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LOVE LETTERS

I’m not my girlfriend’s dream guy: I’m divorced, older, and have a kid

She loves my child, but hopes to have a “conventional” relationship without having to become a stepmom.

Globe Staff

Need relationship advice? Submit your questions for Meredith here.

Q. I am a divorced man with a 5-year-old. I met my girlfriend shortly after my divorce. The divorce was protracted, acrimonious, and expensive — which took a toll on my new relationship. My girlfriend loves my child and vice versa.

We share great chemistry and enjoy one another’s company immensely. We’ve been together four years now and have talked about a future together. The problem is that she isn’t elated about my past: that I’m divorced, older than her prior boyfriends, and have a child. She dreams of having a “conventional” relationship without having to become a stepmom, and she fears the scorn that her friends and family will dole out to her once they find out that we are planning a future.

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I told her that I can’t change those basic facts, and that there’s no guarantee that her “dream” relationship would be better. We bicker, but no more than other couples. Still, I am acutely aware that her feelings about the matter haven’t changed. We intend to move forward and build a life together, but I’m anxious if we’ll get there — or how long she will stay if we do. Do you have any advice or observations?

– Unconventional

A. Listen, you might be right. Maybe her dream relationship would be less perfect — and less interesting — than what the two of you have together.

It’s also possible that she would be much more comfortable with someone whose past resembles her own. She might actually love feeling like she’s starting from scratch with someone when it comes to marriage and kids.

Really, I have no idea. Neither do you.

All I know is that you need someone who can commit to you without feeling deeply conflicted about it. Someone who’s pretty sure that joining you in this life is worth whatever discomfort that comes with it. In 10 years, when this 5-year-old is 15 and in a bad mood, it would be great if your partner can say, “Yeah, I get it. And I love being here anyway.” Your family life will evolve, but you and your kid are a pair. You don’t want to commit to someone who’s not all in on that concept.

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It’s tough advice, but if she has this nagging feeling that this life is not what she wants, both of you should listen to her gut. She doesn’t want to be a bad partner, and you don’t want to have to keep persuading her to stay.

As you talk about all of this, tell her what kind of partner you want. One who can be excited to stick around. One who feels good about explaining this to friends and family. If she can see that happening, great. If she knows it never will, don’t lobby her to stay. At that point, it would be about next steps and how to make the unraveling of this understandable to your child.

– Meredith

READERS RESPOND

Find somebody who doesn’t view your child as a burden. SOMEWHEREINMA

Whaaaat? If you were someone else, you’d be perfect? If she can’t accept you as is, let this one go. WIZEN

My observation is that she’s not the catch you think she is. BIGSIGH


Find the latest season of the Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show. Meredith Goldstein wants your letters! Send your relationship quandaries and questions to loveletters@globe.com. Columns and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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