He was telling me he doesn’t know what he plans to do when his daughter goes off to college in two years and he sells his house. I mentioned we at that point, we could move in together, and he paused and said he has reservations because he doesn’t think he wants to raise another child. But here’s the thing: my ex has 50% custody, so my boyfriend would not be raising my son in the conventional way.
After texts back and forth the next day I said my son and I are a packaged deal and if he doesn’t want to be part of both our lives, then that’s a deal-breaker. After anger and confusion, he decided it won’t work and thinks I’m being too hasty and should give him another year to warm up to the idea. I don’t want to wait for him to decide yes or no at my and my son’s expense.
Am I being too hasty, or is this a dead-end street? I’m meeting with him in two days to talk in person and to say goodbye and give each other our stuff back. I need your advice on how to proceed. My heart is broken. — Too Hasty?
Yes, you’re being too hasty! My God, you’ve only been dating this guy five months. That’s barely enough time to have introduced your son to him, let alone for you to all get to know each other and imagine forming a family together. I mean, no wonder your boyfriend isn’t ready to say, “Sure, I’ll move in with you and help you raise your son!” And it’s not like your boyfriend said he didn’t want another child in his life. He said he wasn’t sure. He said he needed time to figure it out. And because you’re so afraid of being hurt again, you’re willing to throw away what you describe as an almost perfect relationship because your boyfriend, after just a few months, isn’t ready to commit to raising another man’s child 50% of the time? Really??
Look, if you were writing to me saying you wanted to have another kid and the guy you were with was adamantly opposed to being a father, that would be one thing. But you aren’t saying that. And at your age, I have to assume that isn’t a likely scenario anyway. This is a question of whether your boyfriend of a few months can picture himself as a father figure to another child — a child who already exists. A child who isn’t his. And regardless of what the nature of your custody is, your boyfriend, if he moved in with you, WOULD be a father figure. Maybe it wouldn’t be as traditional as a full-time dad, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have an extraordinary amount of responsibility. And it wouldn’t mean that your custody arrangement wouldn’t or couldn’t change at some point. What if something happened to your ex-husband? What if something happened to your ex-husband AND you? Asking a man to even think about moving in with your “packaged deal,” let alone give you an answer right now about whether he’ll be ready for that in two years IS hasty. And it’s unfair.
What’s the rush? Why do you have to have all the answers today? Why can’t you give it another six months or so and let him get to know your son better — hell, let him get to know YOU better? Unless you’re racing against the ticking biological clock, you can afford to be relaxed about your timeline. Especially if either of your divorces is fairly recent, it makes sense to slow down. Especially when you have three children between you — one who’s only five! — it makes sense to slow down. And when you say things like you have a child from your “last marriage,” it sounds like you’ve had more than one marriage, which would also indicate that, at 41, you’ve had a history of moving quickly and perhaps making hasty decisions.
As Simon and Garfunkel said, “Slow down, you move too fast.” And stop having serious discussions, like whether you should end your relationship because your boyfriend doesn’t want to raise your son, over freakin’ text messages!! You’re 41, not 15. Put the phone down and have a grown-up conversation face-to-face. You say you don’t want to wait for a “yes or no” from your boyfriend, but if you want a healthy relationship that’s exactly what you have to do. You have to wait and get to know each other. You have to wait and see how your relationship continues to develop. You have to wait and see how your son responds to this man. Yes, you have to WAIT. And, yes, you may end up getting hurt. But moving too quickly and making hasty decisions hasn’t really worked for you this far, right? So try it another way. Try slowing down and thinking things through and really getting to know someone before talking life-long commitment. If that’s too much of a risk for you to take — putting your heart on the line only to be hurt months down the line — then you aren’t ready to date yet and you sure as shit aren’t ready to be introducing your son to new boyfriends. Think about it: if YOU can’t handle the idea of bonding with a man only to be let down when it ends, how do you think your son is going to deal with it?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.