Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “Should I Give This Relationship One More Month?”

I’m 33 years old and I’ve been seeing my 48-year-old boyfriend for four months. At first he called frequently and we would spend lots of time together, but he recently moved his 17-year-old daughter in with him so that he could be a full-time parent and that has changed our relationship. He says she has issues with putting off schoolwork so he has to stay on her. This and her extracurricular activities seem to take up all his time now. Additionally, I have not met any of his friends, family, or his daughter yet. Even worse, he doesn’t call and show attention like he did in the beginning. I’ve talked to him about it, and he said he sees a future with me and would try harder. I’ve been thinking I should wait another month to see what happen, but I’m having doubts. Do you think it’s worth hanging on to see what happens and, if so, what should I do to try to save the relationship? — Having Doubts

Here’s a general rule of thumb for you and everyone else: If, in the first six months, you are feeling like the honeymoon period is over, MOA. The first six-month period IS the honeymoon period. If you’ve been with someone even less than six months — we’re talking four whole months here — and you’re talking about how things were much better “in the beginning” of your relationship, that’s crazy. Four months IS the beginning of a relationship. MOA. LW, you and this guy are 15 years apart and at different points in your lives. You need someone who has the time to devote to you and can make you a priority in a way this guy can’t or won’t. A month isn’t going to change anything. If he’s not giving you the attention you want and you feel like things have taken a turn for the worse only four months into this thing, MOA. Life’s too short to try to make these short-run relationships anything more than what they’re meant to be — quick love lessons on your way to something bigger and better.

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15 comments… add one
  • norabb

    norabb March 24, 2015, 8:20 am

    WWS…except…
    .
    I noticed that OP seems not to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. I think he has valid reasons to pull back. He wants to be a full time parent for his child, and help her through her difficulties so she can succeed. That’s a great person and Dad! That’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for his pulling back for a while and he sounds like he’s being very honest with you. You need to give him a little credit..I mean I wouldn’t expect a guy to introduce me to his entire family after ONLY FOUR MONTHS. Especially a possibly emotional teenager. You might be expecting waaay to much from a divorced dad in (relatively) short time.
    .
    Maybe this is just a small setback. Maybe sooner rather than later things will settle down in his life and he’ll still be there because he cares. Maybe a break is in order, a clean one, and if you revisit it down the line, then you can pick back up and ignite a newer, better honeymoon phase.
    .
    I guess I’m torn about this…while I think everyone deserves a fulfilling relationship and you aren’t getting what you want. But maybe there’s a potential somewhere down the road. Maybe after some time apart.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh March 24, 2015, 8:35 am

      I agree with you and Wendy. So many people write in and say our relationship (that’s only 4 months long) was so much better before x. When if x happens four months in it’s usually not worth it.

      I think something like this can be an exception, if it’s something you are willing to wait out. However, I think the LW does need to deal with the fact that with the daughter living with the Dad now things will probably stay different. I also agree that not meeting family at four months isn’t that big of a deal, especially a child, even if she is a teenager.

      I think at the end of the day those Wendy is right. I don’t think either person in this scenario is wrong, I think it’s just shitty timing.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2015, 8:49 am

        I kind of disagree because if the LW were understanding of her boyfriend’s situation, she wouldn’t be writing in. She does not get it at all that this guy right now has to prioritize his daughter. Instead of working with him on this, she is making him feel guilty. Personally I think she would be doing him a favor by breaking it off. If she were more understanding or gave any indication she got why it was so hard for him right now, maybe down the line there would be some hope but I don’t really see that this is. There doesn’t seem to be much room for compromise from her.

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        jlyfsh March 24, 2015, 9:01 am

        Yeah I agree I don’t think the LW should stay. She definitely doesn’t seem to understand what dating a Dad means. However, I do think it’s a situation where for someone else it would be worth staying if they were willing to wait and work with the person. I don’t think this LW is that kind of person. She doesn’t sound like she understands why he’s doing what he’s doing at all. My statement about this situation being an exception wasn’t directed at her, just in general.

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      • norabb

        norabb March 24, 2015, 9:06 am

        True, which sways me to think that just MOA will be the best option. And letting go of the attachment that he might come back. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t.

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      • avatar

        ktfran March 24, 2015, 9:11 am

        I agree with you mucha. This is a dad. I feel dating is different when children are involved, even teenagers, and you have to adjust expectations.
        .
        I do agree with Wendy that if six months in, you’re having serious doubts or unhappy, you should MOA. However, in this instance, I think the LWs serious doubts are unfounded and she’s being a little too demanding/unreasonable of a father to a 17 year old. Still, she should MOA and give this guy a fair shot with someone who understands what being a parent means.

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      • avatar

        csp March 24, 2015, 11:52 am

        I think it is more that the LW is trying to see if he is really trying to balance the daughter or is he blowing her off. In one senario, it means she is being understanding and the other she is an schmuck

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana March 24, 2015, 8:24 am

    I agree so much! I think so many people are in terribel relationships that last years when if they had just realized in the very beginning like the first 6 months, things were going to shit and pulled the plug they’d be so much better off.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite March 24, 2015, 8:30 am

    I wonder how recent the move is, it sounds like he’s doing what he needs to do for his daughter and you’re blaming him for prioritizing her. Four months isn’t really that long before meeting friends, family, etc. if you’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of couple things. Has he met your family/friends, etc.? I would say MOA as well but this letter comes off as very high maintenance.

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    • avatar

      Anna March 24, 2015, 8:45 am

      I don’t think it’s high maintenance to want your significant other to take an interest in you. At her age it’s called being in a fulfilling relationship. He would probably do better with someone closer to his age that also has children, so they both have something to focus on other than each other. LW sounds like she doesn’t have kids and would like a ‘normal’ beginning to a relationship. Her BF having a child is going to put a kabosh on that. MOA is right, but not because she’s ‘very high maintenance’.

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      • avatar

        Anna March 24, 2015, 10:08 am

        Is it identity theft to take my terribly original username??! Lol, kidding. But seriously, just wanted to say that the above poster is not me. I agree that they probably aren’t a good match if she wants to be the center of his attention. However, I do think it’s high maintenance to expect someone to prioritize you over their child. If you can’t handle being lower on the priority list than the kids, don’t date someone with kids. And, for that matter, don’t have any until you’re ready to prioritize them over yourself for a very long time.

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope March 24, 2015, 9:58 am

    I really don’t get why a 33 year old woman would want to be with a 48 year old man. I’ve been both ages and they are universes apart. When someone asks me about myself I can’t help thinking hmm, which incarnation? Because our lives change so much. I’m not saying the age difference can’t work but you’re just starting your journey and he’s starting to wind down.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite March 24, 2015, 11:25 am

      It worked for my mother and father in law, probably the exception. They’re 17 years apart and were both going through some things when they found each other, grew together, and have been together over 30 years now. You can tell my MIL is feeling the difference now that he just turned 80 last week, but they’re changing together still. I don’t get it for myself, but I ave at least one example now.

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  • avatar

    MsMisery March 24, 2015, 11:40 am

    Another good rule of thumb is don’t date people with kids if you are going to be jelly when they spend time with them. “I need to focus more on my child” is a TOTALLY LEGIT reason to be less available to the person you are dating.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra March 24, 2015, 11:57 am

    The good news is that he is involved in his daughter’s life and WANTS to be involved in his daughter’s life. I’m guessing he’s realizing: “dang, daughter is 17, she likely will be out of the house soon and I don’t have that much time left with her!” The fact that he wants to be involved and help her out is awesome, not to mention he is even getting involved in extracurricular activities which indicates to me he wants to show her that she is a priority in his life.
    .
    The bad news for you LW is that your expectations of this relationship are different than his are. A dad *should* put his daughter before his girlfriend of 4 months. You mention that she isn’t exactly a self-starter and he has to make sure she gets her school work done, meaning that he needs to focus a good deal of energy on her right now.
    .
    If you’re not ok with the fact that he is spending less time on you, that’s fine, but do him a favor and break up with him. His daughter is always going to be a significant part of his life and it sounds like you’re not as ok with that as you would need to be to maintain a relationship with him.

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