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Dear Guys,

I was dating a man for over a year. He is very active in his teenage son’s life, which I think is wonderful. My problem was his relationship with his ex-wife. She wanted to car pool, have him watch her dog, etc. She always called asking him for favors when he was supposed to be going out with me.

I always came last. He gave me flowers once, but then told me what his ex-wife said when he gave her the same ones. He seems to not care about my feelings. We broke up when I tried to talk to him about how I felt.

Should I have no say in my own relationship? He should put his son ahead of me, but the ex and the dog???



Dear Lisa,

Thanks for your question.

We can see why you were so frustrated being with this man and why you ultimately broke up with him.

The dating world is vastly more complex than it used to be. When you factor in ex-spouses, kids from previous marriages, and joint ownership of material things—houses, cars, boats, even dogs—relationships get to be very difficult to navigate.

When people have kids from a previous relationship it is their duty to figure out the best way to care for the kids, even if they have irreconcilable differences themselves. This often means being in frequent contact and sometimes even doing things as a “family.” (We realize this might sound odd, but maintaining an amicable relationship with an ex is a key ingredient to raising emotionally healthy children.) And there is no correct formula for doing this.

However, your guy is overdoing it. The two of them are still emotionally dependent on each other. Their contact should be limited to raising their kids together not helping with chores or other such things that couples do for each other.

We think you have a pretty healthy perspective on the situation, and understand that yes, you do come second behind his child, at least until the boy is old enough to be on his own. (And maybe even then too.) But your guy should still make your relationship a priority and show you how much he cares for you, and how much he values the relationship. It sounds to us like your guy is not ready to be in a relationship with anyone yet. Well, besides his ex.

We hope this helps give you some perspective. And yes, you should have a say in your own relationship.


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