You expect a guy you’ve been dating for eight months to give up the free time he and his son are lucky enough to have together so that he can work harder and earn more to support you through school? “Brat” is far too generous a term for that. Be a damn grown-up and take care of your own financial shit. Once you two are more serious and thinking long-term about spending your lives together, you can discuss financial expectations, but to have expectations of being supported at this point because you can’t — or don’t want to — work as hard as you have been to get yourself through school is bonkers.
Is it bad that sometimes I feel taken advantage of because their mom is having it easy while I’m here doing all the hard work and he’s at work every time they are here? It’s like the full responsibility gets dumped on me. I wouldn’t be complaining but being pregnant and dealing with kids that argue 24/7 or don’t clean up after themselves is really irritating right now and I just need a break. When I ask for a vacation, he wants to take them with us so I’m like, geesh. Will I ever be able to just relax? Like, what do I do? This is my first kid and this whole pregnancy has been so stressful. — Stressed-Out Preggo
It’s not “sole custody” if your boyfriend’s kids don’t actually live with him. Joint custody, maybe, but definitely not sole custody. And, what do you expect when the kids come visit? That their mother come with them and take care of the cooking and cleaning in your home? Wtf? If you aren’t prepared to be a stepmother figure, then you shouldn’t be with a man who has three children, and, if the minimum basic part of parenthood has you so stressed out that you already need a break despite not actually having your own child yet and only caring for these other kids on a very part-time basis, then you probably shouldn’t be having a child with someone who doesn’t have time to spare for the children he already has.
The answer is: No, you probably won’t be able to relax very much with a baby on the way and three other children to help care for. You could move closer to where your partner’s kids live, though, so that it would be easier for him to spend time with them when he’s not working.
I think if you’re still upset about something that happened five years ago and have been furious this whole time and feel disrespected by your boyfriend’s seeing a massage therapist regularly, one to whom he gives personal gifts, then ending this relationship is probably LONG overdue.
Follow along on Facebook and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 8:57 am
LW1 Your boyfriend has been the father of his son for eight years compared to the eight months the two of you have been seeing each other. He is responsible for his son both financially and emotionally, he isn’t responsible for you. He has his priorities right. His son is only a child once. He is showing he values and prioritizes his son, even to the point of earning less money so that he can spend time with him. In the eight years since the birth of his son he has probably had a number of girlfriends. Girlfriends come and go but the son is for life. If he does earn more money than he needs and wants to put the extra toward college it should be put away for his son to go to college, not you. He should also be putting some extra away for retirement, not you. When you are 40 hopefully you will be in a place to make equivalent choices for yourself. If you were forty and had a boyfriend who was 27 and in college would you feel the need to pay for his college? He had his son when he was older and more financially stable. Our choices in life affect the quality of our life. Having a child when you are younger makes life more difficult. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your daughter or that you aren’t a great mother or that you don’t love your child. It just means that when you have a child before you finish your education life is more difficult but you can still reach your desired destination and be a great example for your daughter.
You are an adult. It is good for you to take care of yourself and make your own way and financially support yourself and pay for your education. Wouldn’t we all love to have someone come in to pay for the things we want but life doesn’t generally work that way. You will have a great sense of achievement and satisfaction when you work your own way through school. Second, you will be setting an example for your daughter about being a reliable, self-supporting woman. Do you really want her to think that the way to get ahead in life is to find an older man who will pay her way?
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 9:26 am
Another thing that really sticks out to me in the first letter is that she mentions no thought that they will work out long term. She doesn’t talk about feeling committed to a long term relationship just that she wants someone to financially support her through college. If I was the boyfriend I’d be very wary of being used. He probably does wonder if she likes him for his law degree as much as she does for his personality. He is probably watching to see if she wants him for his earning potential.
LW You seem to feel entitled to use him as a personal bank account. I can’t think of a better way to quickly destroy the relationship. If you do see long term potential in this relationship you will both respect you much more if you pay your own way through school. If you want to be an equal partner you will pay your own way. If you want to be respected you will pay your own way. If you want him to begin seeing you as a child ask for money.
T August 26, 2016, 11:17 am
Yeah, I would venture a guess that LW1 made a few comments toward the beginning of dating or just gave the boyfriend a feeling that she could be after his money. That’s probably exactly why he insists on going dutch every date and is maybe even downplaying how much money he makes. And your exactly right that he should be saving any extra money for his son. It’s also possible he’s having to support his ex-wife and that is adding to him not having much spending money – the last thing he needs is yet another person to support.
Rikki August 28, 2016, 7:25 am
I think you mixed in letter one and two. The first letter did not say the child is 8 years old, though the second letter does acknowledge a child of 8 years.
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 9:07 am
In the second letter maybe the boyfriend does have sole custody but the kids live with his parents so that they aren’t uprooted.
Even if their mom was active in their lives she wouldn’t come along to do the cooking and cleaning when they are with their dad. What did you expect would happen when you got together with a man who already had three kids? I really am curious how you thought it would work. The kids are all old enough to not leave a mess. They should be able to set the table. They should all take their dirty dishes to the sink and rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. They shouldn’t leave towels on the floor of the bathroom or water all over the floor. If someone leaves a mess in the bathroom send them back to clean up after themselves before the next one goes in. Make each one responsible for their own mess. Don’t try to make one clean up after another or you will have angry kids on your hands. Have strict rules about things like put downs. No taunting, no insults equally applied to each kid. I often see parents ignore younger kids and allow them to be obnoxious to the older child. Don’t do that. When it comes to rules their dad needs to be the one to explain a rule and say that it will be enforced and he should enforce it if he is home. They need to know that dad is behind each and every rule and they need to feel that each rule is fair. Kids believe in fair but despise preference and letting the other slide by. Don’t let anything slide. At the first hint of someone being disrespectful to someone else, whether it is with words or a mess, call them on it and stop it or send them to clean it up. If you never let things slide life will be much easier because you will almost never have to enforce the rules once the kids learn them. Apply the same rules to yourself because you lead by example and because it is fair.
Gwyneth6 August 26, 2016, 10:34 am
Wonderful advice! And if you need ideas for rules ask his parents so you can keep it consistent if they are doing a good job. Can they live with you guys now? Now that he’s with you can’t you be a back up when he’s at work(assuming your schedules aren’t exactly the same) ? I’m concerned the kids will be upset their new sibling lives with dad and his /her mom while these kids live away from dad and don’t get much support from their mom. Seems it could brew resentment? Maybe give them each a choice?
T August 26, 2016, 11:22 am
Yeah, I think these kids could be extra acting up because their lives are such a mess right now. I took the sole custody thing to mean the mom is not in the picture, and that they stay with someone else during the week. And then Dad’s never around and is running off to get a new woman pregnant. LW, I hope you can find empathy for these children and find a way to be a positive presence in their lives. It can’t just be all about you and your unborn child. Unless you want to leave your boyfriend, you need to treat these kids as your own, too.
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 11:29 am
It’s critical for these kids to feel loved and wanted and valued. If this LW can’t do that then she should bow out of their lives. Unfortunately, she’s pregnant with their half sibling. These kids need stability and love.
artsygirl August 26, 2016, 9:20 am
All three LWs – what Wendy said
Ale August 26, 2016, 9:29 am
These 3 letters make me grieve for the human kind.
Bittergaymark August 26, 2016, 10:08 am
Seriously. Fucking idiots — ALL. Delusional and selfish to boot.
bondgirl August 26, 2016, 10:44 am
Please tell me these are all fake. Honestly Wendy, how do you answer letters like this without ripping your hair out?
Nookie August 26, 2016, 10:57 am
I thought that too, I don’t think I could be advise columnist and it makes me give pause to my tentative idea of maybe becoming a counsellor. I don’t know how people get this far in life without self reflection ie, am I being a nut?
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 11:26 am
People get there by having poor childhoods, by having poor role models and instability. They get there by having overly controlling parents or emotionally bankrupt parents or even emotionally vampirish parents.
Consider the kids mentioned by the second LW. Their mom seems to have abandoned them and their dad is at best a part time parent and the potential stepmother doesn’t want them around. That’s the kind of situation that leads to wild teen years. To kids who turn to drugs and alcohol to blot out the reality of feeling unloved and unwanted. Kids in this situation try to find love in the arms of another teen and turn into teen parents who are emotionally unready to parent and so raise another generation of messed up kids. While many of the girls end up pregnant and the boys and the girls are teen parents the boys are also often in trouble with the law ending up with records that prevent them from getting good jobs in the future and the girls end up alone, raising their babies in poverty. If you could be a counselor and help people reach emotional stability for themselves and their children you could help break this repeating, ugly cycle.
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 9:42 am
LW3 So you had an affair and left your husband for your affair and then the affair partner turned out to not be so great. Just for future reference you need to realize that quality guys don’t see women who are cheating on their partner. They have higher standards. You took the guy who had low standards and then you are upset because he appears to like his massage therapist just as much as he likes you and he refuses to downgrade her to a lower level of gifts. I guess you know where you stand. Be a higher quality person to attract a higher quality person.
Bittergaymark August 26, 2016, 10:10 am
Hah! TOO LATE!!
Rava August 26, 2016, 4:43 pm
Monkeysmommy August 26, 2016, 10:40 am
LW1- what is sooo ironically hilarious about this all is that while you are trying to figure out how to use this guy for his money, he is using you to have a young piece of ass that he isn’t even buying dinner for. The guy is a genius. And bullshit you didn’t want to date him because he is a lawyer who has money… otherwise you wouldn’t have the expectation of being cared for. Brat is too nice… unlike yesterday’s LW that I defended , you are NOT the wife, and his kid isn’t a grown adult being petty- he is a child who wants to spend time with his father. Ugh. Leave this man and dig for gold somewhere else.
Sigh. What the actual fuck were you thinking by getting knocked up by a man who already has three kids he doesn’t help out enough with?? Brilliant. I am guessing that the kids live with his parents or something if you say the mom isn’t really that involved. What a winner. Oh, but he wants to take the kids on your vacation, and that annoys you? Awww, pooooor baaaaaaby. Jesus. Grow up. You made your bed. Apparently willingly since you are popping out a kid you cannot handle. Good luck with this mess. I am banking on single mom status.
Lw3- all I heard was “I am a dumbass who left my husband of 20 years for some dude who is also screwing a woman he calls his massage therapist, and I am mad!”
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 11:13 am
I think that LW1 and her boyfriend are probably each getting what they can from the relationship. She definitely is looking at him like he’s a cash cow and he probably loves sex with someone her age. She doesn’t mention commitment or even a vision of them having a life together once she graduates from college. She just wants to know if she can expect a boyfriend of eight months to support her. Most relationships blow up by two years so it seems remarkable that she would think he owes her financial support after eight months. What a huge sense of entitlement.
I don’t know why he should be buying her dinner. Why is his money less valuable or hard earned than hers? Why should he pay just because he is male or just because he completed law school? I’m assuming he worked hard to be in the place where he is and his money is his own. When she is forty hopefully she’ll have made decisions that let her decide how much to work and options on how to spend her time. If she values working more then she can work more.
It is ironic that she wants this guy to work more and spend less time with his son so that she can work less. All after only eight months. Instead of being jealous of him for being ahead of her in life, which he is by hard work and age and experience she needs to get herself to the same point in life. When he was 27 he likely didn’t have the options that he has now.
Anonymous August 26, 2016, 10:41 am
I feel like Wendy could make some great flow charts along the lines of, should I expect my partner to keep me financially stable or, should you feel jealous of your partner’s kids. With pretty much all arrows leading to “no.” And then maybe a refresher course on birth control…
va-in-ny August 26, 2016, 11:29 am
Maybe I’m just over-sensitive today (other baby related stuff is annoying me), but I am really sick of this mindset that children are just “things” in relationships. If you willingly enter a relationship with someone who already has children, you DON’T GET TO START OVER. You don’t GET to have a new baby and say “those other kids don’t count. This is OUR baby. OUR new beginning” and move right along as if they don’t exist. (This isn’t just here, I’ve seen it ALL OVER these days)
There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t want a relationship with someone that already has children. Seriously, nothing wrong with that! To each their own. But, once you’ve decided to enter the relationship, you don’t get to decide when the kids don’t “fit” you anymore.
LW, The other mother doesn’t help. Sorry! Nothing you can do about that! This is the life YOU CHOSE. Lady-up and live in it!
dinoceros August 28, 2016, 6:49 pm
Exactly. I have a friend who married a man with two children whose mothers are not involved. Her biggest concern about that as their stepmom is that they might feel unwanted by their mother. She is not concerned about how busy that makes her because she CHOSE to be with their dad and therefore be the other parent. If she didn’t want that, she wouldn’t have married him.
Skyblossom August 26, 2016, 11:35 am
LW2 If you want a break send the boyfriend and his kids on a vacation and you stay home. You get to relax and unwind and get some extra sleep before the baby arrives and his kids get some time to bond with him and feel valued before the baby arrives. It’s a win for all of you. Your life will be much easier if his kids feel valued and wanted.
You would get to relax and his kids would, for once in their life, feel wanted and valued.
CurlyQue August 26, 2016, 1:08 pm
Andrea G August 26, 2016, 1:13 pm
LW1 – Says she did not start dating him because he was a lawyer and makes a decent living yet is upset that he’s not forking over more cash for her. If you started dating him with no expectations of benefiting from his money than why are you complaining about him not providing for you financially? He doesn’t own you anything. He’s your bf of 8 months. Even if he makes 3x more than you that doesn’t mean that he needs to cough up 3x more money for dates.
LW2 – You chose to date a man with kids, it’s a package deal. Those kids will be a part of your life forever. Remember they siblings to your soon to be born child.
SpaceySteph August 26, 2016, 1:31 pm
LW1 is pretty awful however, I would say that I do consider generosity an important trait. If he makes more money than her then it would be a kind and generous gesture to occasionally pay for dates when they go out.
Before anyone questions my feminism– I am on record on this site as being very pro-splitting checks and/or taking turns and do believe the woman should pay her own way. I don’t think LW1’s boyfriend is required to pay nor do I think that the LW is entitled to anything from him. But I do think that when there is an obvious income imbalance, the more well-off person occasionally picking up the check is a nice thing to do. If she made more than him, I’d say the same.
That said, expecting him to help with her schooling or other expenses is way out of line. Does she want a bf or a sugar daddy?
dinoceros August 26, 2016, 4:47 pm
LW1: It’s not his job to support you. Sure, if you are married or otherwise committed for the long haul, then as a couple, you might merge your finances and make decisions together. But that’s not the case right now. If you want to feel financially stable, then improve your finances.
LW2: Yeah, that’s not sole custody, unless they live alone when he’s not in their state. You’re essentially their stepmom. I don’t know if you’re planning to marry him, but you are raising a family and have a household with him, so it’s your job to help parent them. Your complaints imply that you think it’s optional for you to be involved in their lives. Welcome to parenthood. If you didn’t want three kids, then you shouldn’t have gotten involved with him. That’s not to say that you should have conversations about how to spread the workload, but you chose to go into a relationship with someone who has crazy work hours and has three kids who spend a lot of time in his care.
Rikki August 28, 2016, 7:21 am
LW1: Don’t put your financial independence on the hands of someone you have been dating for only 8 months who have dependents as priority, while your own daughter has to be taken care of. I fully believe when you say that him being a lawyer or being financially well off is not why you began dating but perhaps subconsciously your mind decided that his better financial health must oblige you too even if your intentions are perfectly in the right place. I suggest, look at this situation how you would have without this man in the picture. Would it be a right time to go to school now? Can you manage the baby and school and the expenses of it alone right now? Could an additional part time work be a better option?