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My boyfriend has taken up responsibility of being a father figure for this little girl which I admire but recently have not been comfortable with. His family is close to the little girl and call her his child as well. It’s all a little frustrating and annoying, and, lately, I’ve been a bit jealous. I’ve tried to express my feelings, but my boyfriend doesn’t understand. Please give me any suggestions on how to handle the situation. — Frustrated Girlfriend
Honestly, I think it’s really weird that your boyfriend remains close with this little girl who was in his life so briefly and isn’t related to him. Did they ever live together? If so, I could understand a little bit better, but, still, the relationship seems… inappropriate at this point, not just because your boyfriend is no longer with the mother, but also because he ISN’T a father figure to her and because remaining close with her muddies boundaries and can potentially make things confusing for the little girl and for anyone who may get romantically involved with the adults in question (your boyfriend and the girl’s mother).
If YOU have issues with your boyfriend remaining so close to this girl, imagine how potential new boyfriends of the mother might feel. What happens if she meets someone she wants to marry? Is your boyfriend going to continue being the father figure and spending time with his ex’s daughter when she has a step-dad in her life?
I find it irresponsible of the mother that she’s allowed your boyfriend to remain such a constant presence in her daughter’s life and hasn’t set some clearer boundaries herself. It makes me wonder if she isn’t over your boyfriend and she’s using her daughter to keep him around. I also find it troubling that when you express some of your concern and jealousy — totally normal reactions given the circumstance — your boyfriend doesn’t express any compassion or understanding.
If it were me and I had something of an unconventional relationship with an ex’s child whom I knew for only a brief time, I would go out of my way to make a new partner feel comfortable about the situation and understand my motives. It doesn’t seem like your boyfriend is doing that, and as “admirable” as you might consider his behavior in relation to this little girl, how admirable is his behavior toward you? Who cares if he’s loving with someone else — an ex’s child, of all people — if he isn’t expressing the same loving attitude to YOU, his girlfriend.
You need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your boyfriend about his feelings towards his ex, his feelings towards this little girl, and where he sees things going in the future. If you two were to remain together and, say, have a child of your own (is that something either of you wants?), does he think he’s STILL going to continue doting on this child who isn’t his (and isn’t related to him)? How is he going to explain the relationship he has with her to potential children of his own one day? Does he not see that this relationship he has with the girl has something of an expiration date and that the longer he avoids it the more attached she gets and the harder she’ll take it when things change and boundaries that should have already been made are finally set?
If you keep having these conversations and your words continue falling on deaf ears, I would consider moving on. Something isn’t quite right in this scenario, and the more time you hang around waiting to see what that something is the bigger chance you’re going to be hurt in the end.
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