Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Fiancé Died And Now His Family Won’t Stop Harassing My New Boyfriend”

I’m a 21-year-old single mom of a little boy who is the center of my world. Just 20 months ago my fiancé (and son’s father) committed suicide in our first family home. It was very sudden and no one saw it coming. Our relationship hadn’t been the best, but we stuck by each other regardless. Since his death, his family and friends have blamed me for his dying. They have harassed me, abused me over social media, and just made my life hell, and because of that my son and I haven’t seen them in over a year. (They haven’t asked to see my son or tried to.)

About a month ago I started seeing a guy I used to work with when I was younger. We’ve always been friends, and seeing each other in a romantic way came completely out of the blue. But my ex-fiancé’s family have already been interfering and have been trying to scare him off. It started with them sending him messages saying he shouldn’t be with me. When he didn’t reply and blocked them from social media, they got other people to message him instead on their behalf. In total, about six different people have messaged my new partner. They’ve even gone as far as to invite him to their house to discuss why he’s in a relationship with me and to justify why he wants to be with me. Only two days ago my ex in-laws tracked down my new partner’s parents and have started messaging them telling them that their son shouldn’t be getting involved with me, spreading cruel lies, etc. It’s taking its toll on me and my new partner, and I don’t know what to do. I’m so scared that if it doesn’t work out with this guy, it won’t ever work with anyone else.

I feel completely hopeless and so down about the whole situation. Will they always be there to ruin things for me? Will they ever leave me alone? It’s hard enough dating as a single mom, but to date while I’ve got ex in-laws who hate me just makes everything so much harder. I don’t know what to do. Any advice will be appreciated. — Harassed By Ex In-Laws

I’m sorry for the loss of your fiancé and son’s father, and I’m sorry his family has made what must already be a painful time in your life so much more challenging. Because they will always be your son’s biological family and because they seem committed to making your life harder than it has to be, it would be in your and your son’s best interest to try to reach a place with them where you can be civil with each other. That may not be possible, but I would try. I would try to sit down with them in person, without your son, and express to them how much they are hurting you, how are you are trying to provide a happy life for your son and yourself, and that you would appreciate it if they would give you the peace to do just that.

If they refuse to leave you alone, or if the harassment continues, I would look into getting a restraining order. You could speak to an attorney or someone from your local courthouse to find out more details about whether you have a case for a restraining order and how you would go about filing for one. If they respect your wishes and do give you the peace you request, you may want to consider fostering a relationship between them and your son. (Something tells me it won’t be a smooth transition, though, and that you may not have to worry about this step for a long time, if ever.)

As you move forward with your life, I’d keep a few things in mind, such as: Your life is not for public consumption. Why do people you don’t even speak to know who you’re dating after only a month? Are you making it public on social media? If so, stop doing that. In fact, get off social media altogether. Give harassers one less way to harass you. If you’ve been dating someone one month, maybe don’t be so quick to call him your “partner.” I don’t care how long you’ve known each other, one month is too damn soon to be using that kind of language to define your relationship to each other, especially when you have a young child. You need to slow way down — take time getting to know each other in this new light, feel out the new dynamic between you, establish what sort of connection you have as a twosome before you start broadcasting to everyone that you’re a couple. You’re so young, you’ve suffered an enormous loss, and you have the responsibility of single parenthood resting on your shoulders; these are all reasons why you should spend at least six months dating someone before you make it official and before you even introduce your child to the relationship. Your son has already experienced such loss in his young life; your #1 priority should be protecting him from experiencing more loss, not worrying about whether you’ll ever have another boyfriend.

And on that note, look: this guy is not your only and last shot at love. That you worry about that is a strong indicator that you may not be quite ready to date just yet. You should be standing sturdy on your own two feet and not NEED a partner before you find one. A boyfriend ought to be a bonus to your life, not the glue to hold it all together. If you’re feeling a desperation that it’s now or never, that’s a sign you aren’t holding it all together yourself — that you’re looking for a partner to help you.

Help yourself. Take care of yourself. Take care of your son on your own. Stand strong on your own two feet. Battle your own dragons. No Knight in shining armor comes without strings. If you start a relationship already feeling like the guy you’re dating is your last shot at love, you enter the relationship with an emotional deficit, internalizing a message that you owe him something for being with you (because you think no one else would be). That’s a terrible place to start a relationship. If the guy is a wonderful person, he may grow to resent you or be bored with your neediness. If he’s not a wonderful person, he may prey on your desperation, using it to manipulate you and take advantage of you.

Honestly, if I were you, I’d put this and any potential relationship on the back burner for a little bit. Sort out the tension between you and your former fiancé’s family. Maybe seek some therapy. Focus on yourself and your son and building a great life for the two of you before you start searching for someone to share it with. You’ll know you’re really ready to date when you’re no longer worried you have only one shot to find someone. You’ll know you’re ready when the idea of dating someone for a month and potentially losing him doesn’t scare the shit out of you because you and your son are ok on your own anyway, and because the right person for you won’t leave.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

20 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD October 15, 2018, 10:22 am

    I agree one month is too soon to really be saying partner. Also, I can’t really even guess why they would know this at one month. A parent must take things VERY slow with a new partner. I hope you haven’t even begun introducing your child to this man yet.

    They are out of line for blaming you and are clearly experiencing grief in a very bad way.

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  • avatar

    Kali October 15, 2018, 10:23 am

    WWS

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    csp October 15, 2018, 10:44 am

    Honestly, I agree with everything except the first paragraph . You do not owe these people anything. You need to think about the safety of your son and yourself and people who search online to find your new boyfriend’s parents are crazy. I agree to stay off social media, find out who is feeding them information about you, and consider legal action. Get copies of letters sent and build a case.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ October 15, 2018, 11:00 am

    I don’t think the LW owes this family anything, either. In fact, I think meeting with them in person is a bad idea since they’re clearly beyond reason. (Tracking down her current BF’s family is nuts.) I’d say skip that step and go straight to the restraining order. Frankly, these people seem so unstable, if I were the LW and could swing it, I’d consider moving. There’s no fixing this.

    But for everything else, WWS!! Get off of social media (or at least severely restrict your circle and who can see what you post), slow this thing with this guy way the fuck down, focus on yourself and your son and build an independent life for the two of you.

    And, please understand that it isn’t “this guy or no one.” It’s never “this guy or no one.”

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  • avatar

    Poppy October 15, 2018, 11:10 am

    No one gets to dictate how a person grieves or when its time to move on. If someone is having unhealthy grievance then at that point someone should intervene. It sounds like your deceased fiances family needs one, not by you of course but a professional. Does the family go to church, do they have a pastor that can intervene? Your deceased fiance’s family may have valid reasons for disliking you and if they feel his death is your fault then they should be speaking with Law Enforcement if there is enough validity to open an investigation. Suicide is a very tramatic death and it is very hard to want to accept. What it sounds like is your DF and you did not have that great relationship in which he would run his mouth about you to his family. Unless you say otherwise, that is likely the cause. No relationship is perfect but some are seriously toxic. There is no question that you DF had mental health issues. I agree with WWS, JD, and CSP. I think you should seek out a grievance counselor or a therapist if you have not. DF family sound lile they have gone off the deep end.

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  • avatar

    brise October 15, 2018, 11:13 am

    If you follow Wendy’s advice of the first paragraph (to have a discussion with your late boyfriend’s parents and family), I would seek the help of a mediator (a calm, reasonable and experienced member of your family, for example, or a professional mediator). I wouldn’t face them alone. There is too much tension here. Be ready for requests of them to meet your son (it is very strange they didn’t do it so far). Why do they accuse you of their son’s suicide? This is crazy, abusive and wrong. People commit suicide unexpectedly because they can’t live, they don’t have the strength to face life in all its reality. But do these people have a case against you, in terms of your capacity to mother your child? I would take all these aspects in consideration before opening a discussion with them. Are you ready for that?
    Otherwise, yes, a report to the police of their harassment, a restraining order and a disappearance of social media, that sounds like your best options. But I would first seek therapy, in your situation, because you seem very lonely in a very difficult period of your life. Dating is not the most important for while, and shouldn’t be your only support system.

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  • meadowphoenix

    meadowphoenix October 15, 2018, 11:33 am

    I disagree with the first paragraph completely, and I’m a little shocked Wendy would suggest that reconciliation is the first step here. That’s fucked up. They’re stalking her and everyone around her. Giving them all the benefit of the doubt, they need a shitton of grief counseling, but, this apparently started when she was 19 or 20 and you can’t ~reconcile~ with someone who’s perfectly willing to fuck your entire life up. Why on earth would she sit down to tell these people they are hurting her, when they are deliberately trying to hurt her? The biological nature of this relationship means shit, it is literally luck of the draw. There’s no necessity to knowing grandparents. I may be too intense here, but that first paragraph really reads like since they’re family she has to give a shit. She doesn’t. Nobody does. Would Wendy give this advice, if the abuse was more physical, rather than psychological? Because it is abuse.

    I do agree with contacting a lawyer and getting therapy. Both people will give her a better perspective on what her options are and they might have other resources she wasn’t aware of to help her out. If this is affecting her kid’s life at all, she should get him therapy too.

    I also think I’m reading LW’s note regarding how it’s ever going to work with someone way differently than Wendy is. It reads to me not like she thinks this guy is her last shot, but that if her ex-in laws are willing to do this, and are ruining a relationship with someone she was already friends with, how is she supposed to start another relationship with someone she doesn’t know, if relentless harassment is present from the beginning? If it doesn’t work with him, who’s going to be willing to put up with this bullshit?

    But, I agree somewhat with Wendy here. You’re going to have to start making your private life maximum security. And you need to focus on lessening the harassment and it’s affect on your life as much as possible. Then if you start a new relationship, you can let it grow naturally rather than having this extreme pressure weighing on it from the start. You’re 21, so get you and your son’s life together, before you dive in with someone else.

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    • avatar

      Bcamber October 15, 2018, 12:17 pm

      You are absolutely not being too intense, Wendy is suggesting that this poor woman try to reconcile with people who are stalking and abusing her. It’s completely nuts.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy October 15, 2018, 1:02 pm

        I never said the LW should reconcile with this family! I said she should talk to them. I think the suggestion of doing this with a mediator is a good one, and then there’s a record of the exchange, which can be shared with law enforcement.

        We don’t really know much about the LW. We know her fiancé/ the father of her son killed himself when she was 19 or 20 years old and that his family AND friends blame her. She says literally nothing about any kind of communication she had with them following the death — only that they harassed her and blamed her for her fiancé’s death. She doesn’t mention feeling any kind of shock by this reaction, and she doesn’t mention any of her fiancé’s friends supporting her or anyone reaching out to her. Maybe they did – maybe someone from her fiancé’s inner circle showed her some support, but she doesn’t mention it, and it’s a curious thing that she was alienated not just by the family but by friends as well, and that six different people – not just the fiancé’s grieving parents – have messaged the new boyfriend to tell him to stay away. The other thing we know about the LW is that a month after starting a new relationship, she is already calling him her “partner” and has somehow made the relationship public enough that people she is not in communication with know about it. That suggests to me that she may not be exercising the best judgment and self-awareness (which, fine. She’s 21 years old and has been through hell) . Does that mean that she is at fault for her fiancé’s death? Of course not! Does that mean this she owes his family anything? Definitely not! But it does mean that I take her version of the story with a grain of salt, and I don’t think the perspective of her fiancé’s family should be automatically discounted just because they, too, are acting with an astounding lack of judgment and compassion. They must have some reason in their minds for blaming everything on the LW. Has she ever tried to find out what that reason is, if only to defend herself against it?

        The LW is worried that these people are going to mess with her forever — that they are going to negatively affect every potential relationship she might have. I think talking to them — with the help of a professional mediator — and telling them to fucking knock it off is a reasonable suggestion. If that’s already been done, or if she is genuinely afraid for her life, she should skip right to talking to law enforcement about getting a restraining order. But law enforcement will likely need to know more than just these people are sending a bunch of Facebook messages to her new boyfriend.

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      • meadowphoenix

        meadowphoenix October 15, 2018, 4:40 pm

        So, you said you think she should get to a place that they could be civil to each other and that she should foster a relationship with them for the sake of her son. To do that requires reconciliation. She can’t form a bridge for the sake of her son unless she builds one and like why build one when on the other side is pitchforks? Real question: even if you had behaved badly, would you foster a relationship with people who are willing to go this far to let everyone know? Would you trust a relationship with them and your kids to be one where they wouldn’t try to poison your kids against you?

        For the record, I was actually coming from a place that the relationship between OP and her former fiance was fairly toxic, and I think you’re really diminishing that this isn’t just a matter of those people’s judgment, this is abusive. Abusive behavior isn’t necessarily always the result of a character flaw, it can be circumstantial.

        I mean Dear Zachary fucked us all up, but that situation’s not really common, and if those grandparents had behaved similarly, the Canadian court’s decisions would have been more understandable.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster October 15, 2018, 12:53 pm

      I agree with all of this. The way her late fiance’s family is acting is awful and she should proceed immediately toward legal action and locking down her social media presence. I also read the end of the later the same way you did- that these people have her so frightened that she doesn’t expect there’s any way to end the harassment. That said, I do agree 100% with Wendy that LW needs to slow this relationship way the hell down and build a stable life for herself and her son. This guys isn’t her “partner” after a month. I’m guessing she’s a little desperate for a supportive presence in her life considering everything she’s been through, but she does have to understand that it’s super unhealthy to lean on a boyfriend of one month (no matter how long the friendship) for that level of support at this juncture. LW, build your support network up a bit more (family, other friends, etc). You need more than one person to help you meet your emotional needs right now, and that’s perfectly normal while grieving (and while being harassed).

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  • avatar

    else October 15, 2018, 11:38 am

    I don’t know that I would even bother with that family – she isn’t legally tied to them anymore, thankfully. They don’t have a right to access the child, if they ever develop any interest. I think I’d cut the group of off entirely until the child was much older, unless one of them individually proves to be reasonable and tries to make some kind of friendly contact. It sounds like they’ve fixated all of their grief and confusion and anger on her, and that’s just not acceptable.

    I don’t know what you can do about their harassment, but I would definitely let the police know. They couldn’t do anything about it now from what she’s said, but at least it would be on file in case they escalate or she needs to request a restraining order of some kind later.

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  • avatar

    Bcamber October 15, 2018, 12:14 pm

    NO NO NO. Attempting to have a relationship with these people and exposing your child to them is NOT in your child’s best interest and this is DANGEROUS advice.

    What will stop them from fabricating lies about your fitness as a mother? Cut them off completely for the foreseeable future. Do not give them any ammunition by exposing your child to them.

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  • float_in_the_ocean

    floats_in_the_ocean October 15, 2018, 12:53 pm

    Agree with everyone who is telling LW to disregard Wendy’s advice on meeting with these people. They are harassing the LW and meeting with them would only put the LW in a precarious situation.
    I would send them a letter or email telling them to stop harassing you. Document everything. If they continue with harassment, i would go to the authorities and see if you can file an order of protection, a restraining order or some kind of legal document that protects you.
    I agree with everything else Wendy said.

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  • avatar

    Howdywiley October 15, 2018, 2:18 pm

    I would skip it all and go straight to RESTRAINING ORDER

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  • avatar

    golfer.gal October 15, 2018, 5:09 pm

    A cease and desist letter from a lawyer is definitely in order i think, while also pursuing a restraining order. I think the LW probably has a good idea if his family blaming her is based in facts (they fought viciously, he left a note explicitly blaming her, she was abusive to him) or if it’s entirely misplaced grief- although even if there were major problems in their relationship it still doesn’t make the husband’s decision to commit suicide anywhere close to her fault. This may help guide her in deciding if reaching out to them might be fruitful. LW, I also agree with wendy that you are rushing this new relationship. Slow way down. Dont introduce anyone new to your son until youve been dating him at least 6 months. Reprioritize away from “will I ever find someone” and towards “I’m going to be healthy for my son, put him first, and take a very long time to vet anyone before integrating him into my son’s life”. Also, counseling for you- this is a lot to deal with. I cant imagine being 21 and having this on your shoulders while still trying to grow up. It’s got to be really tough, and having a therapist to help you process is an excellent idea.

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  • avatar

    j2 October 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    The few cases I have seen that are similar to this seem to fall into two groups:

    1) Family blamed the person without any real basis, and essentially considered the harassment as part of freebie grief actions, or

    2) Family blamed themselves but would never, ever admit it, and saw harassment of one they considered an outsider as a way to circle the wagons safely.

    In most of those cases, the appearance of a lawyer threatening potential legal consequences soon ended it.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse October 15, 2018, 7:33 pm

    This guy isn’t the only man in the world who would be a good partner to you. And if he’d be swayed by your insane ex inlaws, is he really that good of a man?

    I have to echo what many wrote here, why do they even know who you are dating? He’s not your partner. You just started dating. It’s too soon for those labels and too soon to bring him into your son’s life. Are you sure this is really the area your energy should be spent right now?

    It’s hard to say what’s going on with your in laws. I don’t think it’s your responsibility to be reaching out with an olive branch or trying to make them have a relationship with your son.

    I would recommend making your accounts private, and stop responding or reacting to them if you have been. Ignore the noise. Live your life. Focus on your son, and yourself and people who care to know and understand you will know the truth of what kind of person you are.

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  • avatar

    allathian October 16, 2018, 8:17 am

    You don’t mention any support from your own parents, siblings and other relatives. We don’t have nearly enough info yet…

    But in any case, the former in-laws are way out of line here. Focus should be on your son who is completely innocent in all this, as well as completely helpless.

    The in-laws don’t have any legal rights to the child, so trying to establish a relationship with them for the sake of the child is not an issue. Of course, at some point he will start asking questions about his father and you’ll need to think of an answer that satisfies both his curiosity and your need for closure.

    Even if you’ve known someone as a friend from kindergarten, the person’s not a partner one month into the relationship. Again, focus on your son. You’re not saying how old he is, but I’m guessing too young to remember his father in any real sense after 20 months. You need to grieve before you can be a good partner to someone else. But when you’re ready for a relationship again that is a true partnership, rather than a support for a needy person, losing his father so young will probably make the transition easier for your child, as he probably won’t have any real memories of his father that get in the way of bonding with a future stepfather. Another reason for trying to cut ties with your former in-laws.

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  • avatar

    Anna October 16, 2018, 9:16 am

    As a widow to suicide, I am shocked and horrified at Wendy’s terrible advice. Usually I love her advice but she got this so completely wrong.

    His parents are blind with grief. They can’t blame their son, so they’re taking it out on you. You are not responsible for his death in any way, and you’re not responsible for getting them through this, or forgiving them, or forging a relationship with them for the sake of your son, who WILL NOT BENEFIT from spending time with people who think his mommy drove his daddy to suicide. You are his only surviving parent and they will do their best to poison him against you and make his already difficult life even harder. My advice is to get a restraining order ASAP, and never consider speaking to them unless they are able to demonstrate a genuine change of heart… but that will probably never happen.

    I disagree that you’re not ready to date. You didn’t say anything one way or the other. It’s very normal to have significant anxiety around dating, being alone forever, or never being happy again, after a partner dies by suicide. It’s incredibly traumatic. But you don’t need to sit on the sidelines of your life until your anxiety is gone. I’m 6 years out from my late husband’s suicide and I still think my husband is probably dead if he’s not responsive for 30 minutes when I think he should be. That may NEVER go away. And yes I’ve been to lots of therapy, but some things just change you. That got long but my point is, nobody can know if you’re ready to date but you. I hope this guy can ride this out with you, but if he can’t, you will find someone else. Life is long in that sense. And your boyfriend, and his family, should also get restraining orders.

    Best of luck to you, OP. You have already lost so much and been through so much. You don’t deserve any of this.

    Do you know about the Young Hot Widows Club?

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