years.

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  • A La Mode May 2, 2013, 4:10 pm

    LW, your ex will contact you if he wants to contact you, regardless of whether or not you send back the pants. If you’re freaking out this much over the items, flip a coin and let it decide whether you toss them or mail them. If you’re THAT worried about your ex, you could include a note that says no contact is wanted and you’re just doing him a last favor. But seriously, stop freaking out about it. There are far better things to spend your emotional energy on.

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  • BreezyAM May 6, 2013, 11:54 am

    I wouldn’t do a thing with the kid. Let her keep liking pics. The fact you haven’t unfriended/blocked her shows her, in teen speak, you’re still “there.” Don’t like her pics, if her dad is that nuts that could be seen as more of an invite to contact than the pants in the mail. But by chilling like this with the kid, she knows you’re still there and how to find you if something happens.

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