Vent - Invisible Around Child

Mick Mick

Hi! This is my first post. For the last eight months, I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend. He has an eight year old daughter from a previous relationship. He has her every other weekend and every Wednesday. I am the first woman that he has seriously dated since his divorce. I really love him. Right now we are at a crossroads. I should say that *I* am at a crossroads.

I feel as if I am an outsider when I am around my boyfriend and his daughter. I like the girl. I think she is funny, sassy, and very lovable. She likes me too. It isn't her. It is him! He has some sort of "odd" idea that being a helicopter parent is the best way to be. When I am around, it is like I am not even there!

He says that he is ready to integrate me into his relationship with his daughter but his actions don't show it. First, when she is around he doesn't give me any form of affection. I don't want a full slob-down, but a hug and a peck on the cheek? Hold my hand when we are together? I get none of that. Also, sometimes I feel as if I am treated as a friend and not the woman that he SAYS he wants to marry. As a result of this, it is hard for me to feel fully engaged when we have our outings because I feel ignored and invisible. Not from the daughter...FROM HIM.

At his birthday dinner, we spent the entire time looking at his daughter. There was no adult conversation. He pissed me off because he didn't open my card in front of her.

He made the statement that "all he wants to do is spend his birthday with his daughter." I called him out on that and he said that he didn't mean it that way.

I have a lot of "toys" that children enjoy at my home - Wii, PS2, hot chocolate machines and such. I feel like he wants to bring her to the house to entertain the daughter. He soaks up my resources and he can't even give me a hug.

I have had it! For the past couple of weekends, I have disappeared and have been thinking about my next course of action. Well, this morning I had received an email from him stating that he is very disappointed that I have not been around them during visitation. He feels as if my disappearance is directly related to his daughter.

Isn't that something? He can't give 100% to me, but I am expected to give 100%! I really think that he was upset because he couldn't come over and play the Wii.

Oh yeah! He has unreasonable expectations of me. Actually any woman that he would date. He often makes the statement that "we" will have a daughter and he expects me to "love" her like a daughter. Noooooo...She is not my daughter. She has a mother who is there and involved. I will not disrespect her like that because he has a crazy relationship with her. No way!

I read an awful, awful book that basically said that I should bend over backwards and ignore my needs because step mothers are always in second place. The author proposed that step mothers get pregnant to have equal footing. I don't want that. Please, please tell me that this isn't what my life is going to be like.

Comments (14)
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Ohhhhh Diva! I'm sorry! I had a boyfriend with a young daughter when I was 21. He was 22. She was three. She was lovely. It was very difficult, all around. She would tell people that I wasn't her mommy when we were out (we did look a lot alike). He would have a hard time with the two of us. I wanted his attention, she wanted his attention...

Looking back it's so clear. He was in an awkward position of being a new dad. She was feeling strange and setting her boundaries. I had no clue what I was doing.

I still think of that little girl. I still miss her. I would have been honored to be her second mom. And amazingly enough, she, a teenager now, still asks about me.

This is what your life is going to be like, unless you have a kid and find out what it's like to be a single parent on your own. I understand now the conflict that went through my old bf's head every time we were together. Trying to balance a child and a lover.

I don't do PDA's in front of my daughter with my DH. A hug, sure, but make sure the dd is involved too "group hug"!!!

Remember your boyfriend is new to this. He doesn't know what to do, how to act, what is the best way to involve you. You don't have to get pregnant to be a part of this family, but my ex-boyfriend from years ago said it best, although I resented the heck out of him for saying it at the time. "When you have a baby, you'll understand". He was right. I now understand completely where he was coming from.

By the way, it's not unreasonable to want you to love his daughter as your own. It's wishful, hopeful.

Don't ignore your needs. Just understand that your bf and his daughter have never done this before either.

Best of luck to you. Relax, be loving, and the love will come.

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Hi Diva,

Throw that book in the bin! I'm a stepmom and have been for 4 years and I don't have or want any kids of my own. I love my stepkids but it's not the same as having your own, I'm sure. And it's not a requirement either. If you get along then your partner should be very happy. To demand love for a child is unreasonable and not realistic. Your partner's little girl has both her mum and her dad in her life and that is great. They are the parents and therefore responsible for raising her. As a stepparent you have to stand back a bit, and that is not always easy, tell me about it! I'm involved as much as I can in my stepkids lives and I want the best for them, but I'm starting to learn that I have to step back and let their dad be the one to step up. We discuss everything together and we agree on things, but in the end it's up to him to do / organise / enforce it.
But moving on, the book said that you should put your own needs aside because you are in second place. In my opinion one has nothing to do with the other and even though you might be in second place, that can still be a pretty good place! In our family we talk a lot and it is important that everybody's needs are met, not just the kids or me or their dad.
In your case it sounds like your partner is worried that he might upset his daughter if he doesn't spend every minute focusing on her. When he says to you that he is ready to integrate you into the relationship it might mean that he wants to, the intention is good, just the actions aren't backing it up yet. Maybe he feels guilty towards his daughter. Like he shouldn't pay attention to any other woman now that he's not with her mom anymore because it might hurt her feelings.
So therefore giving you a kiss on the cheek or a hug is not happening, yet! Maybe it helps if you talk to him again and ask him how he feels when his daughter is with you guys. Also point out that she likes you so his feelings of guild are understandable but the battle is already won. And of course he could talk to her and ask her how she feels about him having a new partner. Often kids just feel better if they get a chance to talk about how they feel. It's important to listen and for them to know that they are heard. And she might say that she finds certain things difficult, that doesn't mean that you need to find a solution for this, or that it is therefore not ok to be together. My stepkids sometimes tell me that they would love for their mum and dad to be together again, and then they quickly add that they don't mean that they want me to go away. I don't take this personal because I know that they like me. I usually say that I understand it and that it's very normal to feel that way, which kid wouldn't want their parents to be together forever? Just to be able to say it makes them feel better.
Good luck with everything, keep us up to date on how it's going. I'm only new to this website too and I'm happy that I can finally share some experiences and get some advice!

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"Please, please tell me that this isn't what my life is going to be like."

If you marry him,yes it will,unfortunately.

I applaud you for seeing it is HIM and not his daughter making you feel this way.While alot of others on here might say he SHOULD be putting all the attention on his daughter,I disagree.If he was married to her mother and ignoring her like that,it would not be ok.And it's not ok for him to do it to you either.
Alot of stepmoms on this forum seem to do EVERYTHING for their step children.While I think that is commendable,it is THEIR choice.You shouldnt have to do that in order for your BF to be happy if it isnt what you feel comfortable doing though.
In fact,she is HIS responsibility and you shouldnt have to be there everytime she visits! Which makes me think he is looking more for a replacement parent then he is a partner.
I feel for you!

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Mick Mick

Thanks everyone for helping me put this in perspective. Our plan is to discuss this matter tonight.

I am not asking him to love me more. My thoughts are that the way that he loves me is vastly different from the way that he loves her. It is futile to compare the two or to rank and prioritize them. It isn't the same.

I consider my brother and sister-in-law's relationship a model for stepparenting relationships. Actually it is the only model for steppparenting relationships that I have. My brother did not allow his wife or his daughter or his daughter's mother to interfere in any of the relationships. My SIL said that he never felt like she didn't matter because my brother didn't allow it.

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i understand how you feel but here are couple of thoughts.

about PDA, I don't do PDA in front of DD. I don't know why, I just don't. My X and his wife do(saw with my own eyes), it depnds on the person. I would not make a big deal out of it, some people aren't comfortable about PDA>

honestly every other weekend and wednesday is not that much and you can put up with being a second hand citizen for few days.

8 months is not that much. i never even brought men home unless knew them for a year.

i think it is a good idea to not be around visitations. go spend time wiht friends, family, go do stuff by yourself, let them be together just two of them. it is not like you guys live together. i think it would be OK if he gets to spend time just wiht his daughter once in a while. you go enjoy your freedom on thsoe days ;)

Now if you move in together then I can see how things should change. but at this point give it time, don't rush. and of course he loves two of you differently, and yes for most people children are a priority. it does not mean he loves you less, he just misses his daughter.

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This is your future - I would not be available to spend much time with them on their eowe. He only gets her 4 days a month, they need to spend that time together, make plans with your gfs, go to the spa, whatever, just don't be around. That way you don't feel like a 2nd class citizen, and they get their time together. However, before you advance this relationship, you have some serious discussions that need to be had with your bf.

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Your comment that "the way that he loves me is vastly different from the way that he loves her. It is futile to compare the two or to rank and prioritize them. It isn't the same," is very wise. Good for you.

From your description, that book sounds AWFUL. But at the same time, even though it is NOT true that you have to settle for a life of second fiddle, it IS true that sometimes the parents' actions, choices, and priorities are indeed affected by the presence of children -- and that goes for all families, not just step-families.

It isn't easy to love someone with a child that isn't yours, I'm sure. So you will need to understand that parents often DO need to put their young children's needs and desires first -- and I'm not talking about ahead of your needs and desires, I'm talking about HIS. Obviously, he likes to be with you and show you affection. But something is making him uncomfortable being too demonstrative, both physically and otherwise, when she is around.

Consider that there is a chance that you two will break up -- and I stress I mean a CHANCE, just like there is for anyone; I am NOT predicting that you two will break up. Of course you don't want to focus on that, and I'm not saying you should. But HE MUST keep it in the back of his mind-- because he has to consider the effect it would have on his daughter. It's great that she likes you so much; consider that that may be part of the reason he is proceeding cautiously around her. If you would ever leave him, it would break his heart; he doesn't want to risk breaking hers, too.

So even though he means it when he says he wants to marry you someday, it isn't yet official. Honestly, I have to agree that perhaps it is prudent for him to hold back a bit until then. Perhaps ask him if this issue doesn't play some role in his behavior. You may get a flattering surprise! But in any case, you love him, so try to understand how HE is feeling.

In the meantime, I agree with the advice of the two previous posters. Give the two of them time alone, most of the time that he has her. It is only a few days a month. It will be good for all of you. As dogdogcrazy says, as your relationship progresses, that will change, too, but for now, I agree it's the way to go.

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Jacqui Bedingfield

I am in exactly the same position as you, his daughter is 8 yrs old too. We've been together 4 years and I have always been ignored. Don't get me wrong, I don't want all the attention and I understand it's his only quality time with his daughter, but what I do want is for the occasional hugs and odd pecks on the cheek to carry on regardless. I am not jealous if his daughter we have a great relationship however him not showing his daughter that's it's normal for her daddy to love other people as well as her is now making her sulk when he does. Like you, I rarely get any love at all. I've told him this has to change and his love should be shared like in a 'normal' loving family environment !! P.s I used to be a single parent too but they've grown up. I always show love to my partner and it made my kids happy that I was happy!!

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In your shoes I would move on. After four years it is unlikely to change. Your only choices at this point are to put up with the status quo or to bail.

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:) Well. Surprise. Surprise. We are no longer together. I had to get rid of my picture because I forgot about this. My issue had nothing to do with her presence. My issue fell solely on HIM. HE was the issue and not the daughter. I wasn't pushing the integration of his dating/parental life. He did that and his reactions were that he wasn't ready. In fact, I wasn't ready for it and I should have put my foot down.

I felt like he didn't want her to go back and tell her mother. Who really was a Yeah, you know the word. THAT is was what pissed me off and I thank God that our relationship did not go any further. I should have been more honest with myself. But lesson learned.

If I were you, I would definitely sit down and think about this relationship with that man. What is it that you really want? What will happen if you two get married? Are you prepared for that? Four years is a long time.

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TALIA Montes

Hey Micki-Micki, how long after your conversation with you back in 2008 have you stayed together til the breakup and if you don’t mind me to ask what was the reason?

I’m having such a hard time on my own. My boyfriend of two years has two kids one teen girl of 15 years old and one 11 year old boy.

After one year of relationship with him we had couple of arguments and he broke up with me then about nine months later I’ve texted him again and we got back together.

he swears he loved me from day one and always involve me on his life with his parents and kids.

The problem is within those nine months we’re not together he tried to reconcile with the kids mom as per what he says because he really needed the kids yet after a month or two trying things didn’t worked out so he broke up with her... then from that til when I texted him was another three months.

after I’ve text he started to pursuing me and we’re back together for almost another year.

The problem with that is that the ex supposedly hates him and uses the kids to affect us.

three month ago we went to Disney world got Christmas and my ex posted on Facebook pictures of himself, his kids and I having fun.

From that almost instantaneously she started calling non stop and texting the kids to the point where the daughter started to cry and the father took the phone to read the texts and the mother was shaming her for being a traitor and having fun with Us and told them both to enjoy me because when they come back she wouldn’t be there.

After that day the kids changed, they’re no longer receptive to me, they are not disrespectful but they’re silent when I’m around and that makes me feel very uncomfortable and the sad part is I love them and I know they like me too but they feel like they’re doing something wrong if they’re talkative and nice to me.

My boyfriend told me that she is very vindictive and does not have feelings for him other than hate and she’s in a campaign to make his life miserable with any woman.

yet sometimes is hard to understand because he has her number blocked but when I check her block messages for the past six months at least twice a week she texts him things like, “hey how are you?” Or “I miss my family” or “ I wish you were here” or “why do you ignore me” or “why do you block me” or Pictures of the kids and them when kids where little and they’re together.

Mind you that she has a boyfriend for three years that as far as I know lives with her.

After the divorce she was with this boyfriend an year before my boyfriend and I met.

my boyfriend told me that when he asked to work things out with her she never left the boyfriend and even though my boyfriend and her got intimate couple of times in that period she was still with the boyfriend that she is until today.

For me that woman is a mess and she measures no limits to attack him even if she has to use their children.

His family love me to death, his moms birthday is the same as mine and we’re very similar and he always said if how much his ex never blend in and never like his parents including the mom.

i know he loves me and so does his family and that makes me happy but the other part hurts like hell and that makes me very confused on what to do to feel better.

if you some any insight please kindly help me shed a small light in this dark painful place I’m in.

And I would like to humbly apologize for my English and grammar as English is my second language. I hope you can understand my cry for help <3

God bless

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He may love you, and you may love him, but sometimes love is not enough.

Neither your BF or his ex really knows what they want. They are still very entangled with each other and probably will be for a long time to come, if not forever. They will be on again, off again with you and the ex's BF caught in the middle and none of you truly happy.

Seriously honey, move on. It will be hard, but you deserve better than a sometimes BF who will string you along until he gets his act together- which may never happen.

Don't be in a hurry to start a new relationship. That's the mistake your BF and his ex have made, starting new relationships before they're entirely finished with the old one, and making you and the ex's boyfriend miserable in the process. Be yourself for a while.

When you are ready to start looking again, entirely free of your (now ex) BF, be choosier. Choose someone who is not emotionally encumbered. It doesn't have to be someone who has not got children from a previous relationship (though that makes life much easier), but someone who is no longer see-sawing between his old and his new relationship. Don't look back.

I wish you luck and the happiness you deserve.

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Kim Aves

All I’m going to say is, as a bioless step-parent myself and one who has been so for approx.. 20 years, get ready for this the rest of your life if you marry this man: Your resources will be soaked up by him and his children and in return, you won’t even get a hug. You said it yourself, and I give you credit for seeing this so quickly: “He soaks up my resources and he can't even give me a hug.” This too, “He can't give 100% to me, but I am expected to give 100%.”

And, as awful as this sounds, “A book that basically said that I should bend over backwards and ignore my needs because step mothers are always in second place. The author proposed that step mothers get pregnant to have equal footing,” it is the truth, because that is the way most societies look at stepmothers--as sloppy seconds. It shouldn’t be that way, but between manipulative, controlling biomoms and weaker, enabling biodads, step-parents can get mega-screwed.

Basically, a couple gets divorced or separates. They can’t suck it up for their own children, but whomever biomom or bio-dad goes to marry, is certainly expected to suck it up for someone else’s children, and time and time again too. Totally backwards.

Total BS about “give it time,” etc. You are correct, however, the love for a SO and the love for a child is very different. There should be no competition going on. However, what happens a lot is BFs or even husbands wind up treating their child more like a SO or wife, and their SO or wife, more like a child. This is what sets up the competition. Dad, for example, lets his child make adult decisions, like what to eat, where to sit, etc.; meanwhile, SM is expected to give in, more-so like a child would be expected to.

This is what you should be following, your brother and sister-in-law's relationship model. They have it right. Most others don’t. This is one of the most horrible POS I’ve seen, “Honestly every other weekend and Wednesday is not that much and you can put up with being a second hand citizen for few days.” Yep, let your BF or husband treat you like a 2nd hand citizen EOWE and Wed. Thus, he’ll be teaching his daughter to think of you and treat you like sloppy seconds too. A SM should never settle for such. If you can't be the #1 GF or SO or wife in your man's life, move on. You are better off by yourself.

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I commend you for presenting this all too common situation in such a way that really cuts through to the heart of the issue. Anyone reading this after all these years can still gain insight from your words. You nailed it when you said, "He can't give 100% to me, but I am expected to give 100%.” along with nailing it on every other thing as well.

As some posters pointed out, it is emotionally mature to look at things from the bio-dad's pov and to try to have some understanding for his position. It's also emotionally mature to realize when the bio-dad, whether intentional or not, is using you to compensate for his parental and relationship baggage!

I was in this same spot. As much as I didn't want to admit it, it was HIM who created the dynamic. He moved in with me and EOWE I was treated like the "child" from the era when children were to be seen, but not heard. She was treated as the adult. He said the same things to me about it being an "us" situation regarding his daughter, but his unilateral decisions said very clearly otherwise. As disappointing as it may be to come to the end of relationship you had high hopes for, it is less disappointing to be out of a situation where you are taken for granted. If you are a SO living this, please don't fool yourself into believing you are only taken for granted when the kid is around. It may seem like that, but ask yourself: "If he had true respect for you and the relationship, (not to mention respect for being a responsible parent) why would this be the dynamic?" That even one person thinks EOWE is not too much to be treated like a second class citizen represents the mentality that has helped make unhealthy, or should I say, non-existant parental boundaries the norm. Also, it may be good advice in THEORY to make yourself scarce and do your own thing during visitations, but in REALITY the outcome is often what you experienced... the bio-dad presenting being hurt and using the "for the children argument" because he thinks it's an argument that can't be refuted. Nope, all he is doing is using his daughter as leverage. He honestly may not realize he is doing it, but he's continuing with you what he and the bio-mom do with each other.

@Kim Aves, "Basically, a couple gets divorced or separates. They can’t suck it up for their own children, but whomever biomom or bio-dad goes to marry, is certainly expected to suck it up for someone else’s children, and time and time again too. Totally backwards."


"There should be no competition going on. However, what happens a lot is BFs or even husbands wind up treating their child more like a SO or wife, and their SO or wife, more like a child. This is what sets up the competition. Dad, for example, lets his child make adult decisions, like what to eat, where to sit, etc.; meanwhile, SM is expected to give in, more-so like a child would be expected to."


This is not responsible parenting and it makes me beyond frustrated that much of society equates this with "putting your child first". This is not putting your child first! It is setting your child up for failure by putting them in a position they aren't equipped to handle... to take over making decisions that are part of YOUR PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES. Putting your child first is drawing healthy boundaries that show them through example that love and support are achieved through respect, not overindulgence motivated by guilt or competition with the ex or current SO. Creating an environment where the SO (someone the bio-dad is in a situation with who he is SUPPOSED to care about and respect) is downgraded to elevate the child is unneccessary and nothing but a toxic example for how relationships (all relationships) are to be treated.

What really opened my eyes to the misguided notion of children first was when I noticed when not only my ex, but other bio-parents had opportunity after opportunity to "put their child first" on their own time, yet didn't. It was as if they used the current SO as their "proof" they were capable of sacrificing. Um, newsflash... This isn't a sacrifice. It's pretty easy to be generous with someone else's "money"! Personally, I got very tired of being treated as free currency.

What I'm about to write does not apply to all bio-dads. I say bio-dads because it has just been my personal experience. Some bio-dads may love their child, but they resent the responsibility of having to physically be the sole parent, even if only for a few days a month. They overindulge the child to deal with these feelings. It's as if you are somehow the piece of reality that reminds them that deep down they would rather have their focus elsewhere and not on their child. They internally rail against this. Sadly, you then become the scapegoat to shift the blame onto so they don't have to be honest with themselves.

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