“She’s Way Too Close With Her Ex and Ex In-laws!”


I have been casually dating a 56-year-old divorced woman who has one adult (23-year-old) daughter. This female friend of mine, who has been separated from her ex-husband (the father of her now-adult daughter) for the past eight years but only divorced since last year, is inexperienced with relationships (she’s only had two in her entire life), and she continues to see nothing wrong with maintaining “ties or communication” with her ex-husband AND two of his sisters and their husbands.

As a 46-year-old man who’s had several relationships — both good and bad — over the years, I’ve attempted to explain to her that her behavior is considered disrespectful and is cause for distrust by not only myself, but also most likely by ANY man with whom she becomes involved, because it serves no realistic purpose. Otherwise, her ex would not be her “ex.” I’ve attempted to convey to her on numerous occasions that everyone else I know ceases all forms of communication with their ex-mate AND the ex in-laws once they are divorced or the relationship ends (UNLESS AN UNDERAGE CHILD/CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED). Unfortunately, my friend refuses to see it that way and repeatedly tries to justify her actions by claiming I “am just being immature or insecure about the situation.” She refuses to believe that most men (hell, even women too) would have a serious problem with someone they’re considering becoming closer with maintaining any type of communication with an ex and/or a family member(s) of an ex . . . especially since their child is now grown and on her own. Such illogical thinking prevents a relationship with anyone else from being able to progress.

She shared with me that, when the man was married to her, he cleverly took advantage of her, from the very beginning, by talking her into financial deals involving real estate in which she was the one really responsible for acquiring and maintaining the property/properties and by leaving her responsible for making the bulk of the mortgage payments and paying for costs associated with raising their daughter.

She even shared with me that at one point she became so frustrated with him for his incorrigible attitude towards anything relating to managing their rental properties that she voluntarily told him to “be accountable for one of two properties they own(ed) together because she was only going to be responsible for the one property.” The apartment building(s) each of them owns has four apartment units per building. So, when she informed me that he collected monthly rent of between $850-$900 per apartment on a building, I was blown away when she also revealed that he had not shared any of that money with her and/or their young daughter at the time throughout the 18-20 years they owned both buildings! Which means that he collected over $300,000 in rent money acquired on a property she never benefitted from, even though her name was still on the deed until they actually divorced about one year ago. And upon being divorced, she voluntarily gave him the one building instead of asking the courts to sell/divide the finances from selling the property.

According to her, she was not happy with him and has no desire whatsoever to be involved with him again. However, every few months she finds a way to come up with a poor reason/excuse to conveniently place herself in his presence or that of his sister(s). For example, last year she invited him to help her drive their adult daughter across country from Georgia to California to attend law school instead of paying a moving company to do the job (which would’ve turned out to be just as cost effective, less time-consuming, and less stressful). To add to this madness, she’s continued to coincidentally meet one of his sisters out at various events, communicates frequently with both sisters and the one sister’s husband by phone, and only God knows what else. She also occasionally communicates with her ex via phone and/or in person, too.

As you can imagine, he does not have a close relationship with their adult daughter but continually makes it a habit to make her a reason to call my friend seeking her involvement. And, for a time, their daughter was doing the same thing instead of communicating directly with her father about anything. I expressed to my friend that she needs to encourage her daughter to take the initiative to communicate with her father (and vice-versa) directly instead of her daughter and ex relying upon her to be the go-between.

I was recently diagnosed with kidney failure and doctors discovered a lump in my thyroid as well, so I am not in the mood for any unnecessary added stress, and this never-ending situation definitely generates stress for me. I am at a point where I am tired of feeling disrespected and I am ready to cut ties altogether with such a so-called “friendship” and remain single or move forward by seeking someone new who does not desire to maintain ties to a past relationship or the relatives of their ex. However, I wanted to be fair and seek your perspective . . . although I do not necessarily need it. The thing is, there are very little resources out there for men seeking advice in such relationship situations, so I felt compelled to inquire about your response to see if it seemed unbiased. Although you are a “relationship professional,” I also realize that cultural differences may prevent you from seeing my perspective accurately. (I’m an African-American male and my friend is an African-American female; you are a Caucasian female). Traditionally, what is seen as being permissible in the Caucasian community is NOT acceptable in the African-American or Latino communities as it relates to relationship etiquette. However, I am open to hearing your perspective and it would be humbly appreciated. — Full of Ex-amples of Disrespect

Why ask me my advice (sorry, I mean my “perspective”) if you’re going to discount it based on my skin color and culture? Oh, because you will only discount it if my perspective differs from yours (“She’s white, so therefore, she doesn’t understand interpersonal relationships in the African-American culture”), but, if I agree with you, then you’ll embrace my opinion (“Clearly, she knows what she’s talking about; she’s an expert!”). Well, in that vein, I’m about to waste both our time because I don’t agree with your perspective. In fact, I think you sound a little . . . well, mad (which is ironic since that’s the same term you use to describe your friend’s behavior).

Let me explain: First of all, it’s not true that ANY man (or woman) would have a problem with a potential significant other maintaining a cordial relationship with an ex (or ex in-laws), particularly when they share offspring (regardless of their age!). Sure, lots of people experience irrational jealousy like you do, but not everyone is so insecure. Plenty of people understand that, when two people shared a life and family for years and years, it makes sense that some sort of connection might still exist even after the romantic connection/marriage has been terminated. For example, I’m remembering a column about two exes who still had holiday dinners together every year for the benefit of their grown daughter who enjoyed being having both parents present for Christmas dinner. How wonderful for their daughter!

The example you share of your friend inviting her ex-husband to help drive their grown daughter to law school is a similar situation. Sure, maybe hiring movers would have been just as or more cost-effective and less stressful, but maybe these grown adults were thinking about their daughter’s emotional well-being more than their own and more than their budget. Maybe they understood how meaningful it could be for her to have the support of both her parents as she moved all the way across the country to embark on a new and challenging and exciting venture. Maybe — just maybe — this was all about the daughter. Because their love and care for her didn’t expire once she was no longer underage.

And even when situations aren’t all about the daughter — like when your friend is in touch with her former sisters-in-law, it doesn’t mean there’s anything unsavory going on. These woman were part of her extended family for two decades! Clearly, they were close. Those relationships don’t automatically end simply because a marriage does (And perhaps they even preceded the marriage). And if everyone in the immediate scenario — the ex-husband and the ex in-laws — are ok with maintaining ties, there’s no reason those ties and close friendships shouldn’t be maintained. YOUR being jealous certainly isn’t a reason for her to stop meeting up with the women who were part of her family for many, many years.

Your being jealous IS reason for you to move on though. Clearly, you can’t handle the situation and that’s fine. You have medical reasons to avoid stress and this causes you stress, so move on. But do so knowing that your friend isn’t “wrong” or “mad” for her behavior. She’s actually quite healthy. It’s YOU who has the issue here. Own that. Embrace that. Accept that.

Oh, and I’m not even touching the topic of assets in your friend’s marriage and how they were split and settled in the divorce. My feeling is that you seem to think you know all about it, and you can’t possibly know the details of their financial life together over the course of 20 years or all the justifications for decisions made in their marriage and divorce. And for a “friend” who isn’t even seriously dating this woman, those details are none of yo’ damn business. Furthermore, they aren’t a reflection of this woman’s mental state or her emotional availability for a new relationship.

And one more thing: That someone has had more relationships than someone else doesn’t automatically make him smarter in relationships or more knowledgeable about how they “work.” After all, having had more relationships also means having had more relationship failures. Your friend was able to maintain a relationship for at least 20 years. Clearly, she learned and knew something about how to make a relationship work. Just because, in that same amount of time, you potentially were going through many more shorter-term relationships doesn’t mean you learned more. Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t. But if you think one’s personal relationship track records should prove something, it seems like relationship longevity and the ability to maintain healthy boundaries while honoring one’s own emotional needs and balancing the emotional needs of an offspring should count for a lot.

Related posts:

“My Boyfriend is Threatened By My Ex-Husband/ Father of My Kids”

“My Boyfriend is Too Close to His Ex In-Laws”

“My Boyfriend Has Remained Close to His Ex’s Daughter”


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


  1. TheRascal says:

    Your girlfriend says that you are “just being immature or insecure about the situation.” She is right.
    I would apply this statement to the way you are handling this situation: “Such illogical thinking prevents a relationship with anyone else from being able to progress.” You do not get to dictate who your girlfriend speaks to or what her relationships are outside of yours. If you are secure in your relationship (and with yourself) and you TRUST your girlfriend, there should be no problem. Why is her ex a threat to you? She even states, ” she was not happy with him and has no desire whatsoever to be involved with him again.”
    I’m not even going to touch the race/gender/culture statement.

  2. I am writing this response to this letter before I even read Wendy’s reply…I am SO incensed by this LW, I can’t wait one more second to reply.
    LW, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll start with your views on parenting. Just because her daughter is grown, she now doesn’t need to communicate with the father of said daughter? EVER? Cut all ties and move along as if he never existed? You cannot have children, seriously, I hope you don’t have children. This isn’t how it works. When you become a parent, you’re a parent FOR LIFE! That means you co-parent for life. Not as long as it’s convenient for you (or maybe a seriously insecure, delusional, self-absorbed significant other). I can’t imagine ever cutting my daughter’s father out of my life because the guy I’m dating has his panties in a wad and can’t handle it. Seriously, get a grip man. Driving her to college is a wonderful thing! That’s a big deal! You wanting to ship her off in a moving van because it’s more “convenient, cost-effective and less time consuming.” This is THEIR KID!! I would not EVER ship my kid off to college in a moving van – what the hell is wrong with you???

    The more I type, the angrier I get. I’m angry typing right now and I think I should stop before I say something that I’ll regret.
    And just so you don’t think I’m speaking out of turn, I am an african american female….black, white, purple or green, your views on dating and relationships are wildly inappropriate, bordering on insane. This kind of narrow minded, self-absorbed, insecure nonsense is not acceptable in ANY culture, race, or community. Get therapy. Now.

    1. And just one more thing….I have run into this type of guy more times than I care to count. My ex-husband is very much in our daughter’s life. We co-parent like pros! I can’t tell you how many friends and family often comment on how wonderful it is that we can come together for the sake of our daughter. It doesn’t matter what we went through personally, we now have a daughter to care for and that will never end. We were married 20 years and we do what it takes to care for her and show her what loving dedicated parents look like. I’ve dated my fair share of insecure dudes (like you) who get all butt-hurt that he is in her life (and doing a damn good job of it) while maintaining a level of friendship between us. They all say they don’t want “baby daddy drama” but when they have a dad who’s present in the child’s life, they can’t handle it. You know what, it ain’t about you dude. It’s about the child they share, so get over yourself and move on if it’s not for you. But don’t ever tell a mother (of a child that’s not yours) how she should/shouldn’t communicate with said child’s father. Especially when that father wants to be present in that child’s life. Ugh. I am so done with this.

  3. RedroverRedrover says:

    Holy crap, just break up with her. You appear to have serious insecurity issues. Whether she is in contact with her ex or her exes’ family has nothing at all to do with you. It’s not a sign of disrespect to you, it’s completely separate from you and her relationship with you. They have a kid together. It doesn’t matter if the kid is grown up. It’s perfectly natural to stay in contact with your child’s other parent, grandparents, etc. Those people are family. It doesn’t matter if they’re divorced, they are her child’s family.
    Plus, it doesn’t matter if it’s disrespectful or not. Whether it is or it isn’t, you can’t handle it. You’re trying to bully her into seeing things your way, but clearly that isn’t going to happen. This isn’t the woman for you, so move on.

  4. Wendy, you are a better person than I am. That last section alone about culture/race would have made me delete this letter.
    WEES. And get off your high horse.

  5. I am just going to come out and say it. LW, YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE. The End.

  6. Doesn’t even matter who’s right, you should break up with her. You are clearly very unhappy with the status quo and she is unlikely to change all the things you want her to. Next time, find someone who’s values match yours with respect to exes, and things will go over much easier for you.
    Also, I think it is really rude to write a professional advice columnist asking for advice but say “I don’t necessarily need it” and I probably won’t buy what you are saying for “cultural” reasons. Would you go to the Dr. and say I have this infection, but I probably won’t take any prescriptions you are going to give me? I mean, what’s the point?

    1. Agree so hard with all of this, but especially the first part. So many of the letters to Wendy boil down to “person I’m [dating/thinking of dating/FWB/etc.] does something I don’t like. Who’s right?”
      But does it matter who’s right? No. You clearly don’t see eye to eye on this thing and it’s causing enough trouble in your relationship that you’d write to an advice columnist about it, so this relationship is not for you.
      How does it change the situation if Wendy said “Yes you are absolutely right and your lady-friend is crazy.” You still can’t change her. So just move on.

      1. “How does it change the situation if Wendy said “Yes you are absolutely right and your lady-friend is crazy.” You still can’t change her. So just move on.”

        Yes, SO MUCH THIS.

  7. I’m surprised she has put up with you for this long. Your family doesn’t stop being your family just because you divorce their son. She has known them much longer than she has known you, & frankly, YOU are being disrespectful of HER & her child. You are only “casually” dating this woman, what give you the right to think you can dictate her relationships? You should definitely let her go, your values & maturity levels are too different for this to bring happiness to either of you.

    1. So my gf maintains a tight relationship with her her ex mother in law. As well as her parents and brother talk to all her ex in laws. Her ex husband as sons father isn’t around. I picked up the responsibility as she did (I was a single father to three daughters). She feels I wouldn’t be mad bc she communicates with them, but would have a “shit fit” if I talked to my ex wife’s family. There’s always a excuse why it’s ok for her and a reason why it’s bad for me. We were both with our ex’s for multiple years before our relationship. What should I do?

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Tell her that your ex’s family is still you daughters’ family and you need to be in touch with them. If she can’t tolerate that then she isn’t the right person for you.

  8. Juliecatharine says:

    Omfg LW, this woman isn’t even your girlfriend and you’re giving her nonsense about spending platonic time with the father of her child. Who the hell do you think you are? Just because you think this insanity is part of African American culture doesn’t mean it’s ok! There are lots of cultural things that are ridiculous across racial lines–this is one of them. You’re almost fifty years old. Grow up and leave this woman alone.

  9. I’m sorry you feel the way you do. Please move on.

  10. LW, you should just break up and move on. You would be doing this woman a GIGANTIC favor.
    Maybe she can move on and find someone who is mature for her age, unlike you.

  11. I feel so happy for the daughter here. So many of my friends (who are in their late 20s) have parents who hate each other and can’t be in the same room together and it still sucks for them, even though they’re adults. I have a friend who didn’t want her dad’s new gf to come to her wedding and so the dad didn’t show (like said he was coming and then didn’t). And another friend who’s mother refuses to come to her wedding if she invites her father.
    Good for the LW’s “friend” and her ex-husband and their daughter that they can still be a family. Shame on this LW for literally being a homewrecker.

    (But you probably shouldn’t take my word on it because I’m 28 and white, so obviously I know nothing about your culture.)

  12. Geez dude, why are you even with her? You talk down to her all the time, “explaining” why you think she’ an idiot. If you think she’s such a moron about everything important in her life (her family, her child, her relationship history, her finances) then just stop seeing her! You don’t say one single good thing about her or your relationship. It makes me wonder about your judgment. Perhaps dating someone you view as an inferior makes you feel better? And what do you expect her to do, say, “You are so right, Mr. Awesome! I will stop speaking to everyone who has been important in my life and my daughter’s life for the past several decades, to appease a man I’m only casually dating. I will live only for your approval from now on. Thank you so much for guiding me down the One True Path to Happiness!”

  13. If driving their daughter across the damn country together is a “poor excuse” you have zero business in this relationship. Move on and let her find somebody else.

    1. Right? My mom and dad drove me to college together (only 3 hours away, not across the country) and they’d been divorced for 16 years at that time. And both were in other relationships. And neither partner had a problem with it. Just because your kid turns 18 doesn’t mean they’re no longer in need of their parents. What the hell?

  14. Sunshine Brite says:

    Multiracial female here – Black/White raised in a primarily white environment. Your view on this does not seem to be representative of African American relationship culture that I know. The culture that I know recognizes that family runs deeper than blood and legality. They are exes and remain friendly and remain family due to their daughter. It’s sad you only know people who cut off each other once their children age, it makes for lifelong difficulty for the child. I think at 46, that you recognize that the African American culture continues to shift it’s views on fatherhood and the roles in a child’s life.

    Oh. And what’s acceptable in the African American culture isn’t the same as Latino although they are both very community based cultures.

  15. Wow. My parents are divorced and my mom wants nothing to do with my dad, yet when I moved across the country a few years ago they both came to help me out, and they tolerated each other. My mom also is still very close with my dad’s sister – closer with her than my dad is, in fact. My mom still visited my dad’s parents after they got divorced. Family ties that last for more than a decade don’t necessarily just disappear after a divorce, especially if there is a kid involved. Definitely move on, especially since you are only casually dating her.

  16. Wendy, sometimes you are far nicer than I am.
    I’ve said it on here a couple times, but the fact is, I will likely end up with someone who already has kids, which is fine. The caveat, I will only date or marry someone with kids if he has a good, or at least cordial relationship with his ex. So, I’m pretty much the exact opposite of this LW… But I’m a white female so my opinion doesn’t matter.

  17. Wow you sound controlling. Just because someone has different experiences with race and culture doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. But your view is so narrow you can’t see anything else except what you think is right. Your female friend may be out of the norm for you, by being a good co-parent with her ex, but that doesn’t mean she should cut off all ties with her ex. It’s commendable that she and her ex can put aside their issues and continue to raise their daughter. Because being a parent never ends. And their daughter deserves both parents being an active part of her life. You don’t get to decide that. You’ve come to many conclusions about how things are supposed to be. Instead of examining others, you should reexamine yourself.

  18. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    I think everyone here can agree that regardless of how our varying cultures and viewpoints differ from yours, you should break up with this lady. Not because she’s doing anything disrespectful, because she’s not, but because you obviously can’t handle it and she deserves to be with someone who can.

  19. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    What Wendy and everyone else said. Also, LW mentions “every few months she finds a way to … place herself in his presence or that of his sister(s).” Wait, so this is happening ONCE every FEW MONTHS?! And it’s causing you this much concern??!!! Maybe if your friend were in constant contact with them them such that it was interrupting your time with her, but ONCE every FEW MONTHS?! You sound very controlling and paranoid. And needy.

  20. “However, I wanted to be fair and seek your perspective . . . although I do not necessarily need it. …I felt compelled to inquire about your response to see if it seemed unbiased. ”
    ” However, I am open to hearing your perspective and it would be humbly appreciated.”

    LW, I hope you can take a step back from hurt feelings and be open to what Wendy and the other commenters have said. Your friend sounds pretty great, clearly loves and prioritizes her child, and is strong enough to stick to her guns. Don’t punish her for that.

  21. Also, when my in-laws split up decades ago, my FIL’s own sister didn’t speak to him for a couple of years. She was tremendously close to her former SIL (my MIL) and was really pissed at her brother. Sometimes friendships are even stronger than blood relations – after all, one is a choice, the other is chance.

  22. Frankenfurter says:

    Is it April Fools’ already?

  23. My ex-aunt is still really good friends with my other aunts (her former sisters-in-laws). She still calls them her sisters, even though she’s been divorced from their brother for several years now. And their kids are still close, because they’re cousins. Just because you divorce someone doesn’t mean you have a blanket I-Can’t-Talk-To-You-Ever again rule. It’s not like the relationship, and the family you made from them, just disappears overnight.

  24. LW, I think this whole thing comes down to you not wanting to live in the shadow of this past relationship. I think it is even harder when her ex-husband was a bad guy. This is the hard part of dating someone with children. Because your ex-girlfriends are way in the past, her ex is there always. If you guys stay together, there are going to be graduations, weddings and grand kids and religious ceremonies and birthdays. And the ex will be at all of them. Honestly, my friends who have kids have all the parents for holidays. So you are talking about every thanksgiving playing nice with this guy. This is not for everyone. A lot of commenters here are being harsh but I would just say that this just isn’t for you. For whatever reason, you don’t feel confident in this relationship. That might be her and it might be you but you should find a relationship that you feel secure in.

    1. While I completely agree with you that this relationship is not for him, I have to disagree that our words are harsh or not warranted. This guy has serious issues within himself that need addressing, pronto. No parent should ever be encouraged to put their child on a moving van to college because it hurts the significant other’s feewings that the other parent will be involved. No outrageous behaviour should be justified because he thinks he speaks for an entire race. So, I agree with you, he needs to get out of this relationship with a swiftness and find someone who does not have children, because this will always be an issue for him. This and many, many, many other things.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yes, exactly. If anything I’m a bit surprised that people aren’t being even more harsh. This guy’s entitlement and attitude are off the charts.

      2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        I was offended by pretty much the whole letter, but even just the emphasis on “entire” in regards to her two relationships in her entire life, was incredibly jerkwad-y and entitled elitist to me. NO ONE gets to judge someone else’s mere HISTORY (at least not out loud- you wanna be judgmental in your head, have at it, but COME.ON.) or relationships or non-relationships. Ugh, I said below that I wouldnt comment on all his Judgey McJudgerson-ness, but I am disgusted by this letter. I hope (HOPE!!!!) this guy doesnt come off like this in real life, and was just trying to strip himself bare for the sake of the best advice possible… or something.

      3. I agree. It takes a lot to get me all riled up and boy did this letter push me beyond my limits! I’m usually a lurker-bee and hardly ever comment, but man, I couldn’t even read Wendy’s response before my fingers were angry typing my own. Every paragraph was more offensive than the last….and that last paragraph? INSANE!!!

      4. See, I am sitting here thinking that maybe this woman isn’t making him feel good about this situation. It could be that they aren’t officially in a relationship or she isn’t noticing how this affects him. But I wonder if this ex is used as a weapon in this dynamic. When you get down to it, and take the details about race/roadtrip, you get a guy who feels insecure about this relationship. This other man looms large here. This woman may or may not have feelings for her ex. I just think getting mocked for his feeewings isn’t helpful and calling him a dick isn’t helpful. It makes me think of Many’s Dad on Modern Family. This other guy comes in and out of this relationship and I believe that is a hard thing to take.

      5. Of course he isn’t feeling good about this situation…he isn’t getting his way! He says nothing about this woman using her ex as a weapon. His entire argument is that he wants her to have NOTHING to do with her ex. Even though they share a child, he wants her to never have contact with the ex. Not because she’s done anything inappropriate, but because it’s what everyone else he has known does. Cut the ex out of their lives. Period. That is outrageous to me. And of course, if you take out the details about race/roadtrip, he’s just an insecure guy. But that’s not this LW. This LW goes into great detail about what he sees as inappropriate, and not once does he say she’s done anything to offend him. His issue is that she has refuses to cater to his demands that she alienate her ex. I’m reacting to what he wrote, not what he meant to write.

  25. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    Dude, I wont even comment on you in general and your superiority complex, but IF SHE IS ONLY A CASUAL LADY IN YOUR LIFE, THEN IT IS TIME TO CASUALLY MOVE ON ALREADY. Mosey on, Buddy. Leave her alone to have a mature relationship with her ex husband and his family.

  26. Bittergaymark says:

    MOA. And how to properly use the term “coincidentally” correctly. You, Sir, are as clueless about its meaning as you are about relationships. PS — battling health issues doesn’t give one more lattitude to be more of an asshole…

  27. First, I am sorry about your health issues. However, you sound like a snob with narcissistic tendencies. Maybe date a Vulcan if you’re so into logical conclusions. No, not “everyone” would be upset with their partner maintaining ties with an ex, regardless of whether they had children with them or not. And your health issues don’t give you leeway to be a dick. Break up with this lady who causes you so much mental anguish, focus on yourself, and when you are in a better place, date someone who is a virgin because clearly, you cannot handle a woman who has any kind of dating history.

  28. tbrucemom says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever agreed more with one of Wendy’s responses. I have an ex-husband and two grown children. I have no relationship with my ex-husband even though I tried to remain civil because of our children. Now that he isn’t involved in our children’s lives any longer (his choice) I don’t have to worry about any possible run-ins. But if he was still involved it would have been nice to be able to share in our children’s happiness together (future grandchildren, marriage, graduation, etc.) I still occasionally talk to my former father-in-law. Not as much as when we were first divorced and the kids were younger, but once or twice a year. We’re both very glad when we’re able to catch up and we make sure to keep any conversation about his son/my ex-husband at a minimum. I commend the LW’s “friend” for being the “grown up” not only when dealing with her ex but also her current “friend”.

  29. Whaaaaattt!?!!??

    Let me read Wendy’s response now.

    1. Hahaha, this is what my response has pretty much been.

  30. Jeez. Just…jeez.
    And if no man or woman would be okay with maintaining contact with an ex, tell me how my family situation is possible: Both of my parents were married previously to other people for over ten years, with my dad and his first wife having two kids (who are now in their 40s). My parents married each other and had two more kids. My mother continued to send birthday and Christmas cards to her ex-husband and ex-MIL for years until their respective deaths. I ended up being very close to my dad’s first wife’s parents (my father’s ex-in laws) because they lived nearby and my dad and I would visit all the time until they passed away. Even now, almost 40 years after the divorce, my entire family (we’re talking me, my parents, all three of my siblings and their families, my dad’s siblings and their respective families) go to his first wife’s house to have Christmas with her and her husband and his family. There is absolutely no weirdness and no one thinks this is wrong, even with all of the children grown and married off. It just feels like a family, plain and simple.

    Bottom line, families come in all shapes and sizes, and just because two people are divorced doesn’t mean they aren’t still a family. Her in-laws were a major part of her life for many years, that doesn’t just go away. If you’re so insecure about exes being cordial and friendly, then you’re the one with the problem. I, for one, am so grateful that my father and his first wife remained such good friends with each other and each other’s respective families. I couldn’t imagine my life without all of them.

  31. I do think people are being a hit harsh about the race/culture comment. There are some things that are intrinsically different across various races and cultures, so the LW has a point. That being said, if the LW had those feelings in the first place, he should have written to an advice column with a columnist that shares his culture/race if he felt so strongly about it. Why waste your time (and Wendy’s) if you don’t feel she’s going to be helpful? It just makes no sense. Also, ordinarily, I’m all about not being friends with the exes, but this seems completely in the normal realm of contact for someone with that man years of marriage history AND a child. You should want to be with a woman who is so strong, forgiving, and mature as she is, instead of ragging on her for not completely forgetting and cutting out her past and paying sole attention to you. Just my humble opinion.

    My dad always tells that you can learn something from anyone. Even a fool. Even if it’s how to not be a fool. 🙂

  32. Tinywormhole says:

    As the adult child of divorced parents (who have both remarried, and one divorced again) I absolutely agree that it is entirely appropriate to maintain platonic friendliness between the divorced couple, and ties with each other’s family.

    There was a period of time in my childhood and teens when things were difficult between my divorced parents, and that was really difficult for my sister and I. Fortunately, everyone grew up, and that sure makes life easier for us. There have been many life situations that warrant my parents being in the same room together: college graduations, weddings, funerals, etc. When my sister gave birth two years ago, my mom and dad and I were all there. It would’ve been really awkward for everyone if things were awkward between them. But they talked like old friends, and nothing more. It was great.

    I also maintain ties with my stepdad who is no longer married to my mom. He is a second father figure to me. My mom remains friends with him as well. My (Latina) grandmother remained very close to him as well until she passed away. All of this is good.

    LW needs to either change his perspective entirely, or move on.

  33. This really could have been a shortcut. It’s okay for the LW to want what he wants. It’s okay for the woman he’s dating to want what she wants. MOA.

  34. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    Also – someone can be your ex and the relationship can still serve a purpose. Even if you don’t have kids. Two of my exes are also two of my best friends. The purpose they serve in my life is being awesome people that I want in my life. Just because we weren’t good romantic matches doesn’t mean we should cut off all ties.

  35. Reading this letter caused me stress.

  36. pebblesntrix says:

    “I was recently diagnosed with kidney failure and doctors discovered a lump in my thyroid as well, so I am not in the mood for any unnecessary added stress, and this never-ending situation definitely generates stress for me. I am at a point where I am tired of feeling disrespected and I am ready to cut ties altogether with such a so-called “friendship” and remain single or move forward by seeking someone new who does not desire to maintain ties to a past relationship or the relatives of their ex.”
    I think this is reason enough to move on. Especially since you said it’s casual dating. You’ve already said what you can handle and your friend disagrees. She is interested in maintaining some degree of ties with people with whom she has a 20 year history and a common family member (the daughter). Nothing you indicate suggests shady behavior on her part with regard to the ex and the contact doesn’t seem excessive from what you report, so this appears like normal behavior for a woman who has a child with the ex and wants to keep family relations cordial for the sake of her daughter (I am an African American woman, btw). It sounds like the fact that she hasn’t cut off ties completely suggests to you that there are still emotional ties and thus the potential for drama. In fact, because she’s not a robot there probably are still emotional ties with people she’s had a 20+ year friendship with (e.g. the sisters and their spouses) but emotional ties =/= still has feelings for ex. There also remains the pragmatic aspect of maintaining contact when a daughter’s in the picture. So, you do sound insecure about the whole situation. Given that your friend hasn’t done anything shady and has a valid reason for staying in touch (and it’s not excessive)–the daughter–it doesn’t fall to her to assuage your insecurity by cutting off all ties. It seems that this just isn’t the relationship for you and maybe you should find someone else who’s more suitable and thereby provides less stress given your health concerns.
    As regards her experience, you two have different kinds of relationship experience but that doesn’t make yours superior. Maintaining a 20 year marriage gives you pretty valuable insights into relationships just as having a variety of relationship experiences might. Furthermore, add to that her 10 additional years of life experience and your difference in experience doesn’t give you license to dismiss hers.
    Lastly, you’ve gotten reamed out in the comments over your last paragraph. As a black woman I do want to note that your comments there were very condescending. Even if you felt that way, there was no need to express that to Wendy (and you could’ve just included race information when you introduced the players and their ages). You said it in order to try to head off or discount disagreement which suggests you already suspected she might disagree. It seems like you’re more invested in being right in this disagreement with your friend–because your ego is at stake, as evidenced by the fact that her behavior is seen by you as a form of disrespect–than in coming to a compromise or understanding with your friend that takes her needs, wants, and perspective into account as much as your own, and that’s a huge relationship problem.

  37. pebblesntrix says:

    (sorry comment got cut off)

    It seems like you have a habit of finding reasons to dismiss other people’s (or women’s, don’t have enough info to know) perspectives when they collide with your own without having to give them serious consideration–your friend has had only 2 relationships; Wendy is white and so culturally biased/limited/bound–and that egoism/defensiveness/whatev (“However, I wanted to be fair and seek your perspective . . . although I do not necessarily need it”) should really be addressed in your life.

    1. I wish I could thumb this up x100. Thank you for saying so perfectly what my angry rant failed to.

  38. Avatar photo Guy Friday says:

    So, I’ve been in court all day, saw this on a break, but didn’t have time to respond to this until now. A lot of people have addressed the tone of your e-mail and your condescension toward your “casual relationship” (aside: if it’s casual, then why does any of this matter? I mean, what do you define “casual” as?!) , but I want to focus on what really bothered me about how you viewed this situation:
    “Traditionally, what is seen as being permissible in the Caucasian community is NOT acceptable in the African-American or Latino communities as it relates to relationship etiquette.”
    Admittedly, I’m white, but in what’s coming up on a decade of dealing with the African-American community in my area through law school and in my practice, there has been one truth that I have found in that community regardless of socio-economic status, education, whatever: the African-American community operates in the EXACT. OPPOSITE. WAY. of what you’re describing as “the norm” here. In fact, the idea of clear boundaries of what constitutes “a family” is far more a Caucasian trend in my experience. Being tight with an ex’s family isn’t abnormal in the black community; in fact, it’s odd if you DO let the hostility between you and your ex stop you from being a lifetime member of a family. Maybe it’s because racism made it an “us vs. them” thing, or maybe it’s because of poverty, or maybe it’s something else entirely, but in times of trouble the community pulls people closer rather than pushing them away. I’m sorry if you had a different experience, but I need to be clear here: YOU are the one bucking your OWN “culture” here with your actions. And it’s really a shame, because that kind of love and support and acceptance is a truly beautiful thing that I wish was more universal.

  39. Debbicakes says:

    I have read over most of the replies and can understand each of your points. My problem is that my husband’s ex has been an extended part of our lives for the 16 years we have been together, including holidays when we visit my in-laws. Although I have tried many times to be inclusive in their choices or forms of entertainment, it seems that I am purposely left out. If I am to mention that I was excluded, I’m told that I am being insecure. I helped to raise three of the now adult children for more than five years. The other problem is that after each even, the ex manages to convince everyone that I have done or said something out of place to her or her children. This results in numerous calls to my husband who in all cases has falsely accused me and more or less supports her. I made one other recent attempt to reach out to her and we had a very long discussion about our emotions and I thought that we had concluded on a recent family occasion that we would do better and if either of us were persuaded by either family member, that we would consult with the source before making accusations. Shortly after the trip, my phone was lit up with numerous messages falsely accusing me of gossip about our conversation. I truly didn’t know what she was talking about, but couldn’t convince my husband of this. This has happened so many times until I felt that there may be more to their relationship than they are willing to admit. I’m not jealous, I’m not insecure, I’m not suffering from any condition that would make one question that I’m just psycho. She sent very lengthy messages of accusations using vulgar and threatening language which I attempted to show my husband and he still refuses to believe that it’s not my fault because I reached out to her again in good faith. Their numerous telephone conversations in the past were like two to three per day. This was during the time we had custody of the kids. The kids seldom ever spoke with her and carried grudges that she was not mothering them. After the adult children married and moved away, his and her contacts may have averaged once to three times per month. So, I have told him that I am no longer willing to accept her behavior any longer and refuse for him to continuously compromise with her in her faults with me; Therefore would like for us to separate or divorce because it’s just not worth the agony. Now when we take the situation flipped and reversed, he’s always been apprehensive to visit or accept any of my previous two ex’s families. My first husband is deceased and the 2nd no longer contacts me because he and his kids had a problem with it. So, I asked him to stop calling. If my ex’s families visit me, he simply leaves or if I want to visit them, I’m told that I can go alone. There have been uglier situations that I do not care to disclose here and I seriously do not believe that they want one another. I would like to know how some viewers describe this situation. I call the situation selfish, deceitful and call myself . . . way too giving and playing the SORRY game!

  40. Is LW just being paranoid or is this behavior a red flag that he is seeing in this woman showing her ambivalence? Sounds like she hasn’t allowed herself enough time to sort things out. If she divorced this guy because he wasn’t being financially fair, she could have hired a lawyer to look after her interests in the property while still married. Was her ex abusive? Was he exploitive? What gives? It is placing a dating prospect in a very precarious situation who has to deal with this even on a casual level . It’s a new relationship, and LW is checking out this woman.

    Now for the divorced party. If these folks have such an amicable adult relationship, why get the divorce? If they made the concerted effort during their marriage to get along for whatever reasons, they wouldn’t have gotten divorced in the first place. It seems to me that his casual woman friend may have some boundary issues and failed to take a stand in her marriage. If her ex was so terrible, why is she still in contact with him on a regular? His casual lady acquaintance had a hand in this herself about the cues that he is getting. She used the new guy as a sounding board to complain about her ex, but then she flips the script and is super friendly to the ex every two months or so ? I get it. The daughter is an adult and is able to maintain a relationship with her dad. I would move on from this. I understand the general consensus and a mob mentality; however, just throwing out some food for thought. LW sounds frustrated.

  41. I think all of you slamming him on how he feel is wrong and hear is why. It is ok for him to feel the way he do but I will agree that he should not be with her but I do not believe that his view point is wrong or right. There is a lot of woman that will understand how he feels just like it is a lot of woman that will not understand so who is right and who is wrong. Well the answer is that the only right one in this situation is like you all say is the kids and the ex husband and the ex inlaws they are in the right for wanting to still have a relationship with her. It would be wrong to not understand there feelings and it is wrong for him not to understand her feelings but it is also wrong for us all not to understand his feeling. You see the real truth is that everyone feelings should be understood that is the real problem we all face because we all want our own view to be right. Well the real of life does not work like that I believe that everyone feelings is not right but understandable. And when we all think like that we will tell him to leave her and find a woman that share your same views. I guess you ladies would say that if he found such a woman after leaving her for that woman that both of them thinks in a stupid way. Both if he and his new girl is happy. WELL THEY ARE HAPPY AND THAT IS WHAT IS OVER HOW ANYONE FEEL IN MY OPINION.

  42. My ex motherin law came to my second wedding, bought the wedding cake and took photos with us. My now husband had no problem with it at all. If you get along…great. Every family is different. The LW sounds very controlling.

  43. As I was reading the LW letter, I thought to myself “Oh boy, I can’t wait to hear Wendy lay into this guy! Talk about being a child! My ex was pissed that I still had a relationship with his family after our divorce. In fact, he disowned his sister, who was my BEST friend, because she helped me after the divorce. It just speaks to their own insecurities and anger issues. Well done, Wendy!!

  44. Okay I am surviving a similar situation as the original poster. I will state that I come from a very broken home. I was married for 13 years to a very abusive woman. I’ve been single for about 15 years and I went to therapy.

    When I met my current ex-girlfriend she was also just out of a 13 year relationship where he had cheated on her in such an egregious fashion that I never quite understood why they had any contact at all.

    In all of six years I could never receive communication from her explaining this satisfactorily. Then his mother died and our relationship appears to have died at the same time.

    I have no children because of my childhood I made a choice to never abuse a child and at the time the only way I thought I would be able to do that would be to have a vasectomy. I now know different but that path has been trod.

    In reading all of your comments I now have a better perspective of what was going on and I do wonder why no one could explain to me why it appears that they are still married.

    She was very secretive about their relationship. Even though he was the one to break the relationship every single person in that family on both sides protect him like he’s some knight in shining armor. At the same time she swears she’s not in love with him and she swears that she would never get back with him, and the two close female friends that I know that she has reinforced this.

    And yet over time I have learned that she will do anything for him to make sure that he does not feel excluded, she will take care of him when he is sick, it is almost as if they are still married.

    At the height of our relationship I proposed to her and I happen to come across a note to one of her friends that said explicitly that she would never marry and that breaking up with me was because I didn’t understand the children.

    This hurts because I thought the only thing I had to do was make sure that I was the best male I could be in the situation in regards to the children. I have been their friend I have been their mentor I have been their teacher.

    3 years after his mother died she called to tell me that she could no longer be in a relationship with me she just didn’t have the energy that was all she said.

    Over the next 18 months I spent every ounce of energy avoiding self-deletion and I nearly failed twice.

    And yet I would still die for every one of them I even have a decent relationship with him. Not withstanding everyone else comes first and I don’t even exist now.

    She reaches out to me to see if I’m okay. She has occasionally invited me to coffee or to dinner.

    But her mind has not changed. And my heart will not change. I have attempted to move on but queue every single heartbroken song you can think of that boils down to it only reminds me of you.

    I’m 53 and I don’t quite expect to ever get over this or her and now that I read this thread I realize that nothing will ever change and that unless I can disconnect my heart from her I will always only have crumbs.

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