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TherapistJen, LCSW, CPC
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2922
Experience:  Licensed Clinical Social Worker
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Ive been dating a woman for over a year now who has two young

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I've been dating a woman for over a year now who has two young kids age 10 and 12. I myself have three grown children so we don't have the same dynamic or interaction with my kids. She waited about 6 months to introduce her kids to me because she wanted to see how we were going to do as a couple. She basically said that even though we were doing well, if her kids didn't like me that it would be very hard for her to have a relationship with me. She also told me that her friends were very important to her and she waited to introduce them to me as well but only after a few months, but the message also was that if they didn't like me it would be hard for her to have a relationship with me as well. I am now very active with her kids, her friends and her mom and dad. I feel as though we have actually become like a family and I have taken on the role as step-dad as well as feeling like I am her husband. I feel as though our relationship has progressed to the point that I actually see myself in that role and marrying her one day. Her 10 year old daughter has become very attached to me, as I have, according to my girlfriend, given her the attention she is not getting from her dad. She will sit down next to me when watching TV and cuddle next to me, even get between me and her mom so she can cuddle with both of us. My girlfriend has told me that she couldn't be happier with our relationship and that I am the man she was always looking for and she couldn't be happier about how her kids have taken to me. I've been on a camping trip with them. I did the whole Christmas thing with them. I stay over night regularly when the kids have been there but I sleep on the couch. My girlfriend doesn't want them to know that we are intimate and that I spend the night with her when they are with their dad. She also wants me to tone down my affection towards her when the kids are there. We have also toned down our sexual intimacy and she says it's only natural in a relationship but I told her that she is the one who has toned it down not me. I have acted as we have in the first 6 months and she started saying no to me whereas before she didn't. Recently, she met my friend's new girlfriend and they began getting acquainted. She told me that they were the same age but she had high school aged kids so they had more freedom. In a joking way I said, "that must be nice". According to her I couldn't have said anything more hurtful than that. I told her I was joking and that I thought we were at a point in the relationship with her and her kids that a comment like that would be taken as a joke. She said I must be feeling those things because what people say has underlying meanings. I told her that if we were married and they were our kids, spouses say those things all the time. She said, we are not married and they are not your kids, even though she has allowed me to take that place in her life without the official title. She pointed out that I had made jokes about when is it going to be our weekend and that she felt I was jealous of her kids. She says that she gives me quality time when we are together and that I'm only looking at the time we don't spend together and she's not willing and won't give me more than that. She said I didn't really understand how the dynamic with her kids was going to be and that maybe I need to rethink if I had made the right decision by being with her and her kids. I think the flaw in the dynamic is that she wants, as she has told me, to protect her kids from another failed relationship, as she puts it, and she is on the look out for any problems. She says she feels guilty about putting them through their divorce and still has guilt feelings when she sees her kids going back and forth between her and their dad, having to bring suitcases and such for the transition even after 3 years since her split. Although my kids are hesitant to meet her as yet (my split has been half as long as hers), I have not wavered at all about wanting to be with her and if they don't accept her it wouldn't change my feelings toward her. I haven't confronted her on this issue because it is so sensitive. She's very open with me about her feelings and she tells me that she likes that I listen and understand her more than her "Ex" did, but I told her that when she talked to me about feeling guilty about the divorce and that maybe she she didn't give her "Ex" a chance to change and then when she backed off our sexual intimacy I wanted to know that we were still okay I would say, when are we going to have "our time" as a way to validate our relationship not to begrudge her time with her kids. I get that her kids are the most important thing in her life but I feel as though the relationship is under more scrutiny than before and I have to be careful what I say and how I act. Part of me wants to talk about this relationship dynamic and another part of me says to be patient because I don't think she's ready to hear it.

CoachJenK :

Hello, thank for joining me. Please forgive any typos as I get very immersed in my work with you and sometimes my brain goes faster than my fingers.

CoachJenK :

Very important for me to say this up front. I think you sound like a wonderful man, boyfriend and father and step dad of sorts to her children.

CoachJenK :

It is not uncommon when things are going so well that sensitivities creep up and a pushing away of sorts may happen. I think some of her past hurts and fears may be in play hear and she is pushing you a way a little bit in order to protect herself and her children even though you have given her no reason that you are going anywhere. The comment you made with her friends was innocent and not meant to hurt and we all as parents feel that many times. I myself often long for a day when I can be free...parenting is hard no matter how old are kids are and wanting a break sometimes ins't a bad thing nor is verbalizing it. So, let's cut you some slack there.

CoachJenK :

I would maybe sit down on the heavy conversation right now but show her the love you have for her and provide her the reassurance she may need during these moments. The intimacy will come back. She may also benefit from some counseling to help with her feelings of guilt and then maybe the two of you can go together to work on these things that have crept into your relationship from the past.

CoachJenK :

I apologize for the mistype above...I wanted to say maybe hold off on the heavy conversation for a bit.

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