“My Girlfriend Wants to Let Her Ex’s Son Move In With Us”

I’m a woman in a relationship with my girlfriend of two years, “Maggie,” who maintains a relationship with her ex’s children. They have been broken up for at least seven years. Her ex, “Tanya,” has since given birth to two additional children by another partner during that time. Maggie and I have talked about marriage and we currently live together. Recently, Tanya has expressed difficulty in managing her children and has asked Maggie to step in to be a “role model” for them since “their real father is not a good role model.” Maggie has gladly AGREED.

Tanya is now asking Maggie to allow her son to move in with us. I’ve told Maggie that I am not comfortable with that and do not find it fair knowing that our relationship is still budding. Out of my own insecurities, I asked Tanya if her relationship with Maggie was still strictly platonic. She said that she was offended that I would ask her that and reminded me that Maggie and I ARE NOT MARRIED, that she will always be Maggie’s “friend,” and that she and Maggie will continue to co-parent her children.

Maggie went on to apologize to Tanya, insisting she didn’t understand why I should feel any way about her or their children. Wendy, I am so frustrated and feel this has become a burden on our relationship since Maggie just won’t put boundaries on their relationship — not even for me.

Was I wrong for simply asking her, for my own clarity? I almost feel betrayed, in a sense. — Not Interested in Co-Parenting These Kids

Yes, you were wrong to go behind Maggie’s back and question Tanya about their friendship. If you want to know what is up between her and her ex, you ask Maggie, not Tanya. Maggie is the woman you’re in a relationship with. That said, you are absolutely entitled to feel frustrated by Maggie’s clear disregard for your feelings and what you find is a lack of boundaries with her ex. It’s one thing for her to maintain a friendship with Tanya. It’s quite another for her to “co-parent” her ex’s kids and to agree to let one of them move in with you both. That she would do this without your support speaks volumes about her feelings for you and how she prioritizes your relationship.

You say you are talking about marriage with Maggie, but this whole time she’s maintained a relationship with her ex that you are uncomfortable with, she has agreed to let a child move in with you without your consent and approval, and you have gone behind her back to get insight about her relationship with her ex. None of this reflects a relationship that is ready for the commitment of marriage! Like, not even close. In fact, I’d say the opposite is probably warranted. It might be time to, at the very least, move out and take a break from this relationship while Maggie figures out what is most important to her: co-parenting her ex’s children or continuing a relationship with you.

This may simply be a case of irreconcilable differences: she wants to parents kids that you do not want in your life (let alone living in your home). You need to make very clear how you feel, and then follow that up by moving out and breaking up if Maggie says she still wants to maintain a co-parenting relationship with Tanya.

I am a college student who works full-time, and I used to have a one-bedroom apartment where I lived by myself. It was terrible and I was looking to move when a friend of my mine, “Jane,” who was living in the dorms with her boyfriend, got dumped and came to stay with me. We talked about getting an apartment together, and after a lot of thought and honest conversation, I agreed. We now have a great three-bedroom apartment and live above my current landlord. Before we moved in together, my friend got back with her boyfriend, “Patrick,” and I told her that, as much as I liked him and I supported them, I did not want him living with us. Jane agreed and we got the apartment. Fast forward months later and Patrick is always here, is very messy, and pays for nothing.

Patrick is not on our lease and our landlord (who is fantastic) said that if we wanted someone else to live with us, he HAD to be on the lease and our he, our landlord, didn’t mind at all to add the other person. But because of Patrick’s lack of a job and money, he doesn’t want to be added; he doesn’t want to pay and also technically “lives in the dorms.” He has his stuff in the shower, has all his clothing in Jane’s room, eats here all three meals, showers here and remains here even when she isn’t. In the winter we pay heat, but when Patrick decides he is too hot, he opens all the windows rather than just taking the blankets off himself, so the heat kicks into overdrive and we are paying to heat the outside.

I have to send reminder texts to turn off lights even though it doesn’t happen and I have to be the last person to bed otherwise things get left on, he puts his shoes on with the door open (letting more heat outside), and he has not lifted a finger in the house. He doesn’t even scrape the food off his plate so I can wash it later but rather he just shoves the whole thing in the sink. When I was cleaning the bathroom (because I’m the only one who cleans), there was urine all over the toilet and even on the wall. It would take one second for him to wipe up after himself!

Our lease is six months because my roommate is moving back home, but I am remaining here and entering into a year lease and so I am trying to keep this apartment nice because, once she leaves, I have to cover any and all damages, whether they are done by me or not. I’m also afraid the landlord will notice Patrick lives here and terminate our lease since we have had someone living here that hasn’t been put on our lease. This isn’t a big deal for Jane because she can go back to living with Patrick in the dorms, but it leaves me homeless and I really do love this apartment. Do I have a right to have a convo with Jane about her boyfriend living here or am I being overly sensitive because it’s not really costing me more? What should I say? — A Very Frustrated College Student

You are absolutely NOT being overly sensitive, and of course you have every right to speak up about this unfair situation! In fact, you MUST speak up about it! Both Jane and Patrick are taking advantage of you. And while you may consider Jane a friend, she is not acting like a friend. Despite your saying before you moved in that you didn’t want Patrick living with you guys, she moved him in anyway. She doesn’t help with cleaning and she hasn’t kicked in more money to cover the rent and the utilities of the third roommate she’s brought in. If you lose her as a friend because you finally speak up for yourself and tell her he has to go, understand that she wasn’t a good friend to begin with.

So I advise you to talk to Jane and tell her that Patrick needs to go – that he can’t sleep over more than one to two nights a week, you don’t want his stuff in the bathroom, and you don’t ever want him there if Jane isn’t home. I wouldn’t ask that he be added to the lease because the lease will be up soon anyway and the last thing you need is for him to have some legal right over the apartment. But you can point out that, for months, he’s been living there for free, using your heat and utilities, leaving his things in the bathroom, and making messes that he doesn’t clean and that you are fed up with it all. It’s time for him to go. If Jane refuses to respect your wishes — which are very reasonable! — you should talk to your landlord about what’s going on. Explain how much you love the apartment and take good care of it, but you want him to know that there’s a third roommate living there who both refuses to be added to the lease and refuses to move out and you know your landlord would want to know.

Finally, since you know you will soon need at least one new roommate (to replace Jane when she moves out), it would be wise to start your search early so you have plenty of time to vet people. Think about what is important to you in a roommate and what questions you can ask someone to get a sense of how they might be to live with. Here are few questions I would ask a potential roommate if I were you. Even if you don’t ask all 14, you need to ask #5 and #8. And probably #1 too. That one might be the most important.


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.


  1. LW2 – I dont understand why YOU have allowed yourself to clean up after Jane and Patrick. I dont undertsand why boundaries weren’t addressed when he started leaving dishes with food in the sink or opening up windows with heat on while not paying a dime. YOU should have made a point to show Jane the messes. No way should you be cleaning up after Jane or her bf. You should have told Jane that if the power and water bill go up then she needs to pay more and if bf stays x% of time in the apartment then you would be paying a third of rent. There should have been more clear boundaries on how long guest should be welcomed and your foot should have came down long before now. I second WWS. Talking to landlord about the situation might save you and even maybe the landlord can address the lease with Jane.

    1. I know what you’re saying, but I get why the LW is cleaning it up. Food in the sink is stinky and nasty and so is piss all over the bathroom, and the LW has to live there, too. She doesn’t have to live in filth until Jane and the BF decide to act like adults, nor is it her job to nag them into basic house etiquette.

      Wendy’s advice is spot on, LW. I’d also go to the landlord if there’s actual damage before Jane moves out so that he can keep some portion of her deposit, if she paid one.

  2. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) uh…. if you don’t want kids in your life, don’t date/move in with people who fucking have them in theirs. This ain’t rocket science, people.
    LW2). Yikes. Okay, I definitely see why you are peeved and irked by the loathsome ongoing presence of this freeloading messy guy — but your problem here is truly with your actual roommate. SHE put you in this impossible situation. She is the truly (ir)responsible party here,

  3. LW2, the obvious solution here is to tell your roommate that if her boyfriend doesn’t get his shit out of your house and stop pissing all over the bathroom, you will be reporting to your landlord that he’s living there. Use the lease agreement and threat of landlord involvement to your advantage. Get a nice new roommate lined up for when you do have go to the landlord and have your “friend” and her boyfriend kicked out.

  4. dinoceros says:

    LW1: I don’t think you two are compatible. Maggie wants to live her life differently than you do. You are kind of sneaky/jealous. I don’t really feel like this is going to work out with a disagreement on something so big.

    LW2: Of course you should talk to your roommate.

  5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 Maggie is a woman with children. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t hers biologically. They are hers. She bonded with them and loves them and wants the best for them. You are asking her to abandon them for you which seems a callously cold thing to ask of anyone. You say your relationship is budding. You have to realize that her relationship with the children is in full bloom and she isn’t going to cut them off for you. They are hers. You can take her with her children or leave her with her children. It is fair to decide that you don’t want children. It isn’t fair to try to make the children disappear out of your life. If she would actually do that she wouldn’t be worthy of a relationship.

    You seem to assume that she would only care about the children if she was in a physical relationship with their mom. She loves those kids. They became her kids. She doesn’t need to be having sex with their mom to continue to love the kids and want to care for them. She’s a parent. Her love for them is a real force in her life and if you ask her to choose between them and you she should choose them because no woman worth being in a relationship with would ask you to abandon your kids.

    You don’t seem to believe that she could love children that weren’t hers biologically. How do you think adoption works? They may not be hers legally but they are hers in the way that counts. She loves them.

  6. W1:

    Is Maggie LEGALLY a parent?

    If not, she’s going to have a hard time finding a partner who is going to put up with this. Where’s the biofather in this? Or, if these were “arranged” pregnancies that made Tanya’s newer partner the parent, where is that PARENT?

    After seven years apart, the best Maggie should be is like a family friend. She can still love the kids, spend time with them occasionally, maybe even have one stay over a week, max. I say this having been the ex-stepchild of an ex-stepparent. We still cared about each other, but ultimately, the parenting was up to my bioparents… you know, my father being responsible for co-parenting with my mother.

    Wendy’s right, though. Spend time apart from Maggie and let her figure out what’s more important : having her own life or giving it up for children who aren’t her own.

    Or, just move on and be with someone who will make you feel important in their life, thus making you less insecure… someone who discusses with you and decides with you what kind of life you’ll have together… without interference from an ex and children whose other parent should be shouldering their care.

    W2: I’d tell the landlord that the boyfriend was supposed to be there temporarily, and that he has not left. It’s the truth, after all. Why should the landlord punish you for what your roommate has done?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *