Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He’s Way Too Close to His Daughters!”

My boyfriend shows me the exact same affection as he does his 16- and 18-year-old daughters. He said that even though the affection is the same, with me there is a sexual connection. When we are watching a movie on the couch, he’s rubbing my leg as well as theirs. When they cook together, they are constantly laughing and hugging each other. When I’m with him and his daughters, they dominate his attention and affection. He will alter our plans to spend time with them. He takes our cute sayings and says it to them.

I feel like the third wheel and out of place. We were watching a show at church the other day and he and his daughter had their head on each other’s shoulders. I looked away and saw a couple doing the same thing. Then the daughter started complaining about her butt on the hard chair (even though I had offered her a cushion and she said no), and my boyfriend gave her his coat and they laughed and he made comments about her butt. When she came home from college, he went to see her, like, three times in one week and invited her to lunch and gave her a gift. Also, he changed my birthday plans to include her and said we could do my birthday another day. The day she left, he had to see her off and told me he was going to go visit her soon. It turns out that a week later he scheduled a day with her. Then he spent last weekend with the other daughter. I had to ask him if he wanted to plan a day with me. The one girl at church thought the daughter was his girlfriend because of the way they acted. Color me confused. — Jealous of his Daughters

I’m guessing your boyfriend is a divorcé and his daughters live with their mother most of the time (with the exception of the 18-year-old who is in college now), so his time with them is limited — or at least more limited than it would be if he had full custody. Given that, their behavior together seems pretty normal. They’re close. They enjoy being around each other. He makes his daughters a priority. He has fun with them and they have fun with him. When the older daughter is home from college, he wants to see her as much as he can. He’ll even take her out to lunch!! And maybe buy her a gift. And perhaps even see her off when she leaves and then make plans to go visit her at her college. OH MY.

Look, if you’re jealous, you’re jealous. It’s understandable that a woman — or man, for that matter — would feel pangs of jealousy when she isn’t Numero Uno in her boyfriend’s life. But that comes with the territory when you date someone with kids — even if those kids are teenagers. But just because you’re jealous doesn’t mean your boyfriend’s behavior is wrong or confusing. It’s actually quite simple: he loves his kids and wants to be there for them. And who knows what their history is like. Who knows what happened in their shared past to affect their relationship. Maybe he was a crappy father when they were younger and he’s trying to make up for it now. Maybe he feels guilty that he and their mother aren’t together. Maybe, like most parents, he’s realizing how quickly they’re growing up and wants to make the most of what time he has with them before they go off and make adult lives of their own. The bottom line is the guy wants to make his daughters a top priority and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you can’t handle it, fair enough, but maybe this just isn’t the man for you.

There are men out there who don’t have kids. Or, if they do, they don’t care so much to be there for them like your boyfriend does. Then again, a guy who doesn’t care to make time for his kids probably won’t be the sort of man you can count on in the long run. Oh, he may make sure your first or second birthdays together are special. But is he going to be there down the line when you’re sick and need someone to care for you or when a loved one dies and your heart is broken or when you get laid off and need a shoulder to cry on? I wouldn’t count on it. A guy who sees his 18-year-old daughter three times in the week she’s home from college might be there for you though. I’ve definitely seen worse ways of illustrating loyalty, dependability, and character.

(He should have asked you first about altering your birthday plans though).

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

151 comments… add one
  • Historigirl

    Historigirl April 8, 2013, 9:12 am

    WWS. On balance, I think *most* of what you’re saying/feeling is irrational jealousy. OF COURSE he’s ping to want to spend time with his daughters, buy them gifts, see them off to college. He’s their dad; that’s normal.
    That being said, taking your cutesy sayings FOR EACH OTHER and using them with his daughters, rubbing their legs, makin comments about their butts and generally behaving in such a way that other people think he and his daughter are boyfriend and girlfriend? Yeah, that’s not OK. And that’s a red flag.
    Being jealous of the time he spends with them is stupid and petty, but I’m with you on the rest of it.

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      BreezyAM April 8, 2013, 11:11 am

      People often assume my dad and I are a couple (which is fucked up, because we totally look alike), because we get on well and are affectionate and are close in age (I was born when he was 17 -and I’m betting this dad is young too). It’s mostly due to the age thing I used to think, then I noticed most dads aren’t affectionate with their daughters past puberty really. My dad is totally not a perv, at all.

      This reminds me of how people sometimes assume a couple over 22 looking all ~*in love*~ in public must be in an affair since married people don’t do that. Not always.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 April 8, 2013, 10:13 am

      You know a while back, I would have agreed with you that all of the leg rubbing, and stuff like that would be a red flag, but then I met my wifes best friend’s family, and her father was exactly the same way, and he was also divorced. At first, I was like this guy is a wicked creep, and after actually getting to know him you realize that he is actually this way with pretty much everyone, and you kind of have to just accept him for the way he is, which is a fun loving touchy feel type of guy. As long as his daughters are comfortable with it, then I really don’t see a problem with what this guy is doing at all. Also I think I thought it was much worse than it really was by being an outsider, and getting thrown right into such a close relationship this guy had with his kids and my wife, but after hanging out with this guy, and his family several times, I realized that he is a pretty cool guy, who loves his kids, and now that they are older is really just trying to be really good friends with them as well.

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      • avatar

        AK47 April 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

        Also, he could be like my father. My family is very physically affectionate, and we still are. When my little sister and I started to mature and hit puberty, he stopped initiating the contact on his side but didn’t turn us down if we wanted to cuddle with him, hold is hand, etc. Hell, my dad and I still hold hands sometimes when we’re walking together and I’m 24.

        I’ve found that a lot of people who don’t come from physically affectionate families are sometimes a little freaked out when they see a family that is. It’s understandable–if it isn’t the way your family interacts, it could be strange to see a father being physically affectionate to his teenage daughter. It doesn’t hurt anyone to be watchful, but people need to understand what the dynamic is before calling in CPS.

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      MMcG April 8, 2013, 11:57 am

      I don’t know if it is full-on red flag but I think it would be appropriate for her to voice her concern about using “their” sayings (as petty as it might be) on his kids. That’s just weird to me, like if he was calling me a nickname in bed and then used the same nickname with his kid… eww… it’s a way of sharing intimacy that shouldn’t be shared. I think it would be the same if it was other family or friends, heck my husband started making noises at me once that he makes to the dog and I was like “do I look like I need my ears scratched? ok then… let’s distinguish and not treat me like the dog thanks” 😉

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      • Miss MJ

        Miss MJ April 8, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Yeah, but what if it’s like “hon” or “honey” or something like that? My dad still calls me “hon” or “sug” (short for “sugar”) sometimes (so does my mom, for what that’s worth, as did my grandparents, etc.), and there’s nothing pervy about us at all. Since the LW doesn’t specify, it could be something that’s fairly innocuous.

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        MMcG April 8, 2013, 12:57 pm

        Oh I agree, she states their “cute sayings” which could go either way… I just wanted to put that out there that this could be an area of improved communication that doesn’t necessarily involve his daughters. Just like the last-minute birthday switch should be discussed, and she can certainly express her disappointment.

        The rest though… he’s a dad who wants to be around his kids. So not terrible!! It sounds like she was hoping that because his daughters were grown that she wouldn’t really have to deal with a relationship with a “man with kids” which was just wrong from the get go

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      • FireStar

        Firestar April 8, 2013, 12:57 pm

        I call my husband honey on occasion – the same thing I call my best friend. I call my dogs pudding – same thing I call my nephew. Meh. I feel like people should just take it in the spirit it is given.

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        MMcG April 8, 2013, 12:59 pm

        I getcha but it wasn’t a name Firestar… it was the “woof woof woof” noises that he makes at the dog when they are playing fetch… he started doing them to me while trying to get frisky. I had to draw a line somewhere 😉

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      • FireStar

        Firestar April 8, 2013, 1:03 pm

        Er. Good call on that line drawing! There is such a thing as taking the joke too far!

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      • avatar

        ele4phant April 8, 2013, 11:10 pm

        Well what if it was his pet name for his daughters first? Maybe he’s one of those non creative types who uses the same term if endearment for anyone he loves, like a sweetie or dear.

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      csp April 8, 2013, 2:43 pm

      Yea, I don’t think the leg rubbing is a thing. My mom would rub my feet and calves growing up. One was because I played sports that gave me terrible calf and shin pain. But also, she found that I would chat longer with her and talk about my day when my feet would be rubbed. It was a way to let my shut off, teenage self to open up a little.

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  • katie

    katie April 8, 2013, 9:23 am

    so this is one of those times that i feel your own feelings are coloring the situation… like, you feel jealous of the daughters anyway, so automatically any interaction they have with their father, your boyfriend, will be colored in a bad light. but really, in reality, none of what they are doing is abnormal.

    i think its fairly common for parents and kids, if they have a certain type of relationship, and the kids are a certain age, to joke with the cutesy names. i could totally see that. and, whats more, this might just be a situation where you put a whole lot of emotional emphasis on something (its OUR cutesy names for EACH OTHER and they are SPECIAL in our relationship!) but he might not. he might not put so much emotional emphasis on them, so he can use them with other people and its not a big deal. also, making jokes about butts? yea, thats pretty normal too, id say, given the rest of the context. also, an 18 year old with her father in almost any context could be mistaken for a relationship. i know people who have been asked if their father is their boyfriend before- it happens. just like sometimes people will ask if your boyfriend is your brother or whatever- people just assume things sometimes that are wrong. that doesnt mean anything.

    bottom line, this is your boyfriend. this is the man you are seeing, the same guy that jokes with his daughters, spends a lot of time with them, buys them presents, ect, is the man you are dating. you either accept it or you dont. you cant, and shouldnt, try to modify a person into a perfect partner. people come as they are, thats just how it is. you are never going to change the fact that this guy has kids, he loves them, and he expresses it however he chooses- that will never happen. and, wendy is 100% correct that these are all very positive traits that you are using your own jealousy/insecurity/whatever to turn into negative traits. so, yea, leave if you want to, but this is your issue- not his.

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    • Copa

      Copa April 8, 2013, 9:51 am

      Definitely agree about the LW’s jealousy coloring the situation so that every touch/look/joke becomes something inappropriate or dirty. While the leg rubbing thing seems kind of weird to me (but, then again, I come from a family that doesn’t really express affection, physically or verbally), that was the only thing that seemed “off” to me.

      So many things in this letter just seemed so petty and silly. “The day she left, he had to see her off and told me he was going to go visit her soon.” I mean, really? Even non-touchy feel families (like mine) do stuff like this. It’s normal! I’ve never dated anyone with kids — and I’m at a point in my life where kids would be an automatic dealbreaker — but if I ever did, I’d want to be with a loving, devoted father. I find strong family values attractive. But since it doesn’t seem like you can handle that, it’s probably just best to MOA.

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    • FireStar

      Firestar April 8, 2013, 10:35 am

      Completely agree. The competition thing is just way too much here and it might be colouring much of what she sees. A parent patting you on the leg? or you resting your head on their shoulders? There is nothing odd there. I think if you wouldn’t be bothered by a mother treating her child that way – don’t be upset because the dad is. This isn’t a “and he goes into the dressing room with them” this is he loves them and they love him and they are physically affectionate in a way they easily could be with their mom. If that triggers feelings of jealousy in you then you need to date a different guy.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle April 8, 2013, 9:25 am

    LW, just break up with this man & don’t date anyone with kids ever again, okay? Especially not someone with daughters, as you can’t help feeling sexually competitive with them.

    I mean, yeah—some of this doesn’t sound quite normal (rubbing their legs during a movie?) BUT I’m going to just guess that your perception is colored. It sounds like he’s close with his daughters & doesn’t want anything (including you) coming in between the relationship. If you aren’t okay with this—which you clearly aren’t—then it’s time to move on.

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    • katie

      katie April 8, 2013, 9:42 am

      the sexual competitiveness is so weird!

      and, anyway, isnt it NORMAL for a father to say, my affection for both my girlfriend and my daughters is the same but with my girlfriend there is a sexual attraction? isnt that what all parents say? they love their partner and kids equally, but differently?

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 9:32 am

    So, I come from a family that is so very much NOT a touchy feely family. Like 6 inches between everyone on the couch. My fiance’s family is the opposite. They cuddle while watching a movie (not like spooning but you know, snuggled in), rest heads on sholders, rub a knee while talking, HUGE hugs and kisses when leaving (not open mouth kissing, but on the mouth), use cutesy nicknames. It was weird at first to me since I’m from such a no contact family, but there is nothing inappropriate going on. It’s just how they show affection. I don’t think it’s fair for all of us to judge that something is shifty or a red flag from so little information.

    That said, LW move on! You can not compare yourself with his children and “fight” for more attention. THEY ARE HIS KIDS!!! I mean he saw his daughter 3 times in one week? AMAZING! Sounds like a caring and devoted father. I don’t think this is the relationship for you.

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      ktfran April 8, 2013, 9:40 am

      We’re not touchy feely either. The extent is a hug when I see the parents again and when I leave. We also kiss goodbye on the lips. But I did go through a stage where I wouldn’t kiss my dad. My mom had to tell me it upset him. Oh, we also don’t take about feelings. Ever. Keep it in, damn it. Keep it in.

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        BreezyAM April 8, 2013, 11:17 am

        I find it troubling your mom implied you should show your dad physical affection because to do otherwise upset him. That’s a fucked up msg to give anyone. She should have told him “I understand but ktfran gets to decide how her body is touched by who and why and you need to not take it personal.” Your dad missed a golden opportunity to show you good men respect your boundaries without a guilt trip.

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        ktfran April 8, 2013, 12:04 pm

        I don’t. And she certainly didn’t force me. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but nothing about it ever made me uncomfortable. And I never said anything about a guilt trip. And I’m positive I didn’t start kissing my dad goodnight or goodbye again right away. I was the oldest and I think they were trying to navigate raising a moody teenager just as much as I was trying to navigate my life and feelings.

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        ktfran April 8, 2013, 12:06 pm

        I think my dad was sad his girl was growing up. And the only reason I mentioned it is because I think it’s great the LW’s boyfriend still has a close relationship with this daughters, whereas I went through a stage where I felt weird. Parents are entitled to their feelings just as much as children are.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster April 8, 2013, 12:25 pm

        This reminded me of how the daughter in Little Fockers refuses to talk to Ben Stiller for a while. She’s a very little girl when she does this, but the whole plot point illustrates something very common: kids go through phases.

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        SpaceySteph April 8, 2013, 11:26 am

        Word.
        Semi-related, my grandfather is a big wet sloppy on the mouth kisser and when I got a little older it kinda grossed me out so I would start doing the cheek thing. My grandmother told my mother that I was being rude to my grandfather… only rather than scold me for it, my mother told her that I was allowed to decide what I was comfortable with and that didn’t have to include kissing my grandfather on the lips.
        He still tries from time to time to do it, but I am really good at the cheek-dodge now. Because it still kinda grosses me out.

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    • katie

      katie April 8, 2013, 9:44 am

      i have to say, it is pretty amusing when you observe someone go from a no-contact family to a very touchy family.. that happened with jake and my friends here in chicago who are a big greek family- they are hugely touchy feely, and very kissy- like, the men kiss each other on the cheeks too… and so the second time they met jake, the father of the family grabbed him and gave him this huge kiss. it was hilarious.

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      • lemongrass

        Lemongrass April 8, 2013, 9:56 am

        My sister moved to brazil and married a guy down there, they are also very kissy. My dad made me stop kissing him once I was 8 or 9 because it wasn’t “appropriate.” I would have killed to have seen them meet and my dads reaction when bil kissed him! My dad is such a ‘real men don’t cry bs’ kinda guy.

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      • Copa

        Copa April 8, 2013, 9:58 am

        My immediate family is not touchy-feely at all. My mom’s side of the family is Mexican and whenever I visit, I’m always taken aback by how different it is. Greetings often involve cheek kissing and lots of affectionate pet names are thrown around. I get so flustered because it’s so different from how I was raised, but luckily I can laugh about it.

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 10:01 am

        The first time my soon to be FIL planted a kiss square on my lips I was in shook. I could have fainted! They are also a family that says “I love you” all the time and mine isn’t- so that’s taken some adjusting too.

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    • avatar

      AK47 April 8, 2013, 2:54 pm

      As a person from a physically affectionate family, this. I’ve had people be grossed out because my brother and I hug each other tight and kiss each other on the cheek when we greet each other and say goodbye when we visit. My dad and I still hold hands on occasion when walking together–he’s 55, I’m 24, and we’ll get the “wink wink” look from people who think I’m his much younger mistress.

      It’s all relative, and while I understand that it may seem shocking and weird to a person who doesn’t come from a physically demonstrative family, it doesn’t mean there’s something creepy about families who are that way.

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  • avatar

    ktfran April 8, 2013, 9:35 am

    Spot on katie. I was thinking the same thing – that the LW’s view of her boyfriend and his relationship with his daughters – was coloring the way she saw their interactions. I mean, really, what kind of leg rub was this? A little pat or something? And what are these cutesy names? You don’t give an example, so I’m thinking it is nothing sexual in nature. Just a cutesy name. Further, all the way through high school and even beyond, my Grandpa patted my rear end. Nothing sexual. Just the way he was. I would even sit on his knee when we were all chatting around the kitchen table and there were no chairs. Pretty sure nobody ever thought anything of it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that is you’re jealous that your boyfriend is so close to his daughters, you should probably date someone without children. Or date someone who doesn’t care about his children. That’s fine if that’s what you want. But don’t ruin this guys relationship with his kids because you’re not comfortable with it. Find something you are comfortable with.

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  • theattack

    theattack April 8, 2013, 9:43 am

    You don’t seem cut out to date someone with kids. Simple as that.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 9:44 am

    Wws, for sure. This is all totally normal to me, and his daughters are lucky to have such a nice relationship.

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  • lemongrass

    Lemongrass April 8, 2013, 9:47 am

    Some families are just more affectionate than others. He sounds like a great father and stand up guy. Either get over your jealousy and count your blessings or move on and let another woman appreciate what he has to offer.

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  • lemongrass

    Lemongrass April 8, 2013, 9:49 am

    Oh, and BGM: see, we don’t ALWAYS take the woman’s side. Guess you’ll have to drop that one now!

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      mf April 8, 2013, 10:07 am

      HA! Yeah, I’m with the guy on this one. He sounds like a pretty great dad. And if he’s this good to his daughers, chances are he’s a great boyfriend. If the LW could get over her jealousy, she’d probably recognize that.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 1:16 pm

      First time for everything, I guess. Eh. But expect any standing ovations, ladies. This letter was about as clear cut as, I dunno…WW2.

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  • avatar

    FossilChick April 8, 2013, 10:10 am

    LW, you need to find a way to communicate your needs without whining, seeming competitive with his daughters, or, even worse, accusing him of being inappropriate with her daughters. For instance, the canceling of the birthday plans is something to bring up as a problem to avoid in the future, while the hugging while cooking is not and him giving her a coat to sit on are not.

    I’ll also offer this: it is obvious that your boyfriend worked hard to have a good relationship with his teenage daughters — not always easy! — and that they are important to him. You’ll poison your own relationship if you start demanding that he give up aspects of his relationship with his daughters. Similarly, it will be easy for the daughters to fixate on you as the source of the problem if they get wind that you resent the time he spends with them. Nothing in your letter suggests that you’re close to these girls, which is going to be a precondition for being involved with a man who’s a dedicated dad.

    I think you’ve learned from the college-age daughter examples that this man’s commitment to his kids didn’t end at 18. They are going to be around. Please don’t drive them off. Decide NOW if this is something you can live with or not.

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  • avatar

    honeybeenicki April 8, 2013, 10:10 am

    I agree with other people who said your jealousy is coloring your perspective in a negative way. My husband cuddles with the kids when watching movies, they lean their heads on each other and sometimes he’ll rub their arms or legs or head or whatever. He calls them honey and sweetheart (which he also calls me on occasion). He wants to spend time with them, both individually and all of us together. I don’t see anything wrong with it. On the contrary, I see everything right with it. I had a shitty dad growing up, so I love to see my husband be a great father.

    I’m thinking you’re not in a position where you should be dating someone with kids. Your boyfriend is right – it is a whole different kind of love/affection. You should be happy that this man is so willing to show love to his girls and wants to see them so much. Don’t make it dirty. That’s on you.

    As far as the whole changing your birthday plans thing, yeah he should have talked to you, but I’m guessing he figured that as the woman he loves, you wouldn’t mind spending your birthday with his daughter(s). That wasn’t necessarily fair of him. But at the same time, his daughter is in college. He doesn’t have the chance to see her whenever he wants. And soon she will be moving on in life with her own family and kids and maybe he’s realizing that now.

    So my advice is to do one of two things: either move on and find someone with no kids for you to compete for or get over your creepy jealousy issues and accept this man and his daughters for who they are.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones April 8, 2013, 10:29 am

    WWS. If you want to date a guy with kids, you have to suck it up that you are joining an already established familial ecosystem. They are seeing how well YOU fit into THEIR ecosystem. It is very different from 2 singles with no children deciding to become a unit, setting up their own and introducing babies into THEIR ecosystem. Like I have said a bazillion times on this forum, kids ALWAYS come first and you really need to learn to deal with it, or MOA and find a childless guy. Or else you risk becoming the evil stepmother. There is a reason the “evil stepmother” archetype exists, BTW… So I would say lighten up, suck it up, or MOA.

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      6napkinburger April 8, 2013, 12:48 pm

      Agreed– except I don’t think that the children of still-together spouses/parents [think “normal nuclear family with any gendered/sexed parents, any combo of adopted/surrogated/naturally conceived children] need ALWAYS to come ahead of those spouses. In fact, I think often the best marriages and happy children come from families where parents value their relationship with their spouse roughly equally as their relationship with their children] — but that doesn’t apply when the parent/child relationship predates the spousal relationship. Then, the parent/child relationship is more important than the parent/SO relationship, and everyone has to understand that. (Though this doesn’t mean that the child’s WANTS always come first; but rather, the child’s NEEDS always come first. And an 18 year old can deal that Daddy’s busy on Tuesday and can’t see her because it’s his GF’s birthday, so Wednesday, Thursday or Friday will have to work.)

      So I agree, I think. (Because you totally asked my opinion on it). (Sorry, weird weird mood and I so totally agreed with your point but then wondered if I didn’t, then wrote this and now I feel dumb because what do you care if I agree or not?)

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    Scooze April 8, 2013, 10:43 am

    My uncle and cousins are like that. The mom died and the dad did not handle the single parent thing very well. As a result the boundaries are off and there’s some obvious co-dependency between them. Both girls routinely hold hands with the dad and walk arm in arm. They cuddle on the sofa, too. But it’s not creepy and the girls are starting to spread their wings.. they’re in their twenties now and seem okay.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 1:19 pm

      Holding hands and walking arm and arm with your kids are now signs of “Not handling the single parent thing well?” What should he have done? Ignored them and just fucked bitchy hot pieces of ass?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 April 8, 2013, 2:14 pm

        Yes, just like wanting to see your daughter 3 times in one week while she is home from school is creepy, and inapropriate…

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        AK47 April 8, 2013, 6:44 pm

        Apparently my dad and I have boundary issues and I’m not okay in my twenties because we still hold hands. He even rubbed sunscreen on my shoulders and upper back when I was wearing a bikini at the beach. AND I wore a bikini in front of my dad! CREEP ALERT.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl April 8, 2013, 10:53 am

    MOA and find someone who doesn’t have children since you obviously want to be the center of your partner’s world and you won’t be with someone who has children.

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  • avatar

    cdobbs April 8, 2013, 10:56 am

    this letter just reminds me of the time i went to a bar-b-que with a friend of mine and she brought her dad with her…they were sitting by the fire and they were staring into each others eyes and then her dad reached over and tucked her hair behind her ear and stroked the back of his hand across her cheek….blech!…icky!….cooty shivers!

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    • avatar

      Rouge April 8, 2013, 12:49 pm

      Oiy!!
      I got bad shivers with this one

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 11:01 am

    WWS for sure. LW’s jealousy is the only thing creepy to me!

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    • theattack

      theattack April 8, 2013, 11:02 am

      AP’s back!!! How was your trip? Did you go to any of the places I told you about?

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 1:14 pm

        My trip was GREAT! We had a great time. We had ZERO comfort food though. So I skipped all your wonderful restaurant suggestions. (Between the time I asked for recommendations and went on the trip, my mother became a vegan, so we had limited dining options.) The week was full of: antiquing, drinking wine, finding healthy food to eat, driving around, and yoga. I had a great week.

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      • theattack

        theattack April 8, 2013, 1:18 pm

        Glad your trip was so good! What towns did you go to? Tell me about it! I would be very curious about this healthy food you found to eat. There’s almost nothing vegan or even vegetarian friendly in Tennessee.

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 1:43 pm

        In Nashville we went to Fido’s – a cafe/restaurant near Vanderbilt that had mostly vegetarian options. … And in Gatlinburg (ugh, wish I had avoided that like you recommended!) we ate at a Hard Rock Cafe solely because they had veggie burgers. Those are the only places we ate in Tennessee. All other food we got at the grocery store – vegetables and fruit.

        In North Carolina where we spent most of our time, we found a lot of vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Asheville is a progressive little town with tons of hippie food! 😉 We also ate in Louisville on our way back to Chicago and they had THE BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT EVER, Zen Garden! I loved Louisville, Kentucky. They had the BEST everything – antiquing, Zen Garden, and Bikram – what a gem.

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      • theattack

        theattack April 8, 2013, 2:14 pm

        I pretty much lived in Fido’s when I went to Vanderbilt. Great place. Café Coco would have been another good one in the same neighborhood, but when I gave you recommendations I had no idea there was a vegan onboard. Anyway, glad you enjoyed yourself!

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        bethany April 8, 2013, 3:34 pm

        AP- Can you FB message me about the Bikram studios you went to in Nashville? I wanna go when I go visit my brother later this month. It looks like there are 2, both are reasonably close to his house, so I wanted to know what you thought of them. THANKS!

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 4:02 pm

        I will message you! I will also answer you here because everybody loves reading every word we write about Bikram.

        I went to the Cool Springs location – the newer, smaller one, just outside of the city limits. I recommend the Nashville location. This one was so small it didn’t have showers. And when you are traveling, and inbetween hotels, you NEED to shower there. I ended up washing my hair in the sink and wetting my body down with paper towels. But the instructors and stuff? Nice.

        The BEST BIKRIM INSTRUCTOR EVER is named Kristin and she owns the Bikrm studio in Louisville, Kentucky. Everybody nearby, go take a class with Kristin! She will change your life.

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        Gwen Soul April 9, 2013, 8:23 am

        Glad to see my town getting some love. I have lived in Louisville most my life and it is a great place. Has a lot more than people expect for a middle America city.

        And Kristin is great!

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 1:46 pm

        From Nashville to Gatlinburg we wanted to take back roads. We took Highway 70 for a bit. We drove through Watertown, Tenn which was…. interesting. A very cute but run down little “downtown” square. But Nashville, Watertown, and the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg mess were the only towns in Tennessee we spent any time in. … We had to get to North Carolina fast because we wanted to do too much there – the mountains, Asheville, antiquing in Black Mountain, and the Biltmore Estate that we worried we wouldn’t have enough time if we went further south into Tennessee. Very pretty country though! I wish we had started the vegan thing AFTER the trip but c’est la vie.

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 1:50 pm

        Any recommendations in Asheville, I’m going there next weekend!

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 1:56 pm

        Yes!! In no particular order:

        1. Walk around the River Arts District. Adorable.

        2. Eat at Rosetta’s Kitchen (if you want some damn good vegan food) and Mellow Mushroom (fun pizza place in the heart of downtown that has vegan pizza and cheesy and meaty pizza too).

        3. Walk around downtown – super cute.

        4. Go to the Grove Inn in the mountains. It’s an old stone hotel that is super swanky. It’s expensive but if you don’t want to stay there you can at least have a (pricy) drink on the patio and overlook the mountains and city – very nice.

        5. Tour the Biltmore Estates. (You’ll need a whole day to do this.)

        6. Drive to Black Mountain, NC and eat at Louisa’s – a restaurant in an old home with tables throughout the house and on the porch. My mom and I spend an afternoon at Louisa’s. The bad news was they were out of red wine, the good news is they didn’t mind if we broght in our own bottles. 😉

        7. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

        That’s all I got – that’s all we did in Asheville.

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 2:03 pm

        Thanks!!

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson April 8, 2013, 11:05 am

    I’m sure it’s partly because I’m having a sad day in general, but letters like this don’t even annoy me, they just truly sadden me. What type of world are we living in where a man being a good, devoted father is seen as a bad thing? Like HE is the one with his priorities out of whack. Family is forever, girlfriends come and go. Shit even wives come and go. But children are forever. I am too sad to be snarky.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 April 8, 2013, 10:17 am

    Sooo you are mad at this guy, because he wants to see his daughter when she is home from school, and then wants to see her before she heads back? Then you are mad at him when his other daughter gets time to visit with him as well? Time to date somebody who never wants kids, and has no female friends, because you are going to be jealous the rest of your life if this is what bothers you.

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  • avatar

    BreezyAM April 8, 2013, 11:21 am

    Okay I don’t think this is about the kids, but you’re using them to deflect. You’re not happy because you don’t see him as much as you wish and he’s not treating you in the way you wish. Then make it about that, leave the kids out of it. State what you want and how so, talk to him about it. DO NOT BRING UP THE KIDS. This isn’t about the daughters at all, but it makes an easy way for you to not realize he’s simply not giving you what you want and need for this relationship.

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  • avatar

    ele4phant April 8, 2013, 11:35 am

    I think it’s understandable that you feel you are being neglected or are being treated as less than a priority by your boyfriend. Because, well, you are. And it doesn’t make you a bad person for wanting your partner to prioritize you as much as you do them.

    As so many have pointed out, this man cannot and should not make you as much of a priority as you make him for you. He is a father. You will come second to his daughters. Even when they “grow up”. It’s totally okay if you can’t handle those terms, but it does mean you and this man aren’t compatibile.

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  • avatar

    6napkinburger April 8, 2013, 12:29 pm

    I come from a very touchy family, with still together parents. When I’m home and we’re all watching tv on our gigantic couch, I’m usually leaning on one of my parents. With my dad, it’s half-lying on his chest with his arm around me, and I guess he rubs my arm affectionally — like you did when you were little. Sometimes, I’ll take a pillow and prop it against him, so I’m more upright. It is similiar ( i guess) to how couples “cuddle” on the couch, but it that never dawned on me before right now. I sit like that with my mom on the other side of me. I lean on my mom the same way. That’s just us/me. (I’m more physically affectionate than my siblings). And I’ve been to tons of events where you can tell people are playing “daughter? girlfriend? daughter? girlfriend?” — and I’m sure it doesn’t help that my dad doesn’t, and never has, worn a wedding ring. But there’s nothing untoward going on.

    I think jealousy of the time he spends with his girls is normal and to be expected, and it is a matter of acknowledging it and dealing with it, some of it on your own, and some of it through discussions with him about your feelings and how to achieve a win-win-win(like about your birthday). I don’t think it makes you a bad person, but it does mean that you should evaluate whether you are ok being the 3rd lady in his life. For me, I am really really really hesitant to date guys with kids, because their kids are and should be the most important people in their lives (especially at first — after 25 years, I think its fair if things become more even), and I have always wanted a life where I get to feel like I am the most important person in my SO’s life (and he the most in mine) for at least a little while. Maybe I’ll have to get over this as I get older or if I meet an amazing man who already has kids, but in the abstract, I know I feel this way. I don’t think it makes me a bad person. It just makes me not the ideal dating candidate for a guy with kids.

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    • sobriquet

      sobriquet April 8, 2013, 1:19 pm

      That is exactly why a guy with kids is a dealbreaker for me. Props to those who take on and enjoy that difficult role, I just couldn’t handle it. The guy is either a great father who prioritizes his kids over his girlfriend and therefore doesn’t have a lot of free time, or he’s a shitty dad who gives his girlfriend his time and attention above his children. You can’t win.

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      • avatar

        FossilChick April 8, 2013, 2:13 pm

        I also somehow get the sense that this relationship is on the newer side, i.e. the LW hasn’t been around since the daughters were younger children. The tone connotes that since the daughters are on the brink of adulthood, they should be deprioritized. If the BF isn’t a “take care of you until you’re 18, then you’re out the door” kind of dad, LW is going to be disappointed.

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    SpaceySteph April 8, 2013, 11:32 am

    Oh god, this woman would probably be HORRIFIED by my family. Put it this way… on a recent trip home I found out what size condoms my brother wears.
    My father is a gynecologist (not mine, I know that’s what you’re thinking) and we have always been a touchy family, and very open in conversation about bodies and sex. I actually loved growing up like this, and love that I can go to either of my parents for those types of issues. None of these behaviors she describes would be out of place in my family.

    Although in fairness, my husband does get a little weirded out when the conversation turns to vaginas.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie April 8, 2013, 11:42 am

    The next time the three of you are watching a movie unzip his fly and fondle him. When they ask what your doing reply : Claiming my territory. That should resolve the issue.

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    • theattack

      theattack April 8, 2013, 11:58 am

      I assume you’re joking, but wow is that illegal and wrong.

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie April 8, 2013, 12:11 pm

        Whatever make you think I’m joking? (snicker)

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      MMcG April 8, 2013, 12:01 pm

      *slow clap*

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      Kelly April 8, 2013, 1:18 pm

      That is so sick….and so hilarious all at the same time.

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    • Budj

      Budj April 8, 2013, 1:49 pm

      hahahahaha – I was going to try and say something witty, but I don’t think I can top this plus the shock value.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 1:58 pm

        BUDJY POO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        I mean, oh, hey dude.

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        MMcG April 8, 2013, 3:42 pm

        Way to play it cool AP 🙂

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 4:04 pm

        If playing it cool were an Olympic sport. … I’d have zero medals. Waa waaaaaaa.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie April 8, 2013, 2:43 pm

      On a more serious response, many people aren’t comfortable with seeing others affectionately touch each other. The LW seems to be in that category. I don’t know if anything can be accomplished to relieve the tension she feels. I’m always amazed how people that I believe to be liberal react when I talk about meeting my wife at a nudist facility. Their eyes open widely and cross their arms to protect themselves I guess. Perhaps if she and her guy would visit a clothing optional resort for a day or weekend it would help. (hugs to all)

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie April 8, 2013, 2:52 pm

        My web site contains an essay ‘Getting In Touch’ on this concept if your interested.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl April 8, 2013, 4:38 pm

        Did you meet your wife at Harbin Hot Springs?

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      • fast eddie

        fast eddie April 8, 2013, 5:57 pm

        No it was at Getting In Touch in the Santa Cruz mountains near Los Gatos. It’s no longer in business so we migrated to Lupin Lodge for a few years. I recently went to nearby Orr Hot Springs which is very nice but quite small. Harbin Springs is on our agenda to visit.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet April 8, 2013, 1:10 pm

    My family is not affectionate at ALL. Side hugs FTW. My boyfriend’s family, though, and my ex’s family, and the ex before him, etc, etc… their families are super affectionate (especially the moms- what is it with moms and their sons?!). It takes me out of my little bubble of a comfort zone. It’s weird for me to see my boyfriend giving his mom a massage, or seeing his mom give HIM a massage, linking her arm with his while they walk, resting their heads on each others’ shoulders, etc. All of these things make me a little uncomfortable. I’m not wrong for feeling uncomfortable just like they’re not wrong for displaying their affection. What WOULD be wrong, however, is if I expected everyone to be as non-affectionate as my family. That would be wonderful… I would never have to suffer through an awkward bear hug again… but that’s not how the world works. If it makes you really uncomfortable, your options are to either get over it or move on. Neither answer is wrong.

    I have a feeling that this is really about feeling insecure in your relationship, otherwise the affection he shows his daughters wouldn’t bother you so much.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Ugh. This is perhaps the pettiest letter on here yet. Definitely one of the most slyly vicious. Subtext: I’m an insecure jealous shrew and so I’m all but going to accuse my lover of incest. Gag. Vomit. Barf. Gee, and yet women STILL wonder why the term stepmonster was justly coined? That anybody on here think would that this jealousy is normal is — frankly — alarming. LW, break up with this poor man immediately and never, ever date a man with kids again. For that matter don’t have any kids yourself. You insecurity makes you a lousy candidate for parenthood. Frankly, you are far too much of a child yourself. And a petulant, spoiled, bad one at that…

    PS: Can we give it a rest around here with with women and their fucking birthdays. Grow the FUCK up already. PLEASE!!! You know, I have NEVER in my entire life had a male friend or acquaintance complain about their fucking birthday. I’ve also never even read a single solitary letter about this issue either. Seriously. Fucking birthdays. You were born, bitch. Big fucking deal. So was every other living creature on the God damn planet. Okay, end of rant.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 1:28 pm

      PS: The fact that this LW is one of those “good Christians” who (of course!) felt the need to toss in the good word Church a couple of times to show how righteous she is was simply beyond hilarious!

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 1:31 pm

      I have to agree about the birthdays. I never understood the big deal!

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 3:13 pm

        Psshhh. Birthdays are the best.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 3:21 pm

        Honestly? Birthdays are just an excuse for many women to bitch, bitch, bitch, The dinner is NEVER great enough. The plans never all about them enough. The gift is never expensive or romantic enough. Or if it is expensive, then card wasn’t gushy enough. The whole birthday = my day is a sign of absurd immaturity — and then so many women wonder why some men don’t take them seriously in the work place. Hell, I can’t even begin to account the absurd birthday drama that I have run across in many a workplace and it’s never a man who is making a big to-do about such a childish Me!Me!Me! moments…

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 3:39 pm

        My fiance claims the entire month he was born in is his “birthday month” and repeatedly says “It’s my birthday!” on his birthday. It annoys the shit out of me. Luckily he has no crazy expectations of gifts/dinners/etc- he just wants people to go along with the “it’s my birthday” line.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 3:42 pm

        My secretary and I go out on the first of the month that we share a birthday to celebrate the commencement of Birthmonth. You would hate us 🙂

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      • Copa

        Copa April 8, 2013, 4:47 pm

        The office manager where I work bakes (from scratch!) on every employee’s birthday. If a birthday falls on a weekend, we get treats on Monday or Friday. I don’t really think birthdays are a huge deal, but I LOVE this about my office — so many chewy brownies! 🙂

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 3:41 pm

        Not even going to try to understand your logic about birthdays being another reason women shouldn’t be respected in the workplace.

        However, I hadn’t read your comment that GG was replying to. I agree that unnecessary complaints about birthday gifts not being good enough are silly and childish (note: unnecessary, as I think some, albeit very few, can be necessary).

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 4:04 pm

        Because often in workplaces — there is so much BIRTHDAY drama and it’s always caused by women. I could be biased as I’ve had so many bad experiences with this, but I once had a gig where, somehow, because I was the Art Director and thus always out shopping for shoots it fell on my to pick up cakes and whatnot and almost nobody was ever satisfied. I was even accused multiple times of playing favorites and getting some ladies better cakes. It was all such INSANE bullshit. The reality was that I was so slammed with shit to do that I’d just run into the same damn bakery every time and grab whatever cake they had handy. It was absurd.

        Also, the amount of my boyfriend didn’t do enough for my birthday complaints/letters on here rivals only the number of times I’ve suffered through hearing these sad sagas in real life. Give it a rest already and grow the fuck up.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 4:08 pm

        I’ve never seen anything like that where I work. Maybe its just different in an office environment.

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        Ammie April 8, 2013, 7:01 pm

        Yeah, me either. The respective department will usually throw a little party if a guy or gal is having a baby… we’ve had a few of those this year (for two men, and one woman), and if someone is leaving. Birthdays aren’t a thing at all. Maybe it’s more of a a thing in artistic/humanities-type professions?

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      • Lindsay

        Lindsay April 8, 2013, 4:37 pm

        I feel like maybe you just have worked with crazy people. I’ve never experienced that in any of my jobs. In my current job, my boss brings in cupcakes for each person’s birthday (11 of us in our department), and sometimes people will send out an email to the whole office inviting us to birthday drinks at a bar. That’s about it, though.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 4:50 pm

        It’s Hollywood. I have worked with LOADS of crazy, fucked up people.

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      • landygirl

        landygirl April 8, 2013, 4:39 pm

        The ones who complain like that a girls, not women.

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        Ammie April 8, 2013, 5:26 pm

        “then so many women wonder why some men don’t take them seriously in the work place”

        No, we know why they don’t. Fear, misogyny, general insecurity. It’s not confusing in the least. 😛 Sad, pitiful, but not confusing.

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      ele4phant April 9, 2013, 10:20 pm

      Its cool if you’re not into birthdays. There’s no law that says you have to go apeshit just because its the anniversary of the day you were born.

      However, some people do get excited about them, some people find meaning in them. And if you were dating someone, it’s kind of a dickish thing to do to minimize or poo-poo what they find important because *you* don’t find it important. I mean, I do plenty of stuff I don’t care about or even actively dislike because my boyfriend thinks its important. And likewise, he does things for me that he could care less about. That’s what you DO when you love someone and want to stay with them, appease them every now and again.

      So, should you find yourself with a boyfriend who wants a bit of a deal made for his birthday (or something else you find inane or dumb), I hope you try, for him.

      Obviously, no one free pass to be an absolute terror if they don’t get any and everything they want on their birthday. But I think you’re over-inflating how brattish most women get about birthdays. If most of your female friends are like this, well I hate to break it to you, but it sounds like you have the misfortune of being surrounded by awful people.

      Trust me, most people, most women, are sane reasonable people who won’t fly of the handle if their birthday isn’t treated like a national holiday. Most of us understand in the big picture the fact we happen to have been born on this day means squat to the world. We might just want to celebrate with the person we love, and feel bummed if said person ignores or forgets it.

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  • avatar

    Kelly April 8, 2013, 1:13 pm

    My husband is touchy-feely, he comes from a long line of huggers which is the exact opposite of my family. For the first year of my marriage I don’t think he ever said my actual name, it was always sweetheart or honey or darling. He calls our girls sweetheart or honey. I’m not sure he remembers any of our names.I have one daughter who is the same way, she hangs on me and she’s fifteen, she also calls me ‘woman’. I think you have some jealously issues, LW, as numerous others have suggested.

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  • Tracey

    Tracey April 8, 2013, 1:34 pm

    This letter just made me sad, and it made me miss my father a little. LW, I do hope you try to explore where your feelings of jealousy are coming from then work to get past it. If you can’t get a handle on those feelings, please MOA and find someone who is a better fit for you.

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 2:10 pm

      Me too! When I used to go home for holidays or a random weekend here or there, I’d spend my entire 36 or 48 hours – the short time I had – with my parents. We’d wake up, have coffee, breakfast, talk, take walks, work on whatever they were working on around the house, eat, watch a movie, talk, take a walk, eat, eat, eat, and crash at night. Then we’d repeat. There was a lot of arm holding and head resting on each other.

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      • avatar

        MissDre April 8, 2013, 2:29 pm

        I’m very close to my mom too. We hold hands, we cuddle on the couch, we hug and kiss, we have funny names for each other, I don’t even care if she sees me naked. She’s my mom!

        I’m not as close to my dad, but that’s not for his lack of trying. He’s very touchy/feely. Always hugging, shoulder rubbing, etc. I find it kind of annoying but he’s like that with everybody. And I do remember as a little girl when he remarried he started calling his new wife the same pet name he had for me and as a 7-year old I was extremely upset by that.

        Anyway, my point is that I think this guy is totally normal with his daughters and I pretty much agree with everybody else.

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      • Tracey

        Tracey April 8, 2013, 2:35 pm

        That’s how my mom, sister and I are. We hold hands, give each other a kiss goodnight, have coffee together on the weekends, and hang out with each other because we love each other. It was the same with my dad until he died, and it was the same with my stepdad until he passed. What I’d give for one more hug, held hand, or kiss on the cheek from either of them. How I treasure each hug or kiss I get from my mom and sis right now.

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Yes yes, and yes. Sigh.

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        Eagle Eye April 8, 2013, 2:54 pm

        And THIS is why I’m moving back to the side of the country I’m originally from – after 8yrs and 3,000 miles…my parents aren’t getting any younger!

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        bethany April 8, 2013, 3:40 pm

        I love it when Tracey’s back!!

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 2:58 pm

        While my mom and I spend a ton of time together, I have to admit its been nice to get some quality hugs with my mom in after my grandma passed. We’re not a very touchy feely family, even though we are all very close. I’ve always wished we were a little more touchy feely.

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        bethany April 8, 2013, 3:40 pm

        I just spent the weekend with my mom and I made sure to hug her a lot. Not just when we were saying hello and goodbye. As a child I was not comfortable with being physical at all. I didn’t hug or kiss. When I was a baby and my mom held me she said I never rested on her, I always had my arms out and was pushing away from her. But now that I’m older and ok with it, I try to make up for lost time. 🙂

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 3:44 pm

        How did you get yourself more comfortable with it? Or was it just a gradual change as you aged?

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        bethany April 8, 2013, 4:18 pm

        I’m still not totally into it- Even when my husband and I cuddle, I can only do it for a few minutes because “I need my space”. As I’ve gotten older I realized that my dad takes it personally when I don’t want to hug or something, so I just try to suck it up and do it. I know how happy it makes him, so I’d rather be uncomfortable for 20 seconds, and make him happy. I hug my mom more than my dad, and I enjoy it more. I think that might be because I’m bigger than her now, and it’s more of me holding her vs her holding me…? Obviously I’m a bit of a control freak, and I don’t like being confined by another person.

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 4:40 pm

        I’m a lot like you but I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable since being in a relationship (and of course having my own kid hlped too). My problem is I think my parents are just as uncomfortable as I am, even though I wish we were huggers. Oh well.

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    Beth April 8, 2013, 1:08 pm

    I am with the ones whose families are not touchy. That would be weird for me. Heck, I think its weird that my male cousin leans on my uncles shoulders and they put their arms around each other on the couch.

    I would struggle with this as well, to be honest. But that stems from my own boundaries and having been sexually assaulted by a family member. I have never dated anyone who was that touchy feely with their family, or had children so old, but I think it would be something I would have to adjust to as well.

    One commenter mentioned the age difference possibly being slight, and that could be some of the reason. My father and I are only 18 years apart, and we have a similar sense of humor and feed of one another quite well regarding sarcasm and comebacks. I can imagine if we were the type that hugged and kissed in a familial way, it would be odd.

    Interesting, because of his age, when we are out in public with my daughter, most people assume it’s our child. His pics of my daughter on Facebook usually have at least one person asking about her being his. I find it awkward, but to the public who may not know us, it is reasonable to assume.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay April 8, 2013, 2:15 pm

    So, what exactly is the question? Because you never asked one. I assume then that you just wanted us to back you up and call your boyfriend a creep?

    The real issue here is not how he treats his daughters. Nothing you said seems inappropriate. Some families are touchier than others (mine isn’t, so I understand not being used to it). Good fathers like to spend time with their children, which may include visiting them or having lunch. I’m not sure why you’re so appalled by those things. If you’re dissatisfied by the amount of time you spend together or that he doesn’t take your needs into account, then that’s fine, but don’t blame his daughters or create some weird incestuous scenario in your head. (Which, by the way, I find much more creepy that you’re turning his teenage daughters into some kind of sexual competition.)

    If you’re disappointed that your boyfriend canceled your birthday, then tell him. If you only get to see him when you demand he make time for you, then tell him that’s not OK. If you find that he can’t give the attention to your relationship that you need, then break up with him. .

    The point is that you can’t control how he treats his children. Maybe dating someone with kids isn’t for you. It doesn’t make you a bad person — I don’t think it’s something I’d enjoy either. But don’t try to cheat some teenagers out of a good relationship with their dad just because you’re not getting the attention you want.

    Maybe that girl thought they were dating because she’s stupid. She wouldn’t be the first busybody at church to make incorrect assumptions about people.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 2:46 pm

      Actually, penning an advice columnist with pathetically feeble and scant evidence of any genuine wrong-doing so you can accuse your boyfriend of incest pretty much DOES make somebody a bad person.

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      oldie April 8, 2013, 2:52 pm

      You hit it dead on. She does think her bf is creepy. She does feel jealous because she is getting less of his undivided attention than she craves. She seems super needy to me. Why else would she seek more personal attention from a guy she finds creepy? If LW thinks he’s a creep, because of the not at all abnormal way he treats his daughters, why in the world would she want to stay with him? She seems to view his actions on bordering on the pedophile and at the least pervy, so just leave. Who wants to keep dating someone they view as a pervert? She clearly has no respect for the guy, so this relationship is going nowhere. MOA and choose more carefully next time. You have to understand yourself, your comfort zone, and what you are seeking in a mate, before you can find someone who will make you happy. Trial and error, while holding onto the errors with brutal tenacity, is not a recommendation for dating success. Dumb luck does occur, but it is unwise to depend upon it.

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  • Jess

    Jess April 8, 2013, 2:24 pm

    So late to this party but I am fascinated with the culture of touching in families and how much it differs from one to the next.

    I’m from the northeast so we don’t touch much. My family. We hug sometimes when saying hello and goodbye but not every time. We don’t touch when seated (no, no). We do not massage each other. We have nicknames for each other but not “pet” names. If I need my sister to pass something across the table, I’d ask by her name not “honey” although if she was sick and I was bringing her some tea, I might baby talk her with a “poor puddin'” My fiancee’s family, also from this area, are even less affectionate than that.

    When I lived in Belgium, a TRIPLE cheek kiss was the standard. That’s THREE kisses people! But I kind of liked it. In fact, both my fiancee and I sort of like it when we fall into settings where people are more warm, familiar, and affectionate.

    Closer to LW’s situation, I have a friend with teenage girl and he is very much like this. They cuddle, he snaps glamour shots of her on Facebook, and he’s constantly hosting parties for her and her friends. I admit that I find it a bit weird. However, HE is married and his wife is right there in the middle of it. So I guess its ok? I envy people who are more open and affectionate like that. But that doesn’t stop me from FEELING
    uncomfortable around some of it –the couch cuddling and knee massaging would push my buttons.

    Also, on the subject of touching, I have a beef about the bus. I take it everyday. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who will squeeze in next to me with their bags, etc so that we are physically touching. It’s the worst! I do not want someone else’s hip or arm crammed up against mine.

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      GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 2:30 pm

      I hate when people get to close in public places. Like waiting in line and someone comes up and stands 6 inches behind you (I leave like an 18 inch or more gap). I can understand if we’re in a packed space (fully city buss) but two people in line at CVS? Give me my space people!

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 2:36 pm

        I don’t mind the rubbing arms in a crammed bus. But I HATE close talkers! You know, those people that stand a little too close to your face when they’re talking to you? I have a friend that does this all the time. I always back up. One time I had to back up and sit up on the counter top to create more space and she came and stood right next to my knees!

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Yes, I hate that. or peple who touch you too much while talking. Like rub your arm or something. weird. (and yeah, the bus is the bus. sometimes you have no choice)

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        lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

        I found a solution to neck breathers…when I’m waiting in line, I have 1 leg very forward and the other as far back as I can extend it without doing a semi-split. It gives you at least a few inches.

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      • Jess

        Jess April 8, 2013, 2:48 pm

        I saw your comment above about not coming from a touchy family and thought to myself, “yep, doesn’t GG come from PA?” haha.

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 2:56 pm

        Yuppers I am! I think there are regional differences in the touchy-feely thing, as well as cultural (as well documented on this thread).

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed April 8, 2013, 3:32 pm

        Apparently I break the mold. I’m from the northeast and my family is openly affectionate.

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 3:36 pm

        Are you say Italian or Greek? Or another ethnic background that is typically lovey-dovey?

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed April 8, 2013, 3:38 pm

        My dads side is. But my moms side isn’t. And they are just as if not more openly affectionate.

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        GatorGirl April 8, 2013, 3:42 pm

        Interesting. There are always exceptions to theories!

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed April 8, 2013, 3:43 pm

        And most of my friends families and family friends are openly affectionate and most don’t come from lovey dovey backgrounds.

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      • Jess

        Jess April 8, 2013, 2:52 pm

        About the bus. What gets me is when very large people will squeeze in and spill over into my seat. If we’re standing on a packed bus, fine. I don’t like it but you deal. But the seats have clearly marked spaces. It just amazes me that a person would take a seat in a way where their body is fully pressed against a strangers and that’s ok. When the reverse happens –like if I want to take the open seat next to a large person and only 3/4 of the seat is actually open– I half ass it so at least I am getting off my feet. I would never squash up against the other person in order to get both cheeks on the seat.

        ahh, it felt good to bitch about this!

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        ktfran April 8, 2013, 3:36 pm

        Oh, I have so many problems with public transportation. But I totally hear you on the seating problems. If you’re going to squeeze into a place, don’t let your arms or legs spill over to my area. I’m a small person, so I can easily fit in places. And it drives my crazy that people think they can start rubbing up against me – and I don’t even fill an entire seat! This has been happening at bars a lot too. Bars that aren’t even croweded. But people think they can lean up against me and invade my personal space. Drives me nuts!

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 4:09 pm

        Here are my deep thoughts about skinny and fat people on the bus:

        Everyone needs to stop thinking in terms of the allotted seat spaces. They’re arbitrary. You can sit there with lots of extra space and someone else needs two seats to hole their ass cheeks. So all you skinny people out there, just let it go. Think of the bus as a big open communal space, that we all have to share. If someone’s large ass takes up two seats, well then it is what it is. If you get on next and there’s only a little sliver of seat, well then you can either sit on that sliver or stand.

        And if you think it’s unfair that the bigger guy gets more seat per person than you, meh, you can always go gain weight and take up an extra seat too. But really, you’re better off. So I say just let his ass cheek spill over into your seat. At the end of the day, you win.

        Ta da!

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        ktfran April 8, 2013, 4:19 pm

        I just can’t stand it when people rub up against me. I would have the same complaint about really small people doing the same thing. I get it when it’s crowded and sometimes you can’t help it. But to plop right down next to me and spread your arms so you can read or whatever drives me nuts. And to not say excuse me or whatever. It’s called courtesy to try to not sit on top of people.

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 4:41 pm

        I hear ya. But at the next Chi meet up I am gonna plop myself on your lap just for kicks. 🙂

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        ktfran April 8, 2013, 5:30 pm

        Lol. Well, I’ll be expecting that so you’re good to go.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 4:14 pm

        Somehow I always wind up sitting next to the fattest, grossest people on airplanes. It’s like I’m Slave Leia pressed up against Jabba the Hutt all the way from LA to Minneapolis.

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      bethany April 8, 2013, 3:46 pm

      Don’t even get me started on touching on public transportation. I take the train every day (waddup Septa!), and I can’t stand when I’m squeezed up next to someone’s ass for 35 minutes. ick.

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        Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 4:04 pm

        Meh, is it weird that I don’t mind being squeezed in next to someone’s ass? It beats standing. I say, squeeze away.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 April 8, 2013, 2:17 pm

    How much do you want to bet that comments about the daughters butt, where about her having a bony butt, or something like that? I’m sure in church he wasn’t like “Hey sguar lips, I see you squirming around, do you want to sit your tight sexy little booty on daddy’s coat?”.

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      Addie Pray April 8, 2013, 2:33 pm

      You’re so right. If it were anything remotely sexual, I’m sure the LW would have volunteered those details. But a bony butt? What parent hasn’t made fun of a bony butt! I always grab my nephews’ non-bony butts and squeeze them and make a funny voice that says “Hi, I’m John’s boom boom and I can talk! Feed me!” …. They’re 10. At what age must I stop grabbing their boom booms?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 April 8, 2013, 3:08 pm

        If this was an AT&T commercial, right now would be the part where the girl just finished talking about being a werewolf, and the AT&T guy is like “wha-what?’ People do weird things with each other, my cousins yell credit card, and run their hands up each others ass crack like the are swiping a credit card! With pants on of course!

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      lets_be_honest April 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

      Gross bagge! Also, funny!

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    stickelet April 8, 2013, 4:04 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I wanted to add my two cents. My parent’s divorced when I was 22 and my dad moved to Cleveland (about 3.5 hours from where I grew up). When I visit, or my sister visits, he always prioritizes us. He makes sure he is available. For a few years he had a girlfriend that did not like this. She got mad when we visited, because he would spend weekends with us, instead of with her (we’re talking one weekend every few months). He would include her in some of our plans (i.e. dinner or a walk) but she almost always bailed at the last minute. She had never been married or had kids, so I cut her a little slack, but not much. She just hated that he put us first, and I was so glad when they broke up. And it made me appreciate my dad all the more for making my sister and I number one in his life. So, LW, my advice to you is to back off, appreciate that this man prioritizes his kids, and maybe recognize that dating someone with kids is not for you. It’s ok to admit that you want to be #1 in someone’s life, and to realize that a single father is not for you.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark April 8, 2013, 4:17 pm

      Some women don’t want a partner — what they want is to always be the center of attention. Then these same women often are left wondering why they, somehow, inexplicably ultimately end up all alone.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray April 8, 2013, 4:18 pm

    I just had to say this letter reminded me of a trip at Target last year with one of my friends. This family of four walks by, holding hands in a horizontal line, and my friend and I looked at each other, “What the hell? Are we in a commercial/movie?” The kids were around 12 and 10 so not super young either and the family just looked so happy to be so close. It was adorable, but that really was the first time my friend and I had ever seen anything like that in person. To each his/her own.

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    Amy April 8, 2013, 4:34 pm

    I have an uncle that is like this. He was actually a little overly close with his daughters before his divorce (at that point the daughters were 16 and 18). He has since dated a bit and recently remarried – now the daughters are 23 and 21. I know him well – and I don’t think he’s a creeper – but it icks me out how they interact. And a number of people have asked my mom about his young blonde girlfriend… which was actually his daughter as his girlfriend is his age and a brunette.

    I think it’s strange. Maybe ask yourself how you’ve felt in other relationships – Do you generally feel jealous? Have you dated men with children before? How have you felt in those relationships? If you don’t have a habit of feeling jealous – maybe trust your gut… lots of times those gut feelings are giving you the correct information – even if you can’t put the reason you are feeling off into words. For me – if I were to date a man with children, I’d expect that there would be plenty of times that the family relationship would come before the girlfriend relationship – and I’d like to see how I fit into that mix. Maybe time together includes watching basketball practice, or a day at the park… But I wouldn’t like feeling like a third wheel. And I really wouldn’t like it if other people confused another woman for my boyfriend’s girlfriend (particularly his daughter).

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    Ammie April 8, 2013, 5:28 pm

    They sound normal and loving to me. Maybe you should date someone in your own life situation (ie, no kids), since you don’t seem to understand or respect parental love.

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    HmC April 8, 2013, 6:56 pm

    I wouldn’t want to be with a man who didn’t prioritize and show affection for his kids. If your kids aren’t your first priority, then I have real questions about your integrity.

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    Alex February 22, 2017, 2:33 pm

    Being close is one thing but rubbing your daughter’s legs is not okay. I read one comment “some people are physically very affectionate” that’s all bull. Truth is that no one is ever going to say that they are in incest. And people can be pretty smart in tricking you to think that it’s not incest but if you feel something is wrong, 99% it probably is. I can understand your bf hugs his 16 and 18 years daughters but at this age how can these daughters stand to be in vicinity of their father. Either they are ugly n not getting any guys, planning to out you from his life or having incest

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  • avatar

    Pam Kelley November 15, 2017, 10:28 pm

    You are totally wrong on this one, dear Wendy. These girls know exactly what they are doing and are masters at their craft. That being said, their father allows it, even encourages it. More than likely, he even “gets off “ on it, unfortunately for the girlfriend. She’s having NormL, concerned reaction to abnormal and borderline incestuous behavior..
    Her reaction. Is normal, and your name-calling her “jealous” is sounding like malpractice on your part. I hope she listened to her instincts, instead of your “analysus” and ran for the hills. That’s a messed up family that a team of psychoanalysists would never fix.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy November 16, 2017, 6:54 am

      Lol at “malpractice.”

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      SpaceySteph November 16, 2017, 10:36 am

      It’s Dear Wendy, not Dr Wendy. You can’t malpractice giving away free advice on the internet.

      I wonder, Pam, are you perhaps a grown woman who is threatened by your boyfriend’s kids? We seem to get a lot of those around here.

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