Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dating a dad means getting real: Abandon your kid-free fantasies
Anonymous: I'm a child-free woman who has been dating a divorced, devoted father for four years. His daughter is very cute and sweet, but I am generally ambivalent about her. I'm not interested in the mommy role.
We've crafted our lives so we spend time together generally when she is with her mom, which is 50 percent of the time.
I love him dearly, and the kid thinks I'm very cool. The time I spend with her is pleasant for all, but, ultimately, I have little to no interest in his daughter. Quite frankly, I prefer when she's not around.
Is it unrealistic to think we can continue to have a compartmentalized relationship in which he has his life with her, I have my life with him, and never the twain shall meet?
Carolyn: Obviously the twain do meet, or else you wouldn't be spending time with the daughter at all.
If you're saying that you're fine with this minimal contact, and if you don't ever want to become a stepmother, then that's realistic, as long as the father is also interested in keeping his life compartmentalized, at least until his daughter is well-established in her own home, ideally by her early to mid 20s.
I also hope you've been honest about not wanting to be a mom, and that you are open to the unusual arrangement of being in a relationship in which you and your partner maintain separate homes indefinitely, and you expect to see him only when his daughter is at her mom's, without complaining or pressuring for more.
If you aren't open to that arrangement, then you're not respecting your place in the back seat to this child.
And if you are open to it but haven't said this clearly, do so. Be very specific.
Just watch your phrasing — you have no interest in being a mom, versus little interest in the child, which is pure Cruella. Unless, of course, you meant that, in which case, be honest.
Also, realize that even after the daughter grows up and moves out, her dad will still be her dad, and there's no magic point where you get to monopolize his time.
Anonymous: Thanks, I have been totally honest with him about my lack of interest in being "Mommy." We maintain separate homes, and occasionally we'll do an outing with his daughter, or I'll come over when she's there. He seems to accept it, and I certainly accept it.
I was just wondering if we were having some sort of wishful thinking or delusion or folie a deux that this lifestyle was even possible. She's 10 years old now. Just seven more years to go.
Carolyn: Okay, but — if you can swap out "he seems to accept it" for "he fully accepts it," then you can say, "woohooo." But even then, you might want to look in the mirror and note that you just said, "woohooo," at the idea of nudging a now-10-year-old girl out of her home.
Also, when she's 17 years old, she's going to need her father quite a bit; it's just more subtle as kids get older. As I said: Think mid 20s, and think of it as the time she's on her own, not out of her dad's life. One word: grandchildren.