Vent - Invisible Around Child

Mick MickDecember 8, 2008

Hi! This is my first post. For the last eight months, I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend. He has an eight year old daughter from a previous relationship. He has her every other weekend and every Wednesday. I am the first woman that he has seriously dated since his divorce. I really love him. Right now we are at a crossroads. I should say that *I* am at a crossroads.

I feel as if I am an outsider when I am around my boyfriend and his daughter. I like the girl. I think she is funny, sassy, and very lovable. She likes me too. It isn't her. It is him! He has some sort of "odd" idea that being a helicopter parent is the best way to be. When I am around, it is like I am not even there!

He says that he is ready to integrate me into his relationship with his daughter but his actions don't show it. First, when she is around he doesn't give me any form of affection. I don't want a full slob-down, but a hug and a peck on the cheek? Hold my hand when we are together? I get none of that. Also, sometimes I feel as if I am treated as a friend and not the woman that he SAYS he wants to marry. As a result of this, it is hard for me to feel fully engaged when we have our outings because I feel ignored and invisible. Not from the daughter...FROM HIM.

At his birthday dinner, we spent the entire time looking at his daughter. There was no adult conversation. He pissed me off because he didn't open my card in front of her.

He made the statement that "all he wants to do is spend his birthday with his daughter." I called him out on that and he said that he didn't mean it that way.

I have a lot of "toys" that children enjoy at my home - Wii, PS2, hot chocolate machines and such. I feel like he wants to bring her to the house to entertain the daughter. He soaks up my resources and he can't even give me a hug.

I have had it! For the past couple of weekends, I have disappeared and have been thinking about my next course of action. Well, this morning I had received an email from him stating that he is very disappointed that I have not been around them during visitation. He feels as if my disappearance is directly related to his daughter.

Isn't that something? He can't give 100% to me, but I am expected to give 100%! I really think that he was upset because he couldn't come over and play the Wii.

Oh yeah! He has unreasonable expectations of me. Actually any woman that he would date. He often makes the statement that "we" will have a daughter and he expects me to "love" her like a daughter. Noooooo...She is not my daughter. She has a mother who is there and involved. I will not disrespect her like that because he has a crazy relationship with her. No way!

I read an awful, awful book that basically said that I should bend over backwards and ignore my needs because step mothers are always in second place. The author proposed that step mothers get pregnant to have equal footing. I don't want that. Please, please tell me that this isn't what my life is going to be like.

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Ohhhhh Diva! I'm sorry! I had a boyfriend with a young daughter when I was 21. He was 22. She was three. She was lovely. It was very difficult, all around. She would tell people that I wasn't her mommy when we were out (we did look a lot alike). He would have a hard time with the two of us. I wanted his attention, she wanted his attention...

Looking back it's so clear. He was in an awkward position of being a new dad. She was feeling strange and setting her boundaries. I had no clue what I was doing.

I still think of that little girl. I still miss her. I would have been honored to be her second mom. And amazingly enough, she, a teenager now, still asks about me.

This is what your life is going to be like, unless you have a kid and find out what it's like to be a single parent on your own. I understand now the conflict that went through my old bf's head every time we were together. Trying to balance a child and a lover.

I don't do PDA's in front of my daughter with my DH. A hug, sure, but make sure the dd is involved too "group hug"!!!

Remember your boyfriend is new to this. He doesn't know what to do, how to act, what is the best way to involve you. You don't have to get pregnant to be a part of this family, but my ex-boyfriend from years ago said it best, although I resented the heck out of him for saying it at the time. "When you have a baby, you'll understand". He was right. I now understand completely where he was coming from.

By the way, it's not unreasonable to want you to love his daughter as your own. It's wishful, hopeful.

Don't ignore your needs. Just understand that your bf and his daughter have never done this before either.

Best of luck to you. Relax, be loving, and the love will come.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 11:28PM
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Hi Diva,

Throw that book in the bin! I'm a stepmom and have been for 4 years and I don't have or want any kids of my own. I love my stepkids but it's not the same as having your own, I'm sure. And it's not a requirement either. If you get along then your partner should be very happy. To demand love for a child is unreasonable and not realistic. Your partner's little girl has both her mum and her dad in her life and that is great. They are the parents and therefore responsible for raising her. As a stepparent you have to stand back a bit, and that is not always easy, tell me about it! I'm involved as much as I can in my stepkids lives and I want the best for them, but I'm starting to learn that I have to step back and let their dad be the one to step up. We discuss everything together and we agree on things, but in the end it's up to him to do / organise / enforce it.
But moving on, the book said that you should put your own needs aside because you are in second place. In my opinion one has nothing to do with the other and even though you might be in second place, that can still be a pretty good place! In our family we talk a lot and it is important that everybody's needs are met, not just the kids or me or their dad.
In your case it sounds like your partner is worried that he might upset his daughter if he doesn't spend every minute focusing on her. When he says to you that he is ready to integrate you into the relationship it might mean that he wants to, the intention is good, just the actions aren't backing it up yet. Maybe he feels guilty towards his daughter. Like he shouldn't pay attention to any other woman now that he's not with her mom anymore because it might hurt her feelings.
So therefore giving you a kiss on the cheek or a hug is not happening, yet! Maybe it helps if you talk to him again and ask him how he feels when his daughter is with you guys. Also point out that she likes you so his feelings of guild are understandable but the battle is already won. And of course he could talk to her and ask her how she feels about him having a new partner. Often kids just feel better if they get a chance to talk about how they feel. It's important to listen and for them to know that they are heard. And she might say that she finds certain things difficult, that doesn't mean that you need to find a solution for this, or that it is therefore not ok to be together. My stepkids sometimes tell me that they would love for their mum and dad to be together again, and then they quickly add that they don't mean that they want me to go away. I don't take this personal because I know that they like me. I usually say that I understand it and that it's very normal to feel that way, which kid wouldn't want their parents to be together forever? Just to be able to say it makes them feel better.
Good luck with everything, keep us up to date on how it's going. I'm only new to this website too and I'm happy that I can finally share some experiences and get some advice!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 12:50AM
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"Please, please tell me that this isn't what my life is going to be like."

If you marry him,yes it will,unfortunately.

I applaud you for seeing it is HIM and not his daughter making you feel this way.While alot of others on here might say he SHOULD be putting all the attention on his daughter,I disagree.If he was married to her mother and ignoring her like that,it would not be ok.And it's not ok for him to do it to you either.
Alot of stepmoms on this forum seem to do EVERYTHING for their step children.While I think that is commendable,it is THEIR choice.You shouldnt have to do that in order for your BF to be happy if it isnt what you feel comfortable doing though.
In fact,she is HIS responsibility and you shouldnt have to be there everytime she visits! Which makes me think he is looking more for a replacement parent then he is a partner.
I feel for you!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 2:13AM
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Mick Mick

Thanks everyone for helping me put this in perspective. Our plan is to discuss this matter tonight.

I am not asking him to love me more. My thoughts are that the way that he loves me is vastly different from the way that he loves her. It is futile to compare the two or to rank and prioritize them. It isn't the same.

I consider my brother and sister-in-law's relationship a model for stepparenting relationships. Actually it is the only model for steppparenting relationships that I have. My brother did not allow his wife or his daughter or his daughter's mother to interfere in any of the relationships. My SIL said that he never felt like she didn't matter because my brother didn't allow it.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 4:43AM
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i understand how you feel but here are couple of thoughts.

about PDA, I don't do PDA in front of DD. I don't know why, I just don't. My X and his wife do(saw with my own eyes), it depnds on the person. I would not make a big deal out of it, some people aren't comfortable about PDA>

honestly every other weekend and wednesday is not that much and you can put up with being a second hand citizen for few days.

8 months is not that much. i never even brought men home unless knew them for a year.

i think it is a good idea to not be around visitations. go spend time wiht friends, family, go do stuff by yourself, let them be together just two of them. it is not like you guys live together. i think it would be OK if he gets to spend time just wiht his daughter once in a while. you go enjoy your freedom on thsoe days ;)

Now if you move in together then I can see how things should change. but at this point give it time, don't rush. and of course he loves two of you differently, and yes for most people children are a priority. it does not mean he loves you less, he just misses his daughter.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 7:43AM
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This is your future - I would not be available to spend much time with them on their eowe. He only gets her 4 days a month, they need to spend that time together, make plans with your gfs, go to the spa, whatever, just don't be around. That way you don't feel like a 2nd class citizen, and they get their time together. However, before you advance this relationship, you have some serious discussions that need to be had with your bf.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 7:57PM
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Your comment that "the way that he loves me is vastly different from the way that he loves her. It is futile to compare the two or to rank and prioritize them. It isn't the same," is very wise. Good for you.

From your description, that book sounds AWFUL. But at the same time, even though it is NOT true that you have to settle for a life of second fiddle, it IS true that sometimes the parents' actions, choices, and priorities are indeed affected by the presence of children -- and that goes for all families, not just step-families.

It isn't easy to love someone with a child that isn't yours, I'm sure. So you will need to understand that parents often DO need to put their young children's needs and desires first -- and I'm not talking about ahead of your needs and desires, I'm talking about HIS. Obviously, he likes to be with you and show you affection. But something is making him uncomfortable being too demonstrative, both physically and otherwise, when she is around.

Consider that there is a chance that you two will break up -- and I stress I mean a CHANCE, just like there is for anyone; I am NOT predicting that you two will break up. Of course you don't want to focus on that, and I'm not saying you should. But HE MUST keep it in the back of his mind-- because he has to consider the effect it would have on his daughter. It's great that she likes you so much; consider that that may be part of the reason he is proceeding cautiously around her. If you would ever leave him, it would break his heart; he doesn't want to risk breaking hers, too.

So even though he means it when he says he wants to marry you someday, it isn't yet official. Honestly, I have to agree that perhaps it is prudent for him to hold back a bit until then. Perhaps ask him if this issue doesn't play some role in his behavior. You may get a flattering surprise! But in any case, you love him, so try to understand how HE is feeling.

In the meantime, I agree with the advice of the two previous posters. Give the two of them time alone, most of the time that he has her. It is only a few days a month. It will be good for all of you. As dogdogcrazy says, as your relationship progresses, that will change, too, but for now, I agree it's the way to go.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 6:02PM
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