Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My New Boyfriend Isn’t ‘On Board’ With Me Spending Holidays With My Ex-Husband”

My ex-boyfriend and I split three years ago after about 12 years together. We share a nine-year-old daughter and have remained very amicable after splitting, with him still spending the holidays with us and both of us truly putting our daughter first. I’ve been dating a guy, “Ian,” for six months now. He knows my daughter through her school aftercare program and they have a really great relationship through there. We’ve recently introduced him as Mommy’s boyfriend and she is easing into understanding what this means.

The problem is that Ian cannot comprehend how or why my ex and I are so amicable. He says it’s not normal and he’s never seen anything like it and that he just doesn’t know if he can be on board with it. I’ve informed him that my ex will be spending 4th of July with my family and our daughter just as he will Christmas morning and NYE and all of the holidays peppered in between because neither of us wants to be away from our daughter or for her to be split from either of us. Ian says what my ex and I do is weird. He comes from a very broken home, with his dad leaving when Ian was young and his mom remarrying into a high-stress, high-anger marriage. I don’t understand how someone who comes from that environment would want to see another child grow up in the same manner. How, if possible, am I able to show him that what my ex and I are doing is healthy? — Healthy Co-Parenting

Honestly, I wouldn’t bother. He’s trying to mansplain to you why your functional, amicable, healthy co-parenting relationship that allows your daughter to spend every holiday with both her parents is “weird” and he doesn’t know if he “can be on board with it”? Fuck that noise. It’s not his board to be on. And any person either you or your ex dates who can’t appreciate that the two of you are family and that you, along with the daughter you share together, are, in a sense, a packaged deal isn’t the right person for you. If you have to try to convince someone that prioritizing your daughter in this way is healthy and normal and ok, you’re wasting your energy, especially when the other person is trying on convince you of the opposite rather than approaching the situation with an open mind and an open heart. In short, Ian is waving a big old red flag, and I hope you will take heed of this warning and let him fuck right off.

I’ve been with my boyfriend for Two and a half years and he has told me from the beginning he has a split personality. It’s not that I didn’t believe him — it’s just I have never experienced this before and I don’t know what to do or how to handle this. He loves me and we will be moving in together. Now that I sit back and look at things, I see that there are a lot of ups and downs with his temperament. He will be fine one minute and then it’s hell!! Now he just told me that he believes his other personality has a girlfriend and I don’t know what to do or how to deal with it… Please help me!! — Dating One Personality

 
The first thing you should do — well, not do, actually — is do NOT move in with him when you don’t have any idea how to handle or deal with your boyfriend’s mental disorder. Please, please do not do that. And don’t get pregnant!

Does your boyfriend see a therapist? If not, please insist he start going before you take any further steps in your relationship, and please also attend therapy with him, so that you can get professional guidance from someone who understands your boyfriend’s issues and can give you some sense of whether and how you can handle them. I would also suggest seeing a therapist on your own who can help ensure that if you continue this relationship, you remain committed to honoring your own boundaries and your own needs, including the need to vent to someone about the unique stress of being romantically involved with someone who has multiple personalities.

Finally, I urge you to really consider whether you’re happy with your boyfriend. You mention how things “will be fine one minute and then it’s hell.” How often and how long does it feel like hell? “Hell” is not a descriptor most people who are talking about moving in with a significant other would use to describe the state of their relationship, even some of the time. At least, it shouldn’t be. It’s ok to walk away from this relationship. It’s ok to decide you love your boyfriend but don’t want the kind of life being with him entails. You don’t have to sign on to this, period, and you sure as shit should not go any further until you feel much, much more equipped to handle the unique challenges you’ll face together.

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

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.

32 comments… add one
  • avatar

    quark July 3, 2019, 8:51 am

    LW1: WWS
    LW2: Is this letter real?

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  • avatar

    golfer.gal July 3, 2019, 9:07 am

    Wendy is right on both counts.

    LW1, I think if I were your significant other in this situation i would feel weird/not great about the prospect of spending literally every holiday forever with my s/o’s ex. However, that is a big waving flag to me that I am not cut out to be with someone with kids who has that type of coparenting relationship. It is NOT a flag that your relationship with your ex is wrong. It is amazing that your daughter gets to spend holidays as a family, and it will serve her well as she grows up with more security and happiness.

    LW2: wtf does he mean his other personality has a girlfriend? Has he met and is seeing someone else, but he thinks it’s cool because it’s his “other ” side? I encourage you to really really reconsider this relationship. His mood swings put you in hell, and he’s either already seeing or planning to see someone else. You do not have an obligation to stay with him just because he’s mentally ill. Which, do you know what his actual diagnosis is? As in you’ve spoken to his therapist and/or doctor and confirmed what he’s told you? I think this is a MOA situation, not a “move in together” situation

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    • avatar

      maxinesgrl July 3, 2019, 12:31 pm

      Yes he has told me that he thinks his other personality is seeing someone else. Now I’ve been with him for 2 1/2 years and this has never come up. I really love him and want to be understanding and supportive but this is all so new to me and the fact that he could be or the other personality be seeing someone is alot to take in…

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      • avatar

        golfer.gal July 3, 2019, 2:01 pm

        I think you need to leave this relationship right now. You realize that he is cheating on you right? And signing up for a lifetime of your partner doing things that you are not consulted on and do not consent to because “other personality” is…not good. What happens when “other personality” decides to quit his job, or rack up a lot of credit card debt, or commit a crime? This is ringing a lot of alarm bells for me and I just don’t think this is how dissociative identity disorder works (which, as others have said, is a questionable diagnosis to begin with). Dump this guy and get fully tested for all STIs, including HIV. He’s been stepping out on you and you need to prioritize your health and safety.

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  • avatar

    Vathena July 3, 2019, 9:11 am

    LW1: “It’s not his board to be on.” Masterful!

    LW2: “My other personality has a girlfriend”…I mean, I suppose your bf could actually have multiple personalities (though from what I understand this is vanishingly rare) but this struck my as a laughably bad excuse for cheating on you and treating you like crap. I bet his other personality tells the other girlfriend the same thing.

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    • avatar

      csp July 3, 2019, 10:10 am

      So I actually heard that multiple personalities is questioned to even exist. Like we see this in movies but I think this guy is pulling her chain.

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      • avatar

        Fyodor July 3, 2019, 10:57 am

        Yeah, some people may suffer from disassociative orders where they have drastically different behaviors, but there’s not really a lot of evidence that there are real multiple personalities where one persona thinks he’s Bob and another thinks he’s Joe and they have separate lives, memories, etc.

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    • avatar

      Coyotee July 3, 2019, 2:17 pm

      I don’t know your boyfriend personally but I SERIOUSLY doubt he has MPD ( multiple personality disorder) It is EXTREMELY rare to find even a possible case of it. Many psychologists and mental health professionals still debate on the legitimacy of the diagnosis. However, it is often an illness that people who do not know much about psychology or mental disorders and have seen/ read Sybil will romanticize or claim to have in order to justify their own eccentric or shitty behavior. Do yourself a favor, get a copy of the DSM and a book written by an actual doctor in the field of abnormal psych.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros July 3, 2019, 6:53 pm

        Yeah. I was just reading about it. Apparently a lot of people don’t realize they have other personalities. And when they are diagnosed, they have 2-4, but it’s often later to be found that they have dozens. And it’s not like two different people, necessarily. It’s sides of one identity. The fact that he’s got this very black and white “it’s me and one other guy” thing going on makes this seems very odd.

        I don’t doubt that he is mentally ill, but claiming to have this disorder is likely a symptom, not the actual illness.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros July 3, 2019, 9:59 am

    LW1: You two aren’t compatible. You are planning to live your life a certain way and he’s not OK with that. Just move on. Keep in mind that not every guy will be cool with it, and I’d recommend that you figure out if they are before you start getting your daughter acquainted with them as your boyfriend.

    LW2: Yikes. I find it hard to believe that you just simply didn’t know what it meant. It’s 2019. There’s no scarcity of ways to find information if you actually want to find it. A simple google search would have given you thousands of links. I assume you just liked him and wanted to keep the relationship going and didn’t want to encounter anything that might prevent that from happening. Based on how he’s approaching this, it’s hard to tell whether it’s real or not. It’s not call “split personality” if a person is truly referring to the mental disorder. And it’s not just about having mood swings or one personality having a girlfriend.

    I think there are three main possibilities here. Either he’s a liar and he’s cheating on you and thinks you’re too dumb to figure it out. Or he does have dissociative identity disorder but doesn’t take it very seriously. Or he has it and you’ve taken it so un-seriously that you’ve chosen not to listen to what he’s say and are only now paying attention. Regardless, I think that this isn’t the relationship for you.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse July 3, 2019, 10:06 am

    LW1: Wendy is absolute right. He sees your healthy, child-first coparenting approach and thinks it’s his responsibility to tell you it’s wrong and that he’s not on board- NOPE. He should have absolutely no opinion on how you should coparent your child. You and your ex are doing it right and it’s commendable!

    Ian is telling you exactly the type of person he is and I would suggest breaking up with him now, before you get closer. The information he’s giving you is almost like a threat. He comes from an angry and dysfunctional family and thinks that’s normal. This means he lets his emotions and past control his actions and relationships even now. What also concerns me is you say he knows your daughter from her after school program. Is he an instructor or caregiver?

    LW2: As Wendy said, does he see a therapist?

    Do not move in. Don’t have sex. He just told you his other personality has a gf.
    I hate to say I think this man’s troubles are too much because I’m no doctor, but that’s what I think. A good relationship doesn’t include routine “Hell.” I think to protect yourself, you should break up and move on. Do some reflection and be good to yourself while you untangle from this.

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    • avatar

      maxinesgrl July 3, 2019, 12:36 pm

      Yes he does see a therapist and he wants us both to see her to help is both. I’ve been with him for over 2 years and no we don’t have kids or plan on it but yes we do have sex. I’m just now hearing about that the other personality is seeing someone. I actually apikw to the other personality and he said that he wants me to get to know him, have sex with him or he will find a girlfriend.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie July 3, 2019, 2:56 pm

        Wow. That is really manipulative. You don’t know him – what if you don’t like him? I think you need to sit with his therapist and discuss this but honestly – that statement: Sleep with my alternative personality otherwise I am finding a second girlfriend… that would be a deal breaker for most people.

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  • avatar

    csp July 3, 2019, 10:14 am

    LW1: I think your coparenting relationship sounds great. But is your boyfriend upset about all the holidays. Like christmas and Thanksgiving and even 4th of July could make sense. But what about New Years Day? I mean, is it that you spend Memorial Day, Arbor Day?

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 3, 2019, 10:31 am

    LW1 Has your boyfriend joined you for any holidays? Has he seen the two of you getting along without being romantic?

    Be firm that the arrangement you have is the arrangement that will continue. If he hasn’t joined you for a holiday invite him to join you for the Fourth of July to see how it works. Tell him your daughter deserves better than he experienced and you assume he would want better for every child. Tell him your ex has become an extended family member who joins you for holidays. If he can’t live with that then he can’t be your boyfriend. Tell him you understand if it doesn’t work for him but that the arrangement you have is the one that you will have. If he can’t get comfortable with it then the two of you will have to break up.

    My uncle and aunt shared holidays after their divorce and it was great for my cousins. There are other people who do this and they do find partners who are supportive of the arrangement.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 3, 2019, 10:36 am

    LW2 When a partner routinely puts you through hell it is time to run. Don’t move in with him because it will be awful. If he is constantly getting angry that is a terrible situation for you. Add the other girlfriend and I don’t know why you would move in with him.

    You say he loves you but look at how he treats you. His mental illness, if it exists, is no reason for you to allow yourself to be mistreated. I’m saying if it exists because this an incredibly rare mental disorder. You set the boundaries on how you will be treated. You decide what is okay and what isn’t. Why accept hell as a normal part of your life? Why not find someone who treats you much better? Why not find someone who doesn’t have another girlfriend? You are choosing your future life. Choose a life that doesn’t routinely include hell.

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  • avatar

    Danielle July 3, 2019, 10:44 am

    LW1: You and your ex are fantastic parents and I hope you kick Ian to the curb.

    LW2: Dissociative Identity Disorder is exceedingly rare, if it even exists. It’s much more likely that he’s making this all up as a way to control and manipulate you. He only has one personality, and that personality is a spectacular asshole.

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  • avatar

    scorpio July 3, 2019, 10:52 am

    LW1 – WWS completely.
    My boyfriend and his former wife co-parent their three kids this way and I was on board from day one. In fact, if I wasn’t on board from day one, I wouldn’t still be in the picture. Even if he is a great partner in all other ways, if he isn’t onboard with how your family operates, it won’t work out.
    Also, kudos to you and your ex for co-parenting this way. I know it takes a lot of work to set aside your own feelings, and a lot of communication to make this work. Well done!

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom July 3, 2019, 11:14 am

    LW2 If he does have a split personality, which is highly doubtful, in order to stay in a relationship with him you need to be highly compatible with every personality. Each of his personalities needs to treat you with dignity and respect. He isn’t just the nice personality. He is the sum of all personalities. The bad is just as much him as the good. Don’t overlook the bad because it isn’t the real him. All of him is the real him.

    It’s more likely he is an abusive man who has come up with the split personality excuse to make you not question why he is abusive. If he actually had been diagnosed with a split personality don’t you think he would at least use the correct term for it? That’s the first clue that he’s lying to you. Now he’s also cheating on you and using the alternate personality as the excuse. Even if it is a split personality you don’t need to accept cheating from any of his personalities. So far the split personality excuse has worked enough that you are accepting abusive treatment, that’s what hell is, and cheating. You can say no, to both the hellish, cheating personality and the nice personality. They all come in one package. You take the whole package or you leave the whole package. Personally, I’d run.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark July 3, 2019, 11:14 am

    LW1). Wendy is 100% correct. What you and your ex have is to be applauded and celebrated. NOT QUESTIONED. If your current beau fails to see this… well, then you should fail to see him.
    .
    LW2) Well, this letter would be INFINITELY more interesting if the other personality had, say… a boyfriend…

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 3, 2019, 11:16 am

      You make me laugh!

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie July 3, 2019, 12:09 pm

    LW#1 – what I hear your ass of a boyfriend saying is that it would make him feel more comfortable if you and your ex didn’t get along and thereby added stress in your life including limiting your ability to share holidays with your daughter. He’s saying his need for conflict is greater than your ability/need to keep your world as drama free as possible. Fuck. That. Noise.

    LW#2 – I’m not going to question the validity of your boyfriend’s diagnoses. It’s entirely possible that all of this is as he says it is. However, you would essentially be moving in with two people and which person are you going to come home to at night? Who are you going to be sleeping next to? Let’s say you decide to get married but what if the alternate personality is married to the girlfriend already? And will she live with you? I just see so many complications here, ones that I’d be like “Yeah, I can’t do this.”

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 3, 2019, 4:53 pm

      LW2 I was thinking about the other girlfriend too. What if his alternate personality decides he wants to live with his girlfriend? Would he live with both of you and decide which of you he was dating at any moment?

      You can fall in love with someone who is incompatible with your happiness. Probably most people do that at least once but usually more than once. That’s why relationships fail. Unless you don’t mind sharing your boyfriend with the girlfriend his alternate personality sees this relationship can’t work.Unless you don’t mind sometimes living in a hellish relationship this relationship doesn’t work for you.

      The new condition that you have to have sex with his alternate personality is icky. It seems manipulative and put out there to force you to have some other type of sex than what you are having now and to tolerate some kind of behavior you otherwise wouldn’t. It seems like a way to demand something you aren’t otherwise willing to do. If his alternate personality is not treating you well you should say no to whatever he is doing, whether that is sex or something else. At the very least you need to accept no less than respectful treatment from him, regardless of which personality is there with you. Your own happiness depends on being treated well.

      You can love someone without being happy living with them or spending your life with them. I wouldn’t move in with him unless his alternate personality always treats you right. No more hellish treatment. Also, if you have sex with his alternate personality and the sex is bad you should leave. If the sex is manipulative you should go. If it is out of your comfort zone you should go.

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  • avatar

    Jessica July 3, 2019, 2:29 pm

    LW 1 My ex husband and I were the same way with our girl’s after we divorced. He would spend every holiday with us and he would sleep over on Christmas Eve so he could be with us Christmas Morning. We always said we were the nicest and most loving divorced couple ever lol. My Ex Boyfriend did NOT like our arrangements and he let me know by being very abusive. He would beat the hell out of me but I still didn’t change. As a matter of fact I kicked his ass to the curb because the well being and happiness of my daughter’s trumped him in every way. I admire the fact thay you and your Ex can have such a strong healthy relationship, and it sounds like your boyfriend isn’t going to be able to handle it. Please don’t change though cause my daughter’s have always been so proud of the fact we were able to stay such a strong happy family unit 😊

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    • avatar

      ron July 4, 2019, 8:26 am

      I would hope you would have kicked his ass to the curb the first time he beat the hell out of you, really the first time he hit you at all, because, you know you should be saying you have zero tolerance for domestic violence, not bragging that even though he beat the hell out of you that you didn’t change arrangement for ex to stay over and spend holidays with you — which means you stayed with bf after he severely beat you. Why the hell would you do that.

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  • avatar

    ShellyG July 3, 2019, 3:41 pm

    LW1 – I also amicably co-parent my daughter and I can tell you that, sure, your situation (and mine, as well!) is “weird” in the sense that it’s not common. But I would rather be weird by having my daughter knowing that we are not only the founding members of Team Her, our divorce has never changed the fact that she comes #1. WWS – boyfriend straight up told you that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you, it’s best to listen to him.

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  • avatar

    Chris.C July 3, 2019, 5:32 pm

    I briefly dated a man that claimed to have DID, and had several personalities. He had been fired from two jobs for stealing very large amounts of money. He got away with it because of his “diagnosis” I felt badly for him when I met him because he lived at home, father had supposedly died (he was alive I met him)and seemed quite mentally incapable of holding down a job. He would call me and make vague suicidal threats. One time I called 911 and it turns out he was napping at home totally fine.
    Turns out, even though he was seeing a therapist, it was for a totally different reason, and therapist knew nothing about his DID diagnosis. He completely manipulated everyone around him to feel sorry for him. He is still to this day living at home, in his 40s with both parents doing everything for him…cooking, laundry spending money, While he sits home and watches movies all day.
    Your boyfriend is most likely a pathological liar. I would run fast and far.

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  • avatar

    PurpleStar July 3, 2019, 8:12 pm

    to LW2

    “he just told me that he believes his other personality has a girlfriend”

    He thinks his “other” personality has a girlfriend…. why does he think this – is he justifying texts/phone calls/messages from another woman this way? Using this as an excuse to open the relationship or cheat on you?…It’s not me Babe, it’s him.

    If you have been with him for over two years and not explored what this really means do not move in with this man. You say he has a therapist….go to his next appointment with him. Research the therapist – what is their specialty? Because not just any therapist can work with true DID. I work at a mental health agency (I am not a therapist) – DID is very very rare… in the 50 year history of my agency, they have never had a client with this diagnosis.

    Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. This is accompanied by memory gaps beyond what would be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

    Please do not move in with this man.

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  • avatar

    FYI July 3, 2019, 9:19 pm

    “I actually spoke to the other personality and he said that he wants me to get to know him, have sex with him or he will find a girlfriend.”

    I mean, is your boyfriend in sixth grade? This sounds like a lie that a 13-year-old would make up. It’s ridiculous. This isn’t how mental illness works.

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  • avatar

    ron July 4, 2019, 8:19 am

    LW#1 — co-parenting cooperatively and spending kids holidays together with your ex is fine, but I think your bf has a point that you are carrying this to extremes. You should be spending NYE with just your bf. It is more a couples than a family holiday. Do you also spend Valentine’s Day with your ex and child? If you can’t spend some holidays with just your bf, then you really aren’t acting as if you and he are a couple and it looks like you are angling to get back together with your ex. Kid’s birthdays with the kids and ex. Ex spends his birthday without you. You spend yours with your bf. You can’t build a new relationship if you are totally centered on your old relationship. I also suspect you are confusing the heck out of your kid, who is expecting mommy and daddy to get back together.

    LW#2 — You are being conned. If he truly is that mentally ill, I doubt you want to be with him long term. I’m just going to throw out the suspicion that if you do date personality #2 he is going to be abusive with kinks you are not into. Just MOA.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous July 6, 2019, 3:06 pm

    Sounds like a tight relationship with so called ex. Ian just a plaything on the side.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous July 7, 2019, 9:55 pm

    Ian sounds like just a place holder.

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