Hey everyone! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I’ve read every single reply and I got very good advice from them, especially from those of you who are stepmothers. You know exactly what I’m going through and it helps to see that my feelings are pretty normal as far as these types of relationships go.
On Thursday night, my BF and I had a very long talk. I started by letting him know exactly how I feel about the whole thing. I told him how I felt like he was always putting me second. The examples I talked about in my OP were only a few that I could think of at the time I wrote this, but there were many other situations where I felt like he was putting me and my feelings on the back burner, and before we talked, I made a list of just some things I thought of so I remembered and could pinpoint them when we talked instead of just making a general “I feel second” statement. I also told him how I came here to write this, hoping for some guidance and I showed him my post and the replies. It helped both of us see different things. I, for one, need to do a better job of connecting with his daughter and also communicating with him when I feel like he’s not putting my feelings into consideration. He said that he needs to do a better job of making sure both me and his daughter feel equally loved and important to him, and he apologized if he fell flat on that with me.
I brought up the fact that maybe I should wait to move in, but we ultimately decided that we’re going to go forward with it, because we both want this for the long haul. I told him that after all of the things I said, such as how I feel second and I don’t really enjoy things like his daughters extracurricular activities and helping with homework and stuff like that, that if he was reconsidering me moving in, or even reconsidering this relationship, to let me know and that I would completely understand. He said he doesn’t want this to end and that he’s never actually been this happy, so he’s going to do whatever it takes to make this work. I think it really opened up his eyes to certain things, such as what thepinkflamingo said regarding how his daughter pulls us apart when we’re holding hands or cuddling, and how her DH would say “no, daddy’s holding Danielle’s hand, but you can hold the other one”. My BF didn’t realize that by his “laugh it off” reaction, he was actually hurting my feelings and he said he will now start doing something similar and if she sits between us, we’ll all cuddle as a family, or if we’re holding hands and she pulls us apart, he will say “no, daddy’s holding balloffire’s hand right now. You can hold my other hand.” He finally realizes he needs to be the one to step in and set those types of boundaries, and we spent a lot of the weekend discussing what those boundaries should be.
Now that I’m moving in, we need to look at it as “our home” and make that clear to his daughter instead of her thinking “this is where me and daddy live and his girlfriend just happens to be here”. I think the main reason I would always go off on my own was because I never felt like it was “my place” because I didn’t live there, so now we’re going to have a talk with her, letting her know that we’re going to be a family now.
Unbeknownst to me, B told me that he actually went out and looked at rings not too long before this whole thing blew up. He didn’t buy one, because he could tell that I wasn’t 100% sure with everything that was going on. He also said that he was feeling like I was giving him mixed messages, and that was fair. Whenever his ex had his daughter, things were great and we would talk about the future and just honestly have the best time just being together, even if we were just sitting around doing nothing. But the weeks when he had her, he noticed I seemed to be withdrawn from the relationship, and admittedly I was, like when I would leave the house or go upstairs when his daughter wanted time with her dad without me there. We talked about how we need to be better about planning things ahead of time, so that maybe they can have one “date” a week where it’s just them, and the rest of the time should be built around making us a family.
I asked him to call his ex and find out more about how their daughter acts around her boyfriend. They talked for a little while and then I got on the phone and told her some of the behaviors that were going on when I was around, and she told me that their daughter acts the exact same way with her boyfriend. They have been together for about 2 years and he moved in after they were together for 7 months, and the daughter still behaves this way. She said she’s not really sure how to handle it so they just kind of let it go and that her boyfriend just accepted that the reason she’s like that is because she sees him as someone taking her fathers place and not as a new family member. So on one hand, I’m scared that even with me moving in, she will still not want me there, but on the other hand, I’m relieved that it’s just not me as a person she doesn’t like.
BF and his ex stayed together until their daughter was 3 and then decided to split up. They weren’t married, but when they found out she was pregnant, he proposed and they tried to make it work, even though he said he was already unhappy a short while after they found out they were having a baby. But, all their daughter really knew was that mommy and daddy lived at separate houses and that she would take turns living at their houses. There really wasn’t ever anyone else in the picture. His ex did date someone not long after the split, but he was only ever introduced to the daughter as “mommy’s friend” and he didn’t spend much time at their house when the daughter was there. So this is her first experience with both of her parents dating other people, and she has no idea how to handle that, which is definitely understandable.
I’ve decided to start seeing a counselor about all this. My BF was more than willing to go with me, but I told him that I think I need to go alone, at least at first, and then if the counselor thinks he needs to come with me, we can certainly do that. Along with counseling and some of the resources some of the other stepmothers on this forum have pointed out, I think I’ll be in pretty good hands while trying to become a stepmother to this little girl and learn to love her as my own.