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advice really needed - unexpected 'step-mother' situation

(67 Posts)
sianlou31 Fri 23-Oct-20 10:42:49

Hello all,

I wasn't sure where to post this and who to ask but I wonder if anyone could help.

I've been with my partner for around a year and a half. We don't live together. He has an 11 year old daughter who I haven't been introduced to yet as she took her parents split very hard and has only recently accepted that Dad might have a new girlfriend. We had planned to introduce me after Christmas.

Sadly her mother (partner's ex) died this week (unexpectedly, not going into details) and my partner is her sole carer now.

She obviously has to be his priority right now and I totally support this, but I am/we are left in the weird situation of me being with her dad, and have been for quite a while now, but to introduce me so soon now would be unfeeling and hard for her to accept having just lost her mum.
I can't be there physically to support him during the time because of causing the daughter hurt.

Additionally, my partner will always have his daughter at the house and at weekends now so we won't be able to meet up anymore without her there - which isn't a problem for me but I don't want to put the daughter in a uncomfortable or traumatic situation. I don't however want to end my relationship with my partner as I don't feel that way and want to make it work, including the daughter when the time is right.

Has anyone experienced anything similar and does anyone have any advice?

OP’s posts: |
Mischance Fri 23-Oct-20 10:45:10

I have not but send good wishes - I hope you will find a way to get this right for everyone.

Ohalrightthen Fri 23-Oct-20 10:49:40

Ah OP that sounds so hard. Does his daughter know about you?

Smallsteps88 Fri 23-Oct-20 10:51:02

What a hard situation. I think all you can do right now is take it a day at a time. It’s not the time to making big relationship decisions or discussing when DSD should meet you etc. Your relationship is the priority for you but obviously the DSD is the most important person to her father and he must act in her interests over yours. Certainly while they are grieving. Unfortunately it may mean changes to your relationship that you aren’t happy with but time will tell. It may work out well. Don’t panic. Take it a day at a time.

CloudyVanilla Fri 23-Oct-20 10:56:05

Wow what a shock for everyone. I was going to say go around in the evenings after bed time but I don't know if 11 is young enough for that.

I think it would be amazing for you to have the resolve to hold out til after Christmas (her first Christmas without her mother, poor thing) and keep supporting him. Could you both book off a couple of days a month annual leave during term time to spend time together when SD is at school?

Make sure dad starts to talk about you slowly (after Christmas) for a good while before introducing you. Her world must be upside down

It's so morbid to say but objectively, it's still an easier situation than if she had died while her and your dp were together. At least she is already used to dad not living with mum.

Best wishes to you all, sounds a difficult situation

oansyboo Fri 23-Oct-20 11:02:57

You sound lovely OP I think you're very respectful. Must be such a sad and awful situation to be in. I think your partner should just slowly introduce the idea of you being a part of his life to his DD and slowly introduce the idea of you being in DD life as-well. It will be very hard at first for his DD. I've never been in a situation like this but would think taking things slowly would be the best option so not to overwhelm his DD

sianlou31 Fri 23-Oct-20 11:38:47

@Ohalrightthen i think she knows her dad has a girlfriend or at least suspects. I know the ex knew and it's possible she mentioned something to the daughter I guess.

OP’s posts: |
Ohalrightthen Fri 23-Oct-20 11:42:11


*@Ohalrightthen* i think she knows her dad has a girlfriend or at least suspects. I know the ex knew and it's possible she mentioned something to the daughter I guess.

Hmmm has her dad ever spoken to her about you?

At 11, i would suggest he has a chat with her and asks her how she'd like to proceed. Would she like to meet you? Would she prefer to wait?

WooMaWang Fri 23-Oct-20 11:47:14

It might be worth working with a counselor here. It would be good for the bereaved child to talk to one anyway, and it might help you to find a positive way to introduce you at a time and pace that works for her.

What a terrible situation @sianlou31. It must be very hard for you.

lunar1 Fri 23-Oct-20 11:53:02

You are honestly looking at a very long time before he can start talking about you with his child in any meaningful way. Her entire world just fell apart.

I wouldn't make any decisions now, but you are looking at years not months. At 11 she is far to old for him to be sneaking you in after bedtime as someone else suggested.

You sound lovely, but you need to remember that your life is yours, and while your partner and his child have a long road ahead of them there is no responsibility for you to wait. Given what's happened she may never accept you, what if you spend years waiting and it still doesn't work out.

Enoughnowstop Fri 23-Oct-20 11:59:48

t 11, i would suggest he has a chat with her and asks her how she'd like to proceed. Would she like to meet you? Would she prefer to wait?

You would say to a child who has just lost her mum and who has no clear knowledge of her dad’s relationship with the OP whether she wants to meet the OP? Hey, I know you’re mum’s just died but my life has been jogging along nicely and I have a lovely girlfriend. Do you wanna meet her?

Jesus wept,

MzHz Fri 23-Oct-20 12:03:40

I’d advise taking a break from the relationship and let your bf focus on his dd 100% for the foreseeable

Otherwise he’s going to feel torn and you’re going to feel anxious and frustrated with it all

This wasn’t the deal when you got together and your bf needs to find his feet in all this. You don’t need to add to this situation.

OhCaptain Fri 23-Oct-20 12:05:58

God what a sad situation.

Firstly, I’m glad to read that you and her dad didn’t rush to meeting her before.

I second a PP who suggested counselling. Not for this necessarily but just in general.

The plan was to wait until after Christmas anyway so I would stick to that and you and her dad will just have to sacrifice the time together.

After all, if you see a real and permanent future with him, a few months now is insignificant.

I know you want to be there for him but she is rightly the priority.

After Christmas (which will be so tough for the poor girl) he can maybe broach the subject of you and wait until she’s ready to suggest a meeting.

My heart breaks for her though. Please do encourage your boyfriend to engage a child and family grief therapist.

lunar1 Fri 23-Oct-20 12:08:12

Do people not realise that Christmas is 9 weeks away?

Ohalrightthen Fri 23-Oct-20 12:09:41


*t 11, i would suggest he has a chat with her and asks her how she'd like to proceed. Would she like to meet you? Would she prefer to wait?*

You would say to a child who has just lost her mum and who has no clear knowledge of her dad’s relationship with the OP whether she wants to meet the OP? Hey, I know you’re mum’s just died but my life has been jogging along nicely and I have a lovely girlfriend. Do you wanna meet her?

Jesus wept,

...obviously not like that, any version of this conversation has to be incredibly sensitive and carefully timed. I kind of assumed that went without saying, but evidently not!

My point is, at 11 the child is old enough to be included in these decisions. Her whole life is going to be different now, i think it's important that there's transparency and openness and communication- her dad having a secret girlfriend who she's kind of aware of but doesn't ever see or hear about is just an added layer of bizarreness that she doesnt need. The relationship isn't going anywhere and shouldn't be hidden, it's a part of the situation.

aSofaNearYou Fri 23-Oct-20 12:19:30

Do you have kids of your own?

I say this because in the early days with my DP, before I had met his son, I would have naively thought that if he had him full time I would have coped fine and it would have been worth it to be with him (he actually has him every other weekend). In hindsight, I know that I absolutely would not have coped and it would have been the wrong life for me. Being with someone who lives with their kids full time can be an extremely compromised life and my honest advice would be to get out now before you are in too deep. It's nobody's fault, it's just circumstances.

But I do know from experience that this will be very hard advice to take seriously in the stage you are currently at, but I would strongly advise bearing in mind that you won't even know if you are happy in this situation and get on with his daughter until after you have met her. Don't underestimate the impact him having her full time, not to mention the grieving process she will be going through, will have on your potential quality of life with him. Even compared to the average step child, her childhood is unlikely to be anything short of extremely challenging.

Tiredoftattler Fri 23-Oct-20 12:35:24

What a sad and tragic situation for both the child and your partner. It would probably be a good idea for both of them to see a counselor/therapist to help them through the grieving process and to help them figure out the new life situation.

You may find that the dad may need help with feelings of grief and loss that he did not expect to feel.

Stepping back and giving them both time may be the best thing that you can do for them and your relationship.

Meeting dad's new girl friend may not be something that this child is ready for any time soon and your partner will need time to transition from part-time /weekend dad to full time parent.

Time and patience will by your allies in this sad situation.

MyCatHatesEverybody Fri 23-Oct-20 12:59:52

I echo @aSofaNearYou's post and also agree with lunar1 that you'll likely be looking at years rather than months before you can progress your relationship further.

I'm very much of the opinion that children shouldn't get to decide if and when their parents move on but this is an exceptional situation. A year and a half was already a more than adequate timeframe for introductions to have happened so by this awful situation occurring not only will that clock be reset with regard this girl's "readiness" to meet you, I can imagine it'll be an even longer wait now.

From a purely selfish point of view I'd walk away for your own sake let alone for your DP and his DD - step parenting is bloody tough even when all parties are on board let alone in the circumstances you've found yourself in. You're in for a whole world of pain if you stay.

Magda72 Fri 23-Oct-20 13:23:50

I also echo @aSofaNearYou @lunar1 & @MyCatHatesEverybody.
@sianlou31 this is an awful situation for all in involved & unfortunately the fact that she wasn't even used to the idea of you (which imo was ridiculous given you've been together a year & a half - but that's a whole other thing) means that now her meeting you & accepting you is, as others have said, likely to take years.
I have kids and was with a man with kids and like @aSofaNearYou I would never have thought my ex dp's kids would have become an issue - given the extremely easy relationship I have with mine. I could not have been more wrong & I too would not have been able to cope if they had been full time. I didn't even cope with them part time!
This child will have a tough time for a while longer. She will be dealing with divorce & bereavement. Given that you don't know her & haven't even met her do you really want to get stuck into the middle of all that? You would literally be walking off a cliff edge into the unknown.
I know this must be heartbreaking for you but honestly? I walk away from this.

Magda72 Fri 23-Oct-20 13:24:50

Apologies - don't know why some of that post went bold.

dontdisturbmenow Fri 23-Oct-20 13:43:49

I agree that he should tell her about OP, but that doesn't mean that he should push to make introduction to make it 3asier for him and OP.

He needs to respect her grieving and how long it might take for her to be able to let someone new in her life that won't be a constant reminder of her losing her mum.

It could be a few weeks or it could much longer but if he's a good dad, he won't put her under any pressure.

Horrible situation for you OP just having to wait, not knowing how long. It must be so tough after 18 months together.

Stantons Fri 23-Oct-20 13:50:33

You poor poor thing what an awful situation to be in, hugs to you.

I understand you won't want to hear this but I'm another echoing @aSofaNearYou and think you should step away unless you're looking for something very casual for the next 7+ years. In theory it sounds great taking it slowly then getting involved but his daughter will be there ALL THE TIME.

I'm writing this assuming you don't have kids but here are some day to day things you will need to think of and which will affect your relationship. There will be no sitting on the sofa holding hands, it's likely you won't feel comfortable sleeping naked or having sex, if you do its going to be silent ninja style. Meals will need to be planned around her. Want to watch TV? Tough it needs to be a child friendly programme. Want to go for dinner? You can't you need a baby sitter and even if you get one your boyfriend is going to be worrying. Night in on the sofa with some wine? Maybe but not too much wine because your boyfriend is a responsible adult. I could go on and on and the parents on here will think I'm awful but I'm just being honest about how your future could look and the exciting parts of your relationship aren't likely to be there for a very long time

Gazelda Fri 23-Oct-20 13:58:58

That poor, poor little girl. How heartbreaking.

You sound so lovely and caring OP, I'm sorry you are in this situation.

I think you need to back away. Let your DP focus on his DD.

Are her maternal grandparents in the picture? If so, it's vital that she continues to have a relationship with them, so maybe they'd babysit every now and then? You and DP could then meet up as friends to retain the contact in case there comes a point he feels it's right for you to be introduced. I'm not 100% sure this is the best idea for you though, what do other posters think?

THisbackwithavengeance Fri 23-Oct-20 14:08:27

Yes it's very sad for everyone concerned but I would warn the OP against waiting around for years for the magical "right time" like an OW waiting for her man to leave his wife.

OhCaptain Fri 23-Oct-20 14:14:36

I agree with OP not waiting around.

IMO it should be another year to two AT LEAST before any sort of meeting takes place. And then you're looking at 13/14 years old. And that is not an easy age for this.

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