“My boyfriend puts his child before me.”
The sentence no girlfriend wants to say out loud and yet it’s thought more often than we’d like to admit.
So, you met this awesome, amazing man and you find out that he checks all your boxes. As you spend more time together, you get to know each other better and you start thinking whether or not he’s going to take your dating to the next level.
Suddenly, he finally confesses that he has a kid, which wasn’t one of your boxes at all.
Despite your initial shock, you’re not 100% sure how you feel about it. You’ve never been in a situation like this and you haven’t processed what it means to date a man who has a child.
You figure that it shouldn’t be that hard. It’s like you’re dating an ordinary person, right?
Even though you aren’t sure what to do next, you can’t help but listen to your heart since you’ve fallen head over heels for him. You sweep all your doubts under the rug and continue dating him as if the situation is normal. You pretend that he’s just like any other guy, but deep down inside you know he’s not.
As time passes, your bond becomes stronger and you become really involved with him. But slowly but surely, you start to notice that he’s been putting his child before you.
Being in a romantic relationship with a man who has a connection with his child may be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The key is that there must be some compromises from both parties.
But I’m not saying you need to break up with him just because the situation makes you feel like you’re the third wheel and an outcast who’s failing to join someone else’s family.
My boyfriend puts his child before me. What should I expect when dating a father?
If you’re new to dating a man with a kid, then it might seem a bit overwhelming to balance between him and his child. You don’t want him to feel neglected by you, and at the same time, you want to form a connection with his child.
So, if you’re in a relationship like this for the first time, then you have to keep in mind the following things:
1. The mother will always be in the picture
I understand you’re scared that your boyfriend may leave you for the mother of his children, but you need to remember that she’ll always be in the picture as long as the kids are there.
He’ll mention her in your conversations more often than you’d like. It’s completely fine to have your doubts, but if he doesn’t show any signs he’s cheating on you, then you need to keep a cool head and not jump to any conclusions.
You’ll probably even interact with her in the future if you will be taking your relationship to the next level and decide to tie the knot.
So, if you’re a jealous and insecure type of woman who has trust issues, then you need to think about whether this is something you’re prepared to deal with.
This will be a true test, as you’ll go through a roller coaster of emotions before finally settling down with him.
2. The kids might feel threatened by you at first
It’s perfectly acceptable for kids to feel strange when you start dating their dad. You’re not just a stranger who’s entering their lives, they also see you as someone who’s trying to replace their mom – even though you’re not.
So, his child(ren) might not be happy about the idea, but that only lasts until they actually get to know you better. They’re also trying to stay loyal to their mom and don’t want anyone else to date their dad.
3. He’ll spend most of his time with his child
You can’t expect him to spend every second by your side. He’s a dad and he needs to dedicate most of his time to his child. He’s one of their primary caregivers and his child depends on him physically, financially, and emotionally.
You may think that it isn’t a huge problem, especially if he doesn’t live close to you. You just reckon you can adapt to the situation and it’s fine to not have his full attention all the time.
Truth be told, this isn’t something that will just go away easily. You won’t be able to brush it aside just like that.
You’re going to have to deal with his child forever because let’s face it, his kid will always be present in his life one way or another.
You can’t expect him to forget about his kids once they turn 18 and move out. So, if you plan to take things to another, more serious level, it means that his children will be in your life too.
4. He’ll be more mature than the rest of the guys you dated
One great thing about your boyfriend who has a child is that he’s more mature than men without kids. He takes life more seriously than the rest of the guys you dated because he has a huge responsibility toward his kid.
So, if you’re planning on committing to a man who has a child, remember that he’s likely looking for a woman who’ll one day take on the role of stepmom and take care of his kid when he’s not there. Also, he’ll expect you to love and support his child, just like he does.
5. You won’t be able to control every single thing in your relationship
He’s indeed your boyfriend, but he’s a dad first and there’s nothing you can do to change it.
It would be ridiculous to think that he’ll take you out every single night – he has a responsibility toward his child first. He needs to take care of his son or daughter before he plans a spontaneous getaway just for the two of you.
Even already scheduled dates may get canceled because his child got sick or the mom can’t fetch their kid from school.
Some things will definitely be out of your control and slightly frustrating when dating a man with a child.
My boyfriend puts his child before me, but don’t I have needs too?
It’s fairly easy to be angry at your boyfriend if he puts his child before you, especially if you feel like he’s neglecting your needs.
The child was there first
It’s awful to make your boyfriend choose between you and the kid because his child was there first.
His child will always be his top priority and part of his life, which is only natural, regardless of the fact that you’re dating. You need to understand that his kids are dependent on him and their needs have to come first.
Every parent will put their kids first before anything else, even when they start a romantic relationship with someone new.
You can form a meaningful connection with them as they get to know you better, but you need to remember that you’re the one entering their family. You’ll definitely need to make a few compromises for the relationship to work out.
Another thing to remember is to never try to compete with his kids. You’re an adult and they’re children who are dependent on their parents.
Let’s be honest and admit that he can’t put you and his child in the same category, period. Don’t ever compete with his boy or girl for his attention, otherwise, your relationship is sure to suffer as a result.
There has to be a healthy balance
It’s up to him to decide how he’s going to handle both of his relationships because it was his choice to date you, after all. That means he willingly made the decision, knowing that he’d have to take responsibility for the both of you.
And it’s okay if you aren’t his top priority. That just shows you that he’s caring and sweet, and wants what’s best for his children.
His family literally came first before you, but that doesn’t mean he’s unable to love you as well. If your relationship is healthy, then you’ll be his second priority, which isn’t bad at all, all things considered.
On the flip side, if he puts his kids’ happiness over your needs, then they’ll assume that’s what a romantic relationship is all about. And that can be harmful in the long term.
Kids learn from their parents, so if his children see that you two have a strong relationship and your priorities are straight, then it’ll show them what a loving companionship should be like.
Perhaps he sets aside dedicated time to give you his full attention and spend a child-free weekend with you, or anything to show his kids that being in a romantic relationship means quality time spent with the other person.
Those moments will also balance out all the compromises you’ve been making for the sake of your relationship. You should take advantage of this time you two have together and, just for a moment, not think about his kid.
Don’t lose your identity and who you are just because you’re your boyfriends’ second priority. Make sure he knows that you’re willing to compromise on certain things to accommodate his single-parent life.
What should I do if my boyfriend prioritizes his child over me?
I know what you’re thinking: “My boyfriend puts his child before me and I’m completely clueless as to what to do about it.” Well, luckily for you, there a couple of things you can do to improve your relationship with him and ease your mind a bit about not having all his attention for yourself.
1. See things from his perspective
While it was his decision to date you even though he’s a single parent, you made that decision too. It takes a lot of commitment and understanding on both ends for such a relationship to work.
So, next time you get upset about him not paying attention to you on dates, it could be that he’s having trouble with his child and you might not know about it.
Ask him if everything’s okay at home or if there are problems with his ex-wife.
Or perhaps you’re the one paying on your dates and you’re upset about it. But have you considered that maybe he had extra kid expenses to deal with, so you actually lifted the burden of paying the bill off his shoulders?
You need to remember those kinds of things, even if they’re stressful or annoying to you. Try to put yourself in his shoes because he’s also trying to balance the relationship between you and his kid.
Maybe he only recently got back on the dating scene and doesn’t know what he’s doing, so he’s learning it step by step just like you.
2. Be there for him when he needs help
If your wish is to succeed with this man, then you have to find a way to help him with his dad duties. By doing so, it’ll be easier for you to integrate yourself into their lives constructively, without appearing like an outsider.
So, instead of being angry at him next time he cancels your date because he has to pick up his kid from soccer, suggest that you go along with him so you can spend more time together. You could also accompany him when he goes shopping with his child or attends some important school event.
Show him that you’ll be there for him when he needs a bit of help. Prove to him that he doesn’t have to choose between his child and you. That he doesn’t need to give up time with his kid for you, but instead, you can be one big happy family.
It’s all about give-and-take with your boyfriend and finding a way to be part of his support system.
3. Find a way to make the transition easier for everyone
If you’re really invested in making it work with your boyfriend, then you have to consider your relationship with his kid as well.
Try to see things from their perspective as you’re the one who’s trying to be part of their family now. Find a way to make the transition easier for everyone. You have to prioritize his child even in the small things.
One of the worst mistakes is to be introduced to as a “friend” because the child will feel like they were lied to, which may develop into trust issues with you later on.
Let his child take the initiative and see where your relationship goes from there. Children are excellent at verbalizing their emotions, so you won’t have to guess what his kid is thinking about you.
How can I improve my relationship with him and his kid?
1. Make sure his child is comfortable talking to you
Whatever you do, don’t overdo it. Find a way to gain his/her trust and take it slow. The more his child trusts you, the more comfortable they’ll be talking to you.
One of the simplest ways to achieve that is to ask the child about their day.
Listen to them and don’t ever talk down on his kid. As time passes, they may open up to you and tell you about concerns they’re having with the rest of the family.
Either way, you need to gain the trust of his child if you ever wish to tie the knot with your boyfriend.
2. Spend time with his kid without your boyfriend
When you choose to spend more time alone with this child, it actually shows your boyfriend and his kid that you’re there for the long haul and won’t abandon them so easily.
It also proves that you’re interested in them as individuals and won’t back down when times get rough.
When you do spend your time with the kid, do things that they enjoy. Perhaps you can do join in on one of their favorite hobbies or take them to a place they’ve been eager to visit.
Be sure that you make the most of the time you spend together if your goal is to become a friend to his child, as opposed to treating them like a third wheel.
Remember, your boyfriend will always choose his child over you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t form a deep bond with them.
3. Don’t force or rush the relationship
Even if they’re just kids, you can’t force things. You have to let them take the lead, especially if you’re the one who’s looking to join their family.
There are several factors to consider when deciding the right time to meet his child.
You need to take into consideration the seriousness of your relationship and whether or not his child is emotionally mature enough for such a huge step.
It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, so take your time and figure it out together with your boyfriend.
If you’re unsure about meeting his child, then ask your boyfriend what he thinks is the best approach. He knows his kid best. If the two of you genuinely care about each other, you won’t have to deal with this on your own.
4. Treat his child like a grown-up
One of the worst mistakes that you can make is to treat his daughter or son as a child, even if they are. Don’t be patronizing and instead talk to them like you would an adult.
Your relationship will stand a better chance at flourishing, as they will see you as someone who’s serious about dating their dad.
Children can sense when someone is being condescending toward them. They hate being treated that way and feel more out of place in a grown-up world.
So be careful not to talk down to them. Treat them as your equal, and your bond will be deeper and stronger for it.
5. Always tell the truth when talking to his child
Kids are way more intuitive than we give them credit for. They always appreciate those who are honest and open to them, rather than those who tell them lies in an attempt to protect them.
Try to explain to his child that your intention isn’t to replace their biological mom in any way. Children are often very protective over their parents, so you have to be honest and tell them that you’re not planning to hurt their dad.
His child shouldn’t see you as a threat but rather as someone who’ll make a great addition to their family.
As I mentioned before, the most important thing is to gain their trust.
6. Give his child space and time to acclimate
One of the crucial things you’ll have to learn is to know when to stop bothering his child. If they don’t feel like talking to you right now, then you should give them space and time to adjust to the situation.
It’s important that they lead the relationship. By taking this route, not only are you affording his child the opportunity to go at their own pace, but your boyfriend will also realize that you can be part of their family.
If your boyfriend is putting his child before you, you don’t necessarily need to sacrifice or neglect your relationship with him. Instead think about setting healthy boundaries, so that both of you feel happy and fulfilled.
Talk to him and let him know how you’re feeling about it. Try to negotiate your time together and don’t be afraid to open up to him.
At the end of the day, you’re trying to build a romantic relationship with HIM. You fell for him because of the connection you two have.
The worst mistake you could make is to let that get buried under unspoken resentment or unfulfillment.