normal to feel left out/ignored?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2005
normal to feel left out/ignored?
Sat, 11-16-2013 - 3:35pm


I'm feeling confused, sad, and left out after an interaction with my boyfriend and his 10-year-old daughter today.

We've been dating for about  a year now - he is 50 and I'm 34. To begin, he is an awesome dad, boyfriend, and person. He's supportive, loyal, funny, etc. He and ex divorced when daughter was 1 year old -so its been a long time. This is the longest relationship he's been in since the divorce. We actually broke up about 2.5 months ago and got back together 2 months ago. I was introduced to his daughter after about 5 months of dating and things seemed to be going very well. I had good rapport with her, the three of us had a good dynamic together, I actually had no worries. He's very good at trying to balance interactions between the three of us (giving me a hug when he gives her a hug, etc) so that one one feels left out. He sits next to me on the couch when we watch a movie, eat dinner. He always holds my hand when we are all walking together, etc. So up until today - all that good stuff has been going on. Since we got back together, the three of us have been together (just the 3 of us) 2 other times. One was when we took her out for her birthday, and one was when we all went to a festival together. Those times seemed to go well.

So today, I went over to thier house and he was actually in the shower, so daughter and I talked for a while. She showed me some books she just got, we played a pretend swordfight and I chased her around the house, she was giving me silly quizzes. It was just like previous dynamics between the two of us. Then we all decided to go on a 'walking tour' in the downtown near thier house. This is something that my bf and his D do together quite frequently on weekends. As soon as we left the house, suddenly her demeanor changed. She became pouty, sullen, and would only walk next to my bf on the sidewalk as we walked along and in and out of stores. My bf noticed that she was dour and asked her what was wrong, did she want to talk, etc..she remained kind of sour the rest of the walk. My bf kept trying to cheer her up by engaging with her, talking about things she likes, giving her hugs, etc. We finally ended up at a place for lunch. My bf went to the restroom and so it was just the two of us. I asked her a really mundane question , something along the lines of 'what do you like to eat here' ....she answered in a really bored, monotone voice and wouldn't make eye contact and went back to coloring something. When my bf came back, he sat next to her (like right next to her where they were touching the whole time they were eating). He usually sits next to me. She would turn around to look at him and talk only to him, she would lean over and they would hug each other, and the two of them were having a conversation with each other about things that I could not relate to because it was all about thier dynamic, while I was sitting there, feeling left out and honestly like my presence there was superflous and I wanted to get up and just walk back home. Towards the end of the lunch, she asked me if I was going with them to a party later that night at her friend's house.  I said I was not. At one point she got up to see some party happening downstairs and I told my bf that something was going on with her today. He agreed and said that she was going through 'the 9-year change" and that her teacher (she's in a private waldorf school) said she was having a hard time with the change. He said 'she's better now and isopening up'. I reminded him that she was opening up and talking to him, but not me. Somehow he didn't understand this and I'm not sure he saw any sort of link between the fact that i was present -and her behavior, and just seemed to tie it to this '9 year change' thing that has to do with neurobiological development. He said she had invited me to the friend's party. Now I saw this differently. I think she asked me if I was coming simply because she was wondering if I was coming (and hoping I would not be coming)!

So we get back to his house. I say bye to his D -tell her to have fun at her party (she's uninterested of course) and I pull him aside when he walked me to my car. I basically told him that I was feeling confused and hurt. I told him that while  I understand that his D is probably moving through some difficult emotions and readjustig to our dynamic, I felt that by coddling (p.s, i didn't use the term coddling, i think i said something more diplomatic)  her when she acted sour was just giving her the message and reinforcing that she gets what she wants (his sole attention/leaving me out) when she acts like this. I told him that I wanted us to work through this and support each other and told him that while i wanted to be understanding, I also needed his support. I told him that I felt ignored and left out during lunch and perceived that the two of them just went into thier dynamic (not including me) and said I might as well not have been at lunch. My bf was obviously surprised. He just kept saying 'wow' and 'this is really  heavy, we need to talk more'. he said he respected my perception but said that the way i saw the events is not actually what happened.He said he felt like it was up to the adults to be patient and understanding and make efforts in this type of dynamic.

So - of course driving home today I have all kind of thoughts in my head: "Maybe I'm not cut out to date a man with kids". "She doesn't like me". "She is more important than me". "He doesn't care how I feel".

Am I being selfish? Does this mean the relationship won't work? Can I not handle a man with a child? Am I overreacting?

I love this man and want to be in relationship with him - but sitting there today feeling totally left out and ignored was so painful - I can't imagine a lifestyle where we live together and this is how all our interactions go.


Frustrated and Sad