It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.
I’ve been with my boyfriend four years now. Since meeting him, I always saw red flags but thought we could get past them. He keeps in contact with his exes via Facebook, phone, and text msgs. He told one ex that he’s only using me to get a motorcycle, that he sleeps in his clothes or robe so that his thing won’t touch me, that we don’t have sex, and that I’m ugly. When I approached him, he said he only said those things to see if it would get back to him. I don’t know why I have feelings for him — he’s unemployed, and, though he does watch my kids for me, all we do is argue and we don’t have sex. I asked him to leave but he won’t! — Red Flags Waving
I assume, since you asked him to leave, that he lives with you? Since he won’t leave on his own, change the locks and leave his shit on the curb and a note on the door saying you’re over and to not contact you again. Next time, pay attention to the red flags and don’t move into your home, where you have underage children(!), a man whom you don’t trust or even really like. God.
I have lived with my boyfriend for over two years. He is divorced but spends weekends and other days at his ex-wife’s house, with his daughter, when the ex-wife is supposedly out of town. They live about 45 minutes away, and my boyfriend wanted to move closer to his daughter because the daughter wouldn’t stay with us–so we did – like 10 minutes away. My boyfriend just spent four days at the ex-wife’s house again last week and, when he got back, I found a bra that wasn’t mine in the laundry basket. When I asked him about it, he got all defensive and started talking about moving out. There have been a couple of other suspicious things like this that he explained away, but I’m not sure he can explain this. — Not My Bra
The guy’s cheating on you. MOA.
My ex-husband and I are still very good friends and text or talk at least once a week. My boyfriend can’t get over it, and we argue about it a lot. He doesn’t understand why I would have anything to still talk about with my ex since we broke up after eleven years together. Well, he raised my son all those years and he still helps him out and does a lot for me, too. Our friendship is totally harmless — he usually just needs to vent about his work or mother. I’d feel terrible to tell him that I can’t text him a couple of sentences because my boyfriend doesn’t like it. But should I cut him out? — Friends with Ex
I’d cut out the boyfriend, not the ex-husband. If the boyfriend is trying to control whom you text, just imagine what else he’ll try to control as you get more serious and more invested…
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
SailBobo February 5, 2016, 9:11 am
As satisfying as it would be to just move his things out and change the locks, it’s a bad idea from a legal perspective … He could sue her for a lot of money … I agree that she needs to get rid of him, but now that he is a tenant she has to go through the proper eviction procedures … She needs some legal advice …
Miss Lady February 5, 2016, 11:47 am
This is important! He may have squatter’s rights and following Wendy’s advice could land her in some hot water. Please talk to a lawyer first!
Anon February 5, 2016, 9:43 am
IMHO the last bit of advice for LW3 is ridic. Eleven years or not, ex-husband is that, and ex-husband. He helped raise your son all those years and still does stuff for the both of you, ok great, let the son continue his relationship with him them, and let the boyfriend step up and help you in the ways you would need the ex-husband to. You can still be friendly if/when you run into one another but i’m on the boyfriends side on this. LW1 & 2….. WTF are you thinking? Use some common sense here. SailBoBo is right also, it would be a lot worse if you just up and threw his shit out and changed the locks. If he lives there, then legally you have to give him a 30 days notice to leave, have him sign the paper. A good friend of mine just went through this and had to go to court to get her boyfriend to move out, with the help of a deputy to almost force him to leave.
Lianne February 5, 2016, 11:41 am
Totally disagree. That’s a long history and they will ALWAYS be co-parents. I’d be so grateful if my parents had such an amicable relationship! If her boyfriend was secure in himself, this wouldn’t bother him. I’m with Wendy, MOA.
RedRoverRedRover February 5, 2016, 12:00 pm
Totally agree. This is really no different than a bf who doesn’t want you to have male friends. Their romantic relationship is over, they’re divorced. Now they have a friend and co-parent relationship. If the bf can’t handle it, that’s the bf’s problem, not the LW’s.
People who don’t think you should be friends with the opposite sex should only date people who think the same thing. No one should be allowed to control who their partner is friends with unless the relationship is actually out of the ordinary (emotional cheating, abuse, etc). This one sounds like an ideal post-divorce relationship – no longer romantic, but still friendly. The bf needs to butt out of it.
Anon February 5, 2016, 12:17 pm
That’s fine, we can agree to disagree. However, NO it is NOT the same whatsoever as saying that the g/f can’t have male friends. Not at all in my opinion. I have a feeling it’s deeper than the b/f being upset simply because she is still friends with her ex-husband. I get the feeling actually, the b/f witnesses the the differences in the way she interacts with her ex-husband vs. how she is with him (b/f) and see’s that they have more of a deeper connection and/or that maybe she is always texting or communicating with the ex when they are spending time together and that would certainly piss anyone off. it’s one thing if it’s a once in a blue moon type of thing and having a quick nice friendly one on one, but if it’s almost a daily occurrence, and if it usually ends up interrupting b/f g/f time then that is inappropriate. Not to mention , like I touched on earlier, that I’m pretty sure they b/f can help out in the same ways that the ex has, if he is willing to, and the ex in a way might be kinda stepping on his toes in not letting him take on that role. So no I don’t think the b/f is out of line or needs to “butt-out”
Lianne February 5, 2016, 12:27 pm
Well now you’re making assumptions based on absolutely nothing. Based on the info we have to go on, it just sounds like the boyfriend is jealous. When you start saying things like, “I’m pretty sure this or that is happening” it’s like making up a story. You have no idea if any of this is the case. It’s a short letter and, in my opinion, Wendy and the rest of us should base our advice on the information we have.
RedRoverRedRover February 5, 2016, 12:51 pm
Well, you’re certainly entitled to your feelings, but it sure seems like you’re projecting here. You’re making things up that aren’t in the letter.
Portia February 5, 2016, 3:01 pm
I’m with Lianne and Redrover. I’d actually be more concerned if exes that share a child don’t have a good friendship. The two people are literally raising a child in tandem, a good friendship can only help that and model good behavior for their child. What you’re describing sounds like the mindset of someone who doesn’t trust their partner or dissects all interactions to see if they “mean something.”
ktfran February 5, 2016, 3:29 pm
The LW actually said they text/talk about once a week. Not daily. So I’m not sure how it interrupts the time LW has with her current boyfriend.
Skyblossom February 5, 2016, 10:01 am
It is kind of ironic that in the first letter it is a legitimate problem that the boyfriend is still in contact with his exes but in the third it should be no concern at all. I think it can be hard to find someone else to turn to after a divorce and so the ex-husband vents to the ex-wife and the ex-wife turns to the ex-husband to get help with things. They both need to develop other relationships for their venting and their help. Because there is a child involved it is good to maintain a cordial relationship but at the same time they need to move beyond their old patterns and establish new relationships to fill those needs.
Dear Wendy February 5, 2016, 10:15 am
In the first letter, I don’t think the problem is that the guy is on contact with his exes; I think the problem is that he’s saying that his girlfriend is ugly and he’s using for a motorcycle, he sleeps in his clothes “so that his thing won’t touch her,” and they don’t have sex.
ktfran February 5, 2016, 10:24 am
YES! Totally different situations.
Cleopatra Jones February 5, 2016, 11:08 am
She should dump his @ss based on the fact that he’s a grown man who uses ‘his thing’ to refer to his penis.
Diablo February 5, 2016, 11:23 am
Don’t judge, CJ. You don’t know. Maybe it’s NOT his penis. Maybe he’s got a “thing” we don’t know about. Then again, when i tell my M I have a thing for her, she tends to know what thing I mean.
Skyblossom February 5, 2016, 11:21 am
Ella_ February 5, 2016, 10:15 am
Are people really so unwilling to be alone that they will stay in relationships like LW 1 and 2? Really? Why on earth would anyone put up with this? How can you think this is a normal way to be treated in a relationship???
That depresses me.
Diablo February 5, 2016, 10:47 am
M and I have a friend who, back in grad school after a breakup with a long-term but somewhat controlling ex, said she didn’t know who she was without a man in her life. Our whole era of literary study was very influenced with feminist and political theory, re-reading classic literature through a feminist lens, etc. we were well past high school, in our middle to late 20s. ALL of us who heard that just stopped and went “Whu-huh?” It seemed totally out of character to her academic persona and with modern thinking. This woman now has a Phd, but she was also raised by very traditional catholic parents, and that was perhaps more the core of her character than what she learned in school. She has gone through several relationships with dominating men, including a bad divorce from a guy we actually deliberately tried to prevent her from getting with, cuz he was a known narcissistic dick. TLDR: Yeah, it happens, and it’s stupefying.
honeybeenicki February 5, 2016, 10:54 am
My sister is the same way. She was raised in a more traditional PR family and was taught that women need men. I don’t get it.
Skyblossom February 5, 2016, 11:36 am
Our first neighbors in this community had that attitude. A woman was valuable because she was wanted by a man. When one of their daughter’s separated from her husband she was an emotional wreck for a week or two and then was dating. In that first month she dated three guys and liked the third guy because his parents had a lot of money and she ended up marrying him. She also said she liked being with him because she was smarter than him and so it was easier to convince him to do things her way. He was borderline retarded so could drive but had trouble finishing high school and had to go to a special school. The moment she had a boyfriend she was no longer an emotional mess. She needed to feel wanted by a man as if she had no value outside a relationship. The younger daughter always had the next boyfriend lined up before she broke up so that she was never alone. They would also say that a woman shouldn’t have sex before marriage or the guy wouldn’t marry her because he was getting what he wanted without marriage. My thought was who would want their daughter to marry a guy who only wanted to marry her for sex. If a guy breaks up after having premarital sex because that was all he wanted from the woman she is lucky she didn’t end up married to him. I don’t think that most of us want our children married young, like the Duggars, so that they can have sex. I’d rather that they have sex without the commitment of marriage and wait for marriage until they find the right person.
RedRoverRedRover February 5, 2016, 11:49 am
That’s an awesome point about wanting to get married just to have sex. Not the best thing to base a life-long decision on. I agree, way better to find out beforehand if that’s all the other person wants.
Cleopatra Jones February 5, 2016, 3:49 pm
Sadly, I grew up in an environment in which it was better to have a shitty man than no man at all. To this day, I still see family members struggling with shitty, abusive relationships because they’d rather be with someone who beats & cheats on them than to be alone.
It’s so incredibly sad.
Sketchee February 6, 2016, 2:49 pm
I admit all of the questions and answers are really great and at the same time, I really emphasize for all of the question writers at how hard all of this stuff is. I feel conflicted and confused just trying to think about it and I’m not even there! That is why I love Wendy (and why she is Dear Wendy and I am not) <3