Hi! I'm.... wait.... who am I?

blessedlife90April 23, 2013

Hello All! I have been reading this forum for quite some time now and am finally ready to introduce myself! Let me fill you in on myself and my story:

I am a 24 year old female and my amazing SO is 32. We have been together for about 3 years and have been living together for a little more than 2 years! He has a wonderful son who is just about to turn 6 ( I will refer to him as SS during this post for lack of a better term), and SO was fresh out of a divorce from BM when I met him.

BM is certainly difficult to like sometimes but, for the most part, we all have a pretty civil relationship. She lives at her boyfriend's house (the BF, we are not crazy about, but that is neither here nor there) with his 3 year old son. She has SS during the school year M-F and we have him every weekend(to keep things stable for SS during school). Then when school is out we have him every other week M-Sun.

I have had my struggles accepting BM and she has had her troubles accepting me (especially in the beginning) but I have worked my tail off to create a civil relationship with her for the sake of SS. I am able to say that I have successfully stayed out of virtually every disagreement and/or decision BM and SO have had (aside from, of course, offering my opinion to SO and hoping it is considered if the issue directly effects me or our schedule). I realized a long time ago that interfering would likely get me nowhere good and could possibly ruin all the hard work I have put into the civil relationship I have with BM. We are not best friends by any means, but I can feel comfortable with speaking to her at SS's baseball games and know that I can call/text her if I have a question or need help while watching SS if SO is not available.

This is the only relationship I have ever been in with a person who has a child or an ex-wife, and I must admit, it has been a long learning process with lots of growing up and adjustments on my part. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I met the man of my dreams, but am proud to say that I have come a long way and handled everything the best I know how. Naturally, being the researcher I am, when I decided to get serious with my SO I headed to the library to learn all about dating a divorced man who has a child and how to deal with the ex-wife. Much to my dismay, I found CLOSE to nothing helpful. Which brings me to my current situation:

Why is it that everything I find on the matter (including many posts from this site) say "RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN!" "YOU ARE SO YOUNG, YOU HAVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU! QUIT DOING THIS AND GO HAVE FUN" and my favorite, "NOT YOUR FAMILY NOT YOUR PROBLEM! STAY OUT OF IT!". I know I am not married to the man(yet!) but (fingers crossed) I will be. And right now, I need answers! I made the decision that I love this man and his son and am in this for the long haul. So... knowing that... where do I go for support?

I am going through a bit of an identity crisis because my title is still "girlfriend", yet I play the roll of a "step mom". "Girlfriends" don't do HALF of the stuff I do for my SO and his son, nor do they have the same lifestyle and issues as I do. I identify with stepmoms more, but don't have the title yet so I don't feel like other adults take my roll very seriously. Anyone else feel me on this? Does anyone have any good advice or any resources that helped them?

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>>>Why is it that everything I find on the matter (including many posts from this site) say "RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN!" "YOU ARE SO YOUNG, YOU HAVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AHEAD OF YOU! QUIT DOING THIS AND GO HAVE FUN"The ones that say "run and don't look back" say this because they are NOT happy in their step family situation. Keep in mind that people that are happy in their step family situation usually don't often visit forums like this one. There are a lot of added problems and complexities to step families that intact families don't have to deal with, hence the reason why while 50% of first marriages fail, 70% of second marriages fail.

It sounds like you're already doing the right thing by keeping out of issues with BM other than a cordial but distant relationship. But the main work falls on your SO's shoulders to handle. IF he can keep the BM drama to a minimum and he can parent his son properly, things might work out for you. BUT if he lets BM walk all over him, or if he doesn't make his child behave, you will be miserable and the relationship is doomed to failure. As sexist as it sounds, it really all falls on the man to make things work.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:47PM
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I'd guess that people say "run!" because they're responding to a poster who sounds like she's in a no-win, disfunctional, messed-up situation.

The answer to your question "who am I?" is...
you're you.

First, last, & always, you're you.

In this relationship, your role is the girlfriend., & your boyfriend is the boyfriend.

In his relationship with his ex & his child, your boyfriend is the father, his ex is his child's mother, & the responsibility & parental roles belong to them.

Being a good girlfriend is nice, & it's positive, but it doesn't give you a role in the family;
it doesn't make you part of the family.

& at this stage, you don't want to rush forward to be part of the family;
you need to reserve that for a future time in which you're a wife.

Even then, don't invest your whole identity in your relationships with *anybody*,
& always remember that this family has its own roles & responsibilities.

Like you, I've read a lot in this forum, & one of the very very best pieces of advice that I've come across has been:


Even when you're all seemingly on the same page, getting into the dynamics & responsibilities of someone's family almost always leads to confusion at the least, heartbreak, anger, & bitterness at the worst.

I wish you the best.

just had a thought.
Do you think your boyfrirend (or any boyfriend or guy-person fiance) asks himself a similar question?
"Who am I in this woman's life?
"What is my role?
"How do I fit in?
"How can I make myself fit in?"

I'd guess not;
guys usually seem to know how to remain pretty self-contained, not confusing their identities with anyone else's.
We could all take a lesson from guys.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Thank you Amber3902 and Sylviatexas for your comments! You are both right... I need to just be happy with the person and "title" I am today. And to respond to you, Amber3902, although I am very happy IN GENERAL with my SO and his son, I read this forum for two reasons; 1) As happy as our relationship is, BM and her BF are constant stressers in our lives. We may all be civil and try to be respectful to one-a-nother, but don't be fooled by the picture-perfect story I painted. They still throw us for a loop every now and then, so it is helpful on those days where things just seem to suck and 2) I also came here for support. As you can imagine, there arent very many 24 year olds (at least in my area) who can relate to the every-day ups and downs that I feel. So married or not, I still like to feel that I am not alone.

And Sylviatexas, you are right! If I could just put my "think-like-a-guy" cap on, this all would be much clearer to me. haha! I do put alot of my heart and soul into my SO and his son. While I still see my friends and have my own seperate hobbies, I do see how I could be putting much of my eggs in one basket with this relationship. It's hard not to, though, when we all live in the same house. The word "disengage" is not new to me as I have been told the same thing by my therapist. It's hard to not get mentally or emotionally mixed up in the issues that effect the man I love and his dear son. But, as my mom likes to say, "Not my circus, not my monkeys!" haha thanks again, ladies.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 9:14AM
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Blessed - I did not mean to imply that you shouldn't be here because you are for the most part happy in your step family situation. I was just trying to explain why it seems like so many on this forum and ones like it are quick to say "run" - because the folks that tend to visit these forums are the ones that are not happy with their situation and are often wish they had taken that advice themselves.

No, you are not alone and not even the best of step families situations are always perfect. For those times when BM acts up it is good to have a place to come and get support and possibly some helpful advice. And sometimes there are no easy answers to some problems and in those situations it's nice to just have a place to vent.

I like Sylvia's advice about not putting all your "eggs in one basket" with this relationship, so to speak. It IS hard not to get emotionally mixed up with problems that affect those that are close to you and that you care for, trust me, I've been there myself. Disengage is easier said than done and in my situation I could not do it. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, so I think you might be okay.

Feel free to come on here and vent/get support/ask for advice anytime.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:14AM
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"Not my circus, not my monkeys!"

I love it.

It should be worked into a needlepoint sampler & hung on every woman's fridge or bathroom mirror (or right above her computer)!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:40PM
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OP - you've received some good advice already. And for me to say that, that's saying something, because Sylvia and I *rarely* agree on things, coming from different sides of the gender wars....but in this case she is spot on.

I have always (even going back to college days) been puzzled by how (generalizing here, of course) men can have girlfriends / fiancees / wives as a "complimentary" component in their lives, while women tend to take the "all-in" approach right from the start, willing to assume the role of someone's (girlfriend/fiancee/wife).

Live your life primarily for yourself, a significant other, in whatever capacity, should be a positive component in your life, they should not dominate your existence or drag you down.

As for the 'step son' and the issues with taking on a lot of the parenting tasks, this is the one area I think you really need to address. Right now, you should not in any way be close to assuming any parental responsibilities with this kid...be a friend, someone to have fun with, etc. You shouldn't be expected to serve as the primary caregiver of the kid (occasionally is fine), or expected to have any role in discipline, parenting decisions, taking him to school, etc. That is not your role...in fact it may never be, depending on the custody arrangements. Don't be too anxious to "force" your way into a motherhood role. It seems like you are resenting not the fact that you are doing it, but just your "title". Please address this. You should not be doing all this stuff...he has a mother and a father, it's their responsibility to provide the parenting, etc. for him. Sure, you can pinch hit once in a while of course, stuff comes up. But in my opinion, in no way should you be taking on parental responsibilities. You might not like hearing this, and you do seem pretty mature for your age, but the rest of us are *quite* a bit older I think, I am twice your age, unfortunately :-( , and I think we have spent years and years thinking about, observing, and discussing this stuff. Please put some credence into what you hear here (expect for the ones who just say RUN).

And yes, a lot of the "RUN AWAY NOW" advice is either from people responding to what they see as a train-wreck of a situation (I don't see that with what you are describing), or proabably an over-reaction based on their failed life experiences. I am in the middle of rasing two teen kids of which I have 50% custody of...I get along with my ex, very little step-family drama, it can work out fine if you remain adults and don't use the kids as pawns, etc.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Thank you SO much, everyone, for all of your replies!!

I really need to do some soul searching because you have all brought up some valid points that I have failed to recognize until now. I have always been a very helpful and generous person, and I really enjoy feeling like I have helped the people I care for. My boyfriend is also very helpful and generous, so I don't feel taken advantage of because he always returns my favors pretty quickly. I feel that we are playing on an even playing field, but now I am worried that I have overstepped my boundaries.

I certainly don't dicipline the child, and know that is not my responsibility. SO does a pretty good job with that. However, he has a very chaotic work schedule. He does spend about 95% of his weekends with his son, but often times I am filling in the gaps if SO works late or gets called in. I attend every baseball game and provide SS with a ride if SO is working overtime. I pick up SS from BM if SO is working late on fridays (this is always okayed by BM first with plenty of notice). I do all of the household duties all the time, including when SS is with us meaning I cook dinners, do the laundry, do the dishes, and clean the house. I play a huge roll in party planning for SS's birthday every year and take part in major holidays. Is all of that too much? I mean, they are my family in my opinion. I live with them. If I should not be doing some of that, how do I just stop one day? Wouldn't that look bad in their eyes? Like I don't care anymore?

I am always sure to give SS plenty of 1-on-1 time with his dad when he visits as I feel that is very important... but sometimes when I back off too much, SS and SO get their feelings hurt and think I dont WANT to spend time with them. Even after expressing what I am trying to do, they both look at me like "What? Why wouldn't we want you to join us?".

I want so badly to do what is best for everyone, including myself...

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Of course you don’t discipline the child and there’s nothing wrong with participating in major holidays.

But I would take a step back from the household duties and party planning. Dad can do his kid’s laundry and cook dinner once in a while. Also, let him handle the party planning for the birthdays. Sorry, but you sound like a cook and maid - do you work?

Don’t feel that your taking a step back means you don’t care. What Kroopy and others are trying to warn you against is doing too much. It sounds like you do A LOT and while right now you say you’re okay with that, are you still going to be okay with doing ALL the household chores while dear ole SO sits and watches TV? Think about it, if you weren’t there, he’d have to do it all by himself. What would he do then?

Right now you might not see anything wrong with the way things are, but doing all the work around the house, becoming maid, cook and chaffuer for a kid that isn’t even yours is going to get old after a while. You’ll start to feel unappreciated and resentment will start to set in.

Remember, if you and SO were to break up, you’d have no legal rights to this child. All this time, energy and emotion you’ve invested in this child can be taken away at any time. So many times I’ve read on forums like these of women who put their heart and soul into caring for their step children, only to have it blow up in their faces. If the two adults break up, the SM has no rights to seeing that child anymore. Or one day the child starts to hate you for the simple fact that you are not his mother even though you've been caring for him for years like a mother. You think he'd never do that, but I've read of it happening. That is what folks are trying to warn you about.

I would just let SO know that you feel that you are taking over too much of the parenting duties and you’re going to “let” SO do the lion’s share of the parenting. Say that you are doing this BEFORE resentment starts to build. It’s not that you don’t love SO and care for his child, but you realize that you are doing too much and dad needs to step up and be a dad to his son.

Stress that it’s about dad being a dad to his son, not that you don’t want to do anything for his son. And remind him that if you weren’t there, he’d have to do it all on his own anyway. He’d have to figure out a way to pick his son up if you weren’t in the picture. He’d have to do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry himself.

Of course, you don't have to go cold turkey, but I'd definately find ways to step back a little.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 8:40AM
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Thank you, Amber3902! I will certainly try this out! And yes, I do have a full-time job at a doctor's office haha So some days it does feel like I take on alot... but I guess since I grew up with my mom doing all of that stuff, I just naturally fell into the same habbits. No one in my family has ever been divorced, so I really am learning as I go about the ins and outs of a divorced family and all the dynamics. At the same time, I am extremely HOPEFUL to land a ring on my finger in the next couple of years (haha!) and maybe I could attribute alot of my efforts to the fact that I am trying to show what a wonderful wife I could be! (NO I am not a gold digger, I just have a general plan for my life, and getting married and having the family is something that is extremely important to me) and I understand that I am young, and that will all come in due time...

It's painful to think that this could all be ripped away from me so easily if the relationship didn't work out... but it is real. I would certainly be devastated if, after all these efforts, I came out of this relationship with nothing to show for it. Maybe I have been pulling the wool over my eyes a bit and trying to create a perfect fantasy instead of living life logically. I should protect myself and my feelings more.

Thanks everyone, for listening to me go on and on about all of this. Whenever I talk to my friends about this they look at me like I have 3 heads and say "... I mean... why don't you just date someone who doesn't have a kid? Then you don't have to think about all this crap". They are absoultely NO help! So really, thank you.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:48AM
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So you work full time AND do all the housework? That really changes things. Pray tell, what does dear 'ole BF do around the house? How often does BF cook dinner?

Yeah, I’m afraid in your eagerness to prove what a wonderful wife you could be, you’ve allowed yourself to be taken advantage of. You said SO was right out of the divorce when the two of you started dating and you were 21 years old when ya’ll met, probably did not have a lot of LTR experience.

You could put all this work and energy into this relationship, hoping that one day this guy will marry you. This guy could be stringing you along, using you as a maid and built in babysitter for his son. I hope I’m wrong, I hope he appreciates all the work you are doing, but actions speak louder than words. So far, his actions have been to let you do all the housework and child care AND work full time.

Sure, he may have a demanding work schedule, but as I used to tell my ex-husband - what would he do if you weren’t around? I think you are telling yourself that if you just put in enough hard work now, it will pay off and this guy will marry you. Sure, he may marry you, but remember, men do not change. If you have been doing all this work for this long, getting married is not going to change things. Trust me, after a while you are going to get tired of being the only one doing any housework, the only one doing all the cooking, the one picking SS up and dropping him off places, and frankly, it's just not right for this guy to be letting you do all this.

The best thing is to gradually wean your SO off this now. This can be a sort of “test” for your SO, if you will. If your SO is using you as maid and babysitter, you want to find this out NOW before you waste more years of your life with this man. Talk to your SO, and see how he reacts when you tell him you want him to start pitching in and helping out around the house and with his kid more. One night tell him you can't pick SS from BM's for him because you have errands to run and see how he reacts.

You are right, you have the title of girlfriend yet you are doing the work of a wife and mother. But as of right now, you are the girlfriend, so you need to put the brakes on a little bit. Just to be sure you are not being taken advantage of. KWIM?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 2:16PM
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The best form of advice I could give from the situation is just to do everything the best way you can, given that the BM can be difficult (and boy do I know that). Just take it slow and focus on growing the relationships and growing trust. Just don't take it too fast. As my father would say "patience young grasshopper". That has been a hard thing I have had to learn and also to turn the other cheek and walk away from issues with the BM. Rushing into things may confuse your BF's son and mess with the dynamics of the family and could eventually cause feeling of resentment from the child's point of view. I know its hard trust me I know. You just want to be there for you BF and his child and be superwoman who can handle enything. Lol. But just remember great things will come if your patient. It does sound like you have delt with things pretty well though, with the situation preceding. As for anyone else caring about your title. Who cares what others think. That has been the hardest thing I have ever had to learn, to not care about how others perceive me. If they don't take you seriously because your just his "GF", sounds like they're judgmental and people like that aren't worth knowing, from my experiences. Anyways best of luck and stay strong.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Thanks Lucy! Your kind words came just at the right time! And I will certainly continue to strive to be superwoman every day I wake up! haha!

Amber- I had a talk with SO and it went really well! He appologized for letting me have so much on my plate and said he really didn't realize how much responsibility I had taken on until I spelled it all out for him. He said he has always been appreciative, and just assumed that since I was offering to do all the stuff I was doing, that it didnt bother me. I told him it really doesnt BOTHER ME to do all the stuff I do, I just feel like I am overstepping some boundaries when it comes to caring for his son. So we came up with a few ideas that felt more fair, and I finally got my feelings out. Thanks for giving me the courage to speak up! I'm so glad I did!

And when it comes to my title, I'm just going to have to work on being happy with who I am today. I shouldn't look to my SO or his son to define who I am. I need to come up with that on my own. Thanks everyone for participating in my first (and very successful) post!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 8:51AM
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So glad your talk with SO went well. Sometimes men are clueless, and it isn't until we spell things out that they realize what they are doing or aren't doing.

>>I shouldn't look to my SO or his son to define who I am. I need to come up with that on my own.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 8:59AM
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"Sometimes men are clueless"

Trust me, we don't have the market cornered on that particular trait....from my experience, there's plenty to go around for everyone to enjoy.

Can't tell you how often I see women doing their makeup driving to work in the am....are you kidding me??

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 4:13PM
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Leave to Kroopy our resident defend-the-men poster, LOL. The woman in your picture is not clueless, she KNOWS what she's doing. She's being reckless and irresponsible.

The OP says "he really didn't REALIZE how much responsibility I had taken on until I spelled it all out for him". Men are clueless when it comes to certain things, as in not aware, they don't notice.

So many times I've been at a kid's birthday party and the mom is struggling to get everything done. Right away several moms will step up and offer their help, hand out plates, get kids drinks, etc, while the dad is off talking with other guests. Clueless.

One time when my exBF and I were still together, we were all sitting at the dinning room table. My D7 is watching what's on the TV. ExBF's son sees this and slides his chair back a little so he's blocking D7's view. She scoots forward so she can see, and BF's son's moves forward so he's blocking her view again. Dad is sitting right there, oblivious to what's going on right under his nose. I had to say something to the son and exBF was like what? what's going on?

Granted, not ALL men are like this, just like not all women put on makeup while driving. I wait until I get to work to put my makeup on. :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 7:26PM
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I dunno, the picture is pretty focused, not blurry, for something that was snapped while the subject was in motion.

I did read an article about being safe that advised women to get in their cars & *drive away*.

It seems that we women tend to get into the car, leaving the door unlocked, & dig in our purses, put on our make-up, look for our grocery lists, etc...
making us really good targets for car-jackers & the like.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 8:45PM
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"I dunno, the picture is pretty focused, not blurry, for something that was snapped while the subject was in motion. "

Uhmmm pretty sure it's just a stock photo...wasn't trying to imply I took it or anything...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 10:31PM
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