About the time we started dating (seven months ago), he said that his ex-fiance’s daughter, Loretta, had contacted him. Since then, she’s texted him prom pictures and has asked him to work on her car. He hasn’t really mentioned much about the ex or her sons, but yesterday he told me that Loretta is coming over to his home so he can work on her brakes. I asked why it was his responsibility to do this, and he said that he was a father figure to her and her real dad was useless. I asked if the mother was in another relationship and he stated, without hesitation, “No.” I would have been fine with “I don’t know,” but the definitive “no” was a surprise to me.
Loretta is now 17 years old and she came to his home by herself last night for him to work on her car. That was a bit weird to me, and I feel that maybe the mom has allowed this new relationship because she is interested again. Henry told me that the issues that caused the break-up were all children-related, and, now that they are all grown, I feel a little threatened that he is allowing this girl back into his life, which could lead to the mom getting involved with him romantically. I told him last night that I was very confused and did not understand the need to establish an adult relationship with a child he has not seen in seven years.
Since our relationship is so new, I am unsure how to handle this. I do not want him to have a relationship with this girl, let alone her mother. What is your advice? — He’s Not Really Her Dad
Well, good for you for asserting yourself and expressing your feelings about being threatened and confused. When you told Henry that you don’t understand the need for him to establish a relationship with this 17-year-old girl whom he hasn’t seen in seven years, how did he respond? Was he compassionate with you? Did he take time to try to explain why the relationship was important to him? Has he talked at all about what it was like to raise these kids for eight years and then suddenly not see them again? From my calculations, he was in Loretta’s life as a father-figure from the time she was 2 until she was 10. That’s very significant, and I can understand how he might still think of himself as a father figure.
I don’t fault him for wanting a re-connection with Loretta, and her brothers, when the bond must have been very strong. But if he’s not communicating that effectively to you and he’s not putting you at ease over his (hopefully non-existent) feelings toward their mother, then of course it makes sense that you’d be concerned. There might also be the added worry that Loretta is not a little girl anymore, but a young woman, and he may see her as such, especially since his “father figure” days are years in the past. Does he truly still feel like a father figure to her, or is his sudden interest in her less wholesome?
There’s not much you can do here but talk with Henry and hope that his responses are enough to put your concerns to rest. You certainly cannot forbid him to have a relationship with Loretta or her brothers. And if you don’t trust the guy’s motivations and there’s nothing he is saying or doing to ease your worries, that’s a pretty big red flag. It doesn’t mean he’s doing anything wrong, but it does mean that your relationship is missing a very key ingredient and won’t bake well without it. After seven months, if I were feeling this anxious, I’d probably just cut my losses and move on. Wish the guy well and tell him that this situation simply stirs too many uncomfortable feelings for you and you don’t think you can build a long-lasting, happy relationship on a foundation that suddenly feels so unstable.