*Posted anonymously to protect those mentioned*
Dating and me have never got on smoothly. I would love to be one of these serial daters who can switch from one guy to the next without too much strife or heart ache. But it would seem that drama is my shadow, following me wherever I venture. Although I often tell myself that this time I won’t fall too quickly, the final act of our fleeting courtship is normally me sobbing into a glass of red because yet another man turned out to be a complete waste of time.
I’ve dated guys older than me, younger than me, in a similar industry, in a completely different line of work, guys who share my interests and guys who are my polar opposite…and yet I’m still yet to work out the formula. If anyone knows what the formula is, my DMs are most certainly open.
One type of guy I never could have foreseen myself dating was a single father. I suppose my immature, younger self wanted a fairytale which did not include me in the role of wicked step mother. However, when my ex-boyfriend came into my life, I fell for him so hard that I wasn’t willing to forfeit a potential future with him simply because there was an extra small character in the fairytale.
I say ‘small character’ – the fact is, dating someone with a child makes a huge difference. That is not to say it is a bad difference, but it does most definitely have an impact. Here are the things I learned:
You will always come second
How could you not? If he is a good father, then their child will be their number one priority and whilst you may be number two, you won’t come anywhere close. For me this was a confusing attribute, because on on the one hand I was of course upset that not more of him was available to me, but on the other hand I would not have thought him to be a good person at all if he did not prioritise his child. I wanted him to put his child first, but at the same time it upset me that the by-product was me foregoing the amount of affection or attention that I sought. There could be no truer example than this of a lose-lose situation.
I am mentally still very young
I have thought of myself as a mature 23-year-old. I have a decent job, I can pay my own rent, I can buy my own food, I put fuel in my own car. I even have savings! But, being with someone who has such a huge responsibility (ie keeping another human alive) made me realise that I am, myself, still so young. I live my life not having to consider half of the things he considers. He wasn’t that much older than me in age, but mentally he was a decade ahead of me.
Their ex comes with the package
I wasn’t jealous of his ex at all, their relationship was done and dusted before I came along and I had no inkling whatsoever that any romantic feelings remained. But still, having an ex around is difficult for the new partner no matter how confident in your relationship you are. When you add in a child who they share, that takes the discomfort to another level. We were friendly and respectful of one another, but it would be dishonest of me to say that I didn’t wish she wasn’t in our lives. I’m sure she felt the same way about me. But she was always going to be around, to the point where we would have to run our plans by her to ensure they didn’t clash with any plans she had which would mean my boyfriend needing to care for his daughter. I was jumping ahead, but in the back of my mind I knew that any sort of major life decisions we took together would rotate around her. If I wanted to move away for work, that probably wouldn’t be possible because she would be here which would dictate where the child would live. Even with such an amicable relationship, the ex’s presence in my boyfriend’s life was by far one of the biggest obstacles to our relationship succeeding.
That I’m nowhere near ready to be a mum
I know I want children and previously I had thought that wouldn’t be too far in the future. But being in a relationship with a parent and seeing the way it turns your life completely on its head has woken me up to the fact that children are a long way down the road for me. It shocked me just how little I could see myself doing those types of parental things, even though I want children myself. Again, it reminded me just how young I actually am. Even to the point where my boyfriend had to remind me to refer to the child as ‘she’ and not ‘it’.
That some guys are amazing fathers
My ex-boyfriend is just that, an amazing father to his daughter. He should be the poster boy for single fathers, because there was not one part of his child’s life that he did not want to be a part of. Having been hurt so many times by time-wasters, I’d become so cynical when it came to guys and their ability to simply be decent human beings but seeing what a great father he was restored my faith in men and their ability to be emotionally mature. He was great, but unfortunately the logistics were against us.