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Dating a Dad.....help!

Cookie26's picture

OK, where do i begin? I met and fell for a man I work with. He is seperated, lives alone, and has two kids ages 5 & 8. We have been dating now for almost 4 years. I have only started spending time with the kids over the last couple of weeks. He is a great guy!! Successful, generous, caring, sensitive and hands down the most loving hands-on father I've ever met.
I am 35 years old. Never married. No kids. He is 42 and is still working on getting divorced after having been married for about 10 years.

Here is my dilema.
I've never met his parents b/c they are "holy rollers" who aren't ok with the fact that he is getting divorced. They are against it. (Not for nothing but they divorced each other years ago and remarried each other after being apart for a couple of years) But they still feel he should just stay with the wife he's been miserable with and figure out how to make it work. So in 4 years I've never met them. Which means on Holidays, I'm often alone because my BF takes his kids and goes to his parents house. He tries to make it fair by spending the day with the kids and his family and then coming to see me at night but I feel completely shut out and alone. Next issue, I always thought that divorced parents have some kind of schedule where they take their kids once or twice a week and alternate weekends. Well, his work schedule is unpredictable so he takes them whenever he can, which actually is very often. I know that's a great thing, but very difficult when you feel like you are being squeezed into his schedule which consists mostly of time with his kids. He has the kids once to twice a week and usually 2 days of the weekend, so he'll have them Friday and Sunday and will see me Saturday. Or he'll take them Friday & Saturday and I'll see him Sunday. Usually I will see him once or twice during the week and one day during the weekend.

It took me 2 years of pleading with him to give me one full weekend A MONTH, just ONCE a month, where it's just me and him the whole weekend. Just ONCE a month...b/c i always felt if he wants to spend that much time with his kids then who am I to take him away from them. But at the same time, I'm trying to have a relationship with this man and that requires a little time too. So finally after 2 years of asking, I got my one weekend last month. We spent an entire saturday and sunday together.

Dating a man who has a family who doesnt want to let me be part of their family, a man who after 4 years is just starting to let me into the childrens lives and a man who after 2 years of asking FINALLY gave me a weekend has got to be the hardest thing I've ever done. I feel alone alot. I feel left out alot. I feel like he's living his life and I'm just tagging along and he makes me a part of it when he can.
How do you date a man who has a family who wants nothing to do with you and kids that he spends most of his time with. This isn't a question of who is the priority, the kids are and i know that. But how do you deal with feeling left out?
He has said to me on that its tough for me to understand because I dont have kids....well yesterday I needed a favor and he couldn't because he had the kids again.... (after having had them EVERY OTHER DAY for the past 8 days) so I got upset and said "I may not understand what it's like to have kids, but you will never understand how difficult it is sometimes for me to deal with forever coming in 3rd place to the man I love"
I know I should not have said that. But I was just upset that I had only seen him once that week and he had the kids (and I'm not over exaggerating) EVERY other day for over a week. I dont mean he spent a few hours with them. I mean he each of those visits means they spend the night. I will be honest and say this week was more than usual but I just feel like I'm alone....alot.
It breaks my heart. Please help.

knucklehead's picture

I'm sorry, he's separated and you've been dating him for FOUR YEARS??

Are they REALLY getting divorced? Have you ever looked the filings up??

I have to tell you, this sounds like you're getting played. Hard. I'm really surprised to read you're 35. I would have guessed 20.

Cookie26's picture

Knucklehead,
I appreciate your feedback.
Yes, I have been dating him 4 years. No, he did not start the divorce paper work until this year...for various reasons. The wife knows about me, as she is dating someone else as well.

I don't appreciate the inference of "immaturity".
When it comes to love and relationships I don't think maturity level guarantees you will always make the right decisions.

When it comes to his divorce, believe me, I'm not happy it has taken this long but it is now in the works.

Again, thank you for your feedback.

knucklehead's picture

Oh, no, maturity doesn't guarantee right decisions. I'm just surprised that a grown woman of 30+ would have tolerated this crap. Shocked, actually.

LilyBelle's picture

Sorry, just did the math....

You've been dating him since the five year old was one? You started dating a man who was married and the marriage had just been through the major transition and stress of a new child?

He couldn't have been separated very long at that point... it really sounds like you jumped into this super fast, while he still had major responsibilities to his family.

Cookie26's picture

His daughter will be 6 years old in two days. So she was 2 when we started dating, our 4 yr anniversary is coming up. When we first started dating I asked him questions about his ex. He said that he and his wife have had issues since the beginning. That they were in counseling even before they got married. When he married her he just "thought it was the right thing to do because the had been dating for awhile and all his friends were getting married too" so he felt pressured.
His ex knows about me. She is dating someone else as well.
I do agree, perhaps I jumped in too soon. It just kind of happened that way. We both fell hard, and fast.

I feel like to be fair I should include some of the positive. I've dated him this long because he is so good to me. When we are together, we have the best time. We are the best of friends. We dont fight. We make eachother laugh constantly. He has taken me places I never imagined I'd ever go. He calls just to tell me he loves me. He leaves me notes all over my house to find when i get home from work that say "hes so lucky to have me in his life". He's so good to my family. I mean, sometimes he'll bring my parents dinner....for no reason. I mean, and i'm just giving you a quick list of everything that is good about us.

And I'm only going on and on b/c i appreciate all the advise and everyones thoughts so I just want to put the whole story out there. It really means alot to me that people take the time to share their thoughts and opinions. It's helping me so much. I clearly have alot of thinking to do..... thank you again!

ybarra357's picture

"thought it was the right thing to do because the had been dating for awhile and all his friends were getting married too" so he felt pressured." IMO this doesn't bode very well for him. So he basically got married because 'everyone else was doing it'??? That's ridiculous!! He actually told you this?? I hope I misread it.

LilyBelle's picture

This makes me wonder, if the majority of people in his life are against the divorce, will he ever divorce? Will he think that's the right thing to do?

Cookie26's picture

Yes, yBarra357. When he told me he felt marrying her wasnt right even before they got married I asked him why he did. And he said "he was young. He had been dating her for awhile. He was getting pressured from her and family and he just felt it was the right thing to do".
I think it comes from his upbringing. His father is a minister (which is crazy b/c his dad is the meanest, cruelest man ever) and his father puts alot of guilt on him. Even though he has been living on his own for 2 years now, just recently did his parents finally stop asking him to try to go home and work things out with his wife.

ybarra357's picture

I do not like my FIL either. However, I met the old bastard (and spent time around him), and pretty much stood my ground with him. I don’t go around him now by MY CHOICE. My DH doesn’t need to ‘protect’ me from him, I’m actually pretty good at it meself! Wink

LilyBelle's picture

It sounds like you feel the good outweighs the bad...

so I did make some suggestions for now to get used to it below.

The biggest thing you can do is re-frame how you think of it...

Instead of thinking of what you have as a relationship that is leading to a lifelong partnership, think of it as a fling... you don't have any holds on one another, you don't owe each other anything, you enjoy each other, you maybe even love each other, but aren't in a position to be committed. If you think of it in this way, you are less likely to be hurt by a perceived unfairness of any type.

Cookie26's picture

Lily,
Your advice is brilliant and I really truly appreciate it. I think I've actually made a decision. Im taking your advice, I think I'm going to tell him until the divorce is complete and he is truly able to be in this relationship 100% then I am going to see other people.

YOu could be absolutely right about the divorce. He hates to disappoint people. He always tries to make everyone else happy. I believe the fact that his parents, especially his father, (who he is always trying to get approval from)being against this divorce is partly why it's taken this long.

This really is so exhausting....

Thank you again Lily for all your help!

FeuilleMorte's picture

Oh, dear. I'd like to be more encouraging than I'm going to be...

In my experience, you get treated the BEST when you are dating; it only goes downhill from there. It just doesn't sound to me like he's all that into you. I'm sorry. I think you should not waste any more time on him.

ybarra357's picture

I would move on (unless you can deal with this long term, but it sounds like not). Obviously he's not giving you what you want/need, whatever the reason. Find a nice, childless man who can.
I hate to come off sounding like a downer, but why would anyone endure this constant loneliness?

LilyBelle's picture

The first thing I would wonder if I were dating someone who is separated is why isn't he divorced?

The second thing I would wonder is why he hasn't introduced me to his family... particularly his children if he is wanting an exclusive committed relationship.

Cookie, I hate to break it to you, but if this has been the pattern for 4 years, it is not likely to change. If you don't like it, you need to step back from it.

I have lots of girlfriends who are widowed, divorced, or just plain single. Our rule of thumb is we don't date married men. Period. No "I'm separated but I can't afford to get a divorce." or "The marriage is just over, but we have to be legally separated for x amount of time to divorce.".... Whatever the reason, we don't do it.

This is not to be judgmental or goody two shoes. It's because we value ourselves. We are in a position in life where we are ready and able to have a partner, to give ourselves in a committed, healthy relationship, to be there for someone period. We are all great women, and we deserve the same in return. A man who is separated but not divorced is in that position for a reason... it might not be his fault, but it is a reason. Whatever that reason, it makes him at least partial unavailable for a committed relationship on some level. He has unfinished business with his ex no matter how you slice it. You are worth waiting for a man who can be there for you completely. You are worth waiting for a relationship in which you can be joyful, and both your friends and family can rejoice with you and you can share one another's lives fully.

One of our close friends broke this code. She dated a man who was not yet divorced. They truly "fell in love" with one another, but she has been in misery since she has been miserable. She thought she would get used to it, but she hasn't, but she loves him so much that she continues to be with him. All the suffering she has done, and moments of frustration of her having to compete with ex wife, kids, etc.... now their relationship has been hurt, and all that could've been avoided had they just waited until he was available...legally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Cookie, you don't have to deal with it. If you love him so much that you feel it's worth it, then you accept it for what it is. Love is a wonderful thing, but it's not all there is to life. And True love can stand the test of time and space, to wait until he closes the door on his marriage before moving onto another relationship.

I could tell you ways to get used to it, and I will if that's what you really want to know, but my question to you is do you truly want to get used to it?

LilyBelle's picture

If you truly do want to get used to it, here are some suggestions:

- Have a very active social life, and make your own plans rather than sit around pining for him.
- Do not try to get anyone to like you. Nothing you do will make that happen. They are either open to you or not... if not, it's their loss.
- Do nurture the other relationships in your life.... your friends and family will help you stay sane.
- Do make yourself available to date other men when he's not available. He is not capable of being available and committed to you at this time. Every aspect of your relationship should be mutual.
- When you want to go away for a weekend, go away for the weekend with or without him. Have fun and enjoy yourself!
- Pick something you've always wanted to learn/ do and sign up for a class.
- Find a local place that offers group dance lessons- did you know swing dance is making a huge comeback? Dance is a great social outlet and good exercise too! And you might meet a man who is truly available.
- Learn to enjoy the spiritual discipline of solitude. You're a great person... you don't have to be around other people to be happy!

LilyBelle's picture

Thanks FM and snickers.

I have faced that temptation of thinking "all the good ones are married."

I am so thankful for my women friends who keep me grounded!

Cookie26's picture

Hi Blue Belle,
Yes, I'm certain he lives alone. When I'm with him I do sleep there. I dont keep a ton of stuff there. Just the basic stuff, like a toothbrush, and shampoo, stuff like that. I do also keep a dog bed there, b/c I bring my dog with me when I stay there.
He says the parents know of me and he does not introduce me to them because he is protecting me from his "obnoxious father." He said he is certain his father would not be nice to me so he just doesnt want to put me in that situation. Now if it were up to me I would hope he would stand up for me and say "you know i'm with this woman, i love her and if you do not treat her well there will be a problem" but he hasn't done that. and I do know the father is horrible. They get into fights all the time mainly b/c his father still puts him down and treats him like crap.

And yes, we work together and we have gone as a couple to the last 3 Christmas parties and I've been to his friends parties, so I know all of his friends. I do actually know his sister too. She's much more accepting of him getting divorced then his parents, so she's nice to me.

What brought on spending time with the kids is that 2 months ago I asked him to go to counseling with me since he claimed a big reason he hadn't brought me around the kids is b/c he just didn't know how to explain it to them. So we went to counseling she gave us great advise. So the first visit he just introduced me as his friend and I had dinner and played games with them. The second visit was the same, we had dinner and played.

You're not being a Debbie Downer. I appreciate your input VERY much! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Cookie26's picture

I agree. I guess that's where I'm at. Trying to figure out whether or not I can live with this for however long this is going to go on.

These ladies are brilliant! This is some of the best advise I've ever received!

Thank you all so very much!!!!

Poodle's picture

I discovered after getting married that there are actually possible advantages in arranged marriage. After all, when an arranged marriage is done really properly (I mean really properly, I'm not being ironic) you have a full cv on the spouse to be, the families have a relationship with each other, and you are joining with a supportive group rather than to one isolated person. When marriages are not arranged but are done for love like mine or your hoped-for one, you choose your spouse in isolation and take no account of the extended family. But then, once the knot is tied, what do you discover? You married into the group anyway. So, when you finally get your heart's desire with this guy and tie the knot, you are going to have not just a rather secretive withholder for a spouse, but holy roller in-laws one of whom regularly fights his adult son and is obnoxious, a BM who has lived in misery with your DH in the past and is going to be a primary figure in the kids' lives for at least 10 more years, and some very young children who regard the whole dysfunctional setup no doubt with deep love and will never see you as anything other than an outsider who carried on with their dad for 4 years without them being told about it. As well as all this, you will be connected to someone who, if things go badly wrong, could end up making you terribly unhappy in your workplace too. If you have a marital row or separation, you may not want to be in the same workplace and this could affect your economic and work prospects negatively.
There is just so much potential misery connected to a future marriage to this guy that he will have to be really fantastic to make it worthwhile for you. And stay fantastic over years of hell from the ILs because this is an absolute certainty, even if the rest of my comments are subjective to me. I feel a person can only stay a good spouse over the years if they are not likely to be beset by a sense of divided loyalty. But -- that seems to be exactly what this guy is vulnerable to.
I agree with the posters who say take a break and try to find a more longterm happy prospect.

autopilot's picture

Wow,

Your situation sounds like me "back in the day". I also had a very long "relationship" with my present wife that lasted nearly 4 years. It was great because I could lead her along and still maintain a sort of family relationship with my first wife and kids. I also led the double life of keeping a separate house for myself and still keeping house in the nuclear household. I did it quite well for a long time. I was involved in my kids' lives constantly as well as in my ex's activities. I traveled a lot, too, and was able to fit in quite a few getaway trips with my then-mistress. I kept her at bay by telling her that I was in the process of getting divorced...even went so far as drawing up fake divorce papers that looked very real when she asked for proof from me...all because I wasn't able to bring myself to divorce because of my religious beliefs.

My now-wife finally tired of my game of smoke and mirrors and basically dumped me. She told me whenever I was ready to have a real relationship with her, I would have to be divorced. She did a lot of what Lily told you to do by getting along with her life without me. That made me realize exactly what I was missing out with her. I eventually filed for divorce and the rest is history (as they say). Got back together with my former mistress and we now have a great marriage of 5 years..

I would definitely NOT recommend this path to anyone else. It has worked for us, but it was not an easy journey.

Cookie26's picture

Wow is right!! Very similar situation.
How long did you break up before you realized you wanted to be back with you "mistress"?

autopilot's picture

It took almost a year before I finally ended the marriage. After that, I had to REALLY work hard to win her back. She did exactly the right thing. In fact, she told me that I could not divorce only because of her, but that I must do it for myself with the expectation that she would not be there in the end. And she wasn't. She had moved on with her life and was dating others.

Your situation sounds so eerily similar to mine. I am quite financially successful and had basically free reign to do and live as I pleased with no accountability. Sounds like that is the way of it with your SO.

In hindsight, I did not really respect my present or former wife. I did as I pleased for my own selfish gain. Only when my now-wife stepped up and demanded respect by moving on without me did I truly realize her worth.

Cookie26's picture

Yes, like you he does very well for himself and has a lot of freedom to do what he wants. although, usually his free time consists of 3 days with his kids and 3 days with me.

Thank you for sharing your story! I feel so much better then I did when I made the original post. Everyone has been really great.

I think I do just have to live my life and tell him when he is divorced and has his act together and can actually include me IN his world 100%.... then maybe we can talk.

Thank you again!

Cookie26's picture

Poodle, You are right about the work situation. He is very high up in the company we work for and while I know he is not vindictive and I know he wouldn't make me lose my job, I would still have to deal with seeing him at all the work functions.

oh boy.... what have i gotten my self into? Sad

Poodle's picture

Well the fact that autopilot can be so honest and honourable gives you hope doesn't it Cookie26? Maybe spend more social time with friends though, not back off completely but just a little bit whilst you are analysing all this. Keep posting, it has really helped me.

LilyBelle's picture

Sounds like you are being a wise woman!

It may be hard to stick to your guns... everyone here will support you!

Best wishes!

my.kids.mom's picture

Has it occurred to you that if you spent some consistent time with him, you might not get along that well? Long distance or part time relationships always seem to work great. But when it involves the day to day crap, it is MUCH harder. You are left wanting more because your time with him is limited. He is still doing all the romantic gestures because he is perpetually dating you. He has to keep you hanging around. You have received some great advice. You just need to decide if he's worth flinging with or even continuing to see at all. If you want full time, he isn't going to be the one.