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POLL RESULTS: What About Me?!: (25 comments)

POLL: What About Me?!

Friday, December 04, 2009 - 12:00 AM

A reader writes... Q: I've been dating a very nice man for about four months now. He is honest, loyal and a gentleman. He has three kids (17 to 21) who stay with him on the weekends, when I don't usually hear from him. He also went out of state for the holidays with the kids. I received one phone call that lasted a few minutes. My question is, is it normal that I haven't met his kids yet? I just feel like I'm a girlfriend through the week only. Will he fit me into the rest of his life eventually? P.S. I think it's great he is such a good dad. I also know there is no other woman on the weekend.

POLL: What should this woman do?
 
1% (29) She needs to put her foot down with her man.
 
10% (167) Be patient. He'll come around
 
42% (658) She's only been dating a few weeks! Respect him for being a good dad.
 
43% (664) Be more understanding. His kids are a priority on the weekends. She gets the rest.
 
1% (19) Find a new man. One who can focus full-time on her needs.
1537 people have voted in this poll. (This poll is not active.)
HandEFood
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Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 12:25 AM (#50372)

My parents divorced when I was 17 years old (I'm now 28.) I had no problems with this. Both Mum and Dad were very silent about any partners they had after that. Mum was out most nights and would only say she was staying at a friend's place, who is now, several years later, her de-facto. Dad moved in with another woman whom he married a couple of years later.

I'm guessing they both felt uneasy about announcing another relationship so soon after their previous one. They might have thought I'd tell the other, causing conflict, or they might have wanted to make sure the relationship was the real thing before involving them in our family.

Give it time. When he's ready to bring you into the family you'll be welcomed.


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Arktik
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Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 12:53 AM (#50373)

For christ's sake lady, grow the hell up. His ex-wife obviously tried to ruin him (as women see it as their entitlement) and his kids are what kept him sane. Why do women believe that they are the center of a man's universe?
Maybe he and his kids go out and do fun things on weekends that they never had the chance to do before. Do you and he do fun things together during the week? Or are they only fun for you and he is obligated to go along for the ride?


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DanialArin
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Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 01:06 AM (#50374)

I can think of a few possibilities...

  • In his mind, meeting his kids is the same level of milestone as meeting his parents. If this is the case, such a meeting would occur when the relationship is headed toward the possibility of an engagement, and I'm guessing you two haven't reached that point (or aren't headed in that direction).
  • He's afraid you won't like them.
  • He's afraid they won't like you.
  • He believes either you or the kids aren't ready for this yet. He's afraid they would see his involvement with you as actively trying to replace their mother, and thus as a betrayal.
  • Either he or they are jealous of their time together and don't want to share / be shared.
  • The last two are, I hope, unlikely, as they are both worst-case scenarios. If it's the first one, it may be important for you to try to figure out if it's point-of-progress or direction-of-relationship, and try to determine the best course from there, and also should discuss whether this particular meeting is quite that big of a deal.

    The other three are emotional hurdles, which the two of you should discuss. Sometimes it comes down to just stepping up and rolling the dice to see what happens.

    Have you told him yet that you want to meet the kids?

    Have you told him yet that you think he's a good dad?


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    DanialArin
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 01:08 AM (#50375)
    I stand corrected. What Arktik describes is the actual worst-case scenario.
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    Gadfly
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 01:42 AM (#50377)

    Per the psychological research cited in Maggie Gallagher's _Abolition of Marriage_, the effect of a parent dating on the children creates a delicate balance. Let's put it this way: if he introduces you to his kids, and they get close to you, and the relationship doesn't work out, they could be traumatized by it. OTOH, if he waits too long, they might feel mad that he kept you a secret. So there's a kind of a tightrope there.

    Then there's what others have said: he might actually be using the kids as a shield for his own insecurities. One of my wife's best friends married a man (now one of my best friends) who took years to tie the knot because he'd been so traumatized by a previous fiancee who literally left him at the altar. Take that trauma and add an actual marriage and divorce.
    Human beings are much more fragile than our society wants us to believe. The idea of a "starter marriage" notwithstanding, most people who've been divorced never fully trust another relationship.
    Taking all that into consideration, why not just ask if it's OK if you meet his kids?


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    morty
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 01:49 AM (#50378)

    IMHO, there are several things to think of.

    Presumably, the guy's kids have already been through one nasty family situation involving a divorce from a marriage that lasted at least 4 years. I'm sure he would prefer to have his girlfriend around 7 days a week, but his children's needs must come first. The relationship with his children *has* to come first -- his children can't get another dad. Remember that divorce is even harder on the children, and they are likely to resent a girlfriend who effectively further distances them from their dad. It also makes sense to shield them from another possible messy situation if you guys eventually break up -- even though he might not expect a breakup, he's been bitten once, and should be twice shy. Quite frankly, he is doing the responsible thing. As a dad, his kids have to come before his own happiness. He has to do whatever is necessary to protect them, even if it makes him less happy. Without even having met the guy, I have to respect him.

    Then again, you do need to get your needs met, too. If you don't mind being a weekday girlfriend but were just concerned why, then hopefully the above allays your concerns. But if you really must be a 7-day girlfriend, maybe this relationship isn't for you. It might not be his *fault*, but if he can't meet your needs, maybe you should break up anyway.

    Have you actually talked to him and asked him what's up? Communication is a good thing. While our theories are great, only he knows his real reasons.

    And is this situation permanent, or is it just until his kids grow up a bit more? Once his kids grow up, move out, and mature some more, he might be ready to introduce you to them. Again, maybe you should ask him.


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    Murgatroyd
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 02:33 AM (#50379)

    Every one of these comments is on target. The Original Poster should pay attention to CD's readers' sensible advice.

    I've been dating a very nice man for about four months now. [...] Will he fit me into the rest of his life eventually?

    Seems to me as if you're expecting this four-month-old relationship to become permanent. If this is realistic, then of course he'll introduce you to his kids, at the right time. If it isn't realistic, then he's doing the right thing by not introducing you and not dumping a fresh load of emotional complexity on them.


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    D_Armand
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 05:49 AM (#50380)

    The previous responses all seem valid. The one question I have is due more to the age of the children... which I would also change the responses previous to some degree. (Correct me if I'm wrong).

    Is this relationship between two people of a similar age, or are you significantly younger than the guy?

    With his children being 17-21, I would think that there's a lessened burden brought on by the things previously discussed. I would believe those factors most important when the child is 5-15, old enough to remember the way things were, young enough not to be separating from their parents lives anyways.

    If there is a significant age gap that brings your age anywhere near that of the guy's kids... well. It'd make it a much more issue filled conversation for the father. Most people I know are a bit more uncomfortable with their parents dating people nearer to their (the kids) age than when it's an equal age relationship. Heck, my dad even talks about 20somethings being cute, and I get a bit nauseous inside.

    Those are the only factors I saw...


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    bknabe
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 11:36 AM (#50382)

    If he's been seeing her for four months and the relationship is exclusive, it seems to me it would be time for the kids to meet her, not necessarily as a girlfriend, but as a friend.

    My parents are still married after 46+ years so I don't have a lot of perspective on divorce and kids, but I don't see anything about how long the man has been divorced in the post. If it's been 10 years then his kids need to let him get on with his life. If it's been 6 months, the kids may need a little more time.

    But it seems to me that it may be just as likely that he isn't divorced, or that he has another woman. With no more than we've been told, that's just as likely as him spending the time with his kids.


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    bknabe
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 12:56 PM (#50383)
    In Response to bknabe (#50382):

    Replying to myself. I missed that she knows there is no other woman on the weekend. But my sister knew there was no other woman for a couple of years before finding out her husband had been cheating on her all along. So I'll stand firm that with no more than what we've been given.


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    vorlonagent
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 02:01 PM (#50384)

    See this is why I voted "Put your foot down." It's time to meet the kids.

    Oh not hang with them every weekend or anything, but if Our Girl's relationship to dad is For Reals, were getting to the point where it's time to take a new step.

    Dad may be nervous. Mine was. I don't think I met my dad's wife after mom until their wedding. And speaking as the kid, yeah it does feel strange to see dad with someone else. But it didn't feel nomral till I saw it a few times, dig?

    But back to Our Girl with the question.

    One intro is enough to last for a while. If Dad's new squeeze doesn't work out, the harm done to them is minimal. But if dad's thing with Our Girl is lasting, it's not fair to anyone around him not to bring her in bit by bit.

    And, just because I'm a supsicious SOB, I'd want Our Girl to meet the kids to be sure they're real, y'know?


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    Azerik
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 02:02 PM (#50385)

    I'm not sure I can add much to what has already been said except a slightly longer perspective.

    My parents were married for 22-ish years (I probably ought to nail that date down better). They got divorced when I was 16-17 (I'm the oldest). They had been separated at that point for a couple of years, but at the time I was still buying the line of my father looking for another job before he moved the 500-1000 miles (yes I meant that big a range, it's a long story) to where we had moved.

    It was more traumatic than I gave it credit for at the time. Basically the reason that they finally went through with the divorce it was because my dad had found someone else and needed to make the divorce official to be with her. At 17 that really bothered me, probably more so than it would if I were younger.

    Now I'm 40 and have kids ranging from 17 down to 6. I can only imagine how awkward that would be to try and introduce them to a girlfriend (fortunately not a problem as of yet). For that matter my father has been remarried for a 3rd time for something like 5 years now and I *still* haven't met her.

    Bottom line, you got yourself one of those guys that women always go on about. They profess to want someone devoted to family and looks/money not being as important as emotional considerations, etc etc. Well now is your chance. You got a guy that is willing to put his kids before you. That is a trait to be admired and encouraged. Age ranges weren't specified here, but if he's got 17-21yo's then odds are against your having more kids with him. However, if he had those kids young then it remains a possibility. Your relationship is young, his kids are important to him, and it seems to me he's doing what he can to protect both.

    When the time comes you will meet the kids. Until then, just work on your relationship with him. Don't push the issue. If the topic comes up (and you haven't already done so) you could mention that you'd like to meet them. Just don't make it a deal breaker, let him do it on his own time.

    Ultimately kids never want to picture their parents as real people, they want them to stay the idealized archetype. Even at 40, I shy away from thinking about that aspect of my parents relationship or his subsequent ones. He's a keeper, if children with him are in your future, just think of how good a dad he'll be for them.


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    CaptainSmokeblower
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 03:47 PM (#50386)

    I was a single dad raising two children for ten years. Introducing the kids too early can end a budding relationship. I can't speak for introducing them too late. (I can't prove that waiting longer to introduce the kids would have helped. It may just have been too hard for the woman to accept kids not her own.) My kids were (overly) enthusiastic about meeting anyone I dated so I only dated on the weekends when they were away with their mom until I was ready to introduce them (after that early mistake).
    I've found women are often insecure about how much their partner loves them and need to be TOLD they're loved even when they're BEING SHOWN they are loved. If a woman worries whether "her" man loves her more than his kids she should remember he loves them because they're part of him, but he chooses to love her. He, or you, can call it quits, but they're always his kids. It's easy to love your kids, but you work at loving your partner -- don't make it more difficult than it has to be to love you.


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    zmortis
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 05:30 PM (#50387)

    I'm in the 0% category it seems. I have no problem with him being a great guy, and you liking him. It does seem that he is distancing you from his full life though. This may be justified as necessary to protect his kids from what others here perceive as the harshness of reality.

    My point to this conversation is that your message seems to be that you are feeling the pressure that comes from being held at arms length. The question to ask yourself is: Are you satisfied with this being your status quo? Knowing that you will be always second to his real life.

    Personally I recommend you find a new man. While you may become great friends with this guy, and he seems to be a great father from what he tells you. It doesn't seem that he is ready to let you into his life anytime soon.

    p.s. I am a naturally suspicious bastard and would think that anyone "hiding" you from their family is up to something potentially nefarious. Either he is not as good with his kids as he pretends to be, he finds his relationship with you to be socially embarassing, or else he's potentially pulling the wool over your eyes about his real weekend activities. Plenty of great seeming guys have skeletons in their closets (does Tiger Woods come to mind for anyone?) It seems to me very possible that you are one of those skeletons. Are you happy being treated like his dirty little secret?

    It might also be informative to talk to the "ex" to find out whether he is really a keeper, or if he is just good at telling women what they want to believe. My experience is that people don't tend to get a divorce without a reason. Her perspective might give you some valuable insight into what you might be getting into.


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    DanialArin
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Friday, December 04, 2009 - 11:17 PM (#50389)
    In Response to zmortis (#50387):

    Contacting his ex is generally a really bad idea. If there's bad blood between them, you'll either get a figurative knife in the back (meaning, an attempt to poison your relationship, one way or another), or a literal knife in the chest (as she tries to kill you to get revenge on him).

    If they parted on positive / friendly terms, you might actually get decent information... but relatively few divorces are so amicable. If he is on good terms with his ex, though, you will probably meet her eventually, at which point you will want to make a good (and friendly) impression.

    In the long run, only you can decide if he's what you want in a keeper. It sounds like you're leaning in that direction; otherwise not meeting the kids wouldn't be the issue.

    Keep in mind that a lot of new significant others of divorcées want nothing to do with the person's pre-existing or previous family. If you haven't told him you want to meet his kids, he may have no idea.

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    Jorn
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Saturday, December 05, 2009 - 01:02 AM (#50390)

    Ok, a couple of things:

    1. You've been dating him for four months, but only see him during the week. Four months is not a long time to be dating, and it's not like you've been together for a year, or you're living with him and he kicks you out on the weekends.

    2. He went out of state for the holidays; I have to assume the holiday in question is Thanksgiving, and an out of town thanksgiving weekend usually consists of Travel to, exhaustion, sleep. Family time, feasting, passing out. Travel home, exhaustion, sleep.

    3. It's not like you didn't know this going in. He told you fairly early that he's not available for dates on the weekends because he spends his weekends with his kids; (I'm assuming if he sprung this on you in the second month of your relationship you'd have mentioned that)

    4. You don't hear from him on the weekends, but if I had kids I only got to saw on the weekend, I wouldn't be in a rush to step away from my kids to make a phone call; You also don't specify how long ago the divorce was - how he deals with his kids, and you in relation to them, will be different if he divorced last year than it would be if he divorced 15 years ago.

    So to answer your questions, Yes, it's normal that you haven't met his kids yet, and yes he will fit you into the rest of your life eventually if that is where the relationship is going. Seriously, four months of dating =/= will be together forever.


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    Murgatroyd
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Saturday, December 05, 2009 - 01:38 AM (#50391)

    It's time to meet the kids. [...]

    One intro is enough to last for a while. If Dad's new squeeze doesn't work out, the harm done to them is minimal. But if dad's thing with Our Girl is lasting, it's not fair to anyone around him not to bring her in bit by bit.

    Oh, my. This is a Really Bad Idea. His kids are 17 to 21 years old. In case you don't recall, many people that age are judgmental, self-centered, and convinced they're always right.

    A brief introduction to the new girlfriend will give his kids the opportunity to form a bad first impression of her and then not have that corrected by actual data. The odds are high that at least one of the kids will find some real or imagined flaw and convince the others that This Slut Is Wrong For Dad.

    And, just because I'm a supsicious SOB, I'd want Our Girl to meet the kids to be sure they're real, y'know?

    Oh yeah, that's the right attitude. 8(

    This shouldn't be necessary. Do you think he doesn't have photos of his kids, or other evidence of their existence (phone numbers, birthday cards, etc.) at his home?

    Look, if OP has actual doubts about something so fundamental, she should immediately break off the relationship. If it's true that he's been lying to her about having kids, then he's not worthy of her. If it's not true, then OP isn't worthy of him.


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    Murgatroyd
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Saturday, December 05, 2009 - 01:55 AM (#50392)

    It might also be informative to talk to the "ex" to find out whether he is really a keeper, or if he is just good at telling women what they want to believe.

    It might also be a good idea to put your hand into a running garbage disposal. It might also be a good idea to play Russian roulette with all chambers loaded.

    In case you haven't guessed, I'm with DanialArin on this:

    Contacting his ex is generally a really bad idea.

    Look: The Original Poster knows him and considers him trustworthy, the ex is a complete stranger ... so why should OP take her word over his about why they broke up? If the ex-wife was the problem in the marriage, this might well give someone who isn't a nice person the opportunity to poison OP's relationship with him by telling lies and/or turning the kids against her.

    OP has been dating this guy for only four months. The answers to her questions should come in due course, but if she asks them too soon she may not like the answers. What if his answer to "When can I meet the kids?" is "Right after I propose to you, but I'm not sure yet whether I want to do that ..."?


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    Atavism
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Saturday, December 05, 2009 - 06:57 AM (#50395)

    Most likely scenario I see is that he's scared he might damage his relationship with both you and his children if he introduces you and you don't get along. I know this because when I was around the same age as these kids, my parents divorced and both of them were really worried about the same thing with me and my sister when they got into new relationships.

    Let him know you want to meet the kids, but do NOT pressure him. Let him work it out at his own pace


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    zmortis
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Sunday, December 06, 2009 - 12:09 AM (#50401)

    My point is that after four months of a (presumably) committed relationship if a guy is not prepared to introduce someone to they adult children (or nearly adult in the case of the 17 year old), then I think something does not add up. The likely excuse is that dad may well be a great dad and all, but you are simply considered his piece of tail on the side, not what he considers family material. In my experience potential family material you introduce to your family pretty early on in the relationship. If things don't mesh well with the family, you break up and move on to someone else.

    In this scenario it sounds very much like this guy is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the piece of tail, and he wants his family to be two separate things. If she is happy with that situation, then let the status quo dictate the course of her relationship with this guy until she is fed up and leaves.

    If she is not happy with this, and wants to be a part of the family of the guy she is dating, then I think that her best course is to give him the old "Lets just be friends" speech. Then go find a good guy who wants her to be integrated into his life instead of isolated from it.

    As far as this guy being a loyal and honest person, I would ask how loyal and honest is he being with his own children in this instance when he is keeping his personal relationships secret from them. That seems to me to be the definition of dishonesty when he is intentionally witholding important information from them which dynamically affects their lives.

    I personally think it is more important to show your children that you can live your life in an above board manner than to protect them from the concept that you desire intimate companionship from someone you love. This lie of omission being foisted on the children is likely to be more damaging to their relationship together than coming right out and introducing the new girlfriend to them.

    If there is nothing to be ashamed of in the way this relationship is proceeding, then it should not be an issue. His children are certainly old enough to handle it, my answer might be slightly different if they were significantly younger.

    As far as anyone here presuming that by virtue of being a "good father" someone dating a guy has to accept being treated like a dirty little secret I think that is bogus reasoning. How this guy handles a person is all they need to know about whether they want to stay involved with them. This woman is not obligated to remain in a relationship which is not satisfing her desires to progress forward. The need not be a fight or an ultimatim issued, just a simple "lets just be friends until your family situation is more under control" will suffice. She should not have to put her life on hold waiting for him to be ready. There are plenty of other good guys out there too.


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    Jorn
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Sunday, December 06, 2009 - 01:31 AM (#50402)
    In Response to zmortis (#50401):

    You're assuming he hasn't told his kids about their relationship based on what exactly? For all you know they are fully aware of his relationship, have seen pictures, and just aren't interested in meeting her yet.

    And again, four months is NOT a long time - it's hardly any time at all, especially for someone old enough to have 20 year old kids, and considering they only see each other during the week, especially if they both work, that's pretty limiting. We also don't know how often during the week they see each other - once or twice a week is different from four or five times.


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    Murgatroyd
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Sunday, December 06, 2009 - 04:29 AM (#50403)

    In this scenario it sounds very much like this guy is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the piece of tail, and he wants his family to be two separate things.

    Gah. After only four months -- that's less than 90 weekdays -- of dating, the adult girlfriend and his kids should still be two separate things.

    If she is not happy with this, and wants to be a part of the family of the guy she is dating, then I think that her best course is to give him the old "Lets just be friends" speech.

    She apparently hasn't even considered it important enough to ask him why they haven't been introduced yet, but you're telling her to dump him?

    He knows her, and he knows his kids. I suspect he has a valid reason for not wanting them to get together for at least a little while longer. For example, you don't know what issues these kids might already have:

    * Maybe one of the kids thinks he or she can get the two parents to reconcile, and would try to sabotage this relationship to make that happen.

    * Maybe one of the kids, rightly or wrongly, blames an outsider for breaking up the marriage, and wants to prevent any other outsiders from affecting the family.

    * Maybe the kids are just too messed up from the divorce right now to deal with any other changes to family dynamics.

    * Maybe the kids are spoiled, obnoxious, self-centered twits (hey, it happens) and he doesn't want the girlfriend to be scared off.

    As far as this guy being a loyal and honest person, I would ask how loyal and honest is he being with his own children in this instance when he is keeping his personal relationships secret from them.

    How do you know he hasn't told them he's seeing someone?

    That seems to me to be the definition of dishonesty when he is intentionally witholding important information from them which dynamically affects their lives.

    Wow. All because you can't conceive of any circumstances in which the guy justifiably might not want to introduce his kids to someone he's been dating for less than twenty weeks?


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    DanialArin
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Monday, December 07, 2009 - 02:01 AM (#50411)

    @zmortis: If you use a break-up line as a test of the strength of a relationship or of your significant other's commitment to you, then you have failed your own test. The same if you test it by having your friends or same-gender siblings try to get him/her to fool around on you with them.

    (And if they decide on their own to "test" his/her commitment to you that way, assuming he "passes" - double-entendre fully intended - then make sure you give them a new one and make them apologize to him/her in obvious quivering fear of your righteous wrath.)

    In your current or most recent relationship, how long were you dating the person before you were introduced to his/her parents, kids, etc.?


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    TheOriginalJes
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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Monday, December 07, 2009 - 09:42 AM (#50415)

    I think that the time elapsed from the divorce/separation should be the more important factor here, not the "kids".

    They aren't exactly children. They're just about old enough to go off to war, get drunk, and/or laid.

    And, the OP doesn't explicitly say that there's a "no weekends" rule in this relationship.

    He's probably (sub-conciously) living a compartmentalized life in his best effort to cope with his reality and allow himself to "be himself".

    And, since the OP is asking, "...is it normal that I haven't met his kids yet?"; I'm putting 4:1 odds that she has no children of her own, and 7:4 that she isn't much older than his kids (which would be the real complication in this scenario).

    The long and the short of it is this: don't expect him to be in any rush to start a new family, especially if he's happy with the one he has now.


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    Re: What About Me?! (Score: 1)
    posted Monday, December 07, 2009 - 02:04 PM (#50418)

    Honestly, four months isn't such a long time in a relationship, and I can really understand that he hasn't tried to make all of you "one big family" yet. Children are always (or should be) highest priority, and this alone shows that he is dependable and "one of the good guys".

    Maybe it is a bit boring - all the free time on weekends without him, while he is having fun all without you. But if your relationship works out, this will eventually change.

    If it makes you feel better, go and talk to him about it. But don't think he will change anything just on your whim.


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