Boyfriend and his ex-wife (No boundaries)

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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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18 Comments on Boyfriend and his ex-wife (No boundaries)

  1. Donation made!!!

    So, about six months ago I started dating this guy that I met off of a dating website. He is 29 and I am 26. When we met we both were in the process of a divorce, mine being finalized last month. He is still on the process of finishing his divorce as he and his ex can not reach an agreement. Within the first six weeks of us dating he slept with another woman. I found out, confronted him about it and we had the talk about becoming exclusive with each other. For about a month or monh and a half after we became exclusive things were fine. But around the 4 th month he started to seem a bit distant. We talked and he advised he thought he needed to be alone because he is confused about what he wants in his life at the time. We didn’t see each other for about three days but remained in touch. After about four days we were right back to hanging out with each other everyday and spending every night at each others houses. Since then he took me to meet a few more of his friends and went out of town with me to meet my grandparents and dad. About a week after we came back I found out that he had slept with his ex wife a few days after we returned from out of town. I confronted him about it and he admitted that he is still attracted to her and throughout it would be best if he no longer had contact with her. Well, he stayed in contact with her. Again I spoke with him about him and his ex and he told me he was not sure if he is even over her and whether or not now is the right time for him to be involved in a committed relationship. Since then we have been in contact daily and have gone out to do things together and spent the night at each others houses. He still calls me baby and shows me affection when we are together. I am confused as to what I should do. I don’t know if I should drop off of his radar and let him come to me or if I should talk to him and let him know how I feel. This whole thing is killing me. I love him, even though we have not come to the I love you point, I do. We get along great and honestly we!
    are bot
    h so happy when we are together. I have never clicked with anyone like I have with him and now all of a sudden the perfect relationship (sleeping with others aside) is done. I know this sounds like a mo brainer because he’s slept with others but the thing is that I understand where he is coming from. We were both in similar situations and I understand how he feels, that’s why I am not angry with him. I want to be back with him but I am afraid that me no longer talking to him will make it easier for him to forget about me . Should I be the one he can always come to when he needs someone or should I let him flounder and figure out that I was a great person to have around? He tells me that he cares about me and that our relationship was he best he’s ever been in but he didn’t think it’s fair for him to be with me when he is confused. Do I try to be his friend or do I walk away??

  2. @Brianne…..Thanks again for your donation. Now to your question. Typically, the last thing a guy wants when he gets divorced is to jump back into another serious relationship. He wants freedom. He wants to be able to live life at his own pace, and be a little selfish. Your guy is exhibiting all of the typical behaviors, including his sleeping around. But there are two things that are worrisome. 1. We understand why he wants to sleep around, but if so, he should NOT be trying to commit to you. Yes, he says he’s confused, and he’s lucky that you’ve forgiven him, but in our minds this is a red-flag. It shows that he’s not very in touch with himself enough to know that what his needs are, or that he’s okay with ignoring these needs in order to sleep with you. 2. He still has feelings for his soon-to-be-ex. That may be the most troublesome aspect of your situation. Not only does he still have feelings for her, but he feels he can sleep with her whenever he wants because they are still “together.” If she has feelings for him too, their separation—at least emotional separation—may take a long time. Honestly Brianne, we don’t see this guy being emotionally available for quite some time. Do you want to wait around for him, as he plays the field, and does he what he pleases for possibly years to come? We don’t doubt that he cares for you. But he’s torn. He needs time to sort out what he wants. This is going to take some time. We think your best served by staying in touch with him, but maybe taking a break from the physical intimacy for a bit, at least until his divorce is final and he’s completely separated from his wife. Then after that it’s going to be a wait-and-see. We wish we could guarantee a positive outcome, but this could go anyway. Just be careful not to settle. Maybe he’s a breath of fresh air, and different than your ex-husband, but trust and commitment are huge components of any relationship. If those aren’t there, the rest will fall away slowly. Your thoughts? Let us know if you have more questions. Ask away and we’ll keep the conversation going here.

  3. Thanks for your response! There’s so many details about why he feels the way he does. One, he and his ex were together for 8 years. Two they are both catholic and were married through the church and in gods eyes they will always be together. He has expressed his anxiety over that. Three he still cares for his ex and they have talked about getting back together but can not make it work because they do nothing but fight when they see each other. I know she still cares for him but it seems like she was pushing Jim the most when we were together and wanted to be with him and now that we are not together she no longer wants to be with him. He knows it will not work and is honest with me about how he is feeling and anything that has happened. What am I to him at this point? The one he wants to be with but can’t because of his conflicted feelings or the best friend he needs? We were totally inseparable when we were together and when we see each other we spend hours if not he night together because neither or us wants to leave. He calls and we talk on the phone for a couple of hours and text throughout the day and make plans for stuff to do together. I do not show him any affection like I did when we were together but he will caress my hair, kiss my forehead, touch my arm and whatever else he feels like doing. We are not having sex with each other. When we are together I almost feel like we are together or like the chances of us getting back together are very likely. My biggest dilemma is, if I want him to come back to me someday do I hang around like I am now and be supportive or does that throw me into the friend zone with no point of return?? I wouldn’t waste my time of I didn’t think that this was something that is totally worth the frustration or the wait or am I just being weak?

  4. @Brianne…We don’t think you’re being weak. Not at all. You seem like you’re proceeding forward with your eyes wide open. Good for you. Yes, we can see how complicated his marriage/divorce/relationship is. Of course it always is! We have the same worry you have. That you’re someone he can lean on as he’s going through a rough time, but that he’ll forever see you as just a friend, rather than a potential partner. So tell us honestly: is there a lot of physical attraction between the two of you? For you? For him? And have you talked to him about what you really want? (A serious relationship with him.) Fill us in and we’ll offer some more feedback. (We’re off to a meeting until later.)

  5. I am physically attracted to him. I can’t say for sure exactly how he feels, he’s told me he is physically attracted to me. But, This whole relationship has never be about sex. It was like either way were happy whether or not we were having sex. In the first couple months of course we were having sex more often but not as much as you would think a new couple would be. It was maybe once a week maybe more. But I think a lot of it had to do with our conflicting schedules with work and when we were together we were always on the go. We always had something planned and stayed up as late as we could just so we could enjoy our time together. It was shortly after we became official that the frequency of sex dropped. He’s admitted that his ex pressuring him to get back together took a toll on him an stressed him out and made him not feel like having sex. It seems like things were perfect until she stuck her nose in our relationship and guilt tripped him. Now he seems to be all confused. I mean sex was pretty freaking great whoever we had sex and it often lasted for hours.

    Yes, I have told him that I want to be with him and that I will be here for him no matter what. He’s made comments to me like, we aren’t married yet or has hinted to this relationship going further than us just dating. I was supposed to go home with him in December to visit his family for three weeks, to me that means something. Heck, his mom even has my phone number and we text every once in a while. I just don’t get it because he pursued me. I wasn’t sure at first if he was someone I could be with but once I got to know him I was totally hooked. Now I feel like I am the one pursuing him. We both share similar goals in life and work to motivate each other whether it be working out, school, learning new things together and experiencing new things with each other. He also is in the process of applying for a job that could’ve him out of state. I’d say within he first three weeks of us dating he asked me to go with him if he moved. I told him I would, of course depending on where we were with our relationship. I think that’s another thing, the possibility of him moving. I don’t want him to move but I have been supportive in this whole process and have been there with him for every step cheering him on. So he knows I’m serious about him, I don’t think there is any question to that.
    Btw he still has keys to my house. He was supposed to drop them off after we split and I have seen him since then but he still has them. I don’t want to ask for them again because I guess I am hopeful that it means something, maybe he knows he can come whenever he would like and I am welcoming to it? It’s a mess I know. One day I feel okay with everything and another I feel like I’m not play with it and get angry because I feel like what he is doing is not fair to me. He knows I care about him and I’m sure he has figured out that it hurts me. I just wonder if it hurts him at all…

  6. @Brianne……The reason we asked you about the physical aspect of your relationship was to gauge how much attraction he’s feeling. If a guy is really attracted to a woman, he’s usually more willing to compromise, or change the course of his life even, to include her. We’re also factoring in his past behavior and the fact that he cheated on you twice already. “Why” he cheated almost bothers us more than the fact that he cheated. Only because of how his mindset may impact your future together. And that’s what we’re trying to figure out. What his mindset is. Here are three options. 1. He loves you very much, but he’s not sure to what extent —love or in love; much based on physical attraction—and that’s why he’s strayed a few times, and that’s why he’s saying he’s confused. 2. He loves you and there’s no issue at all, and he’s just in a confusing place right now in his life. 3. He thought he wanted a relationship with you, but decided early on that he sees you as his very close friend. Of course you would know better than us about this part of your relationship. Our gut tells us if you continue to be his complete support he’s going to start seeing you that way. We still think you need to talk with him about how you feel. Are you afraid to do that? When’s the last time you talked to him about your feelings and what you want? And has he asked you to move with him lately or just at the beginning of your relationship?

  7. It was around the beginning of the relationship when he asked me to move in with him. I turned down his offer and told him that I didn’t think it was the right time for us to do something like that. I’ve also voiced my opinion about living together before being married and that statistically people who love together before getting married usually end up divorced and that I would like to try things differently this time around. With everything, I believe he cares about me but I think he is totally confused. I almost feel like things will be great once he works through his issues and figures out his life. It seems like he does not want to lose me from his life as he is the one whom initiates planning for us to do things together. Maybe I’m just being hopeful but it doesn’t feel like I’m just his friend right now.

  8. @Brianne…….So trust your gut. If it seems to be “working” well enough right now then keep doing what you’re doing. Yes, he’s got a lot to figure out. If he truly wants to be with you, one way or another, he’ll try to make that happen. Which means, the best thing to do is do what you’re feeling. In fact, that’s all you can do if you want to be with him. Then he has to figure out what he wants. But be prepared. This is a long road and it may not work out the way you want. (We’re just sayin’) Please keep us informed and ask as many follow-up questions as you’d like. Take care. And thanks for sharing our site with friends. We appreciate it. Twitter: @TGPBuzz

  9. @Brianne, if you dont mind me giving my opinion…I was in almost the same position. I found an amazing guy on a website and we hit it off immediately. We had great sex and enjoyed spending time together, and i had completely fallen for him. Well, all of a sudden he pulled back, started getting annoyed and angry with me. Then he ended up just telling me he thought I was great and that he’d call me later. He never called me. I tried to get him to man up and break up with me like a real man, but he had his NEW gf call me and tell me to leave me alone. Come to find out, a few months later they broke up because he was texting his exwife and telling her that he missed and loved her. So i have definitly learned my lesson. I don’t hate him, don’t have any negative feelings towards him. He was not ready for a relationship and i was his support for the tough issues (he found out he wasnt the biological dad of his youngest son). I still see his family quite often, because of the job i do, and they are always super nice to me. Its a hard lesson to learn, but one that i wont forget.

  10. Ok i have waited a long time to ask this… I have been with the love of my life for 2 1/2 years now. we have lived together that long also. We both have kids with our ex spouses. he has three and i have two. Now i will state that i have known him and his ex wife for 12 years now. when he left her later we got together. his ex was happy that me and him got together as she knows i love her kids and will treat them as my own. me and my ex husband dont get along well at all. but anyways heres the point. even though i am not worried one bit that he would leave me for his ex, they talk every day, and not just small conversations. sometimes its about the kids and alot of times its just bull==== around. he dont hide it from me at all. iv never said anything because although it bugs me i am glad they get along for the kids. four months ago she took the kids and moved 10 hours away. so he did not really see them at all. then they started talking hours at a time everyday. we all get along. me and her also. so still i say nothing. so now she wanted to move back so we take the trip down to get her and the kids and i drive the long drive with me and her….odd… yes. so now she has no where to go and my boyfriends mom said she can move in with them… ok whatever none of my bussenss. then 3 days later she calls my boyfrind sayn his dad is mad at her for not unpacking her boxes from the livingroom. thats her problem right? well he goes right over there and has words with his dad and then his dad gets made and kicks his ex out! so now my boyfrind and his ex are at my house wondring what to do. if she should stay with us!!! my thing is do i go with the flow and chill out or do i put my foot down on something that might be ok and im just being silly. im so lost there alot more just to much to keep going on… plz respond before i go off when i shouldnt… thank you so much

  11. Is it ok for my boyfriend to tell his ex wife everything ?

  12. @Shasa……Depends on a lot of things. How long have you been together? If you just started dating, or just became exclusive, and she happens to be just a really close friend to him now, then sure, we can see how he might confide in her. That said, if the two of you have been together for a while and you feel uncomfortable with their relationship, and he seems to be going over the line, then no, it’s not okay for him to tell her everything. He shouldn’t be going over the line with any friend, especially a female friend. He should be more understanding of how you might feel, or how you do feel. That’s the biggest issue here. If you want a more detailed answer you might want to consider submitting a question using the General Question form on our site. Or if you want a guaranteed private response, you might want to choose the Private Question option for a small fee.

  13. Rebecca // May 15, 2019 at 6:10 pm //

    I’ve been dating a guy for 3 yrs now, who has children with his ex. Their children are young adults at this point. His ex calls him not only about the kids, but randomly such as figuring out how to fix a door that broke and what she should do or call to get information about something she needs help with. More recently she randomly sent him a picture of her dog that he was attached to apparently. He tells me that I’m crazy and need to get over it, but I feel it’s disrespectful. Am I looking at it the wrong way? He tells me he has no control of why she calls or what she texts him and says he doesn’t care. I think it’s inappropriate. I think he needs to set boundaries. Am I being childish?

  14. @Rebecca…..You can’t help how you feel. What he doesn’t realize is that you’re not upset at her, you’re upset at him for not acknowledging and considering your feelings. His response that you’re crazy is not helpful and frankly, somewhat disrespectful. However, we don’t see the situation changing. Do you? That said, is he a good boyfriend? Do you trust him? Is he loyal to you? Does he treat you right? Maybe that should be your focus? (Question: What’s your relationship background? Divorced? Kids?)

  15. In response to your comment to Rebecca my bf and I have been together for 6 1/2 years. His children are adults now in the their early to late 20s. He has two. His ex that he was with for about 6 years to but haven’t been together for probably 10 or more years still calls him to fix her car or other favors. It bugs me and I have told him that is disrespectful to me but he says that it is still his child’s mom and he sees nothing wrong. He is a good boyfriend. Not sure if he has cheated but I don’t consider him being loyal to me if he still talks to her. Now what ?

  16. @Vicky…..Sounds like he has no plans of changing. Is that a fair statement? So now what you ask? You have to decide if the good outweighs this issue. Does it? If you feel he’s a solid boyfriend, loyal, loving, kind, generous, then maybe you just chalk it up to a small annoyance that you have to deal with. If the good doesn’t outweigh this issue, or you’re feeling like this is bugging you to the point where you don’t know if you can deal, then you need to have a heart-to-heart with him and tell him where you stand. Be aware, if you go this route, the situation could implode. That said, we agree with you. He no longer owes her anything and we don’t see the point. Sounds like he gets something from it. Meaning it makes him feel good, so it’s more than just helping her out. What do you think?

  17. Hey just went through this for three years my live in bf was so attached to his ex wife and she lived three thousands miles away he was not treating me right he was very lazy never met a man that never wanted to do nothing just watch tv I think he is very depressed he has been divorced fourteen years took his ex on vacations shared the same hotel room and he thought nothing about my feelings and he lied to me all the time she would call him when I went out text everyday never about their teenagers so I moved out cause to me this man is to broken to fix and in the end it really hurt me now I’m at peace more relaxed I will never understand his devotions to his ex they were married only five years one day I will understand I guess but stay away from broken men they cannot be fixed

  18. @Holly….Thanks for sharing your story. Take care.

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