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Conflicts in Dating a Single Dad

I am in a situation where I have been the patient understanding partner but am at a point where I am considering leaving the relationship because of the kid. I think first is the issue of discipline. My partner, to me, is very inconsistent in his discipline being simultaneously too harsh and lenient (ex. “I’m going to get my belt if you don’t listen and I am not giving you anything to eat, now come here and give me a hug. Want to watch TV?”). I do not directly address this in disagreement but he can tell from my facial expression that I am not with this. So he gets extremely defensive. All I can say is that I am allowed to have thoughts and those thoughts can disagree. But he wants me to agree with him and I just do not. There is also a jealousy issue. I bought his kid a stuffed animal and my partner says “it’s a good thing that I didn’t buy a stuffed animal like I was going to cause then we would have to see whose gift he likes more”. On Christmas day, when kid opened up a guitar he received from his dad and couldn’t put it down, his dad yells “He likes my gift the best. I win!”. The incidents that I mentioned above were minor but there have been really big arguments that have ensued from either in which my partner’s go to excuse for yelling and screaming is that he is the parent and I need to stay in my lane. Just to clarify, once me going out of my lane involved me getting a lint roller to remove cat hair from his son’s pjs before he put it on. I had matching pjs and the plan was that me and his kid were going to wear the pjs and have a movie and popcorn night. His dad said that he couldn’t wear the pjs because he needed to get the cat hair off first. He was in the middle of cooking so I went to do it. I was yelled at for trying to undermine his authority because he already said that his son was not to wear those pjs at all (that was not what he said). I honestly feel it was a ploy to ruin pajama night. I am noticing that part of the problem is that my partner doesn’t want certain things getting back to the baby mama for fear she will use their kid as leverage and not allow him to see his son. After over a year of dating, I am beginning to just feel resentful and emotionally alienated but feel like I am not allowed to have those feelings because I am not the one with the kid and that kids are supposed to come first.

How your boyfriend is with his son is characterological, not situational. You are describing his character, not his condition. You say he is inconsistent, insensitive to your needs, dismissive of your attempts to help, competitive, and fearful of the child’s mother. Do you really want to be with someone who consistently creates a condition where you are resentful and alienating?

If you are going to stay in the relationship then a meeting with a family therapist is essential. If your boyfriend says he isn’t interested in changing, then you may want to consider moving on.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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