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dating boundaries and fears

(9 Posts)
sleepylion Tue 15-Jan-13 20:30:22

My daughter is almost 5 and I so far seem to be attracting men who want to make a life with me and my daughter almost instantly. I seem to meet them together with her from the offset, so it then becomes hard to seperate our relationship. I'm embarking on my 3rd relationship and I'm always suspicious of their intentioms towards her because I'm paranoid of abuse. I hate feeling this way! But the statistics say that a child of a single parent is 22 times higher at risk of this happening than a child living with his or her biological parents.
The pattern with a new boyfriend is that they insist on seeing us pretty much most of the week, buy lots of presents, offer to do shopping, try to make my life easier. But I read into it that they are trying to decrease my independancy. I certainly don't put it out to them that I am desperate or depressed. I have a good solid bond with my daughter. They also always put me under pressure to stay the night. I say no and am very firm about it being a boundary, but I feel like I am always put into a corner so that I have to repeat the boundary to them and that makes me angry. I admit, I can't afford to go out much, so maybe thats not helping. I find it so hard to get away from this trap. The ideal would be to build up a relationship seperately, but thats hard when a man wants to share mealtimes, cooking, shopping, story reading, playing, daytrips etc, because of course, those are things we all miss doing with someone else! It seems to be men of around my age (early 40's) and they seem to have a hunger for a family set-up. But my daughter and I have our routines to think of and also the relationship I built up with her is to precious to throw away to someone that I haven't totally learnt to trust. I'm also incredibly protective over her emotions in case of loss. My ex and I split up a year ago and it took her 9 months to get over it. I explain all of these things (except the abuse part) to someone new and they seem to be listening. But I can feel that the empathy is really not there and they are not ulimately caring about or seeing the long term impact these things would have on her and on me. I don't blame them for that as it seems to be the case with all the men I met so far. They try to give the impression that they understand, but they just can't see the overall picture like I can and cannot also anticipate the consequences if it went wrong, like I can.
I sometimes get scared that I will never trust a man with my daughter, because I'm so terrified of what they may do to her if I put her in their care. She is very open to male company and becomes attached almost immediately. She has never had a father in her life and I know she badly wants this so it pulls me into the trap even more as I can see what she's getting out of it. Men enjoy being in her company and I can see why that would be as she's a confident, funny, energetic and outspoken character - so it seems the pattern is that men are drawn to us both as a unit.
I feel for my daughter as she is growing up without a fixed male figure in her life and she gets so much from male energy. Its such a different energy that I can't provide. I worry that she will one day be craving it so much that she will lust after it all too much and get into trouble.
I am so alone in all this. Despite having set up my own single parent group, these issues seem to be quite far off the agenda of most mums. Most of them seem to feel it would be ideal to have a man around so much and they can't see my point.
If anyone is reading this I would be glad of any advice you may have and to know of your experiences and how you deal with things. Do you have similar boundaries and fears and how do you put them into perspective?
Thanks and power to us all!

justj Mon 21-Jan-13 22:47:20

I totally get what you mean.

I am far to recently single to even think about a new man but it is one of main concerns if I ever do decide to look. You want someone to share things with but worry about bringing a man into a house with your kids. and how can you be honest with someone and say I like you but I can't trust you. And how on earth do you tell a man who is trying to get on with your kid(s) because they are doing the right thing and seeing you as a package and one who is trying to get in for sinister reasons.

Then again I got very close to my ex bfs kids and he would have thought it odd if I hadn't. I love them to bits and being a part of their lives has been a total privilege. So there is no reason to assume that some men don't feel the same way.

The question is how do you tell??

I'd be suspicious of anyone who was too keen to get to know my kids but not very happy with someone who didn't like them.

Sorry I've got no solutions to offer but I do at least think the same way. So you are not alone.

niceguy2 Tue 22-Jan-13 10:56:24

I think it's so sad that some women think like you both do. I'm thankful in my experiences it's the minority.

The media has a lot of responsibility for this for constant coverage of child abuse as though there's a peado lurking in every corner & doorway. And every man is a potential child abuser.

The fact is that child abusers are most likely to be related to the child. And mercifully the chances of being abused is very low.

I think it's incredibly sad that the default position is every man is a potential abuser until somehow proven otherwise. And any kind acts are not seen as such but as suspicious or sinister.

Temple247 Tue 22-Jan-13 12:49:11

It would be sad if mothers did not put a single thought into the safety of their child. As a mother with the sole responsibility of the welfare her children and as the sole protector, it would be madness not to vet and double vet anyone with that close access to her child.

What stand out from the post is:

that they insist on seeing us pretty much most of the week, buy lots of presents, offer to do shopping, try to make my life easier..... They also always put me under pressure to stay the night I say no and am very firm about it being a boundary, but I feel like I am always put into a corner so that I have to repeat the boundary to them and that makes me angry.

That said the men might have all the right intentions but forcing something before time doesn't show good character neither for a woman not a man. To sleepylion, you shouldn't have to repeat your boundaries over and over again. Not all men are this pushy. If they are this pushy now, just imagine how pushy they might be further into the relationship.

First priority is you and your girl. Don't let anyone overstep your boundaries. Even if you might a bit too sensitive about potential abuse, then I would advice to resolve this matter first i.e. by talking to friends or someone professional rather than let yourself into something you are not ready to. If not, then it is doomed to fail regardless.

Hugs xoxo

MagicHouse Tue 22-Jan-13 20:49:22

I thought the same as Temple247 - it does stand out from your post that the men you are seeing are overstepping boundaries and putting you under pressure. I would always listen to your instincts, because if a relationship is right then you can go at the pace you want, and someone trustworthy will understand that. I would say that you do sound very protective of your daughter, but also following your instincts and listening to your gut feelings. If it all feels too rushed and pressured then it's not right.
I think that it takes a long time to build up trust with anyone, so take all the time you need to develop a relationship, and call a halt if you feel that someone doesn't respect your feelings and wishes.

equinox Wed 23-Jan-13 05:45:21

I do hear what you are saying. I had a single parent friend (whom sadly I have lost touch with since I moved away) who was fully aware of these issues and what she did was leave her current boyfriend slowly with her daughter more and more to gage his behaviour. Luckily her relationship with her daughter was strong enough so that she knew she would disclose had anything inappropriate taken place.

In addition you could always go to the local womens centre to discuss these issues they are bound to have some helpful insight.

I do hope this helps you.

UnbridledPositivity Wed 23-Jan-13 20:55:36

You sound really sensible. It's great that you are strong enough to insist on your boundaries. I agree that it is much better to get to know each other for a while before introducing children. I haven't dated anyone since I became a single parent, but this is definitely something I would be worried about.

Yes, it is sad that women think like this, niceguy, but when your chid's safety and welfare is completely in your hands, you have to consider that every man you let into your life could be a potential abuser. It is not just blood relatives who are commonly the abusers, it is also often a parent's new partner. Abusers do target single parent families, and it is better to be safe than sorry. If you find a reliable trustworthy partner, then great.

Apart from any abuse issues, pushing your boundaries and not taking your concerns on board is not something I would want in a partner. You have your life with your DD and you have to ensure that it is stable for her. This takes priority over anything else, and a new boyfriend who might not necessarily know how children 'tick' and what's important in their upbringing should not make you change things just because that's what he wants.

I'm not sure I can answer your questions as I am still looking for a way to put these fears into perspective. Those statistics are worrying.

How did you meet your boyfriends? Is there a way you could meet people without involving your DD straightaway? My plan so far is to start off slowly and meet people when DD is with her dad/friends/at nursery. But eventually you get to the sleeping over stage, and as I have DD every night (at my insistence), I'm not sure how I would solve that. But I wouldn't be happy with someone demanding joint activities.

minkembra Wed 23-Jan-13 21:45:07

niceguy, when I get asked to do CRB checks before I work with kids I don't complain or think that it is sad that organizations who are responsible for kids welfare think the checks are necessary. I accept it because it is necessary because some people are abusers. not everyone, not most people but some people.

Chandras Wed 30-Jan-13 23:00:14

Frankly, try not to involve your child from the beginning, even in the very likely case they are not abusers, children get very hurt at seeing them leave. Only introduce new people to her if you are sure they are there to stay. Much more so if the tendency is for them to spend a lot of time at your house.

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