Beautiful Ally is sad and heartbroken, wondering how her boyfriend of 6 months could let her go so easily.
Here's her story:
I'm an avid reader of your site and your advice has helped me before. I recently ended my relationship and I am having a hard time dealing with it. I feel like I made the right decision but I'm still hurting and confused.
A little background:
I met my boyfriend about 6 months ago.
I was out with a friend and he approached me. I initially was not all that interested but after a lengthy conversation I realized that there was some chemistry. He told me he was getting divorced (after 15 years of marriage), he had been separated over a year (has his own apartment and she has the house) and was moving forward with his life.
He was attractive, very smart and had a great job. I felt like we had a lot in common as I too am intelligent and successful. I have a great job, no kids and never married. He's 40 and I'm 43. He has two young children from his marriage ages 4 and 6.
He asked me for my number and I gave it to him. Only after he raised his phone to put in my number did I see he was still wearing his wedding ring. I know- red flag number one.
I asked about it and he said it was just habit, that he wears it for the kids and that honestly he wasn't out looking for someone to date but just happened to meet me and hit it off.
We went on a date the next day.
We had a lot of fun and I could see that he could be someone I could really fall for. I asked him more about his divorce. Where he was at as far as filing etc. What he told me was very upsetting.
Even though they had been separated over a year they didn't even have an attorney. They were trying to do an amicable dissolution. This made no sense to me. He said they both decided to divorce because they fought all the time and were no longer in love with each other, but wanted to keep it civil for the kids.
The next day after thinking about the situation, I told him that I was uncomfortable getting into the middle of his situation and it didn't make sense to me why there was no attorney involved. I told him I was uncomfortable and thought it best I stay out of it.
I'm 43, free, no baggage. I am ready to have a relationship and find love. I know what I want and I didn't see him being able to give me that. Not in his current situation. He was disappointed but accepted my decision.
Fast forward one month.
After having no contact he suddenly reaches out to me again and asked if I wanted to get a drink sometime. His situation had moved along, they now had an attorney and it seemed things were actually progressing. So I agreed to meet him.
We spent the entire day together and had a great night. He explained they were using the same attorney (which I found odd) and trying to do a dissolution. He said she would want one thing and then he'd disagree and vice versa. There was a lot of going back and forth. Again the goal was to put the children first and remain civil.
Still nothing official had been filed - no temporary child custody agreement, no separation agreement and he was still giving her an obscene amount of money every month just to maintain her lifestyle and keep the kids happy.
So we started dating.
Let me preface this with the fact that I NEVER expected to come before his kids. Ever. In fact I loved that he was a good father and supportive of him having a good relationship with his wife for his kids and I told him this.
Initially everything was good and I was happy. But then I noticed a pattern.
Whenever I was with him his wife would call/text/facetime. It was ridiculous. She would call and keep calling until he answered. She would do this late at night when we were together and first thing in the morning.
Sometimes it had to do with the kids (never an emergency though and honestly things she could wait to talk about) and other times it was her wanting to know where he was and what he was doing.
I asked him if he would answer her calls if I wasn't there and he said he would.
He was never able to make plans with me in advance. I only saw him when either 1) He first cleared it with her - as in asking if he needed to get the kids that night or 2) After he dropped them off at her house - so I wouldn't see him until 8 - 9:00 at night.
It was always last minute. He would ask me literally the evening of if he could see me. And this was through the week.
I never saw him on weekends because he had his kids every weekend. There was no boundaries with her - just constant calls and texting. No written parenting agreement and just last minute can you get the kids, they're driving me crazy kind of stuff. She always did this to him. He never did it to her.
He works she does not - yet he would still go to her house every morning and take the kids to school. Often times he would go back later in the day to pick them up too. On nights he did not have them at his place he would go to her house to put them to bed.
I literally never knew when I would be seeing him again after I left because he never knew when he would have his kids until the day of. I'd ask him "so when am I seeing you again?" and he would say "I don't know but soon."
One Saturday early into the relationship we made plans because he did not have his kids.
I was at his apartment and she started calling.
Calling, calling, calling.
When he didn't answer she sent him texts that he better get his kids in the next 15 minutes or he'd regret it. He ended up cancelling our plans and saying sorry he had to get his kids.
I was done. I had had it. I told him I couldn't do it anymore.
He texted me later in the day and told me that he had had a talk with her and had told her about me. I guess she was dating someone too. He said he told her so that he could start establishing boundaries with her.
Stupidly I thought that things may change now that she was involved with someone and since she knew about me.
I will quickly summarize the last 4 months of the relationship because to go into detail would take forever. I never met his kids - he wanted me to meet the wife first (which I agreed with) and in fact she had offered to meet me but he was not ready for that yet. Her boyfriend did not stick around long. I feel he ended it with her because of all the issues we were dealing with.
So to summarize:
The calls/facetiming/texting did not stop. She continued to call late at night and early morning. He would not take her calls in front of me and would leave to walk the dog so he could call her back.
I believe there were literally 3 times we actually had a date night where we went out to dinner. He had called her beforehand asking if he needed to get the kids that night and she said no. Then while we were at dinner she would call asking him to pick them up. When he told her no she would flip out. She started blaming me saying our relationship was affecting their children.
Outside of date nights which happened rarely, I was only seeing him through the week after he dropped the kids off at her house or after he stopped by to say goodnight - so usually after 9 PM.
When he had his kids or was at her house, his communication with me drastically dropped. He would have them all weekend and I would go the entire day not hearing from him.
For his birthday he told me he was spending it with his kids - which, of course, I was fine with. Only to find out that he ended up going over to her house to grill out and spend it together like a family.
He still would visit with his in-laws, taking the kids to their pool and his brother-in-law's house. He claimed she wasn't there but I really do not know.
They both constantly said even though they were divorcing "they were choosing to remain a family." The plans for the holidays were to spend it together with her family. I know that was for Thanksgiving and X-mas and likely NYE
There still was no advancement in the divorce, nothing filed. I started to wonder if they were even getting a divorce. They essentially were acting as if they were still married other than not living together and not having sex (I assume.)
He kept pictures of her out in his apartment. For example he was using a mouse pad that was a selfie of just the 2 of them.
There were framed pictures of just her and them together in the bedroom that he said he had there for the kids. He would put those away when he knew I was coming over but left the mouse pad out. He had her in his phone as a cute pet-name he had given her when they were still married- not her real name.
So why did I finally end it?
After a great night together she had began texting him and facetiming him the following morning. He did not answer and said he was going to walk the dog. Of course I knew he was calling her.
After he had been gone for some time I had texted him and asked him if I should leave. He said no he was getting them breakfast. So he just took off without telling me, went to her house to take the kids to school and was getting her breakfast on the way. I was angry to say the least.
So I did something I'm not proud of. He had left his smart watch and I read through their text messages. They were texting all day everyday. Most of it was her yelling and berating him for something. That she's so done with him, threatening to tell her lawyer things regarding him as a father etc.
Her complaining that when he was at her house dropping the kids off how she had made him dinner and he wasn't appreciative.
It was constant.
I could not understand why she was so angry. One message she said after their divorce maybe they could all move to California together and live together since he can't afford two separate houses. He did not reply to that.
But what upset me was how he handled it.
He was trying to be nice, calling her by her pet-name, asking why she is so mad. Being sweet and telling her to go back to bed and he would get the kids to school, inviting her over for dinner when he had the kids at his place (he claimed he invited her because he knew she would say no.) Offering to go to lunch with her (which he again said ended up not happening).
I also found out that every time he took the kids to school he was making Starbucks runs for her. His reasoning - it's for the KIDS. If she's happy, the kids are happy. He claimed it was not about her.
It's just too much.
I am not an insecure person. But I did not feel like that level of interaction with her was appropriate or normal for someone supposedly divorcing and who had a girlfriend (we were exclusive -ridiculous as that sounds.)
I told him I could not do it.
Had I known the entire picture of how involved they still were I never would have gotten involved with him. I told him until he can set boundaries with her, a parenting schedule, and stops the constant all day every day communication with her (unless it's about the kids or the divorce) I was done.
I also told him he needed to get his own attorney (which I had mentioned before but he claims that will just anger her more and turn it into a war).
And you know what? He told me he would do those things.
But guess what, after a few days I could see it wasn't going to happen. He discussed the parenting plan idea and she was not happy about it, he was still talking to her about things not involving the kids.
So I walked away and he let me.
I know I made the right decision. Reading everything I have written here is just exhausting. Eventually he texted me that he was sorry for hurting me and he did care about me but he just needed to get this divorce done before he could entertain a relationship.
This all just happened last week and I'm heartbroken. Which seems crazy considering the drama I was dealing with. But at the end of the day, I really did care for him, we got along so well, great chemistry.
Outside of his wife, we never argued about anything. He had made me feel like there was a future: someday I'd meet his kids, eventually we could all hang out together etc. He told me how lucky he was that he had met someone so great like me-smart, beautiful, successful, independent - and how he knew no one else would put up with his situation.
Im just sad. How could he let me go so easily?
Why am I so upset over someone that put me through this? Why does he allow this woman to berate him and yet still want her in his life to the extent she is?
I want to get over him and move on but all I am doing is missing him (yes missing the crumbs he was giving me) and hoping he will come to his senses and realize he misses not having me and needs to set boundaries and get an attorney.
It's like Im in some kind of limbo hoping and waiting I will get a call that he's divorced and we can finally start a normal life together.
Thank you for reading.
You absolutely did the right thing, Ally!
The wedding ring he was still wearing, the mousepad with the pictures of the two of them, the dropping everything and interrupting of your plans to be at her beck and call all in the name of the kids – and I’m sure there are so many more things you didn’t even mention along these lines.
This man has has no boundaries!
He’s manipulated by guilt, by shame, by being a decent kind-hearted, hard working man. But this isn’t going to change anytime soon.
When you have someone who’s essentially so scared of his ex-wife and the manipulative actions she’s willing to take with him when he doesn’t do what she wants him to do, there's nothing you can do here except walk away when you’ve had enough.
He’s got the best of both worlds.
A family that he can still be very much a part of and an attractive, intelligent, successful woman like you who he can date and build a relationship with at the same time. But the problem is for all your understanding and accommodating of him (because, yes, he’s obviously a nice guy), it doesn’t change who he is and what he’s capable of.
He has no boundaries with her, and while he may recognize this, without him being willing to set some boundaries with her and without him refusing to be manipulated by her scare tactics by letting her keep him in the palm of her hands, the truth is you have no real relationship with him.
It’s you and her and him and his kids.
But to him, no matter what he might tell you, his actions and behavior clearly show you that as long as she has the kids to manipulate him with, she won’t hold back. And he won’t push back. As long as he continues to show her what she’s doing is working by rewarding her manipulating behavior, you don’t stand a chance.
So while it may hurt, while you may miss him and all those good times you shared together when it felt like the two of you could get through this together if you just waited it out long enough, that all-knowing objective part of your intuition clearly sees and hears and watches him show you that this guy has a long, long way to go before he’s ever going to become your man.
And to remind you of everything you already knew when you said the only words that can ever change a situation that’s not yours to change:
Yes, he’s a good guy. Yes, he’s someone who has the potential to be a good guy with you, and the way he treats his kids and makes them a priority is a really admirable quality. But not the way he allows her to walk all over him. Not the way he allows her to manipulate him. Not the way she uses this love of his children and his own guilt against him.
He’s going to be dealing with her for a long, long time. His kids are only 4 and 6. That’s too many years for you to have to live like the way you’ve lived these last 6 months.
You’re not a martyr. You’re not a victim. You’re a beautiful vibrant woman with so much to offer and so much to give someone who isn’t playing beck and call to his ex.
Of course you dream of getting that call that says they’re divorced and he’s ready to move forward with you.
Remember, his lack of boundaries doesn’t make him a bad guy, just not the guy for you if you want someone who’s with you and can be counted on to set healthy boundaries around his ex.
Next time, you’ll see those red flags and you’ll know what they mean. But this time, you took a chance. Never, ever beat yourself up for that.
But now, while this is still fresh in your mind, make a list of all those red flags. Put him back in perspective by reminding yourself of why you chose to end it. It wasn’t for nothing, and it wasn’t because it was what you really wanted to do.
That’s what matters, Ally.
You did what you had to do for you before you went any further with your heart being invested in someone who only ever had half his heart to give you.
You deserve more than that.
Sure there’s room for kids. But not for an ex manipulating with them, and not for a man who hasn’t done the work within himself so that he can set clear boundaries around how he allows her to treat him.
Grieve the loss of the potential of what could have been. But don’t you dare forget what actually was. We don’t build real relationships based on what could be; we build them on what is!
What do you think Beautiful Ally should do in this situation? Share your words of advice and encouragement with her below in the comments!