Shortcuts: “He Still Hasn’t Introduced Me to His Kids!”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My boyfriend has been divorced for four years. We’ve been dating for six months. He says he has never introduced his kids to anyone and he is cautious to introduce me. As a result, I don’t feel included in his world. I’ve met his kids only as a friend. Is this odd behavior? I think he wants to keep up the facade for his kids that he and the ex-wife may get back together. I’m not thinking I’m getting what I need from this relationship. I feel I am ready for more than he is ready for. Any advice? — Ready to Move Forward

No, it is definitely not odd that a single parent would be cautious about introducing a new love interest into his kids’ lives. It’s called being a responsible and loving parent. Not everything is about you or about the ex-wife. This is about his kids, and before he lets them get attached to you, he wants to make sure you and he are on the same page, on a path you both agree with, and that your relationship is super solid. If you’re seriously questioning whether he wants to get back together with his ex-wife, I’m thinking he’s probably right to reserve integrating you into his family. It sounds like you aren’t really ready for the sacrifices necessary in dating a single parent; if I were you, I’d probably move on and stick with men who are better able to give you exactly whatever it is you want.

My boyfriend rents garage space from his ex-girlfriend for his classic cars. Obviously, they are still in touch with each other. I found inappropriate texts on his phone. She always borrows his truck (she arranged for her friend to sell it to him cheap) and he feels indebted to her in many ways. I have asked him not to trade vehicles with her as it makes me uncomfortable. His excuse is that she will be so mad if he says no that she might tell him to get his cars out of her garage. He currently has no place to keep them. He doesn’t care how mad I will get when I see him driving her vehicle for a week. We’ve fought over this at least three to four times, and he makes excuses. Am I being a fool? I do so much more for him than supply a garage. Why isn’t he concerned if I will get mad? Am I being insecure or should I stand my ground. — More Than a Garage

I think any guy who is able to collect cars most surely has the resources to find suitable storage for them beyond the garage space their ex-girlfriend offers up for rent. I think he’s probably lying to you, but it’s the inappropriate texts that would push me over the edge. You don’t say exactly WHAT was inappropriate about them, but it’s clear you’re angry, you don’t trust him, and you think he prioritizes his ex-girlfriend’s feelings over yours, so I’m not sure why you’re sticking around. Unless you just really like classic cars.

I’ve gone out with this guy six to seven times in total. He only paid on our first date, and since then I’m the only one who is shelling out big bills. He has never bought me anything. Should I continue or not because it is so stressful and frustrating that every time we go out I have to pay. — Fed-Up with Paying-Up

I mean, where are you going that you’re feeling so stressed and shelling out big bucks? Casual dating shouldn’t be so fraught. I’d suggest telling him you want to go dutch, or even saying, “Hey, I got the last six dates. You wanna get this one?” I’d suggest sticking with activities and events that are free or don’t cost much so you aren’t shelling out big bucks and getting all stressed out about finances, but, honestly, it doesn’t sound worth it. I’d move on, and next time, if the idea of paying for a date causes such anxiety, be clear before the date who is paying so you you don’t feel so frustrated when the bill comes and you’re the only one reaching for a wallet.


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  1. LW2 It actually IS very hard to find garage space to store classic cars. My husband and his brother have a classic car shop and half of the shop rent is paid by renting space to someone for their car collection. Extremely valuable cars. It isn’t easy to find garage space in a major city and it is hella expensive when you do. (plus there are things to consider, like how safe the cars are ) Some of these cars can be worth as much as a house.
    I don’t think that is the issue here. He seems to have more involvement with her than just storing cars. I would sit down and discuss this with him. The texts etc are too much. If she needs to trade cars with him every once in a while that should be a short and NOT so sweet text every once in a while. Any more contact than that would piss me off too.

  2. End it. I don’t know how it is even possible for you to pay everything. Why do you do it in the first place? Don’t you say: let’s share this bill? Doesn’t he suggest cheaper venues? A guy who lets you pay 6 dates is not a keeper, he is taking advantage of you.

    1. dinoceros says:

      Yeah, I’m trying to imagine how this plays out. Does he just sit and stare at the bill until she picks it up? Does he pretend he forgot his wallet? I mean, after it started becoming that uneven, I’d try to clarify before the date whether he planned to mooch or not and then decide accordingly whether to show up to said date.

  3. dinoceros says:

    LW1: I assume you don’t know many parents. Six months is too early to meet someone’s kid as a partner. Six months, for parents and non-parents, is still within the window where you should be getting to know each other and decide if you want to keep seeing each other or not. That’s way too much uncertainty for a parent to decide to introduce that person to their kids. Chill out. Maybe read a book about dating single parents. If you can’t wrap your mind around it, then maybe don’t date parents.

    1. I totally agree. You are pushing too hard. Children become attached very easily. Relax.

  4. LW1: Hm, I think it was at least a year before my boyfriend introduced me to his kids as his girlfriend. Which was fine. They were young, and the divorce was traumatic.

    When you date a guy with kids, you have to understand that the process of being integrated into his life is going to proceed much more slowly than if you were dating someone without kids. The kids are going to be at the core of his life, always. If you’re not comfortable with that, and that’s fine, some people aren’t….date guys without kids.

    LW3: I’m confused. Why does this have to be harder than “hey, let’s split the bill?” Why do you always have to go to expensive places? If you two are good together, the dinner conversation’s just as good at Burger King as it is at Morton’s.

    I get that there’s the urge to impress each other with the fancy restaurants and the dressing up on those first few dates, but after 6 or 7 dates, it’s time to settle into reality. Unless you live in a really small town, there must be some cool little restaurants around that are mid-priced. Heck, one of my favorite recent dinners out with the BF was at Friendly’s….neither one of us had been to one in many years, and we ordered the things that were our favorites when we were kids. So much fun.

  5. I was a single mom for almost 5 yrs when I met my current husband. Not once in those yrs did my kids meet a guy as my boyfriend. I dated a guy off and on for a yr and they met him as a friend after we were no longer dating (we continued as friends). My divorce was hard on them and I wasn’t going to have them meet a guy as my significant other unless I knew it was permanent.
    That being said, my husband met my kids about 4 months. He was different. He was an amazing guy. We got married after about a yr. My family, myself and my kids love him. My kids legally have his last name and the adoption process will start next year.

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