advice: mother of one, table for thirty?


I am a 29-year-old single mom, recently divorced. After a year of being separated, I met my current boyfriend: 30, never been married, set in his OCD ways. A year after breaking up with his live-in girlfriend he met me.

We met over ten months ago at the apartment complex where we lived. After a month of friendship, we continued to move things forward and began a romantic relationship. From the beginning we were talking serious talk: marriage, kids, family—not with each other, necessarily, but simply getting to know each other and what we wanted in our lives.

Please note: he still seems to hold onto this childhood fantasy that he’d marry his high school sweetheart, the one that would have him on a pedestal and he’d never be #2. His parents and grandparents were high school sweethearts, and that was his dream. He also wanted a woman who was never married, wanting his children and their marriage to be her one and only.

The fact that it wasn’t the case with me had caused an adjustment for him. He says he loves me, and I believe him since he decided to take on this challenge (for him) and go with it.

We moved in together about a month ago. We are a great team, we get along great, I can’t say enough about our interaction. We are a great couple (I believe it, and so he says). But there are a couple of issues.

I am still insecure because of my past experiences, and the fact that my ex-husband cheated on me. I try to play detective sometimes. And what makes it worse is the fact that he has A LOT of female friends. Some of them he’s “been with” in the past. Also, his last ex still contacts him, used to drop by with cupcakes etc. We talk a lot about these females, and he has a perfect answer for everything. Although talking to him makes me feel more secure about him and trust him more, there is still this part of me that would doubt him. I was thinking it was my insecurity, so I was trying to settle it within myself because I didn’t want him to get tired of my questioning every single text that appears in his phone from different women.

But here is the issue and the reason why I feel I couldn’t trust him completely. He has a password on his cell phone, he had a good explanation for it, but still I couldn’t help but wonder. Then sometimes when texting he would act weird, like he didn’t want me to see the screen, sometimes he would just carry his phone in his pocket while at home. Things like that. So at some point I learned his password and before we moved in together I went through it. The only thing I really saw was him talking to a woman that day, at the end he says “ok my movie is about to start, I will talk to you later” but he wasn’t going to watch a movie, he was coming over my place. I did talk to him about it in a round about way later at some point, and in general terms, like, “Honey, why do men….” So he said, that it is because the person they are talking to is really not a close friend and maybe someone who just happens to contact them after a long time, so men just don’t give too much explanation. Ok I bought that. But I was still not satisfied because he still seemed weird with his phone. And right before we moved in he was texting with some one who he called “brown eyes” and tried to tell me she was someone from work. But to me, why would a man nickname a coworker “brown eyes” in their phone? Anyways, after we moved in together, I tried to check his phone once again and the password had changed. So it raised another question in my little insecure but very not naïve mind. Eventually I was able to get into his phone and to my (not surprise) there were txt deleted that I am not sure what was being talked about, but it was from women who I had a gut feeling about. But the main one was the brown eye girl, who supposedly was his coworker, she is not a coworker, when confronted he wouldn’t answer the question as to who she was especially after he knew I already knew the truth. He tried to say she was a nobody, but wouldn’t say much else. Then once I said, why would you tell other women “I miss you, I miss seeing you everyday, I looooove that picture, beautiful hair, you have made my day…etc” he says that that is the way he is with his close friends, and tried to show me other people who says I miss you too, or admires their picture (one of them being his ex, who sent him a picture of herself). But wouldn’t answer the question, then if there is nothing to hide why have a password? Why lie about this person being a coworker when in fact she wasn’t? Why say she is a nobody, but then say that she is a close friend which is why he is saying I miss you? Etc…eventually this is what he said “IT IS TIME TO STOP FAKING, I GUESS I AM DONE”…meaning he was breaking up with me. I don’t know what he was faking, there was no explanation or clarification. So now I am wondering a whole bunch of things.

I live with the man, we haven’t talked in two days, I do not know what to do. Should I wait for him to talk to me? Should I bring it up? I have to think about my son, so I really do not know what do to. If we do talk and he wants to stay together, should I accept it, but ask for some changes on the whole phone thing or whatever. I don’t know.

He said that I never trusted him from the beginning, that I never accepted the fact that he has a lot of female friends. I said to him that some of his actions made me doubt him, such as having a password on his phone, why would someone do that? I don’t have a password. Plus he has disrespected me by saying stuff like that to other women, I don’t talk like that to other men, or have passwords, and I talk to my ex-husband about our son in front of him, so I don’t create any situations where he would have to doubt my commitment to him. He continues to say that trust shouldn’t be based on a password. And won’t admit to doing anything wrong.

I need some advice please because I am so confused now. What did he mean with “Time to stop faking”? Faking what? His love for me? The fact that he was okay with taking on this challenge? Maybe he can’t let go of younger women? I don’t know. and I don’t know if I should even be with him. But everything else is so perfect it makes it so hard for me.

Confused Woman mother of One.

straight up advice

IF YOU WERE IN FRONT OF ME, I’D KIcK YOU IN THE HEAD. Then I’d help you up off the floor, and warn you that it’s the very last time I’m helping you. You need to help yourself.

Confused?! About what could you possibly be confused? How did you ever let it come to this? Ever get yourself into this situation at all? Never mind putting your son in this situation? That’s the only confusion you should be confronting.

Children need stability, not people weaving in and out of their lives, disappearing. You never ever should have moved in with this guy. Period. If I were living in your town, no joke, I would drive to your home with empty boxes and force you to either move or pack up his things and push him out the door. I wouldn’t leave until it was done. Locks changed. You need to save yourself from yourself. I want to shake you. You are that far gone.

Okay. I’ve taken a breath. I’m calmer. Here is all there is to say: move out now. NOW. Check your bank statements and credit report. This man was using you for something. Your cooking, a roof over his head, your car? Something. You fed a need, and he is a cheater. Not a possibility, a fact. No amount of promises, however heartfelt, will ever set this right. He is bad news. And so are you if you don’t get him the hell out of your life.

This was not caused by your insecurities. Darlin’, this ain’t paranoia. You have every reason to feel insecure. People in healthy relationships, monogamous relationships, do not password-protect their lives. They live them openly because there is nothing to hide. Nothing, nothing, can excuse this away. No amount of logic or reason.

He is 100% cheating on you. I don’t care if he’s not having sex with them, if he is, isn’t, it doesn’t even matter. “She’s just a friend” isn’t true unless–and let me be clear here–unless he invites her to spend time with YOU. Every single woman, every single “friend,” should be someone you have met, spent time with. You need to hear him tell these friends that he loves you, that you live together.

I am angry with you. I am. I don’t know you, but I’ve been you in some wanting needing form. This is the worst you, the worst example you could possibly set for your son. You need to fix this, not with questions, not with “talks” or sit downs or rules. You need to either kick him out or find a new place, as soon as humanly possible.

Once you’re settled in your own space, just you and your son, I want you to figure out what in you allowed you to ever believe this was an acceptable standard of living. Why were you so quick to move in with him? You have a lot of personal work to do, and I suggest you find a therapist today. You need a professional who can help you see how your neediness is directing you to make such horrendous choices.

 go ahead, ask

If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Am I a doctor? I don’t even play one on TV, but people keep asking, so I might as well air it and share it.



  1. I love that you’d show up with boxes yourself to move her SK. You rock.

    As for the girl writing- Honey. Your gut instinct is right. If I could impart one thing to people, friends family and strangers alike it is that bit of advice. Your ‘gut’ is pure without being muddled by your ego and rationalizations. Please use it, develop it, but most importantly LISTEN TO IT. Always. No exceptions. Advice is something I always say people ask for when they already know the answer (and don’t like it). SK said it best. This runs deep and needs more than a ‘you go girl’ weekend of pampering, etc. This will be repeated and that cannot happen. Especially with a little son you need to be whole and happy.

    Quick final note: Very true this guy is using you. Please, please tell me you ran a background check on him? You moved in with him but also have a child. Child predators exist and you’d be absolutely surprised at how ‘normal’ some of them look. If not in the future you should do this when you even DATE a man (do not move in again- period. This is not some ‘The Rules’ crap, your kids needs stability not ‘maybe’). DO not even consider dating without doing this. Why am I hitting this in so hard? I have a friend in law enforcement who has told me too many stories of nice, normal ‘boyfriends’ who move in, etc and later on the real truth about why they chose the women who were mothers comes out. Anyway.. for the future please remember this. And good luck, honestly I wish you luck. Always listen to that little voice/instinct. And always be on your guard – way more than when you were just a girl dating. Moms have a lot more to look out for/week through and they need to be a lot more discerning when any doubts come up- and not let it fester.

  2. I absolutely, 110% agree with every word Stephanie wrote. Run. Don’t walk. And for god’s sweet sake, don’t date until your son is 18. He needs a strong, independent, courageous, present (in the “I’m not distracted by this man”) woman who is in charge of her life, and proud of it. Focus your time there, on him, or we’ll have another asshole man treating women badly in the next generation.

    1. I always enjoy your comments 3 teens. You comment beautifully of surviving a bad situation and rising above, taking excellent care of your children in the process. From reading your comments all of these years, I can certainly see why you made the decisions you did. But there are a lot of wonderful men out there, who can add to a family, be a wonderful and enriching step-parent. Who can set a example for the son as well. I now my stepfather is the best father. I couldn’t have dreamed him up. He assimilated into our family, made my mother so very happy and is a warm giving caring man to us children that he helped raise. I hate to think of what my life would be like had my Mother not tried again after her horrible marriage to a real B*stard, aka my Father. My stepfather gave me the belief that families come together in all ways, shapes and forms. That there are good men.

      I think perhaps the writer of this letter would be wiser to really VET the next man she dates! Any man who is playing games, however minor, is not someone suitable to have in your child’s life. Which is where I think 3 teens was coming from, am I at all correct? You made the decision to bring a child into this world. maybe you did not foresee this situation, being a single parent. But life happens, death, divorce, cheating, illness, losing everything. Those are all possibilities. For your child’s sake, “Mother of One” don’t forget it is your child’s heart you put into those relationships as well as your own.

    2. I have to agree with Kait – finding a wonderful man to share my happiness with – my fiance – has made my daughter’s life so much more rich and happy. They adore each other and now she has three parents who love her and look out for her, as well as an example of what a good relationship is so she knows NOT to settle, like I did the first time!

      1. I can see how having a step-father could be good in some situations, but you’re assuming the mother makes good choices about men. I think Mother of One has some SERIOUS work to do in that area before even THINKING about dating again.

    3. I second this three teens.. i remember your comments and your forging your own way, healing and making a ‘nest’ for your babes. How lovely and mama bear. Admirable.

      I read a comment somewhere that if the female of our species was as picky as females in the animal kingdom we’d have a lot less trouble, ha!

  3. Good advice.

    RUN, don’t walk. totally agree. In a healthy relationship, you wouldn’t feel a need to “check” and he wouldn’t protect his stuff with passwords.

  4. Wow. As I read through the question, my heart continued to sink for this woman and I knew that Stephanie was going to have to rip her a new one. I also wondered if she knew what would be coming once she re-read through what she had written- I mean, we all do that before we hit send, right? She had to have seen the stunning realization of what she had admitted to. I don’t know if the guy’s a pedophile, he kind of sounds like half the men in America; They want a home and “some” stability, but they want their penis’s to have the ultimate say in everything else. I hope she sends him packing- her son doesn’t need to be disrupted from his home.

  5. This guy is a Loser with a captial ‘L’. Please don’t allow him to make you one as well. Guys can have girl friends, but they are more than friends if he has to text them secretly. He has been feeding you so much bull, and you have been eating it up. Don’t be so desperate for a boyfriend that you lower yourself to gutter level and accept excuse after excuse in order to keep him. Wake up!

  6. Dang Stephanie, this was sort of harsh…LOL It was also very true and exactly the way I would need someone to say it to me, if I were in this situation. Once someone puts those rose-colored glasses on, only brutal honesty works. If you give them any hint of a positive spin, they will take it and use it to rebuild a relationship that should just be tossed.

  7. HELL YES, what everyone else said. Including the “I’ll come over and help you pack.” Get out, get out, get out. This kind of man is very talented in making you feel like you’re paranoid and it’s all you. I lived with someone who actually had me APOLOGIZING to him for my constant questioning & paranoia because he always had such perfect answers for everything. Well, 5 years later I come to find that yes, my instincts were right and YES, he most definitely had been cheating. A lot. Including one girl who was 16 and developed an on-going obsession with him. (He was 28 at the time that THAT little dalliance started.) Years later, I’m now embarrassed to say that it took me another 2 years after that to finally get out. And back then – I was in my early 20s and did not have children.

    Now I’m married and have a son. My husband is a wonderful man who’d never pull anything like this – but let me tell you, my son is #1. As a mother, even if *you* can’t bear to be away from this guy, you should be thinking about what’s best for your son first and foremost. And this guy you’re living with ISN’T. If I weren’t married, but dating – if someone so much as LOOKED at my kid the wrong way, they’d be gone. So if nothing else, RUN, RUN AWAY AND NEVER LOOK BACK for your son’s sake.

  8. Oh, and also what Stephanie said – check your accounts and your credit cards. Change all your account passwords – this guy is up to something and/or will NOT take it well when you kick him to the curb.

  9. I once caught a guy who had just PROPOSED TO ME emailing to meet other women. “I’ll be the one with the book,” his message said. Haaaa!

    He’s the one who lost his fiance. Unfortunately, it took me a few yrs. And I’m old enough to know better. At least I didn’t marry him.

    Agree with everyone. Get out now. It isn’t going to get any better. There is no good explanation. He’s a loser.

  10. I entirely agree with Stephanie here…people only password protect their lives when they have something to hide. Same goes with deleting computer history…or hiding anything. Get out now, befoe it gets worse.

  11. Also? That heavy-duty detective shit has got to stop. We’ve all had moments of nosiness, but your behavior suggests that you’ve mistaken J Edgar Hoover for a self-help guru. Hardcore snooping should be reserved for “in case of emergency, break glass;” it’s not a daily coping mechanism. If you can’t function without it in a relationship, you shouldn’t be in a relationship. Not because “ooh, you should trust him” — clearly, that’s not the case here — but because if you do it and he’s honest, you’re screwed; and if you do it and he’s not honest, you’re screwed. Figure out other ways to trust and be comfortable with a partner; having a history of dating cheaters is not an excuse.

  12. You don’t have the right to be this stupid/naive when you have a child. I’m speechless. I keep re-reading the “Honey, why do men…” part and I’m baffled. Who has important conversations that way and expects to be taken seriously?

    1. Amen. I married an amazing man who will be an excellent role model for our son – because I ABSOLUTELY do not want him to turn out like 99% of the guys I dated before I got smart and married his Dad. And, sadly, most of those idiots that I dated who lied and cheated… the worst ones had mothers who let men get in the way and unfortunately, didn’t have the balls nor self-esteem to dump the losers. To the person who wrote this email asking for advice, I repeat – if not for yourself, then for your son, DUMP HIM. DUMP HIM NOW.

  13. Totally agree. If you feel the need to snoop, you are in the wrong relationship for one of two reasons (and probably both). #1-You’re too insecure to handle a serious relationship and need to work out your issues first. #2-Your gut is telling you something isn’t right with your mate. Listen to it and get out. You don’t need ‘proof’.

  14. Oy vey. I know this song and dance way too well. The short version: we dated seriously for 8 months (“I love you”s, trips, romantic Valentine’s day, etc. all initiated by him) at which point he blindsides me with “I need to go out to bars and practice talking to women because I have social phobia and my parents divorced and life is hard, please feel sorry for me.”

    I break up with him, then stupidly get back together with him, assuming he wouldn’t have begged his way back into my life if he was still out chatting up other girls. Not the case.

    We do the on-again off-again thing for months. We are off and living in different states. He begs to visit me. I give in, after ignoring my gut, which told me this was completely unhealthy. He has an “epiphany,” claims to want to “lay the path to marriage” (what a terrible phrase) and we end up living together and in therapy trying to work things out.

    Hands down, the nine months I spent living with him and in couples therapy were the worst of my life. THERE WAS NOTHING TO WORK OUT. In my case, we were living together, but I had never in 3 years of dating seen his facebook profile. I wasn’t allowed in the same room with him when he was on his laptop on g-chat. His closest male friends were disrespectful to me. His insecurities were freakin’ contagious. IT SUCKED AND IT WAS NEVER GOING TO GET BETTER, no matter how nice I was, how much I bared my soul in therapy, how much I played along with his stupid games.

    SERIOUSLY, RUN, DO NOT WALK THE H*** OUT OF THAT SITUATION. Healthy, loving relationships are not full of secrets and misrepresentations. If he says he’s going to change, don’t believe him. Men like this do not change. If they do, I really believe it takes them decades of unhappy solitude to build character and really get connected to how wonderful life can be. These guys do not benefit from, or appreciate the gift of your forgiveness. It seems to just encourage them to continue in their shitty behavior.

    There is so much love out there, and I mean real, honest, supportive love that builds you up. Don’t settle for this shit.

  15. I can’t think of anything smart or witty to add to Stepahnie’s advice. Except this: Do NOT mingle your dating life and your home life, ie, kids. I lost my first husband when my kids were 7, 5,5, and 3. I made the HUGE mistake of taking up with an old boyfriend from high school about two months after my husband passed. It was driven from loneliness and luckily, there was no great harm done to me and my family. But I learned — date, date and date. But keep things in day-tight compartments. Second boyfriend, I knew and dated for 8 months before I even allowed him to meet my children. And after that, we had only occassional times when we would do things together. After we becamse more serious, we spent more time together. He never spent the nite at my house with me and the kids. Ever.
    I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious, but I do truly believe young children do not need to see co-habitation. They don’t need a revolving door of mommy’s “Friends” or a new “uncle” every other month, either.
    It IS possible to date and still rear your children in a safe and loving home. And if you find it too difficult, either give up dating, or give up your kids.

  16. I agree with everything Stephanie has said here. Run, don’t walk, away from this relationship for the sake of you and your son! There are good men out there but this guy isn’t one of them. It frustrates me when my friends are with bad men and they always are asking what they should do. How can they not see it?! Then I remember that quote by Erica Jong, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

  17. I see both sides of this. I would just say that the focus of a single parent has to be the kids. So maybe responsible dating is cool – but don’t bring every date to meet your kids. I’m married, but if I weren’t I can guarantee there would be a hell of a lot of hoops to jump through with me before any man would get to be part of my kids’ lives.

  18. I hope you get the point when you see that everyone agrees. Add one more to the list. I say RUN. I could explain why, but it doesn’t matter. All you need to hear is RUN. And take care of that little boy. Even if you didn’t have a son though, I’d still say RUN.

  19. I recall being over my head in an unhealthy relationship and while I couldn’t see clearly what was right or wrong, eventually I went with what every single one of my friends and family were telling me to my face. You have to assume if EVERYONE is telling you to get away from him, they’re seeing something that you are not. (although, i think we all really do know the truth about any given situation, but we are undecided about what to do because we just are not yet ready to deal).

  20. I agree with every single word Stephanie said. Which is very very rare. ;-)

    Run, don’t walk – and make it a priority to figure out what got you there in the first place. Get yourself a great “coach” a.k.a therapist to help you with this… I know that when I am that deep in a mess, I surely need someone objective and supportive to help me out of it.

    Please, take Stephanie’s advice seriously. Make a clean cut, no matter how painful at the moment, as soon as humanly possible. He can go crash on someone’s couch until he has his own place.

    All the best to you. xx

  21. I have a great idea-date your son! Make him your number one priority. Work on your career and your friendships and get into counseling. I am doing all of these things by the way and I have never been happier. Everybody who sees me says the same thing. I hope to meet somebody special someday but until then I am having a wonderful time making ALL the decisions about my own life.

  22. Lady who wrote this, I see a lot of other people have commented and you probably don’t need one more. But I’m going to comment for a very specific reason: I almost never agree with Stephanie (Hi Stephanie, surprise! Oh, and happy birthday).

    But in this case, I do. Everything she said, imagine me standing behind her nodding my head and holding a box. Every. Single. Thing. She Said.

    By the way, my married brother is an attorney – someone who by profession has to keep confidentiality. His cell phone is not at ALL off limits to his wife. Sometimes he does walk around his house with it in his pocket, but it’s only because he’s emailing with coworkers and clients even during non-work hours.

    Either get out or kick him out. If you realize you do not have good perspective when it comes to men, admit that about yourself, get help for it, and in the meantime enlist a friend to help you by having them meet guys you’re into and see what they think.

  23. This is where I sit, shaking my head in bewilderment. You were separated for about a year, start dating someone and move in with him after only seeing him for around ten months? I have friends, men and women alike, who bounce from one relationship to another. They were hurt in the past but instead of working on that hurt, dealing with the insecurities or other issues that the failed relationship brought out, they just move on to the next person. Why?

    This is for those who don’t even have children. I get that you want company, love, relationship, etc. Trust me, it is something I want as well. But at least for me, if I don’t sit down and think and deal with the mess I have, I am only going to take that mess forward with me.

    This guy is hiding stuff from you and it could be something little to something huge. I have a male friend, who is my ex. It pisses me off like no other that after dating a girl (who sounds like she is very nice, makes him happy and is good for him) for over a year, he hides the fact that we are friends. He has also kept another secret from her and as I have told him often. when you hide something, it is going to blow up and look 1,000 times worse. But he thinks it is okay to keep secrets.

    Run, run away as fast as you can and then work on yourself and being the best mom you can be.

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