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Dating a dad, feeling marginalized
December 7, 2012 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm dating a divorced dad. I realize his kid is always and rightfully going to be his top priority, but is he going too far? I feel like he's spoiling her and creating a situation in which I will get excluded in the same way his ex-wife was excluded.

I'm 51. He's 50 and has been separated for a year, divorced for 9 months. I've never had kids and I had an extremely independent childhood, which probably affects my ability to judge whether a kid is being excessively coddled.

We've been dating for 6 months. He wants me to eventually move in with him and his daughter. His daughter is about to turn 10 and is smart, fun to be around, and seemingly well adjusted.

He has weekend custody; he's trying to reverse this and get weekday custody, which could happen in a month. I think this could end our relationship. Am I overreacting?

What concerns me:

- The daughter won't sleep alone. She must sleep in the bed with her dad, or if she sleeps in her own bed, she requires her dad to sleep in the same room in the hammock. The dad thinks this will pass but he continues to indulge it, never requiring her to sleep alone and, in my worried mind, setting up the expectation that she will have the power to determine where he sleeps. (I don't spend the night at his house when she's there. I'm currently "Dad's special friend.")

- More often than not, her dad forgets promises made to me when he's spending time with her. He says (proudly) that her need for attention is so overwhelming that he's unable to remember anything else. For example, he'll say, "I'll call you at 2 to see if you can join us at the zoo," and he doesn't call. If I call him, he often says their plans changed and he'll call me the next day about some other plan, and he won't call then, either. This has happened a depressing number of times. As a result, I've learned to not believe any promise he makes if it's supposed to happen when his daughter is present.

- When I'm with them, she is such a priority for his attention that I feel like I don't exist. Example: we're walking along, her dad starts talking to me, she quickly says "Papá!" and he immediately stops mid-sentence and attends to her, when it's clearly no emergency. He has never said, "Wait a minute, I'm talking to Ceiba."

- He has two adult daughters in addition to the young one. He says he gave them the same attention as he gives the young one. He says that his daughters preferred him and disrespected their mother, calling her "stupid" and refusing to listen to her, even though he scolded them for it. He says she eventually stopped participating in family things. She left him alleging psychological abuse.

I can see how his ex might have felt marginalized by his need to be the doting dad, everyone's favorite uncle, and, frankly, the center of attention, always impressing others with his generosity and wisdom. He appears to have a strong need to be admired. My gut reaction to our current dynamic with his daughter is to withdraw, just like the ex did. I feel like there's no room for me.

The adult daughters are suing him for maintenance, which they can do here. His theory is that he spoiled them and then too abruptly pushed them to get jobs.

I'm managing the weekend custody okay. I make my own plans and expect nothing from him from Friday night through Monday. (He often needs Monday to recover from the weekend.)

Today I asked how weekday custody would work. He described what he considered a typical weekday. He thought he was describing an independent kid, but it sounded to me like he would have no time in which he wasn't focused on supervising, driving, feeding, or entertaining his daughter, except during the 5 hours in which she would be at school and I would be working. He's home all day and lives on rental income.

Considering the way they've stretched weekend custody because the daughter prefers the dad, I suspect that weekday custody would start Sunday night and end Saturday morning.

We've talked before about my feeling like I'm a low priority, but nothing has changed except that I've lowered my expectations. Today I finally said that if I continue to feel marginalized, our relationship won't survive weekday custody, much less turn into the live-in arrangement that he wants.

I'd like to see him do things now to start getting his daughter to sleep alone and to be able to occasionally do things herself, though I haven't made this request directly, because I don't think I have the right to do it. Or do I?

Right now, he wants me to continue to wait. First, I'm supposed to wait another month to see if he wins weekday custody. Then, I'm supposed to wait an additional unspecified time to see how that works out.

Despite the lawsuit from his adult daughters, my concerns about our relationship, his wife's abandonment, and his statement today that he had no friends of his own because he focused all his energy on his daughters, he has never said that he's planning to change anything in how he treats his current daughter. My sense is that he needs the adoration of his daughter and the respect of others that he gets for being such a famously doting dad, and he believes he's doing the right thing. And maybe he is.

Is there anything else can I say or do? Or is this just how it is when you date someone with a kid? They're the parent that they're going to be, and you have to accept it or walk?
posted by ceiba to Human Relations (84 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
If this situation is unworkable for you now, you should end it. Waiting for someone to change behavior that he really has no interest in changing is a losing proposition.
posted by xingcat at 3:00 PM on December 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ. I don't mean to imply anything seriously squicky, but this guy has a relationship, and you're not in it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2012 [110 favorites]


Is there anything else can I say or do? Or is this just how it is when you date someone with a kid?

No but I think this is how it is when you date this man with this kid. I don't think this is a man who really has room in his life for the kind of relationship he'd like to pretend he has room for, because he's currently caught up in a very specific dynamic with this child.

I think, given that he has two grown daughters who are angry and alienated, what he's doing is very understandable but that doesn't mean it's healthy. I don't think it is but I don't think you can change it.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Honestly, there are ton of red flags here that he will treat you poorly. His ex accused him of psychological abuse, he is trying to get custody from her (why? is she unfit in any way?), he admits his children disrespected his ex to the point she stopped participating in family things...nothing about this says "good dad" or "good husband", it all says "dysfunctional mess you should avoid if possible"
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2012 [86 favorites]


It sounds like spending time with his daughter is very important and enjoyable for him. I don't think there's necessarily the negative component you mentioned about needing adoration and respect. Some people just really enjoy spending lots of time with their kids. If you like being with him, are there any ways in which (if you so desire) you could become more integrated into their lives together and enjoy that aspect of him more? You could even ask him if he'd like you to do that, and if so, how. If there's a way to "get with his program" and you desire to do that, then maybe there's a way it can work out.
posted by Dansaman at 3:07 PM on December 7, 2012


This relationship sounds like a pain and not worthwhile.
posted by discopolo at 3:18 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nothing about this sounds healthy for you. And, there are an abundance of red flags. It's probably better to walk away now as he doesn't seem inclined to change. If the fact that his daughters are suing him and his ex characterized his treatment of her as psychological abuse doesn't cause him to do an honest inventory of himself and make changes, you can take it as a sign that he likely won't respond to your suggestion that he treat you with common courtesy and consideration.
posted by quince at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


As a divorced father of three around his age, I tell you that you are wasting your time if you ever expect to even be on par with his daughter for his attention. Leopard ain't changing his spots now. You have to decide if you can (or should) live with it. One way to do it would be to join the bandwagon and make the 10 year old a huge priority in your life. If that is not what you are looking for or expecting or wanting, move on.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He doesn't sound all that interested in you or integrating you into his family. Are you willing to stay with him if his behavior never changes? That's your answer.
posted by Autumn at 3:20 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ten year old kid should not be sleeping with Dad. That's just the first thing that is wrong. If you can walk away from this, it would probably save you a lot of grief. If anything, you are under-reacting to the situation, not over-reacting.
posted by mermayd at 3:20 PM on December 7, 2012 [41 favorites]


The dad thinks this will pass but he continues to indulge it.

All this attention, sleeping in the same room, spending time together... it will pass. Before too long, she'll be a tween and then a teenager and will want nothing to do with her parents. Why not let them enjoy this privilege until then? Frankly, it sounds like there is little room for you in this relationship.
posted by halogen at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


What Monsieur Caution said: this guy has a relationship, and you're not in it.

I'm sorry. I would not expect this to change. You're clearly a distant priority compared to his relationship with his daughter.
posted by mosk at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're 6 months in. Just end it.
posted by phearlez at 3:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


One important clarification, and then I'll step back into the shadows: I'm confident that there is nothing squicky here. My squick antennae are extremely sensitive and unfortunately proven accurate. I've gotten no squickiness signals from this family, and during the somewhat ugly divorce, no one made allegations of anything sexual.

Family members sleeping in the same bed is pretty common here in Mexico. I've been in the room while they were sleeping together and he asked her permission before even snuggling her. He makes no inappropriate comments and chooses age-appropriate clothing, etc. She often starts out in his bed and then after cuddling (and when he starts snoring) moves into another bed in the same room.

At the same time, I don't believe it's healthy for these two to sleep together.
posted by ceiba at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whether his relationship with his kids is "appropriate" or not is irrelevant. He's not going to change his parenting style, and you can't make him. If this is not the life you want, you owe it to yourself to leave.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:34 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


So not worth your time and (wasted) effort. Save yourself continued grief! I mean, theoretically he loved their mother once. And yet he raised these girls who called their mother "stupid" and probably worse. I don't have kids either but I think that must be horribly painful. And why did he tell you about that? Did he think it was funny, or that you would be pleased about it? He sounds like really bad news. (And even you seem skeptical about the "scolding".)
posted by Glinn at 3:40 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think the other posters mean "squicky" as in illegal, but squicky as in weird and messed up.
I agree with this relationship being really weird, even if you had omitted the part sleeping arrangements.
posted by Neekee at 3:44 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of one of my brothers and his relationship with his daughter (non-squicky) which eventually ended his marriage. She turned out wonderfully, but the marriage is dead in the water.

As others have said, you are not a priority for him, and you never will be. If that is OK with you, well and good. It wouldn't suit me. And if you prefer to be at least as valued as children, you are going to need to find another relationship.

I would end this if I were you. Not by telling him you disapprove of his parenting choices, but just because you need a lot more from a relationship -- priority -- than he can apparently deliver.
posted by bearwife at 3:45 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can you clarify what his relationship is with his adult daughters? Are they estranged completely or...?

The dynamic here is really similar to a common dynamic with incestuous families (I will use father and daughter because that's the relationship here but it's obviously not the only type of incest) which is why people are implying that incest is going on.

In many cases of incest, the father fosters a very close relationship between himself and the daughter and alienates the mother in many ways, including encouraging mistreatment of her at the hands of the child. This serves two purposes: one, to ensure that the daughter will depend emotionally on her father almost exclusively because of a strained and distant relationship with her mother, and two, to ensure actual physical avoidance on the part of her mother so that the incest can more easily go unnoticed. You will note that you're not allowed to sleep over when she's sleeping over, so your evidence that he's appropriate can only be very limited and you are only seeing what he wants you to see.

As the daughter becomes an adult the dynamic changes and estrangement between her and her abuser often occurs as she moves out of the preferred age range, becomes difficult to control as she resists the incest, or attempts to start a sexual relationship with a non-family member. The father often describes this as his daughter being spoiled or ungrateful, and in fact, gifts are one of the ways in which the abuse is facilitated and when they are cut off due to the ending of the sexual relationship, the response of anger and betrayal on the part of the daughter often does look like they are greedy, selfish, or spoiled.

Anyway, I am not insisting that this is the case, just that there are so many similarities there that it might be worth it to consider whether your squick antennae are perfect--no one's are, unfortunately.

Good luck with everything.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2012 [27 favorites]


Family members sleeping in the same bed is pretty common here in Mexico.

Yeah, I'm an anthropologist by training and so essentially understanding of that up to a point. This all goes way beyond that point, especially when he's stringing you along about problems you have right now. The thing is, his daughter can be his first priority in lots of circumstances without being the overriding source of some key things a relationship offers: attention, admiration, affection, conversation, recreation, etc. If you don't see yourself even among the primary sources of those things for him, you aren't really in a relationship with him. It's long past time to go.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the ages of 3 to 9 I was the only daughter of a single dad (well, when he had custody of me.) I was a clingy, anxious kid. Sometimes I even snuck into his bedroom and tried to sleep in his bed (in the corner so he wouldn't wake up - and it was a water bed, so half the time I ended up using the edge of the water mattress as a blanket by morning, sleeping on the wooden platform!)

It was a huge struggle to figure out how to be just the two of us, and most of the time one or the other of us was kind of odd about it.

That stuff stopped as soon as there was another nearly-full-time grownup (my then-future stepmom) in the mix, because my dad had a second huge priority in the form of an adult who could express her needs using words and so on.

(It also helped that I got older, and my parents stopped doing the most destructive custody crap.)

Anyway. This situation is bad, bad news - is family therapy or couple's therapy a thing in your part of Mexico? I'd consider bringing him and you together with an "expert" who can at least help you have the conversation.

But... I suspect it may be a lost cause. Because he already has two adult daughters and an ex-wife whose relationships with him are/were completely jacked up, and because he hasn't responded appropriately to your expressions of concern up till now.
posted by SMPA at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This kid is 10 and her parents just got divorced. Your guy just ended his marriage of however many years. They probably do need extra reassurances from each other. That didn't figure into your question at all. It mostly sounds like you're just not happy with him.
posted by Katine at 3:49 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, ask yourself why you're so willing to overlook his loser qualities in order to make the relationship work. Is it out of loneliness, fear you won't find another relationship? Because it sounds like you're settling for something that's a drag and you shouldn't do that at any age.
posted by discopolo at 3:53 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks again for the incest alarms. I will consider them more carefully. To clarify one more thing: I'm not banned from sleeping there when the daughter is present. I've been invited to sleep with them in the same room and have done it. I'm just relegated to the hammock or the couch in the same room while dad and daughter have the bed. Yes, it is bizarre and it sucks, I refused to do it after my one polite acceptance, I rejected a road trip that would very likely have had the same sleeping arrangements, and now I'll consider worse possibilities more closely.
posted by ceiba at 4:10 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it were me, I'd dump him so fast he wouldn't know what hit him.

I don't know if his extreme indulgence of his child makes him a good dad or not, but it makes him a lousy boyfriend. You're going to continue to get only crumbs of his attention while his daughter gets the banquet. And God help you if the kid ever decides she doesn't like you.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:10 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yup. BIG RED FLAGS.

It is completely inappropriate for a man to be in the same bed as his 10 year old daughter, Mexico, recent divorce, or not. I've seen this happen before in the case of a divorced father and in that case also there was a clear violation of boundaries, emotional even if not physical. This stuff is terribly destructive to young girls; particularly, with the alienation of the mother, from the point of view of the child's future self-image and future relationships/partnerships.

This guys other daughters are suing him. This is not a good father, or a man who develops healthy adult relationships. Probably, your place in this relationship is to act as cover.

People who engage in boundary-violating, exploitative relationships are super-good at disguising them as something else and deflecting blame. They are very good at challenging observers and making them feel small and stupid for their suspicions. This is how they get away with things.

Even if what is happening is just slightly iffy rather than abusive, you've received more than enough evidence that your own needs are not even under consideration with this man. This doesn't seem to be a person you can have any sort of partnership with. What is your motive for wanting to be with him? If wanting to look after him is a big part of it - ie you're sorry for him and want to do some rescuing - that's another big red flag.
posted by glasseyes at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


How old is the kid? My partner has one 15-yo boy and one 12-yo boy whose dad is a man-child and does not really play a role in their lives. I try my hardest to be a positive role model but not Dad to these boys which allows me a lot of negotiating room that I am sure their dad goes not get to have. If the mother is anything like that, I can completely get the girl's dependence on her doting dad who in my opinion sounds like a really great guy who is just stretched with this new thing - you - seeking the limited attention he can divide between his daughter who has been through a highly stressful situation and you who he wants to know better.

I would spring for a babysitter. Don't surprise him with someone, but say "I found someone who can take her for a couple of hours so we can go see a movie." Chances are high that this girl will cry all night but get used to the idea that she'll be tucked in her own bed by her daddy. The babysitter's special job should be to help the girl make her room her own. Buy craft paper, old magazines, yarn, anything that will encourage to capture the castle that is her own special place for her to sleep on her own. This would be especially good if you can find babysitter who has daughters this girls age. She needs friends in her dad's neighbourhood so you can spend time with your boyfriend and she can learn that sleeping without her dad is not only possible but probably better for everyone. Remember, you're dating her father. You must be a positive female role model, not a wedge, not an icicle, not even a mom.
posted by parmanparman at 4:21 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, We've talked before about my feeling like I'm a low priority, but nothing has changed except that I've lowered my expectations

and

Despite the lawsuit from his adult daughters, my concerns about our relationship, his wife's abandonment, and his statement today that he had no friends of his own because he focused all his energy on his daughters, he has never said that he's planning to change anything in how he treats his current daughter

pretty much say it all. You already voiced concerns that weren't mitigated or really addressed, he has a clear pattern of how he is in adult relationships, and the current situation likely isn't going to change. This isn't just how it is; this is how he's decided it's going to be. Are you happy with this man, outside of this? If you are, and you want to try to salvage it, then I would suggest talking with him once more about the specific concerns you have and perhaps offering some solutions that you can work on, perhaps together.

But were it me, I'd be walking away. He doesn't sound like someone with whom I could share a future.
posted by sm1tten at 4:24 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I missed that she was 10! You have a baby on your hands until she's at least 13.
posted by parmanparman at 4:26 PM on December 7, 2012


I understand co-sleeping but getting relegated to a different bed would be awkward to me long term.

Whether or not their relationship is weird (and I agree with those that have previously mentioned that the dynamic sounds fishy given all the issues he has with his older daughters and ex wife), I think it's fair to expect that an effort be made to integrate you into the family and, um, allow you to have needs and maybe get some of them met. Negotiation and all that jazz. The daughter seems to be a symptom of a larger problem - the one where you have no power or voice in how you live your lives as a couple.
posted by amycup at 4:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is completely inappropriate for a man to be in the same bed as his 10 year old daughter, Mexico, recent divorce, or not.

This is a really unpleasant attitude to have towards all male parents as a default setting. Is it OK for him to share a bed with a son? Is it OK for a mother to sleep with a son or daughter? What if dad is gay or mom is gay or either orientation isn't even that clear cut? What if the child has special needs, or is ill?

You know when it's a bad idea to let a parent share a bed with a child? When that parent is a paedophile. Otherwise, your rule isn't one shared by all families that are not yours.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:37 PM on December 7, 2012 [37 favorites]


Regardless of whether there is any actual incest going on, co-sleeping with a 10 year old and regulating you to a separate bed when you're there (on top of the bizarre other family stuff) demonstrates exceedingly poor boundaries and judgement.

However, note that from what you've said, she is not initiating this cuddling/sleeping with him - he is initiating it and then, when he's asleep, she moves. That is the ultimate red flag for me.

Other than that, there's no room in his life for you whatsoever, so I'm not sure what you're getting out of any of this.
posted by heyjude at 4:42 PM on December 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


- More often than not, her dad forgets promises made to me when he's spending time with her. He says (proudly) that her need for attention is so overwhelming that he's unable to remember anything else. [...] This has happened a depressing number of times. As a result, I've learned to not believe any promise he makes if it's supposed to happen when his daughter is present.

This would be enough to make me DTMFA. You deserve better than this.

Dansanman:It sounds like spending time with his daughter is very important and enjoyable for him. I don't think there's necessarily the negative component you mentioned about needing adoration and respect. Some people just really enjoy spending lots of time with their kids.

I was in a very serious LDR with this guy. The difference is that basically most of his spare time was devoted to me (even if that meant a quick text while his daughter had stepped away for a minute from whatever they were doing) so I never felt marginalized or ignored, and there was never an occasion where he just flaked on me for any reason. If he could not meet a prior commitment of any kind he always told me, usually beforehand, but always as soon as it was possible to let me know. Having a really close relationship with one's child and respecting you and your time are not mutually exclusive.

As I became more of a presence in his life and became known as "Dad's special lady friend" he found any way he could to include me, even if it was just kind of 'livetexting' their adventures.

TL;DR: It seems pretty clear that, for whatever reasons, he can't or won't give you what you need from him. It's only been six months; leave gracefully.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:43 PM on December 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


The kid doesn't "adore" her father --- she CONTROLS him. And the two grown daughters? They're only angry because Little Sis is currently in control of their father, not them....sure, they probably HAD him wrapped around their fingers, but even they have lost power to Little Sis. She's managed to push her sisters out of the way, the three of them managed to marginalize their mother, and this will also happen to you. I'm sorry, but he's already telling you how little you mean to him, and how you're basically nothing serious or important in his life.

This is one spoiled-rotten kid, and she's likely to have a giant surprise when someday, somewhen, the world fails to bow down and kowtow to her..... if you stay, she'll just make you miserable.
posted by easily confused at 4:52 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the cosleeping thing is weird, but it's not the point of the question.

The point is that this man, for whatever reasons, doesn't seem to be available for the kind of relationship that you deserve, OP. You should decide if you are willing only to have a tiny slice of his time, because it seems that is all he's willing to give you.
posted by winna at 4:54 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know incest is an inflammatory word, but you might find relevant the definition of emotional or covert incest. It involves no sexual violation, but the child is elevated to the status of primary romantic partner, which confuses the child and angers the adults who should be primary. Although the child may seem "spoiled," she is really the biggest victim in the whole debacle. It sounds like the guy's older daughters are already suffering from his tendency to idealize his youngest until she ages out. And it sounds like you are already in his ex-wife's position.
posted by ziggly at 5:07 PM on December 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


Room 641-A, I indeed forgot to mention that in addition to what I already said, I do think the boyfriend is being rude and inconsiderate and that definitely isn't right, obviously. I didn't mean to imply that's OK.

Back to the OP, I wanted to comment that some people here are being quite judgmental and opinionated and I think you should take it all with a grain of salt. For example, as DarlingBri said, co-sleeping is not "weird", it's a choice related to attachment parenting (some parents who practice attachment parenting also practice co-sleeping). I know a lot of people who do that. My sister did it with her son and he's the most amazing teenager - smart, nice, balanced, secure, confident, polite, super high achieving, etc.
posted by Dansaman at 5:08 PM on December 7, 2012


I don't think incest is the issue and there's no evidence of it in what you've said here. There's no need to make that terrible accusation. The point is that you can't sleep with him if he's sleeping with her. Apparently, you can't even have a conversation with him when she's present. They are each others' priority and that's ok for them, but not for you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:16 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is such a thing as emotional incest.

I'd find someone else. This guy has red flags all over him.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:32 PM on December 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Thanks, everyone, for your answers. Some additional info, though it may no longer be relevant:

The adult daughters refuse to speak with him. They left when the mother did and lived with her for awhile. Now one lives with her and the other is on her own. Supposedly the mother knew nothing about their separate lawsuit against their dad. It sounds like the mother has a strained relationship with the adult daughters, but at least they talk.

He is warm, charming, very extroverted, says that he is a "leader" and many others are "followers," claims to like me because I'm a "leader" too, openly confesses that he has problems with empathy, and earnestly asks me to help him understand concepts like "low self-esteem." He is almost always cheerful and easy-going, never jealous, rarely defensive even when criticized, but often turns the conversation around to himself and to his experiences and wisdom. Since his divorce, he's built several friendships, most of them with traditional women who think he's the bee's knees. Most of my friends think he's a great guy. However, I increasingly feel like crap.
posted by ceiba at 5:32 PM on December 7, 2012


Dansaman: Room 641-A, I indeed forgot to mention that in addition to what I already said, I do think the boyfriend is being rude and inconsiderate and that definitely isn't right, obviously. I didn't mean to imply that's OK.

Oh, no, I didn't mean to imply that you meant to imply that it was okay! I was using your quote as a jumping off point; my comment was directed at the OP and not meant to sound like I was taking issue with you.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:35 PM on December 7, 2012


I really don't think he's going to change. He has very little reason to do so, no offense intended. If that's not workable for you*, it is likely best that you move on.


*It certainly wouldn't be for me. You have my every sympathy.
posted by batmonkey at 5:41 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think people are over-reacting to the "sleeping in the same bed" idea.

The troubling part is that you don't have anything resembling parity in this triangle: not when it comes to choosing where people sleep, not when it comes to choosing what people talk about, and he doesn't fulfill his promises to you when he's with her.

Of course she is more important than you are; she is his daughter. But you have to decide for yourself what you're willing to accept, and then negotiate that. You say "I'd like [him to] start getting his daughter to sleep alone and...occasionally do things herself, though I haven't made this request directly, because I don't think I have the right to do it." But you absolutely have the right to ask for that. Similarly, he has the right to refuse.

"Boyfriend, I love you and want to move in with you. I also am very fond of Daughter. However, I don't want a relationship where I never get to sleep alone in a room with you, I don't want a relationship where you cut me off mid-sentence when Daughter speaks, and I don't want a relationship where you don't call me when you say you will. Do you think any of these things are likely to change?"

Have the conversation, and then you'll know where you stand.
posted by feets at 5:43 PM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Leaving everything else aside, it just doesn't seem that you like him very much.

Consider that carefully as you make your decisions.
posted by charmcityblues at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


...openly confesses that he has problems with empathy, and earnestly asks me to help him understand concepts like "low self-esteem."

Ah. The "teach me to be a better man" shtick. I love it.

It seems to me his self-absorption, lack of empathy, need to be adored and the center of attention is the the driving dynamic here. His relationship with his daughter may simply its most natural and immediate expression.
posted by space_cookie at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


To me it seems natural that the daughter would feel jealous of dad's lady friend, and try to exploit the fact that she can keep you away from him and monopolize his attention. She's only 10 years old, she wants daddy all to herself, normal stuff. He needs to be the parent here and set some boundaries with her in order to accommodate your needs and wishes.

For example, how does he expect to be able to carry on a relationship with both you and with her if he doesn't ever try to get the 3 of you together, and have his daughter get to know and like you? He says he wants you to wait until he can get weekday custody, but it seems like an arrangement that, as you suspect, will be doomed to failure (for your relationship with him) because he is making no effort to transitioning into having you be more in her life so that when she is in his custody the majority of the time, you can all get along.

I do think you need to be more clear about what you are asking him to do and what the consequences are if he doesn't follow through on it. Hold off on attacking the fact that she sleeps in his room - you're absent all weekend, from the sound of things, so that is not the most pressing issue. I would suggest some sort of bargain, something like "I'm willing to wait and see if we can work things out until your custody arrangement gets settled, if you are willing to ensure that we do one thing together, all three of us, every weekend - like dinner, or going to the park. If you aren't able to ensure that we can do even one thing together when you have custody of your daughter, we won't be able to remain in a relationship together."

I suggest the above feeling 95% certain that he would fail this test based on his behavior up to this point, but if that would help you feel like you gave things a fair shake, it's worth a shot.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:03 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


nothing has changed except that I've lowered my expectations.
I increasingly feel like crap.


Please respect this feeling, and recognize what "increasingly" suggests for what's ahead. You deserve to feel much, much better.
posted by argonauta at 6:23 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


For the record, the daughter seems to have no problem with me. She asks about me when I'm not there, she invites me to spend time with them, and she strikes up chats with me on Facebook. Her dad is in charge of when we see each other, and he has reduced it recently. We used to do something every weekend.
posted by ceiba at 6:29 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your boyfriend has a history of treating women contemptuously at best; both of the relationships that produced children ended badly, with ugly divorce/accusations of abuse. His adult children refuse to speak to him and are taking him to court. The only member of this guy's family who still has anything to do with him is 10 years old. Odds are when she is 20 he'll have wrecked her too. Don't you believe you deserve better?
posted by headnsouth at 6:40 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


He is warm, charming, very extroverted, says that he is a "leader" and many others are "followers," claims to like me because I'm a "leader" too, openly confesses that he has problems with empathy, and earnestly asks me to help him understand concepts like "low self-esteem."

Yeah, sorry if this is terribly inflammatory, or something, but that sounds like a sociopath. Doesn't it?
posted by Glinn at 7:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


Honey, just because he sounds like a good guy in many ways doesn't mean he's a good partner. You're miserable and he is unresponsive to that. Break up. Do it before this child gets even more attached. She has enough on her plate.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:11 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


He sounds narcissistic to me. He thinks he is a special leader entitled to special allowances from normal mortals. All of his close family members show signs of having been emotionally abused. He has inappropriately enmeshed relationships with a little girl that involve them adoring each other. Google "self-absorbed" and "narcissist" and see if it rings true.

He is warm, charming, very extroverted, says that he is a "leader" and many others are "followers," claims to like me because I'm a "leader" too, openly confesses that he has problems with empathy, and earnestly asks me to help him understand concepts like "low self-esteem." He is almost always cheerful and easy-going, never jealous, rarely defensive even when criticized, but often turns the conversation around to himself and to his experiences and wisdom.

This sounds like textbook narcissism. I think learning about this condition will be really eye-opening for you, sorry to say.
posted by 3491again at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


It is completely inappropriate for a man to be in the same bed as his 10 year old daughter, Mexico, recent divorce, or not.

That's really not my default attitude. I started my family with a lot of ideals about mothers and fathers and children interacting together with plenty of cuddles and emotional communication and lack of shame about bodies and sex etc. That is an ideal and the sad fact is, many people are not suited to try and achieve it - many people, brought up 'strictly' and with rigid gender roles, are capable of drastically conflating bodily intimacy with sex. I would be extremely uncomfortable with the situation the OP describes - I would find it triggering. She hasn't bought in to this family yet so it's not really her responsibility to deal with it. But I wonder what the sisters would say if they knew the 10-year old was in the same bed as the father.

I've never seen a 10-year old wanting to sleep in her father's bed when that father is 1. on his own and 2. in a loving supportive two-adult relationship. A child snuggling into the family bed is not what is being described here. But I have on more than one occasion seen a divorced or separated father's inappropriate behaviour with a daughter of just this age - immediately pre-puberty - and with making the daughter into a rival for adult female partners. Beginning with the (ex)wife of course. I cannot stress how harmful this behaviour is and how long-standing the damage. I re-iterate, I find a man in this situation taking his 10-year-old daughter into his bed completely inappropriate. I don't think a mature caring father would be doing it - he would be aware of the inappropriateness. He wouldn't be spoiling his daughter either.

Someone above has opined it is the little girl being manipulating. That is a terrible opinion. This type of situation is totally not any child's fault.

Darling Bri I understand what you are saying and I've seen your previous posts so I know you are a reasonable person, but in some ways the ideal of sexual/bodily freedom has made it easy for paedophiles to create a confusion round the issue that they are very good at taking advantage of.

And to the OP, you already feel bad. This is not working out for you, and the reasons you spelled out above are very real and legitimate. Don't think you are making a mountain out of a molehill, you are not. I feel uneasy just reading what you wrote.
posted by glasseyes at 7:21 PM on December 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Even if he weren't overly indulgent toward his daughter (which he is), even if he hadn't been emotionally abusive toward his ex wife (which I believe he probably was), even if he weren't a self-centered ass (which he is), this However, I increasingly feel like crap. should tell you that he is not the man for you.

You don't need a man who makes you feel like crap, no matter what the world thinks of him, or he thinks of himself. Life is too short to feel like crap. My advice is to move on.
posted by patheral at 7:23 PM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Look, I don't know exactly where on the continuum of squick this guy falls, but it's clear he's on it. (Best case scenario is that focusing on the 10 year old is easier than dealing with complicated adult relationships, and that's pretty messed up.)

He doesn't make you happy, he doesn't meet your emotional needs, he's not making an effort - just bail!
posted by stowaway at 7:28 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Darling Bri I understand what you are saying and I've seen your previous posts so I know you are a reasonable person, but in some ways the ideal of sexual/bodily freedom has made it easy for paedophiles to create a confusion round the issue that they are very good at taking advantage of.

The family bed is not about sexual freedom, because the family bed is not sexualised. You and I are just going to have to agree to disagree about this.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:07 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to say, you aren't even second in this man's list of what he cares about. My experience of guys who make you feel like crap, is that it never changes. It grows worse.
All the people who say there are big red flags, they're right.
Even when a guy isn't sleeping in the same bed as his kid, a guy who puts his kid too high on the list is not good. The kid walks on water. The kid isn't being allowed to actually be a kid.
You need to be with someone who puts you first.
He's going to play that 'family man' card to death.
Run don't walk.
I've seen no end of drama in situations like this.
And don't rule out that there could be an incest situation. It's likelier than not actually.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:12 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


As you noted, he's a dad and his young daughter's needs should take precedent over his need for a relationship and all that entails. However, this has nothing to do with him being a good father. In fact, when it comes to parenting, he's dropping about every ball on the court. His relationships with his older daughters are major red flags. "He says that his daughters preferred him, disrespected their mother, calling her "stupid" and refusing to listen to her" to the point that the woman was marginalized within her own family. You think this would cause him to rethink his approach to fatherhood and NOT raise the youngest child as he did her older sibs.

Re your right to address these issues: by virtue of the fact that you will be an adult in the household, you will help raise this child. You not only have a right to raise your concerns, you have a responsibility to do so.

Re co-sleeping: as mentioned up-thread, co-sleeping is a thing some families do and in and of itself, this is absolutely NOT a reason to suspect abuse. Given that he doesn't currently have a plan for moving to the next stage, I totally understand your concern that his daughter "will have the power to determine where he sleeps"—afterall, somebody needs to run this show.

Talk to him about how long he wants this to continue (e.g., I'm guessing that he doesn't expect her to come home from a high school date, throw the car keys on the dresser, change into pjs, and climb into bed with the two of you), as well as his expectations regarding how to make the transition. You may want to involve her in the conversation and, of course, make this a positive experience for her, e.g., emphasize the privacy that comes with this step—maybe allow her to watch 30 minutes of videos by herself before lights-out; get her a new bed—perhaps a trundle for sleepovers. (You may want to have occasional family "slumber parties" after she is established in her own room. Do these in the living room or family room, so you don't risk slipping back into old habits.)

You describe his daughter as about to turn 10...smart, fun to be around, and seemingly well adjusted yet he says (proudly) that her need for attention is so overwhelming that he's unable to remember anything else. A healthy, well-adjusted 10 year old simply does not require THAT much parental attention. He should have sufficient brain power to be able to deal with notifying you regarding changes in plans, etc. In short, he's just being inconsiderate. (If that's how he treated the mother of the older girls, it's no wonder that they showed her so little respect. They were just following dad's example.)

He let's her interrupt, e.g., he's never said "Wait a minute, I'm talking to Ceiba." He is not being an indulgent parent, he is being a neglectful parent. It's his job to teach her appropriate manners. If I were in your place, I wouldn't hesitate to say to the daughter, "hold on a minute, babe, wait until your dad has finished what he's saying to me". I would also teach her how to interrupt when the situation demands, i.e., to begin with "excuse me".

Whoa—just re-read your question and noticed this: "we've been dating 6 months" and "he has been separated for a year, divorced for 9 months". Jesus, you two are moving awfully fast considering the circumstances, don't you think? At the very least, pick up a copy of "Crazy Time".

Best wishes, whatever you decide.
posted by she's not there at 9:13 PM on December 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The feeling marginalized bit comes into play is when the other person treats you as a distraction from what is important to them. They stay vague, string you out, and postpone making plans until the opportunity has passed. Or worse, they make the dinner date but then no-show you. Anytime something comes up, they simply walk away -- "hey, gotta attend to some other pressing matter that I had neglected to tell you about until right now" -- and treat the burden of being in a relationship like a terrible ordeal you are non-consensually inflicting on them.

So...how is this guy treating you? Is he just a busy guy with many responsibilities? Or is he someone who marginalizes you by persistently ignoring you or flaking on commitments? Someone can be extremely busy -- so much more than this unemployed (?) fellow you are dating -- and never drop a single commitment or leave a loved one feeling marginalized. Because they are considerate of other people's time, and stick to realistic plans that they know they can achieve. They also communicate, and follow-through with what has been mutually decided with select people they have decided to share their lives with. Being a considerate person is not mutually exclusive with being a busy person.
posted by 99percentfake at 9:23 PM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


This stuck out:

"- More often than not, her dad forgets promises made to me when he's spending time with her. He says (proudly) that her need for attention is so overwhelming that he's unable to remember anything else. For example, he'll say, "I'll call you at 2 to see if you can join us at the zoo," and he doesn't call. If I call him, he often says their plans changed and he'll call me the next day about some other plan, and he won't call then, either. This has happened a depressing number of times. As a result, I've learned to not believe any promise he makes if it's supposed to happen when his daughter is present."


If someone broke plans with me that often, I'd be out the door! There is no good reson for this!

Here is the clincher for me, because I was this adult offspring:

"The adult daughters are suing him for maintenance...."

Personally, I can not WAIT until my significantly younger 3 siblings with my stepmom and father become adults, because man, are they in for a rude awakening.

Shit like that between parents and offspring does not happen accidentally, or especially when proper respect and care were provided.

RUN.
posted by jbenben at 9:25 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts and suggestions.

I agree that my boyfriend could be labelled narcissistic, though he lacks the rage that's usually included in the description. He's almost always cheerful and appears to want the best for everyone. This charming eagerness to please combined with only occasional follow-through is what messes so much with my head.
posted by ceiba at 9:42 PM on December 7, 2012


So his daughters left with their mother, even though when they were together his daughters hated their mother and she didn't want to participate in family events, and now these daughters who preferred him don't talk to him? Why did he decide to push them to get jobs when he did? Was it punishment for them choosing mom? Very confusing.

Like I said above, this story is just so fishy and so full of misery for everyone, even if it's 100% accurate as he told it, that I would steer very, very clear.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:44 PM on December 7, 2012


Young rope-rider, the story as it was told to me was basically this:

1. Daughters love dad because dad is such a great parent and mom isn't very involved with them.
2. Daughters dis mom and she withdraws even more.
3. Daughters reach 17 and 19 or so and dad pushes them to get jobs, against mom's wishes.
4. Mom quickly leaves dad. Daughters go with her.
5. One daughter leaves mom and both daughters file lawsuit against dad, without including mom.

But at this point, the details don't help much because yes, it's just a story full of misery for everyone.
posted by ceiba at 9:55 PM on December 7, 2012


He's almost always cheerful and appears to want the best for everyone. This charming eagerness to please combined with only occasional follow-through is what messes so much with my head.

'cause the cheer and charm, etc., are a big con.
posted by ambient2 at 9:56 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regardless of anything else that has been posted in this long thread, you have described four completely failed familial relationships where the common denominator is this man. This alone would be enough to convince me to move on.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 10:40 PM on December 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


You've only been dating six months and already he makes you feel like crap. You don't need any other reasons to call it off. Rip the bandaid off quickly and move on.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:47 PM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eeek. This guy sounds like a narcissist. Even if nothing inappropriate or sexual is going on, the co-sleeping is creepy BECAUSE he's a narcissist. He probably just loves it, as he seems to love getting all the attention and heroics all the time.

It's only six months, you've got an easy out. If I were you I wouldn't stick around to see this out very much longer. He's inconsiderate, narcissistic, uncompromising, perhaps manipulative, mean, and creepy. It sounds sad because his daughter actually likes you but I don't think you have a happy future with this guy.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:28 PM on December 7, 2012


"Regardless of anything else that has been posted in this long thread, you have described four completely failed familial relationships where the common denominator is this man. This alone would be enough to convince me to move on."

I totally agree.
posted by jbenben at 11:40 PM on December 7, 2012


He is warm, charming, very extroverted, says that he is a "leader" and many others are "followers," claims to like me because I'm a "leader" too, openly confesses that he has problems with empathy, and earnestly asks me to help him understand concepts like "low self-esteem."

Everything else aside, this sentence alone is so full of red flags that I can hardly stand it. This would be a very good time to tell him that, as you understand he needs to focus on his kids and his legal problems, you're going to move on. SweetTeaAndABiscuit says it perfectly.
posted by davejay at 11:59 PM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The man is 50 and has expressed himself clearly and repeatedly by actions as well as by words: he wants his 10 year old daughter in his life all the time, and he doesn't give a damn what you think about it or whether your needs are getting met.

You played the Mexican culture card; you should be aware that standard male behavior in that culture reads as near-incredible male chauvinism in, say, the average MetaFilter reader's culture. Think about it from this perspective: what does he want from you? It sounds like he wants a passive person who will stepmother his kid and put up with his weird behavior. In Mexico, that person is called the "second wife."

Now. That's what you're being offered. You really don't sound like you want it. That may be all that's pertinent here.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 12:56 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree that my boyfriend could be labelled narcissistic, though he lacks the rage that's usually included in the description.

You mean the contempt he showed towards his first wife and fostered in his daughters towards her?

Also, be very, very careful, because the types who are charming and end up raging, only rage when they know it's safe to do so; in other words, when the situation is such that pretty much everyone will believe their story and not the victim's. You aren't living with him yet; you aren't yet in a position where you might see rage directed towards you.

I kinda went off the question's track with that, but since you brought it up and I have some experience with that type, wanted to give the insight that very few people see the rage coming until it hits. And it usually hits when you're in no position to defend yourself, much less escape it unscathed. Anyhow.

You're not happy and you're not being treated as an adult worthy even of the basic respect of a phone call to let you know of his changed plans. You've told him about it and he's done nothing but stroke his own ego and ignore your needs in reply. You sound pretty self-aware; I think you know what you want deep down but may be feeling guilty for it because the guy's putting on such a strong Nice Guy show that, what woman would deny herself that chance? It's no "chance", it's an illusion. If he really wanted a better relationship with you, and to listen to you, he would, well, listen to you. Actions speak louder than words.
posted by fraula at 2:31 AM on December 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's a very good, very attentive dad. The kind that more 10-year-olds should have. The jumping to wild accusations of incest seems crazy to me.

That said, if he doesn't have time for you, he doesn't have time for you.
posted by miyabo at 5:06 AM on December 8, 2012


He is warm, charming, very extroverted, says that he is a "leader" and many others are "followers," claims to like me because I'm a "leader" too, openly confesses that he has problems with empathy, and earnestly asks me to help him understand concepts like "low self-esteem."

Charm isn't a character trait, it's a developed skill that can be used to manipulate people. I think many of us have at one time or another fallen for a charmer, someone who seemed so very nice and then we learned that "nice" people are not always "good" people.

I can see myself falling for some of the tricks in that statement when I was younger. I have had experience with the charming extroverted but kind of flaky nice guy who inexplicably made me feel like crap - and turned out to be an abusive asshole. As fraula pointed out, the rage is something that comes later.

Pay attention to that craplike feeling. It is giving you very important information.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:54 AM on December 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


I agree with everyone else here who is telling you that regardless of whether or not he is a good dad, he is being a terrible partner to you, and you should leave him.

But I also hope that you think about why you have put up with someone who has so little consideration of your needs. Has that been a pattern in past relationships? After breaking up, spend some time really thinking about what you want in a relationship and how you can stand up for yourself and get what you want. Are there other people in your life who treat or have treated you badly? This may be a good time to go for some counseling for yourself.
posted by marsha56 at 6:25 AM on December 8, 2012


I increasingly feel like crap.

You know what? This is all you need to know. We can talk endlessly about all the other details, and I agree that many of them suggest trouble. But honestly, if you've only been dating this guy for six months and the relationship is increasingly making you feel like crap, you should end it immediately.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:06 AM on December 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


She asks about me when I'm not there, she invites me to spend time with them, and she strikes up chats with me on Facebook. Her dad is in charge of when we see each other, and he has reduced it recently. We used to do something every weekend.

Whoa, she likes you and asks for you when you're not around and his response is to reduce how often you see her!? You just went from being a low grade priority to being a threat to his position as most adored. This guy is nuts! Run, don't look back.
posted by zarah at 9:43 AM on December 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Young rope-rider, the story as it was told to me was basically this:

Note how nothing in that narrative is his fault. There are two sides to every divorce. You are only getting one side here: DAD IS SO GREAT! POOR DAD. This is the same one side he'll tell about his breakup with you: Ceiba was overly demanding of his time and attention and just didn't understand his need to put little Tiffany first because he is SO GREAT as a dad.

This is the kind of guy who is great on the rebound when you want the comfort of dating and sex without the involvement of real emotional investment and growing dependency on one another. This is not the kind of guy who makes a good long term plan.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:52 AM on December 8, 2012


Her dad is in charge of when we see each other, and he has reduced it recently. We used to do something every weekend.
Why? This seems like the opposite of
He wants me to eventually move in with him and his daughter.

Do you love this man? Does he love you? I have to say that I'm guessing "no" based off of your answers in this thread. Maybe he is the bee's knees for someone, but that someone doesn't have to be you.
posted by sm1tten at 11:33 AM on December 8, 2012


1. Daughters love dad because dad is such a great parent and mom isn't very involved with them.
There were girls in his preferred age range around, what did he need with mom? As you have learned in a short time, this guy is good at making grown women feel marginalized and unwelcome, even in their own homes.
2. Daughters dis mom and she withdraws even more.
Parental alienation syndrome.
3. Daughters reach 17 and 19 or so and dad pushes them to get jobs, against mom's wishes.
Humbert's got a new Lolita.
4. Mom quickly leaves dad. Daughters go with her.
Once dad turned the pressure off mom found the strength to leave.
5. One daughter leaves mom and both daughters file lawsuit against dad, without including mom.
With some distance the daughters are beginning to see things more clearly, and they are pissed. You can't know how he damaged them, and random strangers on the internet sure can't, but the squick factor is through the roof and you can be sure it didn't go down the way he said it did.

This guy is bad news.
posted by headnsouth at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2012


I appreciate everyone's concern. I know this person and his daughter more than do any posters here, and I'm not claiming I can guarantee that there's nothing awful going on, but for future readers of this:

Metafilter users often find pathological diagnoses for what could be more garden-variety familial or psychological problems. I appreciate suggestions that things could be worse than they seem, and these are important considerations. However, these affirmative "diagnoses" are coming from strangers on the internet and are based on just reading one post about the person.

This coming week, I'll talk to a therapist from the same culture about this situation. Any future readers in a similar situation might want to do the same.
posted by ceiba at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


This coming week, I'll talk to a therapist from the same culture about this situation.

Why? Just put all that aside and look at the advice above from people who have been in relationships with single parents with kids. Nobody thinks the degree of neglect you feel is appropriate or necessary.

Even if you think they're all wrong and that your charming and caring man is simply incapable of the balancing act that these other folks were, so what? You're in the early stages of a relationship and the basic question of how this person makes you feel is settled on "crappy." Move on. Even if nobody is at fault - a mental approach I consider highly worthwhile in life when you can't do anything about people's behaviors - you're best off not having a relationship with this person.

It is not one that makes you happy. Stop choosing to make yourself unhappy.
posted by phearlez at 7:45 AM on December 10, 2012


He doesn't have to be committing unspeakable acts or suffering from some internet-diagnosed malady to be treating you poorly. You are bending over backwards to rationalize his behavior. The more time you think about trying to understand why someone else does what they do, the less time you are thinking about yourself and what you need/want, and understanding your own reasons for doing what you do.

You deserve exponentially better treatment than what you're getting ... but you get what you settle for. No matter his culture, no matter his baggage, no matter his reasons, it's up to you to get what you want, or choose not to settle for less than what you want.
posted by headnsouth at 7:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm planning to talk to a therapist to see if I need to do anything for his kid. I already know what I need to do for myself.
posted by ceiba at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2012


In case anyone is wondering what happened: I broke up with him almost immediately. He made it easy by standing me up in order to satisfy his daughter's last-minute whim, failing to call at all. When he showed up the next day, I calmly dumped him and have felt much better since. He has told mutual friends that he's suffering terribly without me and is waiting for me to call him and take him back, but I know he's throwing parties and is active on a singles site, using a photo I took of him.

I spoke with a Mexican therapist, who wasn't alarmed about the co-sleeping.

Thanks, everyone, for your insights and suggestions.
posted by ceiba at 7:54 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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