- You don’t have to say goodbye to a relationship that you’re happy with just because you and your partner have lived different lives.
- It just means you both have to work a little bit harder than some other couples to understand how this new type of relationship, one that involves kids, is affecting you both in different ways.
- Talk to your partner about your anxieties around this situation so he can actively include you in family activities if that’s what he wants too.
- You also have to be honest with yourself and him about why you’ve never really wanted kids to begin with.
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I’m 30 and, after dating for a couple of years in search of a committed relationship, I finally feel like I’ve found the right person for me. The only complication is he’s divorced and has two elementary school-aged kids of his own. I’ve never had children or particularly wanted them.
Right now, I feel pretty torn. On one hand, I love this man and can see myself being with him, well, forever.
At the same time, this is uncharted territory for me. Sharing a life with one person is already a big deal; committing to three is overwhelming. It doesn’t help that a single parent’s partner is often painted as the “other” or the “bad guy” in a family. The possibility that his kids could view me that way has me feeling uneasy and makes me wonder if I’ve bit off more than I can chew.
Should I let my great relationship go or is it possible to make things work with this dad I love?
First of all, congratulations on finding a happy and fulfilling relationship. As your years of dating may have made you privy to knowing, the dating scene isn’t always the easiest to navigate, so when you click with someone, it can feel extra special.
So you might be happy to know you don’t have to say goodbye to a relationship that you’re happy with just because you and your partner have lived different lives. It just means you both have to work a little bit harder than some other couples to understand how this new type of relationship, one that involves kids, is affecting you both in different ways.
Kelly Scott, a senior therapist at Tribeca Therapy, told me that if both you and your partner come from a place of understanding, you can certainly make your relationship last for the long term. “There needs to be plenty of space for everyone’s experiences and feelings, even if those are uncomfortable,” Scott said.
Toe lightly when it comes to integrating yourself in the family
Since you’re a bit anxious about whether you can truly feel welcomed into the family, be candid with your partner about these anxieties. If he’s a supportive S.O., he’s sure to hear you out and help you navigate this new relationship you’re forming with his kids.
One way you can start to integrate yourself more into the family without stepping on toes is to spend a bit of time with the kids, whether that’s at the playground or reading them a bedtime story. Scott did warn against trying to parent the kids like they’re your own, though, and said to leave that to your partner and his ex, if he or she is in the picture.
You should also brace yourself for any negative emotions your partner’s kids may have about you. Just like it’s fine that you feel strange about the situation, it’s fine that his kids are wary about welcoming you into their lives. It’s best to let them have that time to feel those feelings, according to Scott, and work toward a resolution later when they have warmed up to you a bit more. Above all, don’t take their feelings about you personally.
Even though this phase in your life is bound to be a little stressful, weathering the uncomfortable moments with your partner can make your relationship stronger, and who doesn’t want that?
“It’s an opportunity for two people to work as a team,” Scott said. “You must always communicate with each other and validate each other’s experiences,” and that can apply to so any other areas of your life together moving forward.
Be honest with yourself and your partner about why you’ve never particularly wanted kids
There’s also the possibility that with some inner reflection, you’ll realise taking on a partner with two kids is too much for you, and that’s fine too. Ask yourself why you’ve written off having kids of your own and whether those reasons could hinder what you envision for your current relationship.
If, for example, your ability to travel on a whim is a big part of your identity and happiness, be honest with yourself and your partner about how much you’re willing to have that change. You should also consider whether there’s even a slight chance you’d ever consider having kids yourself. If your partner is set on not having anymore, that’s important for you to know as well.
Even if you don’t have all of these answers yet, it’s better to explore these potentials now before you become a fixture in these kids’ lives and perhaps realise one day you need to break off the relationship and leave them behind.
As Insider’s resident sex and relationships reporter,
is here to answer all of your questions about dating, love, and doing it – no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.
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