QUESTION: My boyfriend and I have
had an on-and-off relationship for six years and we recently decided
to stay together. However, during an "off" time, he fathered a baby
with another women. He's crazy about his baby (now six-months-old),
but I feel no affection towards him. My boyfriend promised me his
baby and I could both be his top priority, but I feel like a third-wheel.
We can't plan our future because he has so much kid's stuff to deal
with. I never dated men with children for this very reason ... and
I'm growing impatient.
ANSWER: Your boyfriend sounds like he
wants to have his cake and eat it too! And perhaps you are vulnerable
to believing in the impossible when it is something you want. Both
of you need to take stock of the situation, not only for yourselves,
but for the child and stepchildren involved. It is time for a deep
and honest look at your own motivations and the impact of such complications
on other people.
Your lack of feeling towards your boyfriend's baby
is no doubt a sign of your anger and pain at your boyfriend for the
turn of circumstances that arose during the "off" part of your relationship.
You did not want this child. This child is not yours. Why would your
feelings ever change? And what are the effects on other innocent children?
Given your initial feelings of not even wanting to date men who had
children, aren't you selling yourself short to accept such a situation
now? Ask yourself why you would do such a thing to yourself when being
"number one" has always been so important to you.
Your feelings of being a "third wheel" in this specific
situation with the uniquely challenging features it presents are likely
to be borne out. Your circumstances spell pain, big time! Your boyfriend's
promise to make you and his new child he is not living with (and who
is not connected to you) both "number one" sounds like a desperate
attempt to meet his own needs at the expense of yours! Examine the
past carefully, to determine whether his "making deals" is something
that repeats itself. Perhaps this kind of character flaw has contributed
to your previous relationship difficulties. Do you have a pattern
of overaccommodation in relationships? Was this the nature of your
parents' marriage? If so, it may be easier to see the facts and act
in your own best interests this time.
Review your own sense of worth and desire to have
what you want in your life. Is there anything in your childhood or
past experience that would cause you to believe that you cannot have
what you want? Anything that makes you feel unworthy of the uncomplicated
love you seek? Or is it the case that your willingness to consider
your boyfriend's unrealistic "deal" to share being "number one" with
his new child from another relationship is your attempt to escape
the imminent grief of saying "good-bye".
As one friend advised me when I was mourning a love
relationship, "It may be the best milk it town, but it's spilled."
Making doomed agreements may hurt less in the short run, but make
you ineligible for the happiness in the future you so desire. If you
choose to say "good-bye," remember that it will hurt, and you will
grieve the loss of the dreams you had for your relationship. And you
will miss your boyfriend. But remember, too, that "what could have
been" has already changed irrevocably.
Consider getting help to clarify your present situation
and the realistic impact on your future. Perhaps your tendency to
overcompromise your needs in the relationship has eroded your self-esteem.
Identify what your requirements are in a marriage. It is your job
to take care of yourself. If you do not take charge of your decision,
you most likely increase the chance that you will feel victimized.
Take the courage to look inside for answers. If you have lost yourself
in the relationship, reclaiming your sense of self is the first order
If you decide to walk away from the relationship,
consider seeking professional and/or peer support to weather the pain
of loss and explore your own motivations for being in this relationship.
Remember that you are making a decision that will affect your experience
of feeling loved for the rest of your life. Do you really want to
marry a man who is now immersed in the life of a woman he had an affair
with during the "off" period in your relationship????