Shortcuts: “My Ex Won’t Tell Me If He’s Dating Anyone New”

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asexualityIt’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.

Four months ago because he moved. I still really like him and I know he likes me. I asked him if he has slept with anyone and if he has dated anyone since the breakup. He usually gets super defensive and says it’s not my business, he doesn’t understand why I want to know, and that I’m hurting our chance of getting back together by nagging him with questions. Then, after a little pushing, he’ll tell me to leave him along and then he won’t talk to me for a while. Why does he get so mean and defensive when I ask if he has had sex with anyone else or is dating? He broke up with me! — Wants to Know

Because it’s none of your business. And because he probably is dating and sleeping with other people but would rather you remain ignorant and/or indifferent to this point so that you might entertain the idea of getting back together should he decide that’s what he wants. He’s clearly used to calling the shots in your relationship and isn’t comfortable with you asserting yourself in any way, which is why he reacts with defensiveness and meanness rather than an open dialogue. Save yourself further grief and MOA.

I’ve been married for fifteen years and we don’t do things together. Lately, my husband has been frequently asking me to find someone to fulfill my sexual needs. If I find someone, he said that he’s also going to find someone to have sex with. I have four kids with him. I financially depend on him totally. I know that, no matter what, he wants to keep marriage. He is a brilliant dad. But I am unhappy and I don’t get enough sex or emotional support from him. What I should do? — Unmet Needs

Ask if he wants to go to counseling to help you figure out how to reconnect, do things together again, and meet each other’s sexual and emotional needs. If he declines, then you should start figuring out how to financially support yourself so that you are in a better position to end the marriage. You may also decide that you don’t care if your marriage is a sexually or emotionally fulfilling one as long as it meets your financial needs and that it’s easier to co-parent while living together. The good news is, your husband doesn’t have to be married to you, happily or otherwise, to continue being a brilliant dad to your four kids.

My partner of over twenty-four years has taken to disappearing on the weekends. Usually, he sends a text on Friday to say he is working late, and then he doesn’t turns up until Monday evening. He claims he doesn’t need to tell me where he is since he’s an adult. This has been happening since August. I have asked him to leave on numerous occasions but he refuses, saying this is his home. This is making me miserable, and I feel it’s unacceptable and unfair. If I text or call, he doesn’t reply or answer either, which is frustrating me more. He can’t want to be with me as we don’t do anything together — there’s no love or sign of affection at all. Why won’t he go for good and why won’t he be honest with me as to where and who he stays with? What can I do with someone who won’t respond, apart from saying he’s not moving out? Help please. — Where Is He?

If you’re married, you need to file for divorce. If you’re not married, you should move out one weekend when he’s MIA. Or, if his name isn’t on the lease, you can throw his crap outside and change the locks. If his name is on the lease or you own a home together, talk to a lawyer about what recourse you have. But, clearly, on a strictly emotional level, this relationship is over. All that is left to do is make sure you’ve got your legal and financial ducks in a row for the final phase of this break-up. As for where he is — a man doesn’t just up and leave a woman he’s been with for twenty-four years out of the blue unless there’s someone else waiting in the wings. I suspect he hasn’t officially moved out because he’s afraid of what breaking up with you/divorcing you will financially cost him and it’s simply easier to pay one set of household expenses and peace out every weekend.


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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. PumpkinSpice says:

    Lw1, of course he isn’t going to tell you. Itvis none of your business what or who he does. He broke up with you, he doesn’t have to tell you anything or even talk to you. Forget what he is doing and move on.

  2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 – He broke up with me!

    Why the exclamation point at the end? Do you think that if he breaks up with you he owes it to you to tell you if he is having sex with anyone else or dating anyone else? When he broke up with you the two of you were done. At that point it is none of your business whether he is seeing anyone else and none of your business whether he is having sex with someone else. In many ways it would be inappropriate for him to tell you about his sex life with someone else. That is between him and the other person/people.

    For your own sake you need to cut all contact with this guy. You can’t move on if you are constantly thinking about him seeing other women and having sex with them. That’s a terribly unhealthy focus for your life. Assume the relationship is done and you won’t be getting back together. Assume you can do better. Assume you will meet a guy who is a better fit. Take control of your life and quit talking to him. Don’t contact him and don’t accept contact from him. He needs to completely disappear from your life.

    At this point you are chasing him and acting like he is your one and only and is so irresistible you can’t get over him. What an ego boost for him. Your actions effectively say that he is the best you can do while his actions say that you are easily replaced. Don’t put yourself in the position where you aren’t valued. Don’t chase a guy who is going to use you for an ego boost when needed. You can certainly do better.

  3. RedRoverRedRover says:

    You’ve got a typo/editing problem in your second response Wendy!

    1. There’s typos in each letter, the 2nd one is a bit confusing though, I wasn’t totally sure what “we don’t things together” means – they don’t do things together?

  4. Yes LW1, all these questions make you sound desperate and not at all over him. That mean he things he can keep you on his reserve booty call list if he hits a dry spell. Broken up means you have zero obligations or accountability to each other. I guess that you are ‘trying to stay friends’ but it obviously isn’t working for you and you need to make a clean break and get on with your life. Whatever you think you had with this guy is over. That he says your questions kill any chance of the two of you getting back together shows that he knows he totally has you still on his string and he is enjoying it. Don’t feed his sense of power by appearing so pathetically devoted to the guy that dumped you and has absolutely moved on with his life.

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      Yeah, I hate when women think that they are obligated to ‘stay friends’ with their ex. That whole ‘friends’ thing is what we tell ourselves to stay emotionally connected to the ex, and the ended relationship. My experience (seeing this happen with friends & family) is that we think if we stay ‘friends’ with the guy, he will suddenly realize how wonderful we really are, and will want you back. Nope, don’t do it. Move on!
      When my daughter broke up with her boyfriend, and fell into the ‘oh but we’re friends’ thing. I told her the Litmus test of ‘am I really friends with my ex?’ is…if he calls you to ask you to hang out with some friends. Then he shows up with his new girlfriend. If you have any reaction other than “I’m happy for him” then you are not ready to be friend. She thought about it then decided she wasn’t ready nor did she really want to be his friend.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I love this litmus test. Perfect!

      2. That is a great test.

      3. RedroverRedrover says:

        I’ve been friends with most of my exes afterwards, but the catch there is that I was friends before. 🙂 I think without a pre-existing “friends” relationship, there’s only a very small chance that you could be friends afterwards. I’ve never stayed friends with someone who I wasn’t friends with beforehand.

      4. Yeah I’ve stayed friends with my exes too, and my boyfriend has now become acquaintances/friends with a couple of them too.

      5. But it’s been a combination of we were friends before/the litmus test Cleopatra mentioned (love that litmus test)

    2. I think LW1 is hoping this behaviour on his part means he must be still “into her deep down” and only needs time to realise this. …. big mistake. If he wanted to be he would be with you LW irrespective of geography.

  5. LW3 – Legally, as an adult, he has the right to do what he wants and doesn’t have to tell you where he is. But you, as an adult, also have the right to tell him that he’s a jackass and will no longer have the privilege of being your partner. Dump his ass, either move out or make him move out, and move on with your life.

  6. Lw1, wtf? Asking your ex if he’s sleeping with someone anyone is not only none of your business, but why would you even want to know? You’re setting yourself up for heartache. I have friends who like to keep tabs on their exes, only to see how much anguish it causes them when I’ve seen how much happier they are when focusing on a new love conquest. I know it’s hard when you’ve been that attached to someone but the sooner you can accept the outcome and move on, the sooner you can allow for someone new to come into the picture.

    1. Yeah it’s only her business if she is still sleeping with her ex, then she knows if she needs to get tested or not.

      1. Very true. Continuing to sleep with your ex is also a terrible idea…..I should know, I did that a few times. Finally wised up after the last 1-2 relationships of how much emotional confusion it causes.

  7. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW3 He probably likes the living arrangement for financial reasons. If you own the place by yourself or you own it together you probably need to see a lawyer. In the first instance to legally evict him and in the second instance to learn how to proceed with selling the house. If you rent you probably are responsible for your share of the lease until the lease ends. If you’ve been there for a while and have a month to month lease then you could move out while he is gone on the weekend and pay your share of the lease through the end of the month. He’s getting something out of this arrangement but you aren’t so end it even if it takes a lawyer to do so.

  8. MissAnneThrope says:

    Wendy I agree with the gist of your advice for L3, but depending on the state, even if his name isn’t on the lease she might not be able to throw out his things and change the locks.

    1. Stillrunning says:

      Right. Worse case, she can’t just lock him out. She may have to pay to break the lease early and move out while he’s gone. Whatever, she has to get out of this non-relationship and move on.

  9. dinoceros says:

    LW1: You’re not in a relationship, so his personal life is none of your business. He’s using the idea that you could get back together to make you leave him alone. I’m sure he has no interest in that happening.

  10. I think Wendy is too quick on the eject button for LW2, both because there are 4 kids and that at some point one presumes that at the sex was satisfying for both of them especially if they were willing to commit all the way to 4 kids (that’s probably 7 or 8 years of acceptable sex right there).

    I say, negotiate a schedule (say Monday, Thursday, Saturday) that should be too much for one and not enough for the other but that both can live with.

    If it’s the quality of sex that is the problem (it’s gotten boring) then I would say look into “visual aids” (ok pron) as for ideas of things to try. Go slow (with lube if necessary) and try other things than straight up missionary. Not all sex is as hot porn sex makes it look but some stuff might definitely work for you both (and it goes without saying that you both might not enjoy the same things, or at the same time, take turns).

    Of course Wendy could ultimately be right and it could end, but at least you gave it a good try. Good luck.

  11. bittergaymark says:

    LW1) MOA. His personal life is none of your business.

    LW2) Try an open marriage. I am serious. My happiest friends are in open marriages and it seems to be working for them in spades… Admittedly, I am biased here as I was a fling to a guy who was part of long time married gay couple… Fling seems to be over — 🙁 — but now — strangely, we are all the best of friends. (No, seriously, they have me over for dinner once a week and we go to comedy shows together all the time.) LW, if your husband is really a super dad, I’d take him up on his offer and see what happens.
    LW3) You need as him/her what is going on. It sounds like your marriage could be over.

    1. I was reading LW2 as a bit more on the conservative side (with 4 kids) so I am not sure that an open marriage is really in the cards. It might be a case of buyers remorse if they married their first love on the young side. In any event it’s LW2’s task to work that out and see how seriously they take the vows they took. Maybe that instead of looking at trying to accomplish the romantic fusion into one being through sex, maybe they should look at it as pleasing each other whatever that may be.

      LW3 says “Partner” of 24 years. When I read this from the US, I am thinking unmarried gay couple (as opposed to married hetero). I don’t know if that really changes anything to the situation, but maybe it does.

    2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      For myself, monogamy is all I can handle. I don’t have the emotional capital to invest in another relationship. I love the deep emotional connection and friendship that I have with my husband and would hate to divert time and attention to someone else. We already have two kids who need time and attention and we have friends. Trying to add someone else to that mix would take more emotional energy than I have and more time than I have. That extra focus would be more than I have and would have to come from the marriage which would weaken the marriage and make it less than it is. I think one of the reasons that people grow apart is because too many things come before the marriage and after some time there isn’t enough shared to maintain emotional connection.

      1. I agree. I could see how someone could incorporate a side hook-up here or there but I have no idea how some people can pull off full polyandrous relationships. I’m not being critical on anyone else, I just don’t have the hours in a day.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Same here. I’ve got my husband, son, family, and best friend. That’s about the limit of the social relationships I can take on. I can’t imagine trying to maintain a sex buddy besides that. Plus, I’d have to go OUT! One of the main advantages for me of being married is that I don’t have to go anywhere to see my husband. 🙂

  12. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW2 Your husband is telling you that he is emotionally done with your marriage. He wants to be legally married but wants no emotional connection. He is moving on in every way but legally and has told you to do the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has someone on the side. Consider getting a job and making some income of your own or start taking some classes that would help you to get a better paying job than what you could find now. You can take some classes on line so I’d consider starting with those. Just make sure that you take classes in a field that would help you to make a better income than you could make if you found a job right now. Not all fields are equal when it comes to pay so think about what kind of income you would need to support yourself. Also, don’t take online classes from a for profit university like the University of Phoenix. Nobody hires their graduates. He would have to pay some child support. He might have to pay alimony depending on where you live. It wouldn’t hurt to visit a lawyer and see what your rights are in case he finds someone else and decides to divorce. The initial consult shouldn’t cost you anything so there would be no bill that your husband would see.

    This isn’t about sex as much as about the total breakdown of your marriage to the point where your husband feels no connection to you. You are legally married but that is about it. If he would be willing to go to marriage counseling I would do that but I doubt he is interested. At least ask if he is willing to try it.

  13. HeartsMum says:

    LW2 – he is encouraging you to look outside the marriage to meet your sexual needs and *then* he will too? This is all kinds of head****. He’s already looking, probably done more than window shop! What benefit can he obtain by getting you to go first? Thoughts? He can tell the kids YOU started it. He can use YOUR infidelity in law, either to damage your financial or parenting position. Even with the best-negotiated open marriages, feelings happen—Will his side piece want to stay that way? Will yours? WWS: Legal advice NOW

    1. HeartsMum says:

      Sorry, Wendy, you didn’t tell LW2 to get legal advice, sorry.

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