Do I let my dodgy ex back into my life and to be a dad to our twins?

Do I let my dodgy ex back into my life and to be a dad to our twins?
Do I let my dodgy ex back into my life and to be a dad to our twins?

I am desperately seeking advice. My relationship with an older man (12+ years older) has been back and forth for the last 2.5 years (we’ve been together for 4). In that time, we’ve had twins (premature; they spent 8 weeks in the hospital), but it goes further than that. For the first year it was fairytale like. He was sweet and caring and we made plans for a family and a future together (he already has kids from a previous marriage). He seemed to really care to give them a great, stable life.

After 2 years we moved in together. I sold my house and moved into his and 6 months after that we planned to have kids. One month of trying and I was pregnant with twins! A couple months prior to getting pregnant, he started to change. He would go out all night, ignore my calls and not respond to my texts. He would hide wine bottles around the house and tell me that he ‘put’ the collectors vodka bottles I had away (most likely he drank them). He became colder than cold, I could not get him to put his phone down, he would huff and puff in annoyance when I would walk by and just generally not care.

Fast forward to our daughters being born and it got much worse. I was visiting the hospital daily (an hour away) and working. He was sleeping late, not helping with his other kids and rarely seeing his daughters. He was still going out at night and not coming home. After the twins came home, he was still drinking, going out and not coming home, sleeping late, not helping and being generally shady. One night while I was home alone, our house was broken into and I called him and he refused to come home. When he did come home he said I was lying because no one was there. Myself and the twins moved out the next week.

Since then, we have been in a constant state of craziness. He says he’ll come over and he doesn’t show (for hours) and he says he isn’t drinking but I hear about how he ‘was walked to his hotel room because he was so drunk he couldn’t get there himself’. He has been talking to ‘friends’ all hours of the night and lies about the numbers, etc. You get the picture. He has NEVER taken his daughters overnight, to day care or during any of the weekends. I am the full-time single mom who also works 40+ hours a week.

He tells me it was the stress of the twins and the hospital causing the trouble between us, and we go back and forth constantly as I try to get some sort of help / emotion / connection / empathy out of him (I think he’s a sociopathic narcissist). He isn’t easy to deal with at work (we have worked together for almost 10 years); people seem to dislike him A LOT. I have finally started to be okay knowing that my family may not ever be together and that my daughters may call someone else their dad (who’s not their real father).

And here’s the thing: now I’m starting to get my life in order, buying a house and getting adjusted with one year old twins, he swoops back in, claiming he’s reformed and saying how much he wants to try and how he realizes what he gave up. After all this, I am not sure what to do. Do I continue to move on? Or try to work things out with him? Is it possible for him to go back to the person he was? Or was that person an act to lure me into the relationship? He is seeing a therapist weekly, but I need some serious guidance about whether or not to leave it in the past and move on – or to try to trust him and get things back to the family we both said we wanted. Elizabeth

Don’t you hate how exes DO that? Just as you start to move on, they do a 360 and swear undying love. Of course you’re wary. Frankly I’m amazed you’ve held it together while being a new mum to premature TWINS and also dealing with a partner who’s been categorically uncaring, unhelpful, unemotional, largely absent and pretty much a borderline alcoholic during what’s probably been the toughest year of your life. Woman, how are you functioning? I just want to give you a big hug and pack you off to a day spa for a week.

Obviously, watching you start creating a future without him in it is giving your ex some lightbulb moments. But not so fast. You had one great year together. The rest was shite, to put it bluntly, and he doesn’t get a pass just because he’s gone to a few therapy sessions. So what should you do? Well, do you really want to go back to a guy who could be a sociopath? A narcissist? Someone who’s treated you and your babies so appallingly? I don’t know if I could. Okay, if I’m honest I definitely couldn’t. But I realise that things change when you have kids. Often, you change in ways you couldn’t imagine and what you want changes, too. It’s not unheard of to want to make completely different choices than you probably would without kids to consider.

Modern Dad PagesThat’s why I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say that if you are considering giving him a second chance, make damn sure he’s worth it. He wants to win you back? Fine, he can stay in therapy and work on his shit for at least a year to prove he’s serious. It’s not a huge ask. Given his past drinking issues I’d also supervise visits with the kids or have a trusted third party be there. I know you said he hasn’t taken the girls overnight or weekends… and while that’s tough on you in terms of never getting a break I actually think it’s a blessing you never took that risk. You don’t want a guy with a drinking problem in charge of two little babies. I’d also be looking for some serious, solid changes on the drinking thing, too – like AA or a moderation program. Not just empty promises.Super Busy Mum

Finally, don’t let him move into your place for a long, long time; if ever (get a new place together, if you ever do reconcile, and keep yours as an insurance policy). Let him show you he can be – and is – the partner he once promised to be before you crack open that door and even consider allowing him back into your life on a permanent basis.

By the way, I’m so glad your little girls are doing so well. They’re lucky to have a mum like you.

Love, reality chick

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Emms 6 years ago

    My experience says people don’t change. I left my ex when my son was 14 months. Felt guilty and went back. It didn’t work, he didn’t change. Don’t go back from a sense of obligation to him or your girls – this is what I did and it was a bad idea. I think your letter sums him up, Rachel picked out some of your words, go back and read your letter as if it were from someone else and give them advice.

    Good luck for you and the girls.

    • Author

      Nothing like hearing from someone who’s walked in your shoes! Thanks for weighing in, Emms.

  2. Random Musings 6 years ago

    It’s a tough one! You have to put the twins first, and in all honesty going on what you’ve said he hasn’t been a good dad to them in the past. Having said that people can change, and maybe him going to therapy is a good sign.
    If it was me I wouldn’t consider taking him back as a partner – you have moved on from him. But as a father perhaps suggest some supervised visits. If he genuinely wants a relationship with his children there’s no reason why he won’t agree to this. If he sticks to his word, and builds up a relationship with them, once he regains your trust then maybe allow unsupervised visits. I would advise you to be very careful though – if he has a drink problem, and is good at hiding it, you don’t want him having the kids alone if he is drinking.

    • Author

      Totally agree Debbie, I wouldn’t want to leave my kids alone with this guy for a second. But like you say, people can change I guess…
      Thanks for popping by X

  3. I think he is an alchoholic and needs to go to rehab and into a programme before he is allowed anywhere near yours and your children’s lives. What an amazing person to have gone through this, but you have to put you and your children first now. As Rachel’s advice said a few therapy sessions is nothing in comparison to what he has put you through. Best of luck Elizabeth, you brave and strong woman x

    • Author

      Spot on Laura. Thanks for coming by (love your blog by the way! Are you an illustrator??) xo #wineandboobs

  4. Lisa 6 years ago

    This man showed that he can’t be there through the worst times. But now the good times are starting, he wants in? Nope. Love, family, commitment don’t work that way.

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