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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Counselor
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  PHD LPC
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Hi, I have known my boyfriend for about fifteen years. He

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Hi,
I have known my boyfriend for about fifteen years. He had a young baby when I met him but did not have a healthy relaionship with the mother. I was with someone when I met him and at first we were just friends but became lovers. He did not want to leave his child and I have waited for him. Last year he left them to be with me but they do not know I exist. He says his daughter has enough to deal with for now (she is nearly 15). He has made massive efforts to be be in her life consistently since he left but I feel that his daughter has been manipulating him just recently. She will leave it until the last minute to cancel on him so that there is the potential to mess up our plans. I would say she was doing it on purpose but she doesn't know about me. He really is a lovely man and I am overjoyed that we are finally together and that I was right not to give up hope but now I am terrified that theses other factors will destroy what we have waited so long for. I am so conscious when he talks bout his daughter's behviour and when it affects our time together I try to be understanding but I can see after every time he has contact that he is mixed up and sad. Should he be more assertive with her and his ex? Should he tell her about us? How do I talk to him about this sensitive subject?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Keane replied 4 years ago.
hi and welcome

What he is experiencing with his daughter is very common. It has nothing to do with with him personally. I see this every day with my teenage patients and their parents. Teenagers, who realize that they don't have to go see the non custodial parent, they can say No, makes them feel powerful..but that isn't the reason she is behaving this way....simply stated she is a teenager who is acting like a teenager! selfish and manipulating....
Let me address each question....
As far as being assertive with his daughter and his ex ....if he starts being too assertive about her visitation he will lose whatever he has built with her. He can, tell her nicely, hey, I am making plans for us so if you feel you may need to cancel let me know before the last minute. Tell him to validate her feelings, " I know teenagers never know from one minute to the next what your plans may be" HOWEVER " I would like to make plans too and when you are part of them I'm happy" Communication.
I think he should tell her about you, don't you think it's about time. I wouldn't force her to meet you, let that happen over time but do they think he is alone all these years? He can tell them he has a significant other and let her ask to meet you, she will be curious.
How do you talk to him? Tell him you know how sad he is after his daughter blows him off at the last minute and tell him you'd like to help him sort it out.....he needs to take the high road concerning his daughter...don't let her provoke him to anger ....tell him to listen to what she is saying, validate it verbally, I hear you what can we do about ....(fill in the blank) there will come a day when she will turn back into a "normal" person (that is a joke kinda???)....the teen years are hard.
Now, you....you have been waiting for this man a very long time and you two deserve some happiness in terms of being "public" or known to his family. What about your needs and wants? Are you going to marry this man or just leave things as is? You have been very patient with him and probably never confronted him about what your needs may be. It's been a long time and in a few years his daughter will be grown and have her own life, not need him as much....he has been very true to her so maybe its time to focus on your future with him. I admire his dedication to his daughter however it's time for him to maybe focus on your relationship. Talk to him using "I" statements, I feel that we need to have a talk about .....(fill in the blank).......and state simply, do not preface what you need to say with protective words....like, I know this may upset you but......don't apologize for bringing any subject up. You have a voice and you should use it. I hope this helps.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Keane
Please click ACCEPT and leave FEEDBACK when you are satisfied. I am available for follow-up
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have asked him once when he thinks he might tell his daughter about us and we ended up having a row. He accused me of being jealous of their time together and got all defensive and I felt very hurt because I have always tried to be understanding about their relationship. I just think the longer he leaves it the more problems it will cause. He said that I had now met his dad and his sister and wasn't I just happy being with him for now? We have a great relationship generally but on this occasion it was like he had turned into a rotweiler! He mentioned that her mum's not stupid and that she probably knows he's with someone but he didn't see the need to 'bring it on' with his daughter and upset her unnecessarily or bring on trouble when me and him are having such a good time. When we met we were in a band together and his partner met me and knew of me. I know that he's concerned that if they find out just how long he's known me it will all get nasty and he hates confrontation at the best of times. He and his daughter's mother did not sleep together more than a couple of times after the child was born and he slept on the sofa for all of the years he was living there. I don't understand why it would be such a shock to either mother or child that he had moved on. He said that he does not want his daughter to think he left for someone else,He seems wracked with guilt about so many things which makes it very hard to broach heavy subjects because he gets so defensive. And it seems worse now than when he first left. Thank you for your previous response. Does any of the above detail make any difference to how I should handle things?
Expert:  Dr. Keane replied 4 years ago.
No, it doesn't.....if whatever you says causes a "row "then the problem is deeper and you have to decide whether to "be invisible" or take a stance. If you give him an ultimatum he'll get defensive, if you say you need to move on because he really can't fully commit, then you have to stick with it. The problem is that this is the way it has been for so long, it's good for him ..is that enough for you? You might think about going to counseling with him so that you have an objective person who doesn't know either of you and can help you navigate how to move forward as a couple, not as him and his "hidden" girlfriend. You have a lot invested here and so does he. Remember to use "I feel" statements with him. You sound like you may be walking on eggshells in this instance, don't. You are allowed to tell him what you feel and what you need, Basic human rights. I will say that finding a solution to this is going to cause "upheaval" He is use to you being in the background. If he doesn't agree to counseling it would benefit you to go alone.
You do deserve better.

Dr. Keane
Please click ACCEPT and leave FEEDBACK when you are satisfied.

Edited by Dr. Keane on 10/7/2009 at 3:09 PM EST
Dr. Keane, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1699
Experience: PHD LPC
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