She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to…Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions, about anything at all.
I have a dilemma and I don't know what to do. I am in a lesbian relationship. My girlfriend has a 10-year-old daughter and I am totally OK with that, because I love kids.
However, lately we never have any time alone. We’ve been together six months. During the first three months, she was making the effort to leave her daughter with a friend, babysitter, etc. at least once a week so that we could have our quality time. The three of us also did a lot of things together, which was also great.
However, in the last three months, she is always bringing her daughter with her, or saying that she cannot go out because she has no one to leave her with.
I have no doubts that she loves me and I love her. We want to spend our life and live together, but her behavior is confusing me and worrying me. I don't know that I can survive in a relationship where I feel that my partner does not see the need for our alone time and quality time.
We can't even discuss any matters because the child is always there, and, of course, knows nothing about "our relationship."
Please give me your advice. Am I being selfish or unreasonable? I am afraid to move forward and I don't want to make a bigger commitment before making sure whether this is the right person for me.
Dating someone with a child can feel confusing. I dated as a single mom for several years and I have seen firsthand how tricky it can be for the other partner to learn how to navigate the kid factor. The first and most important thing you have to remember is that the kid is just that… a kid, dependent on their parent for financial, practical, and emotional support. And there will be times that the needs of that kid are going to have to come first.
Things may have to move a little slower. You may not get to be with her whenever you want, and you should consider these points when deciding if this is the right relationship for you. I am not sure what your girlfriend’s situation is, but I know how hard it can be when you don’t have a Rolodex of people you can leave your kid with.
Also understand that your girlfriend, as a parent, has had to put her own needs behind her child’s needs for 10 years. So, you’re right, she may not have the same understanding of alone time as you do, because she doesn’t have that luxury. Yes, as parents we need to make time for ourselves and we need to make time for our relationship, but the reality of the immediate needs — that a child will often overrule what you may want from her, or what she may want.
That being said, it is totally reasonable to expect some private time to be set aside. I think you should talk with her openly and honestly about what your needs are. Perhaps you can work together at creative solutions for making alone time.
More importantly, you need to evaluate what she is capable of giving you and if that is enough for you. It wouldn’t be fair to either of you to pretend otherwise.
You expressed fear over making a bigger commitment moving forward. I think you need to take that pause and decide if what she can offer in a relationship is indeed what you want and need. There’s no point in making your relationship a public part of her daughter’s life until you do this.
So, to answer your more direct question: No, I don’t think you are being selfish necessarily — but what you want or expect from her may be beyond what she can give.
If you have a question for me about dating, sex, parenting, breakups, lilacs, friends, seahorses, The Velvet Underground, or anything at all, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo