normal to feel left out/ignored?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2005
normal to feel left out/ignored?
14
Sat, 11-16-2013 - 3:35pm

Hi,

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.

Sincerely,

Frustrated and Sad

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Avatar for slah54
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2012
Sat, 11-16-2013 - 3:58pm

I raised 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys, and the girls are much more difficult.  Puberty seems to be coming on earlier than ever these days.  She may very well be at the mercy of hormones, and not know what is happening to her.  Be patient.  Don't let it get to you.  Just be there for her.  Try not to let it hurt your feelings or get between you and your boyfriend.  Moods can change quickly.  Tomorrow you may very well be back to playfighting and chasing her around the house.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 11-16-2013 - 4:37pm

I think that you really should consider whether you want to date a man w/ kids because honestly it's very demanding emotionally--and basically a lot of times, you have to realize that you can't always come first.  I think you have to be the grownup here.  I had to laugh when I'm picturing your BF taking turns hugging you & his DD so neither one of you will feel left out.  Honestly, as an adult you shouldn't need the same reinforcement that a 10 yr old does, --you shouldn't need him to sit next to you to realize that he cares for you.  I imagine that the girls splits her time between her parents' houses.  IF she doesn't get to see her dad every day, she needs his attention.  You are going to have to get used to kind of being the 2nd fiddle at times.

Now I saw this from the experience of being divorced with kids & then marrying a guy who was a widower w/ a DD who was 10 when I met her.  My exH also remarried a woman w/ a older DD.  I'd say that my ex probably saw our kids 3x a week including EO weekend.  His DW is a nurse so she sometimes works weekends & probably wasn't around all the time.  I think also he did a lot of things with the kids that didn't include her.  My kids do like their SM but I think they preferred to do thiings w/ their dad alone or just didn't care that much if she was around--can you accept that?  I think you should be happy that you normally do get along with her and this isn't a regular behavior.

Now also you have to realize that the preteen years are generally when girls are the most moody--then they outgrow it when they are a little older.  So unless you are prepared to deal with a lot of hormones & moodiness for a few years, you might as well bail out now.  I sometimes think it's better when divorced parents with kids date other parents--even that doesn't always work out either.  But you need to understand child development too & not take things so personally.  Generally you'll have to be ignoring a lot of moodiness and think as my grandmother used to say "it's a stage--she'll grow out of it."

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2005
Sat, 11-16-2013 - 5:29pm

Thanks to both of you. I think it was hard for me to feel like I had to take a backseat because she needed her dad, and I took it personally and it hurt my feelings. He has her every other week, and so the three of us usually get together once/week. I don't get to see him much the week he doesn't have her - he works a crazy schedule as a hospital doctor - so since I may only see him once/week on his parent weeks - I guess its hard to be with him and not 'feel with him'  -if that makes sense. I am grateful that normally she and I get along great and he does a great job of balancing his roles. I do have a lot to think about in terms of the development she will go through as she gets older and how I can take care of myself during that time. I'm worried that my boyfriend is mad at me for the things I said. Hopefully we can talk about it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Sun, 11-17-2013 - 7:47pm

hi and WELCOME :)

My 2 cents is that the pouting episode started because the "walk around town" was "their" thing that they did together all the time.....and now she has to share her dad with you for this, and she wasnt happy about it.

Musiclover wrote a good post.  What were the circumstances for your break up with BF the first time? That might be one clue in helping you decide.

Another thought for you is that your relationship with BF is actually very early, so rather than try to force a threesome for all activities, it would be nice if he recognized you need adult "alone" time with him and planned some date times, and if you recognized DD needs some daddy "alone" time, and perhaps opted  to run off and do some errands or something while he spent an hour or so doing the town walk about with DD or something.....?, KWIM?

To be honest, they have had ten YEARS in their routines together............it's probably going to be difficult for her to become a 3 some for all of this........

How about if she invites a GF for sleep over on weekend evening when you are there?  She will be busy playing with friend while you and BF snuggle on couch watching TV with them,...that sort of thing?

BEST WISHES! 

again--ML had good post--MOST DEFINITELY talk this through with BF,....but keep in mind....this situation ISNT going to change dramatically----in the long run,you might be better off with another guy...

BEST WISHES and KEEP US POSTED!

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 11-18-2013 - 1:02pm

Hi Miss Jen, good to see you!

Oh sweetie, this is so hard.  You really need to look at whether or not you are suited to date someone with kids.  Even with the best intentions, trying to suggest to a parent how to parent is very risky to a R. 

And to be brutally honest, his DD at probably the worst age ever to start a serious R with someone.  I hate to be negative, as many people do remarry with children (most of us here), but the DD's attitude is not going to get better for several years.  Don't get me wrong, I am sure she is a lovely girl and the chances of you two have a good R is possible.  However, the moodiness is just starting and is going to get worse before it gets better. 

I have been with my DH since my DD was 6 and she is almost 14 now.  When in a snit, she still says he has ruined her life and she hates us all.  Keep in mind they get along 90% of the time and are actually getting along well right now, but not after some pretty ugly and hurtfull words from her to him this last year. 

Kids don't like to share their parents.  Period.  My DD13 is even upset that her grandmother is dating again.  They can be crazy about the new partner, but doesn't change the fact that they have to share. 

I could not have done what my DH did.  My other two are 27 and 24, and his are 25, 22 and 19.  If he had a little one and I did not, I coudn't have done it.  The guy I dated before my DH didn't "do" little ones.  We had fun for about a year, but he was crystal clear on that topic and we only did things in our own, never with my youngest DD.

Anywho, you have some soul searching to do on this one.  We do have a poster here that does not have children and married a gentlemen with 2 that are grown, one teenage girl and the youngest is 10.  But she has had to let go of A LOT to be okay. 

Stick around and hopefully some clarity will come for you.  If you can accept things just they way they are and not take it personal, than great.  If not, it may be best to end things now.  Keep us posted!!

Hugs...

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

 

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2005
Mon, 11-18-2013 - 7:25pm

Thanks everyone, your feedback is really helpful.

We broke up (actually, I left) because not only we were rarely having sex due to him often being unavailable physically (due to his job and his parenting schedule) but also emotionally unavailable as he deals with constant insomnia and an anxiety disorder. So - there was a real lack of intimacy where it didn't feel safe to share my feelings and he didn't share his feelings. I felt hopeless and left. After 7 weeks, he contacted me and basically begged that we try things again. I felt that because we had a good friendship foundation, I wanted to try again.

The parenting schedule is pretty typical. It is every other week. Her mother (who I haven't met and who apparently has severe emotional issues) also has never dated so she's never had to share her mother either.

During his parenting weeks - typically he will get a babysitter one night a week so we have date night. Then he will usually arrange for the three of us to do something together another day or night that week. We've actually done the sleepover thing - her friend coming over to the house and we all watch a movie together.

This past Saturday was a little different because its the first time I've been back over to thier house (where it was just the three of us) since we broke up. He also didn't tell her the plans for the day until the last minute - like 15 minutes before we walked out the door - which I think was a mistake. I agreed that the "walking tour" was thier thing and the fact that I would be joining was sprung on her at the last minute was not helpful.

To me - he has fostered a dynamic between them where she is basically his 'partner' during the weeks they are together. He doesn't do anything to take care of himself those weeks (i.e., exercising, telling her she can read  a book or entertain herself while he reads or meditates,etc). He doesn't have any friends either. So the weeks he has her - its like he feels he must be actively engaged with her every single moment and must constantly find lovely things for her to do that she will like/be fun. Even when he tries to call me, she usually is interrupting him on the phone. A few weeks ago, she gave him a card and signed it "Your Queen". What does that tell you? Honestly, I think he is trying to compensate for the attention he doesn't think she should get at her mom's house. He has referred to her mom being kind of neglectful and apparently there are a lot of secrets and his ex-wife is secretive and manipulative..

So I'm hesitant about there being any room for me in this dynamic of 'the king and queen'.

But what has bothered me more than the incident Saturday - which I've gotten over for the most part and learned not to take personally - is that since that time - he has punished me by giving me the silent treatment.

I sent him two text messages over the weekend- both very diplomatic, loving, explaining that I want to work this out because he's important to me. (I'm a therapist myself, so I'm usually pretty good at making requests in assertive ways that let the other person know they are important). He did not respond to me via text or phone all weekend, which is not normal. Our routine is that we say good morning and good night every single day, and we talk every single day. I finally sent him a text tonight and explained that his silence was not ok with me, and that we needed to sit down and talk, that his silent treatment was damaging our relationship. He finally responded in an email - essentially giving excuses why he didn't have time to call or text ('we were at a party', 'the power went out', and finally 'i don't know what to say, these are difficult issues'). I find it hard to believe that he didnt' have 10 seconds to text me with some sort of signal that he cared about our relationship - even something along the lines of 'i'm processing this, but our relationship is important and we'll talk soon". Something, anything!

I really think we could have moved through the pouting incident, but he basically decided to punish me for expressing my feelings - I haven't eaten much, I havent' slept well,and it was unkind. At this point, I honestly feel done with the relationship, Not because of the incident, but because he decided he would shut me out for 3 days as he didnt' like what i said.

I deserve a lot better than that.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Tue, 11-19-2013 - 12:50pm

It sounds like he is a parent that is better off not being in a serious R until his DD is grown.  Some people wait, and I think that is okay. 

The problem arises when situations like yours come up.  He likes you and enjoys your company.  If you were okay right now being a kind of half and half GF, then that would be wonderful.  But I dont think anyone can do that long term. 

He probably is over compensating, which doesn't leave much room for you.  He sounds like an overall good guy, so you will have to decide whether you can live the underlying issues that are beyond minor incidences here and there.

Let us know what happens!

Serenity

Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2005
Wed, 11-20-2013 - 7:58pm

Update: I ended the relationship. He gave me the silent treatment for 5 days, refusing to discuss the issue or set a time or day to discuss it. He called me "jealous and resentful" - which is so amazingly inaccurate I am surprised he event went there. I refuse to live my life with someone that uses this form of communication, let alone living with the unhealthy dynamic he's fostering between he and his daughter. I feel better - just tired and sad. But I know I made the right decision. Thanks everyone.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Wed, 11-20-2013 - 8:41pm

(((((HUGS!)))) to you!!

YES....I agree 100% that (unfortunately), your only really GOOD option is to end this.........(sigh)....

Honestly, he has too many issues going on to be the kind of man/partner you are looking for.

"Partner" really says it..........he, in the situation he is in, and is committed (by his own choices) to stay in, does *not* facilitate being a "partner" to someone like you.

Yeah..........he's looking for a GF, someone to spend time with, WHEN HE'S NOT DOING SOMETHING ELSE..........like, the back up plan for companionship, KWIM?

JMHO, but I think he's going to have a difficult time 10 plus years from now when DD grows up/away (or maybe she never will? ....be glad you left now!)

Yeah, he's not a bad guy..........just not AVAILABLE to be a partner to you.

Yes, you definitely are entitled to a "partner"...............you'll find one..........just not this guy...........

((((((((((((((((((more hugs!!))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

ps--

your name is familiar--MissJen---did you post a few years ago about a relationship here?

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 11-21-2013 - 4:40pm

So sorry, but you know you did the right thing for you.  There are so many men that for what ever reason are not a part of their childrens lives that it is wonderful to see a man attentive to his children.

However, you can't foster one relationship at the cost of another.  Hard to do and clearly this gentleman isn't in a place to do that.  And like you said Miss Jen, 5 days of the silent treatment all by itself is a reason to reconsider your R with him. 

Oh, and Laurena (if Jen doesn't come back), MissJen has in fact posted here before, but you may also be thinking of another Jen that used to post here quite a while back. 

Serenity

Serenity

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