“Why Would My Boyfriend of 12 Years Suddenly Dump Me For Another Woman?!”

Broken heart

I just got out of a twelve-year relationship (we were high school sweethearts) last September. I did everything I could to try and make things work. I was patient, understanding, forgiving, open, loyal, loving….. the list goes on. Anytime I tried to have a serious discussion, though, he would shut down like a child and play sleep or change the subject. He ended up cheating on me (again). He built a relationship on the side with a woman who is a known whore and has three kids. The woman even knew about me. Once he established this relationship with her he chose to mistreat me to the point that I blew up on him so he could use that as his excuse to not only break up with me, but also to do it through a text message. He then moved out of his parents’ home and into her house.

I want to know: why? Why would he leave me for that after all these years? I am a good, attractive, fun-loving, educated, and employed woman who just wanted the best for us so we could start planning a family. I wanted us to build a life together. Instead he took the easy way out and implanted himself in a ready-made situation. Why would a man do this and why would a woman willingly be a side piece until it was convenient for her to be his main woman?

On top of all of this, the woman he left me for is telling mutual associates that he is portraying himself as if he played my role in the relationship and I played his. How calculated and manipulative is that? He has people believing that he tried so hard, but in reality his priorities in life were cheating, hanging with the boys, alcohol, and drugs. I know I’m better off without him, but I still just can’t wrap my head around why he would do this. I don’t understand what I did wrong besides staying too long. — 12 Years to Broken=Hearted

You’re asking the wrong questions here. Instead of asking why your boyfriend would leave you after all these years when you are a good, attractive, fun-loving, educated, employed woman, who tried so hard to make the relationship work, you should be asking yourself why you would stay for twelve years with a man who prioritized cheating, hanging with his friends, and alcohol and drugs over you and who still lived at home (with seemingly no ambition to move out?) and who who shut down every time you tried to have a serious discussion with him about your relationship and your future. Why would you spend two years with a man like this, let alone twelve?

We know why your boyfriend treated you the way he did: He didn’t care about you. He stayed with you because he was too lazy to break up with you. He lied to you and cheated on you and avoided anything real with you because he simply didn’t care. His “side piece,” as you call her, has her own reasons for being involved with him, which very likely have as much to do with the lies he told her. (Probably along the lines of: “Baby, I’m gonna break up with her just as soon as I can. You gotta believe me. I don’t love her, but she’s making it real hard for me to break up with her. I have to play this the right way so she doesn’t give me too much drama, and then I’m all yours.”) The other woman heard this and waited. Why? Probably the same damn reason you stayed with this man for twelve years: Neither one of you believed/believes you can do better or deserve better and you’re afraid of being alone.

It really doesn’t matter why your boyfriend was so fast to move in with this other woman or why he didn’t break up with you sooner or why he never truly committed to a relationship with you when you tried so hard to make yours work. What matters is why you put up with his bullshit so long. What matters is making sure you don’t ever let that happen again. The first step is acknowledging that you should have moved on a long, long time ago. The next step is soul-searching and self-reflecting on why you didn’t. The third step is cultivating enough self-love and self-confidence that you believe you deserve better. The fourth step is believing that you can find better and making a commitment to yourself that you won’t settle for less than good and decent and loving ever again.

You can have the relationship and family you’ve been dreaming of. But it’s not going to be with your high school sweetheart. That’s good news, because he’s a tool. The better news is that you are free now and all that effort you’d been putting into a dead-end, soul-sucking relationship can be funneled into things that actually provide return on your investment: your friendships, your career, your hobbies, and, best of all, yourself. Love yourself the way you wished your boyfriend could love you. Be for yourself what he never was. A good relationship with yourself is the first and best step toward a great relationship with someone else.


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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. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    Absolutely, everything Wendy said.

    You are lucky he broke up with you. Lucky to be rid of him. It may not feel lucky now but at some point you will be glad you were forced to move on. Twelve years doesn’t always equal twelve good years. High school sweetheart doesn’t usually equal perfect life companion.

    Why did you put up with so much? Why didn’t you know how to break up? Why didn’t you see that you deserved more and could be much happier? You can ruin your life by not ending bad relationships. I hope that you’ve learned that lesson and can move on much more quickly in future relationships when you realize they aren’t working.

    I’m assuming you had some good years at the beginning so maybe about ten bad years. Why would you put up with a decade of bad is the only question you need to answer.

  2. artsygirl says:

    LW – I understand that you are panicking right now. Your ex was the only person you know – you have been together so long that your identity is completely enmeshed with him, but as Wendy said, the length of a relationship does not mean it was healthy or happy. You are likely in your late 20s or early 30s so this is a time to try to refocus on who YOU are. Do things that make you happy, try dating casually to confirm what you want in a life partner. Also, don’t blame the other woman on this situation. Your BF cheated on you and while she might have multiple children (even by multiple men) that does not mean she is a whore. You know nothing about her life and I know it is easier to lash out at the person you were not in love with, but you BF was the one that ultimately did wrong.

  3. WWS x 100. Best of luck to you OP

  4. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    Outstanding advice, Wendy! (Per usual.)
    LW- most of us learned after a couple/few times (ie not-so-good relationships) that no amount of love, support, “being a good wifey-ness,” etc. will make a man treat you well and love you in the way you deserve to be loved. Here, you just kept persevering, in the hopes that one day he was just going to wake up and see what a “catch” you are and treat you like a goddess or whatever. Well… no dice, huh? That is rom-com BS. A good guy- one that fits well/matches well/whatever, will know from the beginning- as you will- that your relationship is one to cherish and you both act accordingly. None of this “fighting for our love” crap- when you find a great guy AND HE FEELS THE SAME WAY (this part is key- hence the caps), things just work better. Aim Higher, because you deserve it.
    Also, dont call other women whores- that is not a good look. Ever.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      This +1000. Being nice doesn’t mean he’ll realize what a catch you are. Allowing yourself to be the nurturing doormat still means your a doormat. Figure out why you would settle for someone who would treat you so shabbily for so long. Be better to yourself. Aim higher.

  5. I remember being in my early twenties and thinking if you put your all in, then the relationship would have to work, and if I didn’t try to hold it together, then that year or whatever would be wasted. I suspect you fell in that trap, and weren’t lucky like me to have the guy break it off before it reached twelve years of ridiculousness. That guy is a douche, and I suspect all those things you list about yourself as pluses I’m sure he saw as minuses, because as a mommy loving man boy he’d never be able to keep up. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished with your education and career, and start building your own life that revolves around your likes and your needs. Once your comfortable in your own skin, then you can start looking for someone who is more on your level.

  6. “Known whore”

    I just can’t.

    1. LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      I’m with you. Clearly she’s not any better than this woman she has so much disdain for.

      1. Frankly I think letter that include such derogatory language should not be fit for publishing, at least as a letter to be taken seriously. What if someone had written a letter using the N word, or other slurs? Would that person receive a response to their letter that basically ignores such gross language?

      2. Northern Star says:

        Is she screwing someone else’s boyfriend? In my world, ugly words in the heat of the moment are far less harmful than deliberate choices that hurt other people.

        Regardless, the LW doesn’t need to spend her time pondering the mistress. The woman has “gained” a total loser, and that’s the best revenge anyway.

    2. The only way a woman is a “known whore” is if she has sex for money…and even then I’d use the term “prostitute”. I understand the LW is bitter, but geez.

  7. dinoceros says:

    Exactly what Wendy said. Why does anyone dump anyone? There’s a multitude of reasons. People dump people all the time. If someone is as terrible as he is, they shouldn’t be the one dumping you.

    Also, do you mean that she actually is a prostitute? Because that’s what a “known whore” is. Not someone who has more sex than you think is OK or has more kids than you think is OK.

  8. Just take this as a sign, he did something for you, that you should have done years ago. Take it and run to somebody who will treat you better.

  9. “a woman who is a known whore”

    While I don’t know the full story, maybe one of the reasons he left you because you say vile, judgmental things about other people????

    1. Northern Star says:

      I really, really doubt it. Her ex doesn’t respect women at all. Why would he care if she gets frustrated and lashes out at his mistress?

    2. juliecatharine says:

      That turn of phrase stuck out to me as well–it’s ugly and not at all nice. However, I think we’ve all been/known someone similar to the LW so I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt that her trashy boyfriend has shacked up with someone similarly trashy and she’s bitter about it.

      1. dinoceros says:

        I think an important thing to LWs to learn is just that it doesn’t really matter who your partner goes off with. What the other woman does in her life isn’t really the LWs’ business. It deflects from the real issue. If a guy left for someone that everyone thinks is super upstanding, it doesn’t really change the outcome.

    3. Yeah that was sarcasm. I don’t actually think he left her for that reason- he sounds like a pretty terrible person as well. However, even if you’re hurt, calling other women whores is pretty vile, and is never okay.

  10. You were the only one trying to make your relationship work. You were trying so VERY hard that you wouldn’t let yourself notice that he wasn’t trying at all. It is impossible to make a failing relationship work by trying super, super hard and being super, super sweet, helpful, and good. Frankly, that is only interpreted as needy and pathetic. Someone who refuses to stand up for herself and demand reciprocity in a relationship is seldom attractive long term.

    Unless she has a conviction for prostitution or you know personally of men who have paid her for sex, this other woman is not a known whore. If such proof does not exist, then this is just another aspect of your goody-good, church-lady outlook on life and relationships. Some men are attracted to that. Quite a few are not. It seems you liked this guy in part because he was a bad boy. Those two approaches seldom mesh long term. What you were for him was a safe home base from which to cheat with other women.

    You do seem to suffer from low self-esteem in clinging to this bad relationship as if you would literally die if this guy left you.

    1. Really, you have fallen totally, to the point of complete obsession, with the meme that your good, pure, self-sacrificing love is so strong that it can redeem a guy who lives for alcohol, drugs, cheating with multiple women and is so lacking in ambition that at about 30 he happily lived with his parents, until he could find another woman with whom to leech housing.

      From your letter, it is clear that you would take this bad boy back tomorrow, if he left his ‘known whore’ and asked your forgiveness. You need a therapist to figure out why you think in such a warped fashion.

  11. Yeah, absolutely. This man sounds like a loser. No ambition. You are worth more than that.

    1. Perhaps. Clearly she doesn’t think so.

  12. juliecatharine says:

    WW&EES. LW, you dodged a bullet. Now you have to build your own life. I would really recommend a stint in therapy to figure out why you would settle for such a dbag. Turn all of that wasted time into a life lesson that you never forget. You sound like a person who treats other people well–you deserve to be with someone who treats you well. Get to a place where you are certain of that and the rest will follow.

  13. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh, the MORE people rail on and on about what a fabulously amazing and blameless partner they were — the less I believe them. PS — Branding the other woman “a known whore” is not exactly helping to strengthen your woe/wonderful is me arguements. It’s all so stereotypical. Such a cliche’ed response. So much so it makes you “a known bore” in which (surprise, surprise!) you have your answer as to why he left…

    1. Avatar photo Crochet.Ninja says:

      i’m gonna have to side with bgm here.. she went on and on about how wonderful she was.. makes her more suspect.

    2. This reply made me smile. Thanks bgm.

  14. Also, dont call other women whores, no matter what you think you know.

  15. Yeah, quit the victim position and it will be easier for you to deal with this sad event. It was a long time, but almost everybody experiences a break up. In all couples, each partner plays a role, you have necessarily your own part in the relationship’s dysfunctions, perhaps in your conviction that you are always right, that you are a perfect partner – and for sure in your persistence to date a bad boyfriend. His accusations about you are an obvious defense against his guilt feeling. Don’t trash his reputation back: just say that you are hurt but you want to move on, and your group will understand your position. Embrace your future with a better man.

  16. Post-scriptum: and maybe he did try in his own way, at least in staying for a long time in a relationship that wasn’t fulfilling anymore in his perspective, who knows… Anyway, it is very easy for him to charge his ex with all the problems he was stuck in before the break up. Classic… Everybody knows that, so don’t worry about what others think. And move on.

  17. “I was patient, understanding, forgiving, open, loyal, loving….. the list goes on”

    ” I am a good, attractive, fun-loving, educated, and employed woman”

    She seems to have a super-inflated opinion of herself and her opinion for a woman who has spent all this time with a guy who “n reality his priorities in life were cheating, hanging with the boys, alcohol, and drugs. ”

    So she is damned near the perfect woman in her own mind, but has such low self-esteem that she is clinging to this guy and continues to do so, even after he ran off with a ‘known whore’.

    She says she knows she is better off without him, but has written in, because she remains desperate to get him back.

    Who is the loser? Probably all three! She sure is judgmental and feels vastly superior to the guy she has deigned to spend 12 years with.

  18. The “why” is because he took you for granted, knowing he could do whatever he wants but you would continue to try so hard to make it work and never leave. You fell in a cycle where he would treat you badly and then just watch you try even harder to save the relationship. And once you fall into an unhealthy cycle in a long relationship, it can be difficult to break. And even though he was the “bad” one, getting out of that cycle was probably appealing to him too — at the end of the day it was a bad relationship that was bad for both of you. He probably was taking you for granted and lost respect for you for putting up with all his crap, and maybe even wanted to be better but was so caught in a cycle of treating you badly that he didn’t feel he could just snap out of it. Moving on to someone else was just easier.

    Anyway, it’s understandable to be hurt even though you know he treated you poorly. You feel like you’re caught in this whole story of how awful it was and what he did to you, and all the dramatics of the other woman, etc. You’re getting caught up in the “whys” and replaying everything and it’s confusing. But in order to move on, you should stop comparing yourself to the other woman, stop listening to people tell you rumors about what he’s saying, and try to avoid hearing about what he’s doing. Stop making it about all that. What happened in your relationship and why it failed can be separate from what he’s doing now. Tell yourself the story that matters: you stuck it out too long because you had gotten together so young, you put up with way too much, and he did you a favor by ending it when it wasn’t working. The longer you tell that simple version to yourself and others who ask, the easier it will get to swallow the whole thing.

  19. anonymousse says:

    You lost me at “known whore.”

    1. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

      Yeah, I had the same reaction.

    2. Me too. It’s a way to make it the other woman’s fault, though. “I know he loves me and never would have cheated if that whore hadn’t seduced him.” It’s said by women who aren’t yet ready to admit that the guy didn’t give a rat’s ass about them.

      1. anonymousse says:

        It’s just gross.
        Also, Jesus hung out with whores. Just saying.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Known whores?

      3. anonymousse says:

        Yep, known ones. Lol. How are you doing, RR?

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Thanks for asking! Doing a lot better actually. Finally my daughter has learned to sleep at night, and to nap. Last week was a turning point for us. You know what really helped? Probiotics! I think a lot of the problem was that her stomach was hurting. She used to cry when she pooped or when she tried to pass gas. Not just crying, but little screams of what seemed like pain. 🙁 And now with the probiotics she’s much calmer. So, things are going well. And she’s started sleeping through the night! Went from doing 1-2 hours at a time, to 5 then 6 then 7, in the space of a week! 🙂 It was a brutal first couple of months, but I’m hoping it’ll settle down into a schedule now and I can catch up on some sleep and enjoy being with her. 🙂

      5. anonymousse says:

        That’s great. Enjoy the sleep!

  20. “Why would he leave me for that after all these years? I am a good, attractive, fun-loving, educated, and employed woman who just wanted the best for us so we could start planning a family. I wanted us to build a life together.”

    I really wish some women would lose the delusion that just because they’ve done a lot for their partner, or worked hard at the relationship, they’re owed love, as some sort of payment in kind. Or marriage. Or babies.

    LW, the bottom line here is, he left because he liked her better than you. And no matter how educated or employed or pretty you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re not the right woman for him. You aren’t. Just being educated and employed and fun-loving doesn’t make you automatically irresistible to all men, or superior to women who aren’t educated or employed (that attitude sucks big time, and isn’t going to help you in life, btw).

    Now that you’ve dodged the bullet with this guy, think a bit about why you wanted to start a family with him. You described him as caring more about alcohol and drugs than you, and as a cheater. Do you really think he’s a fit parent? He’s really the very best man you could find to raise children with?

  21. I think Wendy gave good advice. I understand and to an extent agree with all the commentators taking the letter writer to task for using the term “known whore”.

    It’s confusing. Some people use the word “whore” to describe a person (usually woman) with loose sexuality and some people use it to describe a person with loose morals (usually involving fidelity). There is really no good use for the word. Even if the letter writer is mad at cheaters in general. It reminds me of the way some girls treated each other in high school….

    Hopefully, the letter writer will ultimately choose a better life for herself moving forward.

  22. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    I think you’re reeling and maybe embarrassed because he chose the “less desirable” woman over you and you can’t figure out how any guy could do that.

    “I am a good, attractive, fun-loving, educated, and employed woman who just wanted the best for us so we could start planning a family. I wanted us to build a life together.”

    Unfortunately, there is no we in the wanting you listed above. It is what you wanted but you don’t include what he wanted. It will never work in any relationship to have the relationship goals be wanted by only one person. The two of you didn’t have a shared vision or shared wants. You wanted the best for the two of you. I’m assuming the best was determined by you with no input from him. You wanted to start planning a family. Again, no mention of him wanting one. You wanted to build a life together. Again, the we is missing and if you haven’t built a life together after twelve years you can assume you won’t.

    I’m guessing you made all the choices for the relationship and you had your vision and anything that didn’t match your vision wasn’t good or worth pursuing and finally he had enough of that and moved on to someone who might listen to his hopes and dreams and wants and desires.

    When you are ready for another relationship try to make sure it is of two equals. Make sure it is with someone who shares your goals and dreams. Make sure the two of you make decisions together.

  23. First off this is him…that is not me saying those remarks..secondly if you chose who I think chose for your fresh start..im just good. Btw I’ll take the old place in sure youll get your backup place you talked about well talk..

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