Alternate Family ArrangementsStep Families

It’s Not Just About Me

I am really, really bad at relationships. I don’t know why, and for the purposes of this article, it’s not especially important. I think maybe it’s because of the type of guys I’m attracted to, but maybe it’s partially my fault. I don’t know. The one good thing to come out of my marriage (unless you count a new appreciation for what it’s like to be abused and denigrated) was my kid. My kid is awesome. He’s sarcastic and smart and loving. He’s me, but young. And a boy. He’s the most important person in my world.

So, since I had the kid, I didn’t date. Maybe I’d have sex here and there, but no dating. I didn’t want my kid dragged into it. Why let him fall in love for someone who was just going to leave me? That didn’t make sense. But then, one day, I met this amazing guy. He was from the other side of the country, so we slowly got to know each other. We flew back and forth a few times, and when I knew that it was serious, I let him meet my kid. And he and my kid fell in love as well.

When boyfriend moved out here, he helped me deal with ex-husband — the protection order, the police, the court system — all kinds of fun. His family was helpful, too. And boyfriend began to be a father to the kid. He wasn’t perfect, but nobody is, and he worked really hard on being a good dad. My kid, having a positive male father figure, grew in ways that I hadn’t been able to teach him.

Fast forward two years. Now, boyfriend and I are having problems, and we have to envision a future where we’re not going to be dating anymore. It’s awkward because we’re still living together and not dating anyone else as we’re figuring it out. And there’s still a chance that we’ll stay together and the “worst case scenario” won’t come to pass. But there’s also a chance that we will break up. And this is the problem.

You see, my kid thinks of him as his dad. He’s the only father my kid has known for the past two years. And boyfriend wants to stay that way. He loves the kid and recognizes that he has a commitment to stay in the kid’s life. So when talking about the future, the “just in case”, boyfriend says that he will take the kid two days a week, have a room for the kid in his new place, and pay child support every month. There will be no legal papers saying this, but he feels honor-bound to provide for him.

I’ve looked into adoption without marriage, and I think it might be possible, but I’m not sure. I’d have to get a lawyer, and it would be expensive. Boyfriend would be happy to adopt him, though. And maybe that would be the best route.

The problem is that it’s so weird. It feels weird to have him around when he’s not sure of our relationship. I don’t know that I like seeing him every day, or hearing about how much fun he had out with his buddies the night before. But I want him here for the kid. And I still have hope that we can work it out.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Have you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who has parented your child and then you’ve broken up? What has happened? I’m so happy that boyfriend still wants to be a father to the kid, but I just don’t know how it will all work out. Readers, you are some of the smartest people I know — do any of you have the answer?

image by Lotus Carrol at Creative Commons

Tori Parker

Tori is a high school English teacher from Ohio (insert cheerleader kick here)! She is emphatic! She is skeptical! She is nifty! Her boyfriend says that they can get a potbellied pig someday and name him Bacon. She has a little boy whose pseudonym is SC, although he has recently asked that his name be changed to Henry. When asked for a comment to add on this bio, he asked, "Why do we sound like a bad '70's cop show?" So there's that.

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One Comment

  1. I haven’t been in your situation, but I do hope you are able to work it out.

    Actually, I was in a *similar* situation once. I have two older brothers, and every time one of them got a new girlfriend, they would bring her over and I would make friends with her. Then, they would break up, and I would never hear from her ever again. One time, my oldest brother dated one young woman for a couple of years, and we became really good friends, and when the relationship soured, we still stayed friends for a while. I think that was weird for my brother, but I didn’t really care. And I told my brothers to stop introducing me to girlfriend unless they were going to get married. (And in the end, his ex and I stopped being friends anyway, over something unrelated to my brother.)

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