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Dating Someone with Semi-Grown Children

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Kintsugi posted 5/8/2021 15:03 PM

Edited to add, this seems to have blossomed into other issues than just kids....

I seem to remember comments on this topic somewhere but figured I'd throw this out to the experts who have lived this, as I find myself in uncharted territory.

I've been dating a phenomenal woman for 7+ months, she's 56, me 58. There is fantastic connection and all indications are it is a healthy relationship and we both attach securely and there seems to be a future here as we've talked long term commitment and plans.

Me, no kids. Her three. Me married twice, her three times. Two kids are by the same father. My two marriages sound like a lot to me, so three threw me at first until I heard and understood her journey. Her first ended as a result of her infidelity. That led her to an accidental pregnancy which led to the second marriage and then third child. #2 husband turned out to be extremely abusive and this led her to seek safety in a "business" marriage with husband #3 who turns out is the same guy she cheated with in marriage #1, and as it turns out, an alcoholic. She described it as a business relationship more than a marriage and did it in order to protect her and her kids from abusive husband #2.

I know. It sounds like a lot. But she is the strongest, most solid woman I've ever met. I've walked in her shoes having cheated on my first wife (and then being cheated on by her when we married), and I understand her journey and the carnage poor decisions create. The important point is, she's grown into the solid woman she is today and I have grown as well.

Here's the question. As our relationship develops and grows, she is reluctant to weave me into her life with her kids. They are 20, 23 and 26 - all great. For example, her 23 y/o daughter is graduating from college and there is a weekend event where the parents are all going for the weekend which is really an open keg party celebration. She is going alone, and the dad won't be there. She didn't want me to go, even though I have met the daughter on one occasion very early on in the relationship.

Her 20 y/o son who stays with his dad when not in college came to visit her recently, and I didn't meet him in person, but did briefly on a zoom call once.

Another example was last Christmas celebrating it at a her best friends house with her kids and relatives of her friend. I wasn't invited as she felt it was too soon. I recently learned that her kids did give her crap for bringing a date when she brought a previous bf a few years back to a similar Christmas event.

She has invited previous bf's to events like the Christmas event, only to end of breaking up. She has stated she has tremendous guilt for uprooting her kids, what they've gone through and regret for previous bf interaction with them, and I get the sense she is trying this time to do the right thing and take that part slow. I have had brief interaction with all of the kids virtually, and did meet the 23 y/o daughter briefly.

But....I also can't help to get frustrated and to question it all as I'd love to get closer to that part of her life and excited to begin building those life events into our relationship. I'm beating back my negative thoughts but I also do question it and wonder why the hesitancy, when it seems to me at least, no reason not to accompany her, like at the weekend graduation event, where we begin to build these as positive events and memories.

Thanks all, your experience and feedback is really appreciated.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 11:29 AM, May 22nd (Saturday)]

Anna123 posted 5/8/2021 18:37 PM

If she wants her time with her children to herself, I see no issue with that and respect it. Even with young adults, those times socializing with them are still precious. These all sounded like events, and a special visit I wouldn't invite a boyfriend to either until much further down the road. Seven months isn't that long really.

She has stated she has tremendous guilt for uprooting her kids, what they've gone through and regret for previous bf interaction with them, and I get the sense she is trying this time to do the right thing and take that part slow. I have had brief interaction with all of the kids virtually, and did meet the 23 y/o daughter briefly.

She sounds like she is on top of things. You did get to meet them, just not join in on more involved things. Unless you 'feel' there is something else to it, I wouldn't pressure her on it and definitely don't take it personally. I get it, they sound like fun things but you will probably just have to be patient.

Glad to see things are going great otherwise!

WhoTheBleep posted 5/9/2021 06:31 AM

I say be patient. 7 months is not all that long to be dating. A college graduation weekend with her child sounds like a major event. And not going to a Christmas event a few months ago, when you were only dating what, 2 months? Way too soon.

Sounds like she's doing things on her timeline and being smart about things. She's been married three times, and who knows how many relationships. She's probably learned a few things along the way. Respect her boundaries, and continue to grow this relationship in a healthy way. Don't take any of this too personally. View it as a sign that she is this solid woman you describe her to be. Have fun!

Kintsugi posted 5/9/2021 13:12 PM

Thanks Anna and WTB. Having never had kids this is all new to me. I've dated a few women with kids, and the situations are always different given age and circumstances. Yes, my timeline is much different so I do need to be patient and we've superficially had that conversation without making it too heavy of a topic.

In the back of my mind I'm wondering how we ever get to a point where I'm introduced into the mix, if I'm never introduced into the mix. I can remember as a 21 y/o meeting my moms new bf for the first time after my parents divorce. Hated him! Turned out he was a great guy and funny as heck. So, I do get it.

Another example, she has an out of town niece wedding in July where her kids will be there also. A few months back she mentioned it for me to put it as a placeholder on my calendar. GREAT I thought. Fast forward a few more weeks, she mentioned me not going thinking we already talked about me not going. She didn't. She's now feeling weird about me being in an airB&B with her kids, and I get that. I suggested me staying somewhere else and we discussed the concept of me and her kids a bit more deeply. I'm not sure where those plans are at the moment, but I don't think I feel comfortable going at the point given her change of heart.

I do feel disconnected from her somewhat because of all this. It feels like we're living two separate lives. But then again, I guess we are.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 1:14 PM, May 9th (Sunday)]

WhoTheBleep posted 5/9/2021 19:20 PM

Hmmm... I don't like that she mentioned the wedding a while back, and now is saying you're not going. I would have a very direct conversation about this. Flat out ask her if she doesn't see a future with you.

I tiptoed around a lot in my last relationship. I could have saved myself some time and grief if I asked direct questions like that.

The1stWife posted 5/10/2021 02:51 AM

She seems to have some serious issues with her kids. And she appears to be trying to do better when it comes to them. So you are going to be in the position (for now) of taking a back seat to her children.

I think You just have to accept it. I donít think you have a choice right now.

EvenKeel posted 5/10/2021 07:47 AM

It sounds like your SO realizes she could have handled many situations in her past different....and is trying to do so now.

Many times perception to a child (even as an adult) feels very different than reality.

I remember my then late-teen son once telling me about all the men coming in and out of my life. For reference there was only one guy I introduced to my children and we broke up. YEARS later, I was dating again and he said that!

So if your SO has been married three times and her children have now been introduced to more than one guy, that maybe all they need to feel that way (even if highly inaccurate).

Yes - I know they are adults now. But that is still their mom.

I know you are anxious to be part of that world but just hang on a bit. Adding pressure to her will not help her situation. I did the exact same thing with my SO. He has no children and so wanted to be included early on but it just wasn't the right time for me and my children. We got there - just takes time.

Five years later, he is interwoven into every important family event.

If your SO feels this is best, then respect that. It will result in a better relationship with her children when they are ready.

Absolution posted 5/10/2021 13:18 PM

Kintsugi you're an appliance to her. She gets you down off the shelf when needed and puts you back when unneeded.

At family and friend gatherings you don't leave the dirty mixing bowl out on the counter. You put it back on the shelf and close the cabinet doors so it's out of sight.

Just based on the history you've given, she's treated every man in her life in such a fashion... an appliance to be used as she sees fit.

When you get tired of being an appliance you will figure out that the two of you are not compatible and you will move on.

HalfTime2017 posted 5/10/2021 14:13 PM

I had my GF wait a full year to be introduced to my kids, so I see her point in holding this off. My kids of course are a lot younger than hers, but still, children are children and she might be doing it to protect them.

Dating someone with kids is recognizing that they will put their children first, and that is okay.

ON a separate note, she sounds like someone that has a lot of baggage. Tread carefully.

Kintsugi posted 5/10/2021 15:28 PM

Wow, thanks everyone, the difference in perspective is definitely thought provoking.

So, the plot thickened some. Turns out, this wasn't her 23 y/o daughter's graduation per se. She would have been graduating, but as a nursing student who has to do clinicals, COVID f'd that up and her official graduation is in December 2021. December has always been in play for her schooling, but I didn't know all the finer details.

When she told me today about graduation technically being in December my gf also mentioned that the daughter's father (husband #2, the abusive guy) would be attending graduation in December. I had asked her if he would be in attendance this past weekend, and he wasn't. Now it makes sense, it wasn't graduation, but my gf went as more of a support role as her daughters friends were all graduating.

She went on to mention there are four tickets for the December graduation. She also mentioned that her best friend who is the godmother will be attending; I sensed as a protector and buffer from the ex husband. My gf and her friend are really REALLY tight with a long history given her marital history and circumstances having given my gf a lot of help over the years, so no surprise there. This is the same best friend who hosts the X-Mas family party I mentioned earlier. My gf then made a comment wondering who would get the fourth graduation ticket - but not asking me to go, not saying if it's free I'd love for you to go, just a hanging statement. We'll be at the 14 month mark at that point. Yes, that hurt.

As a side note, her friends husband passed away from COVID related complications last November. My gf has been helping and supporting her friend...a lot. I get it and I'm trying to be supportive and patient across the board - but just feeling like I'm #3 on the priority list when I'm used to being much higher.

I'm not pushing whatsoever, but thinking I need to monitor this very closely.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 4:16 PM, May 10th (Monday)]

EvenKeel posted 5/11/2021 08:49 AM

Hello....I am back again after seeing your update.
I felt I could give an opinion on this since I have 2 children graduating in the future.

My DS is in August. We already know tickets will be limited due to covid/venue. So this is an active conversation in my household.

My SO (of 4 1/2 years) has already spoken up to say while he would LOVE to go, he totally understands that it is limited tickets. I appreciated that because it is quite the juggle.

We will have the same scenario when DD graduates (also nursing like your situation).

The way I look at it is these are my children's tickets. Whether we get 2 tickets or 10 - they get to pick who they want there (well - except me! lol). Meaning, in a lot of families you have people who really stepped up in their lives and have been there. So if my DS would rather someone like that attend and share in his day vs my SO - that is totally ok.

I think you should look at it that way. You are very new to your GF and even more so to her children. I would think there are many people in her life that would get that ticket (ie siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, close friends, etc. It has nothing to do with your feelings your GF has for you. This day is about your GF's DD and those who have been in her tribe supporting her.

It should be up to the DD who she wants there.

This is not a mountain to die on. Be the supportive SO and don't guilt her about this. It will not look becoming to you.

Kintsugi posted 5/14/2021 06:51 AM

Thanks EvenKeel, I appreciate the follow up and analogy to your situation. I get it, I really do, and turning the limited graduation tickets scenario on its head and refocusing that it is her daughters event helps make sense of the ticket recipient priority.

I think what continues to bother me is it's not just the situation with my gf's kids that is on my mind. That's one of the issues that is a contributing factor.

The out of town wedding in July came up briefly last night. She essentially said, "way too many questions" and "not the right time" and "they'll be a lot of other opportunities." I get it I said, and I let it go at that.

Adding to all this and not mentioned previously is a situation with a friend of hers here locally. Her friend likes to go out and drink at a particular bar. About the same time we started to date my gf began to get into a routine with her new friend where every Friday night was girls night out at the same bar. I think it's harmless enough, but I remember at the time saying to myself not being able to ignore the feelings that I was being bumped down on the priority list even then. To be completely fair, the routine of the Friday night drinkfest has been on hold for a few months, mostly due to my gf being out of town to support her other friend who lost her husband in November, which also afforded me and my gf the opportunity to spend a few weeks together one-on-one in FLA together preparing her friends house for sale.

Fast forward, we're getting back to normalcy, and the Friday get togethers are back in play, with my gf mentioning that the Friday routine might/will get back into a routine. I think she was setting the foundation (or boundary?) that this was going to be a routine again. I'm left thinking to myself two thoughts, ok, "you need time with your friends", but also, "WTF am I doing waiting at home while you're out drinking"? History has shown it's not just Friday night, it impacts Saturday also as she's usually hungover and I'm left salvaging the day making other plans.

Many indications are this relationship does have potential. We spend about half of any given month seeing each other in some capacity and all the "issues" aside, things are usually really good. I think I'm just trying to figure out what this dating thing is really all about and trying to be patient with balancing everything that goes along with it. BUT, I can't help but feel sometimes like the appliance that Absolution mentioned either.

[This message edited by Kintsugi at 9:21 AM, May 14th (Friday)]

EvenKeel posted 5/14/2021 07:39 AM

I think what continues to bother me is it's not just the situation with my gf's kids that is on my mind. That's one of the issues that is a contributing factor.
I was speaking to the children's questions since that was the subject of your post. However, I can see there are other factors that are playing directly into your real concern (way past her children).

When it comes down to it, you have to trust your gut. My SO would have been fully happy to be in my world tons more. At the beginning, I didn't have that to offer. Secondly, I am not that sort of person. I need space. So we have a compromise. It works for us.

It sounds like you are at that place as well. You want more time than she is willing to give. You have to decide what you can compromise on and what you can't. This might very well be a deal breaker for you. Only you know that.

There are a few items in your post that would cause that yellow flag to wave for me as well. I totally get your concerns.

grubs posted 5/14/2021 11:14 AM

About the same time we started to date my gf began to get into a routine with her new friend where every Friday night was girls night out at the same bar. I think it's harmless enough, but I remember at the time saying to myself not being able to ignore the feelings that I was being bumped down on the priority list even then.

To me weekly girls, or boys, Fri/Sat nights out drinking are things single unattached people do. That in itself would be a red flag. You only have two nights out of the week where the morning after doesn't involve work or school. Quality time that is limited. It's one thing to do it every few weeks, but I would not be ok with it week in and week out.

Kintsugi posted 5/14/2021 12:06 PM

To me weekly girls, or boys, Fri/Sat nights out drinking are things single unattached people do. That in itself would be a red flag. You only have two nights out of the week where the morning after doesn't involve work or school. Quality time that is limited. It's one thing to do it every few weeks, but I would not be ok with it week in and week out.

Thanks Grub, yes, I think you nailed it in a manner that summarizes where my head is at. Giving it fair assessment, because of the other life events mentioned, the weekly hasn't happened in awhile. But the mention of it getting back to the routine didn't sit well with me at all.

So Wednesday I mentioned in a text to my gf that there was a organized walk with a group we're in happening Friday (tonight). That's when she mentioned she might be going out with her friend. Ok, I was kind of expecting it, I think I was putting a feeler out there, hadn't heard anything at that point. Ok, I'll take one for the team, she hadn't done it in awhile, last time she saw her friend was for her friends birthday about one month ago, I went as well.

When we saw each other last night I mentioned I'd miss her on the walk. She broke it that she wasn't going out with her friend, her friend was out of town, they're going out next Friday.

So just like that, not asking if we had plans or anything, she already committed to the routine with her friend.

Yes, it does bother me, but I want to see what takes place over the next few weeks. My gf has travel to be with her other friend planned (more support related to her friends loss of her husband). So, no Friday routine for the next few weeks after next week. We'll see.

WhoTheBleep posted 5/14/2021 13:13 PM

Maybe this doesn't bother you. Maybe your drinking habits are similar. But for me, a 56-year-old woman who gets drunk enough every Friday to the point where she needs Saturday to recover... Man that's a red flag. Couple that with the fact that she's choosing that hangover over time with you...yikes. I can see why taken all together you are wondering about your future with her.

I'm 46. Those drinking days are decades behind me.

I want to see what takes place over the next few weeks

This sounds like a good plan. Eyes wide Open. Try to remain emotionally neutral. Keep us posted.

[This message edited by WhoTheBleep at 1:14 PM, May 14th (Friday)]

EllieKMAS posted 5/14/2021 16:23 PM

I'm 46. Those drinking days are decades behind me.
I'm 39 and they are also a looooong way behind me.

Kintsugi - I just read in all this that you are just not a priority to her. I can only speak from my personal perspective, but as a woman I put in effort with people who are important to me; I don't blow them off, I don't exclude them from my life, I make it a point to make and keep plans. TBH your gf kinda sounds wishy-washy to me and frankly, this doesn't really strike me as very healthy behavior on her part.

The thing with her kids... that I kinda understand if it was ONLY that. Caution and making sure of something before draggin your kids into it is smart and I have no problem there.

But that plus all this other stuff? I see a lot of red(ish) flags here.

Absolution posted 5/14/2021 22:18 PM

If you want another analogy, you are Charlie Brown to her Lucy. Although you have doubts you know your Lucy will hold the football only to have her move it as you run to kick it. It happens over and over again. Itís her nature. How much longer are you willing to try to kick the ball when you know your fate is to scream Arrrggg when you land on your backside? Sheís been pulling the ball over and over again as it suits her in one relationship after another. The only question is when you know enough to pick up the ball and go home.

Kintsugi I donít see much here. Based on your prior posts this is a rebound relationship which began almost immediately after the demise of your prior relationship which ended llast summer. To quote the great Maya Angelou, never make someone a priority when all you are is an option.

Listen up Charlie Brown. Donít be that guy..

The1stWife posted 5/15/2021 12:57 PM

She has drink fests on Friday nights and is hungover Saturdayís as a regular routine (according to what you posted earlier).

And you donít see this as a problem? Or red flag?

It appears to me that you are not in her top 5 of importance. Kids first - makes sense. But if her drinking with the girls is more important than you and impacts her weekends - you may want to re-evaluate how ďsolidĒ this woman is.

I see 🚩🚩🚩🚩

I have experienced alcoholism - family members and dated an alcoholic BF in my early 20s. BTDT as they say. I lived your life for 3 years. I was fourth on the priority list. Drinking and sports were the top 2. Nursing the hangover was third. And all the sports involved drinking. Bowling softball darts ó watching sports like MLB or NBA involved drinking too.

[This message edited by The1stWife at 1:01 PM, May 15th (Saturday)]

Jambomo posted 5/17/2021 06:53 AM

There strikes me as a few things going on here. I think the situation with the kids if fair enough, introducing them to new partners is tricky regardless of the age and 7 months isn't long.

Whilst I am not a fan of the getting shitfaced method of socializing, being committed to seeing her friend every Friday isn't bad behavior - she is making her her good friend as a priority, which is not wrong. The question is what time does she make for you outside of this evening? and if it continues to impact Saturdays, will she do something about that?

What I am wondering though is from the other angle. She has plans Fridays which go into Saturday, so what are you doing when she does this? Do you plan good fun things to do with friends or are you sitting in the house and waiting for her to make time for you?

I guess what I mean is that to have a good healthy life yourself, you want to be doing fun things you like and setting/achieving the goals you want for yourself, creating & maintaining friendships outside the relationship. It helps so that if you find this (or any other) relationship does go south, you have a fulfilling life of which that relationship is only one component, not the whole thing.

Mirror her behavior. When she is out, you make plans, if she isn't putting in the effort, then don't run after her trying to make plans, it won't help someone who isn't interested enough be interested, put in what you are getting back out again.

It might be that her regular night out becomes a bigger issue and yeah, that kind of drinking can cause problems. It may be that she isn't as committed as you'd like her to be, you can't stop that though - we cannot change peoples behavior, so you need to consider if it is a deal breaker or not.

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