Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Won’t Introduce Me to His Daughters”

I have been divorced nearly five years and have two kids in elementary school. I’ve been dating someone for six months and it’s been great. I slowly introduced him to my kids and family; he gets along great with everyone and spends most weekends with us. He is the first serious relationship since my divorce.

“My Boyfriend Treats His Daughter Like SHE is His Girlfriend”

He’s only a few years older, but his two daughters are in college and living with him. I have not met his girls, although we’ve discussed it openly. He says they aren’t interested in his personal life and they’ve never met anyone he’s dated. He has been divorced a similar amount of time. When I’ve mentioned it, he says I can meet them any time, but he hasn’t initiated anything. I told him the ball is in his court and there’s no pressure until he is ready. However, I’ve expressed that I feel a bit more vulnerable not knowing his kids.

I have to say I have no complaints in terms of things between us — he’s awesome — but life is bigger than the two of us. I’m taking it day by day and letting it go, but it’s in the back of my mind. Any thoughts would be great. — Ready to Meet His Daughters

I have a few thoughts:

– Having your boyfriend of six months spend most weekends with you and your two elementary-aged kids is not, in my book, taking things “slowly.” Meeting a parent’s new significant other by six months might be fine for a lot of young kids of divorce, but spending most weekends with that person? Personally, I find that irresponsible and inappropriate. This is your relationship, not theirs. They are young children who are in school all week and need their mother’s attention on the weekends. How much focused attention are you giving them when your boyfriend is always around? Even if they get along with him great — which is fantastic — it’s too early for him to be stepping into a dad-like role in their lives. Now they’re likely attached to him and what happens if things don’t work out between you?

– You’ve told your boyfriend that the ball is in his court as far as introducing you to his daughters and that there’s “no pressure,” but clearly this is something that’s really bothering you. Why have you used language that would indicate it’s less of a big deal to you than it clearly is (“ball’s in your court,” “no pressure until you’re ready,” etc.)? Quit being passive and say: “I’m ready to meet your daughters and don’t feel like the relationship can progress as I would like it to until that happens. When would be a good time for you to introduce us?”

– You say you’re taking this “day by day” and that you’re “letting it go,” but you aren’t. Again, you’re using language — even if it’s only to yourself (or to me in this letter) that clearly isn’t a true reflection of your actual feelings and behavior (i.e. you are not “letting this go”). Woman up and be clear about your intentions, your desires, and your needs. Don’t “put the ball in his court” when he’s made clear he’s more laid-back about this part of your relationship than you are.

And, for the love of God, don’t say you’re moving slowly when you’re doing anything but. If a guy is spending entire weekends with you and your young kids six months in — and has been, it sounds like, for a while — that’s not taking things slowly. You’re playing with fire when you let a new boyfriend become so enmeshed in your family life before you’ve established a true commitment to each other. (And you’re also right that, if you haven’t yet met his daughters with whom he lives, your level of commitment probably isn’t as deep as it sounds like you’re ready for it to be).


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

32 comments… add one
  • laurahope October 12, 2015, 8:23 am

    Six months? The relationship is driven by hormones, the other person is close to perfect and you probably haven’t had your first real fight. 12 months? You’re really getting to know each other and you have a much better sense of who this person is and where the relationship is going. That’s when I would start to merge the families.

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  • Fyodor October 12, 2015, 8:55 am

    “Why have you used language that would indicate it’s less of a big deal to you than it clearly is (“ball’s in your court,” “no pressure until you’re ready,” etc.)? Quit being passive and say: “I’m ready to meet your daughters and don’t feel like the relationship can progress as I would like it to until that happens. When would be a good time for you to introduce us?”

    I think that this is bad advice. I don’t get the impression that the OP feels strongly about meeting his kids so much as she is worried that this means he’s not serious about her. He might have good reasons for keeping her apart from his kids. The girls, being teenagers or near teenagers might not be terribly mature about their father dating someone else and he might reasonably not want to antagonize them.

    If she’s unsure about the state of the relationship she should talk to him about the state of the relationship not pressure him into introducing her to his kids before he’s ready.

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    • keyblade October 12, 2015, 10:21 am

      “I’m ready to meet your daughters and don’t feel like the relationship can progress as I would like it to until that happens. When would be a good time for you to introduce us?”

      If this is the letter writers true opinion, then I think the letter writer should share it. The relationship isn’t moving forward for her. She is as a place where she is ready to know more about her boyfriend’s primary family. If the boyfriend doesn’t think the relationship is serious enough to introduce her to his teenagers than he should tell the letter writer. If there are other dynamics at play, then he should communicate that to the letter writer, too. Just because it isn’t on the letter writer’s time table doesn’t necessarily mean that she can’t compromise and wait longer. But then they will both know where they stand.

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    • RedRoverRedRover October 12, 2015, 11:19 am

      If he has good reasons, then he can share them when she brings it up. If not, and he just doesn’t feel ready, then he should share that too. There’s no point in her pretending to be fine with things when she isn’t. What kind of a relationship is that?

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      • Fyodor October 12, 2015, 11:58 am

        I guess it depends on how much it really matters to her in its own right. I get the impression that she’s not in rush to socialize with the kids as such but wonders if it means something bad for the relationship that he hasn’t introduced her to the kids.

        (1) I don’t get the impression that she particularly feels strongly about seeing the kids but is looking for third party input about what his failure to initiate introductions says about the relationship.

        (2) There are more direct ways to find out how he sees the relationship going.

        (3) To the extent that she really does feels strongly that his not introducing the kids means he doesn’t love her or something or that the relationship can’t progress in the way she wants without meeting the kids, she should think about this and reconsider. Six months is pretty early and people are often a little overprotective about their kids in a way that doesn’t reflect on the relationship.

      • keyblade October 12, 2015, 1:09 pm

        I agree with all three of your points. I’m advocating for the letter writer to use direct communication over passively avoiding a subject that is bothering her. But I don’t think a strong statement of what she wants should be be followed by an uncompromising or unreceptive conversation. I think she might feel strongly about meeting the kids and just as strongly about hearing the reasons the boyfriend might not want her to meet them. There might be alternative ways to seek relationship validation if that is her primary motive. While it is important to understand what is driving her, I think speaking up and clearly stating what she wants will prompt a deeper conversation about potential complications and alternatives. It might also help her avoid jumping to false conclusions. Perhaps her boyfriend just hasn’t thought to set a time to meet, yet.

        The irony is that that you clearly and honestly stated your response to the column (“I think that this is bad advice”). I almost completely agree with you on your points, but I disagree with your judgment of the advice. The strong judgment tone set me up to defend what I saw as a reasonable opening sentence. So perhaps a more neutral, information-seeking opening would work better.

        “I’d like to talk about how serious our relationship may or may not be. I’ve noticed I’ve shared more of my inner people with you than you have with me. For example, I’m ready to meet your daughters and don’t feel like the relationship can progress as I would like it to until that happens. The reasons are (….) I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.”

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    Kate B. October 12, 2015, 9:40 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: at six months, the kids should just be getting to meet the other person. This means that six months pass before they are even in the same room. If he stays over, he does it on weekends when the kids are not around. If this means you don’t get to see him as often, then so be it. This is the system that works for my friends with kids who date and they have no complaints. Because at six months, you really don’t have a clear picture of who this person is and where the relationship is going.

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      Kate B. October 12, 2015, 10:14 am

      *before six months*

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      • Cleopatra Jones October 12, 2015, 10:42 am

        I honestly think the 1 year mark is where you should introduce the kids. At that point, you should know if the relationship is serious or not.

      • keyblade October 12, 2015, 11:21 am

        I’d find it difficult to progress seriously with someone for over a year and then move on quickly if my children didn’t warm up to that someone. My number one deal-breaker would be incompatibility with my children, so it might be tempting to introduce my children sooner then a year. I think a lot of people who gravitate towards monogamy date with the intention of finding someone who will fit into their life, long-term. When someone has already had their babies and they have an existing nuclear family, it might be tempting to see if dating candidates are compatible with status quo. I think single parents have to curb the impulse to find “the one”. Romantic partnership no longer gets to be a life priority, in my book. But maybe I see things wrong because I don’t have any experience.

      • SasLinna October 12, 2015, 11:28 am

        You have a good point that introducing the partner later could also cause problems if it then turns out they can’t get along with the kids. It’s a difficult balance to ‘test’ the relationship the partner might have with the kids and still not let the kids become super attached early on.

      • Cleopatra Jones October 12, 2015, 4:17 pm

        Eh, 1 year really isn’t that long. If you find out after 1 year that he’s incompatible with your kids, you really haven’t invested that much time that ending it is the worst thing in the world. I just think that at the 1 year mark, that’s when you start to see the person and can decide if it’s the right relationship for you.
        At 6 months, you’re still in that ‘my-nether-regions-are-still-tingly-with-excitement’ phase, which makes it easy to blow off stuff that don’t sit right with you. I couldn’t imagine dragging my kids into that, then breaking up a few months later because he’s really a jack-hole. OR I can’t stand the way he eats or laughs.
        Just saying, it’s OK to take time to decide if you want them in your kids’ life. There’s not a prize for rushing headlong into another possibly shitty relationship.

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        honeybeenicki October 12, 2015, 12:20 pm

        I think 1 year is too long if its a relationship that you do see going farther. Because while kids don’t need to love the new partner, I think its important for a relationship that they be on good terms. At 1 year, it might be harder to move on if there is a fundamental issue. I met my husband’s kids at 6 months.

  • Muffy October 12, 2015, 10:24 am

    I think the whole don’t introduce your kids yet thing is an overreaction. How is someone with kids supposed to date someone if they can’t meet the kids within six months? Her kids are a big part of her life – in order to move the relationship forward she would basically have to always leave the house to date him and get a baby sitter – leaving her kids behind. I don’t see the issue with introducing the kids within six months and spending time with them and the boyfriend together. Like Wendy said the kids need their mother but their mother also wants a relationship – she’s trying to balance both.

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    • keyblade October 12, 2015, 10:39 am

      Meeting is different than spending every weekend with mom’s boyfriend, though. I wonder if the letter writer just meant that they meet up with the boyfriend here or there on the weekend? It would be weird if he was leaving his teenagers all the time to go spend time with her kids. It’s true teens are independent, but still….

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      • jlyfsh October 12, 2015, 10:41 am

        His kids are in college though, different than teens (to me). I feel like a lot of college kids even when they live at home barely see their families.

      • keyblade October 12, 2015, 10:42 am

        good catch! That probably also explains the reluctance to meet dad’s new girlfriend. Since they are no longer being raised by their father, they won’t be impacted nearly as much by who he dates.

    • SasLinna October 12, 2015, 10:42 am

      There’s a middle way with this. It’s fine to introduce the boyfriend and even have him spend some time with the kids. But early on he shouldn’t be introduced as someone who’ll become a permanent part of their lives, and she should still be spending significant time with her kids without him (yes, that makes dating difficult, it’s one of the sacrifices you have to make as a parent looking to date). His relationship with the kids should be no more than that of a family friend at this point, and any time he takes on a more significant role they should prepare for it and be thoughtful about the implications it will have in case they break up.
      With college-aged kids there’s much less of a need to introduce her early on, and it can basically be done on the kids’ terms. I’d wait till they have expressed interest.

      (I’m a “kid of divorce”, got to know my mom’s boyfriend I guess 6 months in, but most of the time we spent with her was definitely without him, and I’m very grateful for that.)

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      • SasLinna October 12, 2015, 10:46 am

        Also, this question tends to come up a lot on this site (when will I be introduced to the kids?) and I just on some level don’t understand why it’s that important. Of course your boyfriend’s kids are an important part of his life, but why is meeting them considered to be necessary to feel the relationship is serious? Especially when the kids are old enough that living with them will never come up?

      • keyblade October 12, 2015, 10:58 am

        Well, they are still living with their dad right now. If I were the letter writer I think meeting the kids would matter to me (not necessarily after six months, but when I thought things were getting serious). Even when they are adults, he will always be their dad. And I think getting serious means wanting to know your partner more intimately and kids are a huge part of a person’s life whether the kids are grown or not. I would also feel like my relationship wasn’t that serious if someone refused to introduce me to close friends, co-workers, or family. I can think of very good reasons the boyfriend might want to wait. I don’t think the boyfriend is doing anything wrong or that he is a bad guy if he doesn’t want the letter writer to meet his kids, yet, for whatever reason. But the letter writer seems to think not meeting them signifies something about her relationship. So I agree with Wendy, that she should make it clear she feels that way to her boyfriend.

      • SasLinna October 12, 2015, 11:15 am

        I guess I’m looking at it mostly from the perspective of the kids. When I was a kid (I was younger than the boyfriend’s kids), I just honestly didn’t care all that much about getting to know my mom’s boyfriend. And he completely respected that my brother and I weren’t super interested in him. We actually never really did things the four of us. He did come visit sometimes when we were there, but there wasn’t a ton of interaction because the idea never was that he needed to become our stepfather.
        Of course, we were still introduced to him. I think the part about wanting to meet his kids at some point – simply in the sense of being introduced to them – is understandable. What I can understand less is the belief that you have to get to know the partner’s children well. I would say this entirely depends on the children’s wishes, especially when they’re older.

    • RedRoverRedRover October 12, 2015, 11:22 am

      If they’re in elementary school, he can come over to watch a movie after they’ve gone to bed. You don’t need to go out every time. Yes, she’d need a babysitter to go out, but they could still spend plenty of time together when the kids are in bed.

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  • jlyfsh October 12, 2015, 10:43 am

    He might not be initiating anything because he knows his kids better than you. It’s been six months. If anything set a time limit in your head, you’ve put the ball in his court. If say six months from now you haven’t met his kids bring the issue up again using the language Wendy has mentioned.

    Beyond that are there other things in the relationship that are making you unhappy or feel unsettled? Are they presenting here in this issue because it is easier to tackle?

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  • SasLinna October 12, 2015, 11:32 am

    “He says they aren’t interested in his personal life and they’ve never met anyone he’s dated.”
    This part is sort of important, too. It seems that he currently doesn’t view the relationship with LW as more than ‘dating’, and that he never introduces the women he dates to his daughters. This could speak to a difference in how serious they think the relationship is at this point.

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    • keyblade October 12, 2015, 11:51 am

      I agree. I think in addition to telling her boyfriend, she is ready to meet the kids, she is also kind of saying she is ready to consider the relationship more serious. Maybe the discussion should also include how satisfied each of them are with the current arrangement and how long they might see things staying the same. If the boyfriend is good and doesn’t need to move towards blending families, then the letter writer might need to consider if she can be comfortable with that for a few years. If not, I’d be curious about what kind of commitment she is looking for and why.

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      • dinoceros October 12, 2015, 7:30 pm

        Yeah, I think talking about it is important. Though hopefully they can be detailed with each other about what they want. Just because he’s not ready to commit to blending families doesn’t mean it’ll automatically be years, though. Six months is still pretty early.

  • PurpleStar October 12, 2015, 1:44 pm

    I wonder what his dating history (or pattern) is. If he has a pattern of moving quickly into relationships, do his relationships die out as quickly?

    It may be that his daughters have seen a pattern in his dating and choose not to meet his girlfriends. My son was the same (albeit younger than his) and never wanted to meet his father’s girlfriends as they never lasted long. He didn’t want to like them then have them “disappear” (which had happened on a couple of occasions).

    And, of course, if this is a concern to the letter writer – and to me her letter has an undertone of “where is this relationship going?” – then she needs to have a more direct conversation with her boyfriend.

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  • dinoceros October 12, 2015, 6:53 pm

    Wendy’s advice is spot on. Six months is really fast to have intertwined your kids and your relationship. Just because you moved fast doesn’t mean that he has to. He sounds like he’s moving at a normal speed in regard to his own kids. It also sounds like he doesn’t see their meeting as a huge event like you do. As in, it seems like he’d be fine if you happened to meet them, but he’s not going to make a huge production of it yet.

    Generally speaking, six months is not THAT serious. So, I wouldn’t assume that you deserve some kind of an exception to the fact that he hasn’t had them meet anyone yet. Parents of kids old enough to not need supervision often don’t have their kids meet their SO until they reach a point of knowing they are going to be together long term. I understand that your kids might be more likely to meet him because you aren’t going to just leave them at home and go out.

    Try to slow your roll a little. And like Wendy says, if it’s a big deal to you, don’t lie and say it isn’t, but then complain about it. Pick one stance and stick with it.

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  • Pip October 15, 2015, 4:22 pm

    I think Wendy’s advice re his daughters is good – I think after 6 months taking some control and arranging a meeting with the daughters is a good idea….. I have to disagree on the Boyfriends relationship with her own children though, where the words seem a bit harsh. I didn’t get the impression from the mail that the writer spends no time with her children. I don’t know what ‘Most Weekends’ means – 3 in every 4? It seems this man accepts her life revolves around her children, and he has made the effort to get to know them. The alternatives would seem to be giving less time to the relationship or somehow insisting babysitters are found, neither of which shows either commitment or understanding

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  • Nora April 14, 2019, 10:11 pm

    Im dating 4 years now but he still never introduce me to the 23 yrs old daughter. I know and I feel my bf loves me and my kids. Do I ignore . I need a good advice

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  • ron April 15, 2019, 9:18 am

    He’s hiding you from his family ands something big about his relationship status (other than his relationship with you) from you. Yes, he almost certainly is in another relationship which his daughter knows about. MOA.

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  • Nb July 8, 2019, 8:48 am

    But why he continues seeing me if he had another relationship . I’m confused

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