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Should I stay or should I go?

lakelover's picture

I'm new to posting on this site although I've read quite a few posts on here in the past. Today, I decided I needed to vent and get some advice. I will try to be as brief as possible with my history. I am a childless (not by choice) 46 year old woman who has been dating a 40 year man for 2 years now and he has one child a 16 year daughter with a woman he never married but who he dated off and on in high school and several years afterwards trying to make it work. I have been married twice before with no children in the picture. My first marriage lasted only 3 years. I was young and married the wrong abusive guy so I divorced him. Second marriage ended after 11 years mutually we just grew apart. I never attempted to get pregnant during the first marriage but actively tried in my second marriage. Went through infertility treatments and considered adoption but ultimately my second ex-husband wasn't really on board for it so that was that and probably lead to part of our decision to divorce. I can honestly admit to the fact that I will never get over the fact that I will never have kids or ever be called mom. My boyfriend has never been married and hasn't really had that many long term relationships in the past. He has only ever introduced his daughter to one other ex-girlfriend besides me which I find very respectful since he said he never wanted to bring women around her if they had no intentions of becoming long term girlfriends. Fast forward to 2 years ago when we met. At first it was just casual dating and at the time I don't think either of us were looking for a relationship but after about 3 months we both knew it was turning into something more. He told me he had a teenage daughter and at first I wasn't sure about dating him as I have never dated any man with children before but since it was so new I decided to just let things go and see what happens. And as silly as it may have seemed at the time I thought well if things did work out this might be my last opportunity to have a child in my life and get a chance at being a mom sort of. The birth mom is the custodial parent and he use to get his daughter every weekend prior to her turning into a busy teenager. He didn't introduce me to his daughter until about the 3 month mark. She was reserved with me at first which I totally expected since I'm sure her Dad having a girlfriend wasn't something she was use to. We also lived in 2 different towns. He was living at home with his mother and I was living in my own home. After about a year I sold my home and started living in a rented condo. We still dated and I really only saw his daughter during her volleyball & softball games and other school functions or holidays. Overtime we have now built a good relationship. She is respectful, kind and helpful and never really gives her Dad or BM much trouble. About 9 months ago we decided to move in together and I purchased a new home. We have a bedroom for his daughter and I have made every attempt at creating an environment for her to feel welcome in. I have been to almost every single volleyball and softball games she has had since I was in the picture even one's where Dad couldn't make it I was there. I have been to choir concerts and other school functions. My boyfriend doesn't make a lot of money and is trying to catch up on back child support payments so most of his money goes towards her. However, there have been times where she needed clothes or shoes for volleyball or softball or money for a homecoming dress or shoes and I would pay for them. All without her knowledge of course. Her BM also picked out a used car for her 16th birthday and asked for her Dad to pay something towards it. He of course had no money so I volunteered to give $2,000 towards it again without anyone else's knowledge. I have purchased Valentine's day presents and Easter gifts and given her gas money anytime we see her all with her thinking its from her Dad. I don't expect acknowledgment from her. I do these things because I genuinely have come to love her and I know her Dad can't provide that much. I actually love when she does come to stay with us even though its only been several times. I can honestly say she is joy to be around. Lately my boyfriend has been talking more and more about getting married. Obviously, I am feeling very cautious since I've already had 2 failed marriages and would hate to make another mistake especially when there is a child involved. My main concern is the relationship I don't have with the birthmom. She is respectful to me whenever I see her at games and such but other than that she will have nothing to do with me. I don't expect to be friends with this woman but I would like to have a better relationship with her than it currently is. I feel isolated and like an outsider whenever I am around her or other family members. She is married and has another child with her husband and I know there is no chance of my boyfriend and her getting back together but I can't help but feel jealous of the bond that they share and the fact that I will never have that with him. She knows I can't have children and how much her daughter means to me and yet I still feel as though she will say things to make me feel like I'm an intruder and that I don't belong. My boyfriend and the bm have a decent relationship to the point where he will text her on the holidays and Happy birthday and Happy Mother's day and they talk on the phone every so often but actually I'm not sure how often because it is usually when I'm not around. I guess this is what has lead me here. I feel left out. One part of me is happy that they can co parent well for his daughter but on the other hand I'm jealous that he texts the bm about random day to day things or when I'm around they bring up the past and bm seems to purposely say things like "our daughter did this or your daughter did that" almost as if she knows what a hurtful stab that must be to me knowing she will always have that bond with my boyfriend and the fact that I don't have kids of my own. It also hurts when my boyfriend will make statements about his parenting issues saying that I wouldn't understand because I'm not a parent. I know my lane and I try to stay in it. I don't usually voice my opinion on parenting issues when he does discuss them with me which is rare. And I feel like I've been nothing but supportive of his daughter and their relationship even to the point when I have encouraged him to spend more time with her. Maybe its just me and my insecurities or maybe I'm being overly emotional. All I know is that what I thought was going to be a blessing lately has me feeling like a mistake and that maybe I shouldn't be with someone who has kids knowing I may not be able to handle it emotionally. Just wondering if this is normal or irrational.

ESMOD's picture

I'm sorry.. but can you go back and paragraph this a bit.. it's a bit hard to follow.

But.. what i saw was your main concern that BM is distant but respectful... not close.

Gahhhhhhh.. THIS kind of concern is a clear result of all these pinterest posts of loving letters from the BM to the SM.. of yearly pictures of the whole blended family etc...

News flash.. it is actually much more normal for there to be a clear distance between the EX and her Ex's life and new partner.  It's even quite common for there to be hostility and anger.

Arm's length.. civility.. that IS probably exactly what you should expect and reciprocate with BM.

Look, I get it... you wanted kids.. don't have them.  you want to be "part" of the parental experience now.  but you are not the bio mother.  You don't have equal footing with the bio parents when it comes to that child.  You have neither the responsibility.. nor the expectation of inclusion in everything to do with that child.

So.. this is perhaps a fantasy that you need to go to seek some counseling to come to terms with the reality that to an extent.. the child has two parents that raise her.. and that your role may not be parental at all.  That doesn't mean you don't have any interraction with the kid.. but it might be more in the friendly adult mentoring role vs parent.


but please don't fall victim to the fallacy that there is some expectation that is reasonable for you all to sit together and raise this child "as a village".. BM is perfectly within her rights to not want to be your best friend.

lakelover's picture

I'm so sorry my post is such a rambled mess...I guess it makes sense why I came here to vent lol. Thank you for your advice and response. I guess I'm just confused on the BM's actions when I first came into the picture she friended me on Facebook and messaged me about a few things concerning their daughter. Then later on she unfriended me on FB for some unknown reason and no longer will communicate with me besides saying hello at any parties or events. Both sides of the families attend my boyfriend's daughters sporting events and we have even held her 16th birthday party with both sides of the familly in attendance at my boyfriend's mothers' house so I had the impression that all of their issues had been worked out and everyone had moved on and we could all get along. My boyfriend even communicates with his daughters step father. They just spent one Friday night a couple weekends ago fixing his daughters car together. I guess I just thought I would be able to have this same consideration especially when I have done nothing except sit back, give no parenting advice and be nothing but a supportive friend to his daughter. I know my role and don't for one second think I am her mother or will ever be. Believe me I have been through enough counseling to have worked through all that.

ESMOD's picture

The BM likely friended you out of curiosity.. then later as her own feelings of insecurity crept in.. she decided to reverse that thought.  It's not a stretch for a bio mom to become threatened when their EX has a new woman in their life.. one that the daughter may like.  also.. one who appears to be doing nice things for their daughter.. there is unfortunately some basic "ownership instinct" that can kick in.

Yeah.. we think from our POV.. Gosh.. I would be over the moon if I had a child and my EX's new spouse was nice to them and did nice things for them.. that means my kid has more people that care about them.. and more nice things.  But, that's not what happens.

BM wants to know why you are "trying to be her mother".. "the girl is none of your business"..

Even re the EX.. sure the issues were water under the bridge.. but there can still be some latent jealousy.. or emotion over seeing your EX with someone new.. even if YOU have moved on to a happy relationship.

So.. my advice would be to take things for what they are.  The girl seems nice enough and isn't causing problems.  So the EX isn't as warm.. it may be she got a vibe that you were trying to butt in on her territory... and no you can't have a civil discussion to explain you aren't.  I think the best course of action is to move forward and live your life.  Be nice to the girl ... remember that the things you are doing for her (esp financially) are things you are doing on behalf of her dad.. and he should be thanking you for your assistance.  Hopefully he is getting back on his feet financially.. don't fall into a trap of letting him bleed you dry for things. 

And.. as a stepmom.. all you do is voluntary.. you don't have to spend your money.. spend your time etc..

now, i'm not gonna say you can't have a good relationship or do nice things with your stepdaughter... but managing your expectations is important.  I have a great relationship with my younger stepdaughter.. we do stuff together and she calls me just to chat (she is an adult).  She wished me a happy mother's day and everything.. but her facebook post was publicly all about her mother.. not a mention of in the end.. her bio mother is going to "win" that popularity  But, while it's hard to not take it personally.. we have to try and come to a place of acceptance.

lakelover's picture

Thank you so much for your advice....I totally can see her side of things and completely agree that at this point I need to just get over it and move forward. I guess my other issue was just what you mentioned that my boyfriend doesn't really acknowlege much what I do for him and her. I mean he will tell me thank you for going to her all day volleyball tournaments (gah) and for when I buy her gifts from him...I guess I would love to get a little more acknowledgment from him. I don't expect it from her even though she always hugs me & thanks me everytime I see her. I've tried to explain my feelings to him but he just doesn't get it. I guess I just need to be happy with the way things are and realize things could be much worse.


ESMOD's picture

I'm not trying to get all up in your business.. but it sounds like perhaps your BF is not the most stable financial manager.. and perhaps doesn't earn much?

I am guessing that the niceties you do for his daughter are probably not the only things that you are doing in this relationship financially that are a help to him.

You own the house.. does he pay rent? other costs? or is his responsibility to basically just pay his CS and his personal bills.. like cell phone and his day to day spending while you are toting the majority of the financial load while he coasts?

I understand that stuff happens... people lose jobs.. have medical bills etc.. BUT... there are also people that don't manage their money well.. aren't motivated and want to blame the world for the crappy situation they are in. 

He might not be overly gracious about what you are doing because he is embarassed he can't provide "like a man should".. but that should be fire in his belly to be really stepping it up.. and as fast as possible so that he is an equal partner in the relationship.

yeah.. money isn't everything.. you don't need a man "for his money".. because you are a strong and independent woman.  BUT.. many women (me included in history) take that further by letting others take advantage of our financial stability.  It's not OK if he can't pay his own bills and contribute to the household he is living in.  Being behind on CS while living with his MOM?  This should not happen.. barring a long illness etc.. he should have at minimum been able to meet those needs.. or have his order modified if his income was dramatically reduced for a legit reason.

So... please proceed with caution.  There are worse things than being alone and being with someone that is dragging you down financially is one of them.  And.. he shouldn't be hiding your contributions to his daughter.. she should know that to some extent.. some of the nice things are coming from you...   But then again, she isn't stupid and I'm sure that she and her mom full well realize that all of a sudden you are around and he magically is supporting his daughter in ways he wasn't before.

lakelover's picture

Without trying to get into too much but to also answer your question....prior to meeting my bf he had some legal trouble and was unable to work and got behind on support. Since then he has been working very hard to get caught back up. I support him in that as I realize his daughter comes first. I do make more money than he does but I am ok with that as that has been the case in most of my relationships. He does contribute to our household bills and does pay for some of his daughters extracurricular acitivites if he can other times I am happy to help out. And even though we don't explain to her where the money is coming from I agree with you that she is old enough I'm sure to put it all together and figure it out.

Leilene's picture

One of these days, I’ll take a shot for every time I see you say that around here !!

Rags's picture

WHITE SPACE please.  One huge block of text without breaks and paragraphs fries one's brain.

I have a number of concerns with your situation.  First, you are this guys sugar mama.  You support him, his XW and their daughter.  Just as importantly he obviously does not consider you either his equity life partner nor an equity parent to the child in your relationship/home.

Please, do significant introspection on your relationship and find a path to be in a good place in your life.

Regrets are normal.  That certainly can include regretting not having a child or children of your own.  Whether bio or adopted.  But regrets should not drive pain that haunts you for decades.  

I suggest that you find a therapist, get some help, and dig deep to determine if this guy and his financial, past relationship and genetic baggage are what you want for the rest of your life.   

Your paying for his support of his child, your anonymously paying for her car, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.....  and his treatment of you do not pass the smell test of reasonableness for me.

Take care of you.

Good luck.

lakelover's picture

I apologize for not posting correctly it was my first post on a forum site. I definitely wouldn't say I'm a sugar mama by any means. Yes I own my home but I have owned 7 of them since I turned 20 years old even when I was married I paid for and purchased my homes in my name only. I have separate bank accounts and always will. I do make more money than my bf however that has been the case in all of my relationships so I don't feel as though that would be a dealbreaker for me. I have never gone into a relationship based on someone's finanical income.

I have been in therapy off and on for many years and have worked on a lot of things and will continue to do so. I think my current feelings are based on having Mothers Day just pass. That is usually a trigger for me. But I thank you for your concern in seeking help. I know I need to do so more soul searching thats for sure.



Rags's picture

No need to appologize.  Just please make sure to use paragraphs to break up the text blocks.

I get that many marriages have different earning dynamics.  However, IMHO any viable adult relationship has to be between equity life partners.  This can take many forms.  But... it has to have balance.  One can be the earner but they both must participate in the life they make together with some discernable balance.

There are many alarm bells in this situation that do not balance out as an equity life partnership IMHO.

Just take care of you and make sure that you are protecting yourself.


Harry's picture

SD is already 16 yo had a active BM.  There is no need for you to be her SM. As doing motherly things.  She had a mother to dhis them. You are not going to be asked to  pick out a prom dress four her, ect,ect  

BM does not want to be your friend, you don’t have a relationship with BM, BM does not need you in her life,  unfortunately you have to accept this.   Yoi can  paid and take SD on vacation have fun with her, but don’t tell her no  for any reason .

SO should not be talking to BM,  This is not a threesome ,  there no need to really talk with BM at this point.  SO is still in some type of relationship with BM,  I could never be a relationship with some who is that friendly with the EX. SD should bring information on visitations times, ect.  There is really nothing fot BM and BF to talk about 

lakelover's picture

I completely understand that she has a mother and I am by no means trying to mother her or even do motherly things. Our relationship is more of a friendship or one you would have with a special Aunt. I do things for her based out of my genuine love for her not for any sort of acknowledgement. I think what I was looking for was acknowledgement from my boyfriend and maybe that would be my fault for not expressing that to him.

It's obvious to me BM doesn't want any sort of relationship with me. I guess I was just hoping since everyone else in the family like my bf's mother & sister get along so well with the BM and my bf and his daughter's stepdad get along well too that I mistakenly thought I might be able to have this same outcome. I guess what I don't understand is why BM wouldn't want to have some sort of relationship with a woman who is a part of her daughters life especially in the beginning when BM seemed to be so friendly to me. I guess it is strange to me but I will accept it for what it is and more forward.

And I completely agree that I don't like the communication flow between the BM and my bf. I think my bf has always just tried to go along with whatever BM wants just to make things easier and will be nice and friendly so as not to cause problems. I think this obviously worked in the past especially because he didn't really have a girlfriend to tell him otherwise. But now that I'm in the picture and telling him I not a big fan of it he seems to think I'm in the wrong and I don't understand because I'm not a parent. I think texting between them is fine and even conversations that are important about their daughter or emergencies but other than that I agree there shouldn't be much more to discuss.

Harry's picture

At SD age you will never be a Mother to her.  You will always be her father FG/ wife.  You will never have a family type relationship with her.  She does not care what you do for her, what you paid for. To her it’s comming from her BF and that what fathers do.  BM is looking at you as someone who is going to take thing away from SD. 

You will start saying NO to expensive thing.  Thousand for college payments,  Thousands for a big wedding for SD,  money for a house ect.  Two thousand for a car is just a drop in the bucket of life