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New Beginnings :
Girlfriend staying close to ex's children

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 Hobbyist (original poster member #55532) posted at 4:06 PM on Monday, June 27th, 2022

I've been dating someone for a couple of months, it's going really well, except recently I found out something I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on. She dated someone on and off for a few years, and he has 2 kids (preteen boys) that he has full time. They lived together for a brief stint during the peak of COVID (for quarantine convenience is my understanding). They've been broken up for ~6 months. She intends to maintain a relationship with his kids - taking them to the zoo, park, school shopping, etc... Maybe not things weekly, but every couple of months seemed like what she described.

This makes me uncomfortable. Like, why would she be blurring the boundaries with her ex by being a pseudo-motherly figure to her ex's kids? When I've gone through break-ups in the past, the break-up was all inclusive - parent and children. It's not like I'd completely shun them, I'd be friendly if I saw them, but my part of that relationship is done, and I didn't see a need to continue to bond with the kids separately from the now ex/parent.

And, we both have kids of our own - wouldn't her new partner's kids be the ones she should be focusing on building a relationship with? We haven't introduced our kids yet, but that's coming, and I see that being a weird thing in the future.

Her intent seems good - she says they don't have a good adult figure in their life and she's trying to be that. But to me it just seems like she's trying to be a motherly figure for her ex's kids, which impedes blossoming a new relationship.

Am I being unreasonable by being bothered by this situation? Before I make a decision on what to do, I wanted to hear what everyone's thoughts are.

BH, 30's with 3 beautiful kids. Divorced in 2017 - SO much happier!

posts: 433   ·   registered: Oct. 8th, 2016   ·   location: USA
id 8742160
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 2:29 AM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

A few years bond with the ex's kids can vary according to how old they were during that period and how important a part of their lives she was. Since they are pre-teens it sounds like she was their mother figure in early grade school.

The biggest danger is not being enough NC with the ex that the love bond that exists doesn't fully wither away. I'm a person that believes most people do not have the capacity to love fully more than one person romantically. An added complication is she was only out of this relationship 4 months when you started dating. I'm not sure that this was enough time for her considering she considers his kids part of her family. Combine all of the above and this doesn't necessarily make her a wayward person, but she's probably not a good candidate for you with your history with infidelity.

posts: 1264   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8742247
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leafields ( member #63517) posted at 6:26 AM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

My mom really bonded with my step-sisters. We were stair steps, as in we were 4321 with me being the oldest, then a step, my sister, then a step. After the divorce, my step-sisters lost track until they were 18, then got back in touch with mom. Even after mom is gone, we keep in touch.

It's possible that over time, she'll either not have time to maintain the relationship or they become part of the family.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 1238   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8742265
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 11:02 AM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

I just had a good friend in a relationship for 7 years who had a BF that was in touch with an XGF b/c of the kid. He still maintained the relationship b/c he was the only father figure the kid had.

My friend was okay with that. It made sense.

Except for 7 years he carried on a relationship with both women. Lying to both of them.

I’m not saying this is your GF. She may be a very honest person and really caring. The better way to broach this is to ask what is the interaction between her and the dad? How old is this child? What happens when the dad gets a new GF? Will he still allow your GF to interact w/ the kid?

I understand your concerns. We all thought very highly of my friend’s BF. Turns out he fooled everyone.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12307   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8742277
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 1:39 PM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

It is an unusual situation. One I really don't have much experience dealing with. BUT...

What about you? What do YOU feel comfortable with? I understand you enjoy her company, but you're only a few months invested in her. With your past hurts, is this a situation that is going to be healthy for YOU in the long term? Right now, you're in the lovey dovey newness phase where there's some infatuation in play. It's not a red light in terms of having a relationship with her, but a VERY LATE YELLOW.

You're not going to be able to change her mind or make her stop hanging with the kids. She's a grown woman who gets to make her own decisions. Forcing her change her habits only tells her you don't respect her. And truly, it really wouldn't be fair for you or the kids if you tried.

Definitely share with her soon about your past experience and how the situation makes you deeply uncomfortable because of your prior betrayal. It may be time for a frank discussion about the nature of your relationship and the direction you'd like to head with it. If it's not sustainable for you in the long haul, the best thing for both of you may be to reconsider whether you stay involved on a more casual level, get serious or break it off.

There's nothing wrong with you stating your discomfort- it's actually a courageous and honest thing to do.

There is something wrong with stringing an unsustainable relationship along- it wastes time of both parties and usually ends in more pain that it would've had you been honest earlier.

Setting expectations now will save a lot of hurt in the future. What ever you decide (casual, serious, breakup), doing it in a mutual and open manner is only going to be good for both of you. You'll have good practice in honesty and boundary setting, leading to more self knowledge and self respect. She will feel honored and respected by you giving her the honest scoop. Being open will be good for everyone.

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Back at it again- bantering w the younger woman. Lied about blocking phone calls and deleted texts. Carried on with her.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

posts: 773   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8742289
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 Hobbyist (original poster member #55532) posted at 4:08 PM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

I don't remember the kids' exact ages but I'm guessing about 9-10 when the relationship started. I asked more about how he took the break up (she broke up with him) and she said he's pretty cocky and thinks she can't find anyone better than him. She said, "jokes on him, you're my perfect man", but this doesn't make me feel better - even if she's over him, it sounds like he's just waiting for her to wise up and come back to him (it's only been 6 months since the breakup). In terms of mutual boundary setting of both parties, it sounds pretty poor.

She knows it's uncomfortable to me and I've expressed that, and she knows we'll be talking about it again and that I'm thinking things through. I don't think I can handle it, personally - there are other things I left out that stack on this that make it hard for me to deal with. I don't think it would be kind to my heart to put myself in this situation as it stands today.

I just hate this because we seem very compatible on many levels (I know it hasn't been long, but still, I can see us building a future together). My hopes is she works to end that relationship - I will communicate to her that I'm feeling like it wouldn't be wise for me to continue because of that. I did tell her I'm not an ultimatum kind of guy, I dislike them greatly and if it ever came to that I would just end things, so it has to be fully her decision once she knows how it makes me feel. Given the other things I didn't talk about, I can't see anyone being cool with the situation, honestly (or at least, not anyone who is introspective and thoughtful like we both want), so to me it only makes sense for her to clean up past ties.

Especially if he's not over her and thinking she's going to come back to him... And she's still spending time bonding with his kids...

Or let's say he starts dating and meets someone he really likes - is the ex's new gf going to be cool with his ex gf just popping in to hang out with his kids?

BH, 30's with 3 beautiful kids. Divorced in 2017 - SO much happier!

posts: 433   ·   registered: Oct. 8th, 2016   ·   location: USA
id 8742299
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 10:15 PM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Especially if he's not over her and thinking she's going to come back to him... And she's still spending time bonding with his kids...
Or let's say he starts dating and meets someone he really likes - is the ex's new gf going to be cool with his ex gf just popping in to hang out with his kids?

That gives him way too much leverage over her. I can see the conversation when he does cut her off due to new GF. Like come back and I'll break up with NewGF. That's why most of us move on totally when it's over. It's generally best for everyone at least in the short term.

posts: 1264   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8742361
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Stevesn ( member #58312) posted at 10:46 PM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

I agree with you and what everyone is saying. They way I would put it is that

"I am not comfortable being in a relationship with you while you still have contact with a man (directly or thru his children) who has feelings for you. I care for you. I’ve fallen for you. But these circumstances are too dangerous for my heart.

I cannot be the one to deny you a relationship that you desire with this other family. So I think it’s best that I move on. I really wish that weren’t the case. But I’m afraid it is.

If your situation ever changes give me a call and if I’m in a place where I can consider trying again with you, I will happily give it another try.

I wish you well."

Something like that is best to say. Unfortunately she would have to prove that she is no longer In touch with them in order for you to feel safe to try again. If she truly wants you as a partner, she will make every effort to do that.

I wish you well.

fBBF. Just before proposing, broke it off after her 2nd confirmed PA in 2 yrs. 9 mo later I met the wonderful woman I have spent the next 30 years with.

posts: 3438   ·   registered: Apr. 17th, 2017
id 8742378
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 4:10 AM on Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

You don't want her to be the kind of person who makes a phony bond with the kids to get closer to their dad, then drops them like hot potatoes once she breaks up with dad.

She's a genuine person who cares about the kids she gets to know. That's a good sign. She's only seeing them every few months, not every week, so it isn't excessive.

Your jealousy is what seems to be problematic in this case.

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8742440
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 Hobbyist (original poster member #55532) posted at 4:27 PM on Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

It doesn't feel like a jealousy issue to me - I've certainly experienced that and know how that feels. It's more of an issue of where she chooses to spend her energy, potential bad boundaries with the ex, and not moving on. If she dated 5 guys with kids over the course of a decade will she be momma bearing a dozen or more kids? At some point, you have to let go of the past or it will get in the way of your future.

I'll talk to her, give it some time and see how it shakes out.

BH, 30's with 3 beautiful kids. Divorced in 2017 - SO much happier!

posts: 433   ·   registered: Oct. 8th, 2016   ·   location: USA
id 8742523
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messyleslie ( member #58177) posted at 9:41 PM on Thursday, June 30th, 2022

I don’t know if this relates to your situation but I will share that I think many of us on this site have different views and expectations than the general public about relationships post break up or divorce because of the trauma that we have had.

The guy I am currently dating was married for many many years before they divorced, and still gets coffee with his ex (they have kids so it’s often about that) and they go into each other homes and even traveled and stayed in the same rental home (with all their kids and some extended family) for a family event that was out of state.

It seemed weird to me because if they can hang out and they don’t hate each other and they can even travel together then why aren’t they still married? But it was just that neither was happy and even after years and years of trying and counseling they just determined that they weren’t meant for each other and neither wanted to continue to work so hard on something that wasn’t wonderful or fulfilling or whatever. They don’t hate each other and he has said they are much better as co parents than they ever were as spouses.

I am not sure I would stop if I saw my ex dying on the side of the road and literally seeing his name causes me hurt. Our marriage was traumatic and abusive and I cannot imagine a time ever where i would want to speak to him more than absolutely required.

So all they to say, I think it doesn’t have to be you are done with a relationship and you move on and that person no longer exists in your universe. It is possible to decide you don’t want to be with someone because it’s not right but that they are still a good person and it would feel weird to simply stop caring about them and especially stop caring about children that you developed a relationship with. I cannot ever fathom that in my relationship history but i think in the end it’s probably the healthier option.

posts: 280   ·   registered: Apr. 6th, 2017
id 8742753
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