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Emptying my thought process - Will we ever bond?

og259's picture

So, I had a meltdown weekend and I've ended up here... 

  • 14 year old me: had a huge crush on a boy at school and listed him in my diary "hot or not" list
  • 18 year old me: proceeded to spend next 5 years in a psychologically abusive relationship with a narcisstic partner, 10 years older than me.
  • 22 year old me: had an explosive, intense, 8 month whirlwind relationship with someone who I loved more than life itself, he had a 4 year old son.
  • 24 year old me: re-kindled with my high school crush and fell completely in love
  • 27 year old me: the current day, still with my high school crush, living together and hoping to get married in the next few years but exhausted at just the thought of taking on his son.

My partner has a 9 year old son with his ex - they were only 18 when they fell pregnant and it ended 

It ended up being a very toxic relationship, they broke up during the early months of pregnancy and when it came to the birth, BM kept BF out of the loop, wouldn’t let him see baby and took around 6 months to warm up, before they “tried” to co-parent for a few weeks and failed again. Since SS was about 18 months, they have had an agreed arrangement where SS spends 3 days (every other weekend Friday-Sunday) with BF.

I didn’t meet SS for around 5 months, I was really nervous to meet him and didn’t want to cause any confusion in SS life until I knew that we were serious, moving forward.

We met, we got on and he was lovely but I had also found myself holding onto the relationship I’d had with my exes son. I don’t know if I just didn’t bond with now SS or if I was holding onto my ex’s son so much, I wouldn’t allow myself to open up to the “step parent trap” again?

Anyone else find it really, really hard to totally become vulnerable to open themselves up as a “parent” figure to their step children? Like – I often struggle with the concept that they could be taken away at absolutely moment, with no remaining rights or access to the child. That’s what hurt the most when my ex left.

I loved his child like my own, he was adorable, we spent so much time together when he dad was away (having an affair…we grow, we learn Smile ).

Back to the point – finding it hard to bond with current SS.

  • Could it be because he’s older?
  • Could it be because he’s the second child I’ve had a SS experience with?
  • Could it be because he doesn’t need me like my ex’s son did? Ex’s son was 4 years old so perhaps it boiled down to the fact that my current partners son is 9, (he was 6/7 when we met, so didn’t ‘need’ me, rely on me, he was independent in terms of being able to cut his own food and get himself dressed etc etc..)
  • Could it be that I’m holding back because the heartbreak when my ex left?
  • Could it just be a matter of fact that as humans, we don't gel and we won't gel?
  • Could it be because I disagree so firmly with some of the things I hear about how his mother parents him? 

I have no idea, and I don’t know if I ever will know. I go to private counselling for the last year for various topics and I think I kind of hoped I’d explore and understand what’s going on with SS in those sessions, but I am yet to come to any realisation as to what it is that’s holding me back. Could it literally just be that we don’t gel or bond?

Something holds me back or creeps me out – I feel so guilty, and I know I care about the kid but things like when his toenails haven’t been cut or he’s picking his nose or he says things sometimes, I honestly feel my patience surging with fury because I can’t stand it, makes my skin crawl. Why do I feel like that?

Since me and my partner BF have been together, I noticed something was not right with SS. It was a very hard topic to navigate to start with, but after a year I mentioned possible dyspraxia due to SS lack of ability to balance/walk and he walked everywhere on his tip toes, he also had bad coordination in terms of ability to use cutlery/write/grab etc. I have a cousin with dyspraxia, and I know it’s common in young boys so it seemed quite possible; BF acknowledged that his legs developed a little abnormally and that he walked on his tip toes a lot which restricted his ability with things like stairs, chairs, walking, running, sitting on the floor etc. but had been previously told by doctors that the issue wouldn’t be looked at until SS was around 10 years old (developed more).

Since then, some follow up doctors’ appointments unearthed a whole series of things which I think I will write about (just empty my brain onto here!) in more detail.

I guess the message of this one is, I struggle to bond with him, I don’t know how to do it.

I don’t know how to accept it, force it, acknowledge it or ignore it. Will it improve? Will it get worse? I have no idea..

Thank you for taking time to read my endless brain vent of words that may or may not make sense – just being a part of this forum as of a few days ago, has created such a sense of relief for me, to know that I’m not the only SM who is finding this hard.


notarelative's picture

BF acknowledged that his legs developed a little abnormally and that he walked on his tip toes a lot which restricted his ability with things like stairs, chairs, walking, running, sitting on the floor etc. but had been previously told by doctors that the issue wouldn’t be looked at until SS was around 10 years old (developed more)

SS is around 10 now. Has BF made an appointment to have this rechecked by a specialist (pediatric neurologist)?

I find the around 10 part strange as with most issues, the earlier the treatment the better the outcome. 

og259's picture

Thank you for taking the time to both read, and reply!SS is 9 now and yes, he's had a series of follow ups and in turn, around 6 months ago was dosganosed with a very rare genetic muscular disease which will ultimately impact his muscle growth and maintenance moving forward - there's not a huge amount known about the disease yet but we've been advised by the medical professionals that it's degenerative and going to be life limiting x 

ESMOD's picture

My best advice is to not force things.  And.. if there are issues that need resolving.. be mindful that you can't rebuild Rome in a day.  If his mom isn't a great parent.. and he is with her the majority of thetime.. obviously that will impact him more than less.

Things I would want to know.

1.  Does your BF have an official custody order with any CS also officially ordered.

2.  Is he a good parent.. not a fun parent.. one that sees disrespect and calls it out.. one that is willing to correct poor behavior.. 

3.  Does your BF want to force more closeness?

because honestly.. you may or may not gel.. and that's ok.. as long as there aren't competing expectaions it can still work

og259's picture

Thank you for taking the time to read my mammoth rant! In answer to your questions; 

1. He had official custody im the beginning, formalised child support payments through the system but they actually take a significant %£ admin fee, so recommended to both BM and BF that if they felt comfortable, they could keep the arrangement informal/private between themselves and in turn, BM would actually receive the full amount £, so they chose this option


2. He's a good parent, he's also a fun parent, he is generally a very mellow, calm person and doesn't often get impatient or angry, so he'll enforce if really needed but does also let things slip fairly often - he's conscious of the experience SS is having at home (mostly being ignored / left to play video games) as there's a new child who requires more attention) so we make every effort to make the short weekends, memorable. It can be frustrating watching him be so patient sometimes though! He's very nervous to tread on toes of SM incase she revoked his access to SS or appointments / general information etc. 

3. honestly don't think he has any idea how hard I find it, he reassures me sometimes that SA "loves me" if he notices me wobble, he tries to include me wherever he can and prefers if I take part as a "family" but sometimes I need to avoid things just to breathe- I don't think he realises how deep the issue lays with me worrying about not bonding - he's not overbearing though 


la_dulce_vida's picture

True stepparent/stepchild bonding is RARE in blended families. Bonding happens between babies and small children with adults much more easily.

In a situation where a child has both biological parents and is not a small child, the chances of a stepparent bonding with their stepchildren is rare and has to happen naturally. There has to be a mutual desire between the two parties for it to have a chance, and chances are greater if the other bioparent isn't actively working against the relationship.

I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself to bond as it was something that a stepparent is SUPPOSED to experience. It's not the norm - rather, it's the exception.

ESMOD's picture

I would add that it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to coexist within the same home.. that there can't be a place where you have a friendly relationship with your SS.. even if it isn't the same loving bond you may have had with your prior SS.

My SD's were 5 and 9 and I did bond with the younger girl and the older one and I didn't click the same way.  Even now, she isn't necessarily the kind of person I really get along with as friends.. her priorities are a bit different than mine.  They are both adults and while my YSD and I are close.. my older SD and I are in that friendly place.. not going out of our way to interract.. but can pleasantly when we are together.

And that's ok.. OSD didn't want or need to have the same relationship.. it's ok.  

OP's goal should be for a harmonious household.  Welcoming to his child during visitation.  The child is polite and respectful  to OP.  Her BF respects her need for any boundaries.. and will listen when she has concerns when it comes to his SS... and want to work to improve if necessary.  They can do things that are family like (board games, vacations, holidays).. but she can leave the parenting to his dad..

Winterglow's picture

Could it be that your SS's health issues make you feel bad for him and that you feel guilty for not being able to make it all over better for him? Whether we realize it or not, most of us have the urge to try and make things right. Only, for your SS, there's nothing you can do. 

Take a step back. Tell yourself that he's a little boy, like all the others. Take the pressure off of yourself and stop trying. Take things as they come. Hugs.