About 6 weeks ago I wrote a post about dating a guy with kids. It was intended to be a one time thing, but naturally I had more to say on the subject so I had to split the post in half. I meant to post it a lot sooner, but some things happened, so that didn’t. But things are better now, so I’m ready to talk about this again.
Last time I offered up some advice on handling things if you ever found yourself in a situation similar to mine. This is post is going to be about the things that make dating someone with kids so freaking hard. This could also be known as why these relationships can suck so bad.
Note: I’m not saying MY relationship with The Carpenter sucks, just that the situation can be really hard and can make your life extremely difficult and complicated. It other words, sometimes it sucks. But if you really love this person, you deal with it. 🙂
I’m starting with this because this is the number one thing I struggle with. I will never be The Carpenter’s number 1 priority. Ever. When we first starting dating, I knew this but had a hard time adjusting. For everyone around me, their spouse or significant other comes first in their lives. I did not, and do not, come first in The Carpenter’s life. Now that we’ve been together for over a year, I’m okay with this. I’m okay with this because I know I’m an incredibly close second. Maybe even a 1.5 priority level. I know he will never choose me over the kids (I’d be a real bitch if I asked him to), but I know he will do everything he can to put me and my feelings above (almost) all else.
It takes some getting used to and I’ll be the first to admit that I hated it. It almost led me to end the relationship more than once. But I accepted it, learned to understand it and live with it, and now it works for us. I don’t think we would still be together if he didn’t put the kids first; if he doesn’t now, how could I be sure he would with our own children?
I had a minor meltdown (not all that unusual) last week about The Carpenter’s ex wife. Without revealing too many personal details that I don’t have the right to, I’ll only say that she is probably my complete opposite. However, I am constantly plagued with self-doubt. That she will try to get him back, that he will leave me for her, that I can’t fulfill some need that she obviously did, etc.
I have been told that none of these are true and if he wanted to be with her, he would be. I feel better about it now, but it’s still hard. How many of your significant others talk to their exs on an almost daily basis? Not many I would wager. This is something I do not like and have expressed my opinion about on multiple occasions. But it’s also an inevitability. Life circumstances (including the kids) put them in contact regularly. They might not have a good relationship, but they do have to be on speaking terms. While I don’t have a relationship with her (and would prefer not to for the foreseeable future), she will always be part of our lives. I just have to work on not letting her be part of our relationship (in my head) and remove that self-doubt.
You know…but you don’t
I started babysitting at 14 and nannied my way through high school summers. I have a large family with lots of children. I like babies and kids. I’m good at dealing with tantrums and teaching manners. But I know nothing about being a parent. Being a parent is not like being a babysitter. You don’t get to leave the kids at the end of the day. And even if you do, the problems, concerns, and worrying never stops. So as understanding as you can be about how kids act, learn, behave, etc, you’ll never know what your significant other is going through because you’re not a parent. And until you are, you just don’t get it.
Ack. This is my least favorite of everything on this list. When you don’t have children and/or have never been divorced, dating someone who is divorced and/or has children opens you up to a lot of criticism. Just like with everything else, people seem to think they know better and they tell you that all the time. I want to be like, “listen (rude person). You don’t know my life. You don’t know my relationship. I didn’t ask for your advice/opinion. Back the f*ck off. Please.”
Obviously, I’d get myself into some really big trouble if I said that, but it doesn’t mean I can’t think it. 🙂 People are always going to judge. People are always going to offer opinions and advice despite not being asked for them. When you do something that is the slightest bit out of the ordinary, you’re going to put a bee in someone’s bonnet. It’s just another one of those things you have to accept and move on.
Being a parent…without actually being a parent
Just like knowing, but not knowing, being the significant other of someone with children does not make you a parent. (Unless of course you are a step-parent, but that doesn’t apply to me, so I’m not talking about that.) There is a fine line between being helpful and supportive, and trying to be a parent. Since I’m a control freak and like to have things my way, this is hard for me. I have a hard time not giving The Carpenter my opinion about all things parenting and telling him what he should be doing. I fail at this a lot. Luckily, he’s pretty good at ignoring me, but it has led to some disagreements. It’s a tough balance and I’m not sure I’ll ever find it.
So those are the five things I think are most difficult about dating someone with kids. Do you agree? What do you think would be the hardest for you?