When you fall in love with someone, whether it’s a man or woman, you know they have their own lives and people who are close to them. You may start off thinking that your new partner is completely devoted and even obsessed with you – but then reality strikes. You realize that your partner has a life apart from you – and his life includes children of whom he has primary custody, which means he spends more time with them than he does with you.
You will always come second to his children, which is entirely natural. However, sometimes it can feel like he puts them first over you. Hence, in this article, we will explore why this happens and how you can cope with it.
What Should You Expect If You’re Dating a Man With Kids?
When you start dating a man with kids, you should not expect to become the number one person in his life immediately.
It is natural for your partner to prioritize his children over you – and this means spending time with them and focusing on them, which can leave you feeling like they come first and often even neglected and lonely.
Let’s take a look in detail at what you can expect if you’re the new woman in your partner’s life and find more information on how to date a man with kids.
He’ll Spend a Lot of Time Attending With His Kids At
Even if he sees his children regularly, you should expect him to spend a lot of time with them at home. This means that you will sometimes come second and also that he might prioritize their needs over your social life – such as arranging days out with the kids rather than spending some time alone together.
Be prepared for this. You will probably feel neglected and lonely – even if it is only temporary – but remember that this is part of dating a man with kids, and think about how much worse it would be if he had little or no contact with his family.
He May Be Exhausted After Spending Time With His Kids
You should not expect your partner to have much energy left after spending time with his kid(s).
If he has just spent the day taking them to school, doing activities with them, and making sure they ate dinner, he will probably be tired. Remember that you are not his priority when it comes time for him to rest or spend time with you. Allow him some space if this bothers you.
He May Miss Opportunities to Spend Time with You
As hard as it may be to believe at times, your new man does miss opportunities where he could have been spending quality time with you instead of out with the kids. If there were no need for him to spend hours helping his child (for example) cook a cake, then he would have preferred to be somewhere else – probably with you!
But that doesn’t mean he wants to be single. While he does miss spending time with you, he is also missing the presence of his kids. If that child lived with him, it would be a different story, but this man has no choice but to spend time away from them. It will not have escaped your attention that if his children are staying somewhere else, it means there is space for you in his life.
There Are a Number of Things Beyond Your Control in Your Relationship
Dating a man with kids means that there are a number of things beyond your control. He is likely to have strong ties with his children and wants to do what’s best for them. While you can try to get on with this, it is difficult when the child comes first all the time.
If you have been dating a man with kids and feeling left out for a while, and he has told you from the start that he does not want a serious relationship, you should not be surprised if things remain casual. This means that despite how much you think this man likes you, he cannot give his whole heart because it belongs elsewhere.
Children May Not Approach You at First
Whether they are the man’s children or his grandchildren, children will likely not approach you at first because they don’t know who you are. However, if you two are dating, they will soon realize that he has someone in his life, someone they may not like.
Kid’s Mom Will Always Be Nearby
The child’s mother (if he is divorced or separated) will likely always be nearby to remind you that she is the woman who gave birth to his child. She may even feel threatened by you and let it show when you are around her children.
She might even be rude and ask you to leave if your boyfriend lets her. But you should not let her intimidate you. She will likely only be around for a few more years, and then she can go back to her own life and leave your boyfriend alone.
Your Boyfriend Puts His Kids First
Even if they live at their mom’s house, his kids will always come first in his life. Although he may tell you that they are away visiting grandma or spending time with another relative, it does not mean that he is free to date you as much as he would like without guilt.
While this overall picture sounds very negative, there is such a thing as dating a guy with kids and still having them put you first – but let’s face it: it rarely ever works out this way unless the man is reformed by the love of a good woman.
What to Do if My Boyfriend Puts His Children Before Me?
Now that you know why this is happening, what should you do? There are some women who care about nothing but their own needs and want to be the center of attention. This lack of consideration will only lead to conflict with your boyfriend. We know that you want to be the number one person in his life, but this attitude will only push him away.
So what should you do? Below, we have 10 useful tips to help you become the girlfriend your man wants and needs.
Tip 1. Remember, His Kids Will Always Come First
First of all, remember that his kids are an extension of him – they are like pieces of his personality, so naturally, he will always prefer spending time with them because he is spending time with himself (in a sense). At first, this can leave you feeling neglected, making it hard for you to be around them because you feel excluded and alone. However, remember that part of the process allows them to get used to their partner’s new figure in their lives. You need to give them space and will enable them to adjust without tripping over yourself every 5 minutes.
This can be tough if you don’t feel your needs are being met. As difficult as it is, you need to remember that children are the number one priority in your boyfriend’s life, and he will always do what is best for them before anything else.
Try not to confuse neglect with prioritization. For example, your boyfriend might be putting his child first, but this doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking about you or spending time with you because of it. He might need a little extra time during the day to spend on certain things like trying to create a bond between him and his kids through activities such as having breakfast together or reading them a bedtime story (if they’re young). Just because it isn’t ideal for you doesn’t mean he is neglecting you.
So don’t take it personally if your boyfriend spends more time with his kids than he does with you, as this will soon change as things progress.
Tip 2. Leave Him Alone to Play With His Kids
If you’re the woman who gets jealous every time your boyfriend goes out with his kids, you’re doing it all wrong. You should realize that they are essential parts of his life, and only a real girlfriend will understand enough to support her boyfriend’s choices.
If you don’t give him this freedom, he is definitely going to look for it somewhere else. So if you want your boyfriend to love you as much as you love him, just let go and leave them alone. This will also give you a chance to do something fun with your friends or yourself.
Tip 3. Don’t Reaffirm Your Relationship as More Important Than His Kids
Once again, there are some women who have an unreasonable desire to always be on top in any situation. If you find yourself asking or saying things like “What? He prefers to see his children rather than me?” you need to stop immediately! Such comments go against everything we mentioned above about how men feel obligated to prioritize their children.
So, to avoid making your boyfriend feel guilty about spending time with his kids, it is enough, to be honest and say that you understand what’s going on.
If he has some free time while the kids are away, encourage him to relax or do something fun together. Let him know that you are there for him and support his decisions.
Tip 4. Keep a Healthy Balance
He must maintain a healthy balance between the two relationships, but this is not easy. Don’t keep pointing out how his son or daughter always wins in the end; reduce the negativity, and don’t forget to express your love for him!
As we said earlier, his kids will always come first. It’s his number one priority. Whether he has a child from a previous marriage, or the child is with him and his current partner, never get jealous of your boyfriend’s kids. If he puts more effort into his relationship with them, understand why. It might be difficult to watch from the outside, but it’s not easy for him either. After all, they are the ones who need their dad most when they are little!
The second priority is what occupies his thoughts right after he has children. Typically, men want to make sure their woman is okay.
The third priority will be the first thing he checks when he steps in your place. He’ll definitely ask himself if you’re still as attracted to him as before. So keep those candles lit up every time he comes over, even if it’s just a week or two between visits. Make-out sessions should be as lively and fresh as ever!
Focus on your strengths. You are an independent, self-sufficient woman who can do anything you put your mind to. Be proud of yourself and let him see that he doesn’t need to worry about you when you’re together.
Tip 5. Always Support Him
A man who has kids has responsibilities, and it may seem that he has enough on his plate without adding your problems or concerns to the mix. It’s essential that you come to realize that he will always have duties related to his children, and this is not a bad thing. In fact, if you want him to see you as a woman who can be trusted in both hard times and joyful moments, help make an adventure out of mundane activities like watching over them when they play together or going grocery shopping with him.
Support him unconditionally. No matter how tired he is from their group playtime, look happy to see him when he gets home from work. Cheerfully offer to bring in the groceries when you go out together and don’t complain when a child is crying in his arms. He will appreciate your understanding and go that extra mile to see you happy too.
Tip 6. Look at Things From His Viewpoint
It will take some effort on your part to date a single parent; it will also necessitate a lot of sensitivity and understanding. Even if your boyfriend agrees to change certain things about his parenting, he may not be able to do so right away because it’s hard for people to make significant changes. Maybe he can’t miss his son’s basketball game or piano recital because the other parent would get upset; maybe she feels like her child is already having too much “fun” without outside help (and let’s face it, dad isn’t usually the one who plans kids’ birthday parties).
Accept that you may never get all of what you want, and try not to take people’s refusals personally. Give him time, balance, and room to maneuver within the parameters set up while taking others’ feelings into account. He will feel supported by you, and you will feel less resentful that he doesn’t automatically include you in everything.
This might mean that you’ll see less of him than if his kids weren’t in the picture, but don’t worry about it. As long as you are together, everything should work out. And even if he does take time away from the relationship to spend with his children, remember that this is temporary – your relationship will be stronger once things settle down.
Tip 7. Make Things Easier for Everyone
You should also think about your relationship with his children if you’re really serious about improving your partnership with your boyfriend. No matter what problems you’re facing right now, they’ll only get worse if you don’t make an effort to embrace his children as your own.
Make certain that the children are given top priority in even minor activities. If you go to the movies, remember that the kids might like popcorn and candy, too. If you’re in a bookstore, pick out books they may enjoy reading. If you all go out for dinner, find something on the menu that is kid-friendly.
You should also make sure that your relationship with any children he has extends far beyond just taking care of them when they are with you. Because if you don’t treat his son or daughter as if they were your own child one day, they may never want to see you again when your partner is no longer around (or worse – say things about you behind your back when it’s just the two of them).
Don’t forget that the situation is temporary and that once things settle down, you and your boyfriend can spend more time together. And even though he might spend time away from the relationship with his kids, remember that this will only make the bond between you two stronger when he’s back again.
Tip 8. Have an Honest Conversation With His Children
Children are more intuitive when we give them credit for. They’ll appreciate an honest discussion with you about any issues they may have. Although it may seem that they are not ready to meet you or don’t want to, it is actually vital for them, especially if this is your partner’s first time dating after the divorce.
On your end, make some things clear from the start. Tell them that you don’t intend to hurt their father nor to take him away. Let them know that no one will replace their mother, so please don’t feel threatened or jealous because you mean a lot to your partner too. What you want from them is their acceptance, and as long as you don’t do anything to hurt them, they will surely come around.
This way, both the kids and you two can start with an honest relationship – minus the drama.
Tip 9. Turn Your Energy Into Positive Vibes
Remember that your partner’s children are not his only priority at the moment; you should be first on his list of priorities as well. Make time for dates, spend quality time together, but avoid talking about kids when hanging out with friends or during dinner dates whenever it comes up in conversation. And give each other some space sometimes; if he wants to take his kid somewhere (that doesn’t include you), let him.
You could say something like, “Of course, my love! Do you want me to come with you?” as long as it’s phrased in a way that doesn’t sound clingy or whiny. Or just keep quiet and allow your partner to have his moment – do not let yourself feel victimized by the choices he makes because of his kids. After all, part of being a good parent means putting their kids’ needs before anything else at times.
Remember: the key is balance. It won’t be easy for either of you to adjust from being single to dating a guy with kids, but if you both try your best, things will fall right into place eventually. Allowing room for adjustment will help ease the transition and ensure you both feel comfortable with your new roles.
Tip 10. Understand What Your Boyfriend Does for His Children
While it may be easy to see “why my boyfriend puts everything before me,” you mustn’t forget what your boyfriend does for his own kids too. He fixes their breakfast every morning; he stops by the store on the way home from work to pick up milk or bread; he takes them wherever they need to go – whether that’s soccer practice or dance class. Although your boyfriend can often do these things because he works close by, it’s also nice of him to make time for them at all. These are just a few of the reasons your boyfriend puts everything before you and your feelings.
Whether you realize it or not, your boyfriend’s kids play a big role in his life, and while there may be times when he would rather spend an entire Saturday with them than you, try to think about how much time you actually do get to spend with him too. You are dating a guy with kids and feeling left out, so don’t be discouraged if they are always around or seem like they come first. Not only will understanding what your boyfriend does for his own children make you feel more comfortable with him as well, but it will also help put all of your arguments into perspective.
What to Do If Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Want You to Meet With His Kids?
There may be a time in your relationship when your boyfriend doesn’t want you to meet with his kids. Although most parents would like their children to get along with the person they are dating, having an instant connection with their child is not always easy.
You need to understand that it takes time and patience to build a strong bond between your boyfriend’s children and yourself. It does not matter how old his kids may be; they still need some time getting used to you, especially if this is the first serious partner he has introduced them to in years.
What you should avoid doing:
- Insisting on meeting boyfriend’s kids straight away if your boyfriend keeps saying no (he might feel overwhelmed at the thought of introducing you to the children).
- Expecting your boyfriend to put your needs first if his attention is on his kids.
- Saying negative things about his kids or behaving rudely towards them.
- Making unkind comments about their mother (the relationship between your boyfriend and his ex will affect how you get along with her children, so try not to let it get in the way of building a good rapport by asking positive questions about his former partner rather than looking for red flags that might cause problems further down the line).
What you should do instead:
- Give him time to introduce you gradually to his kids.
- See the children’s relationship with your boyfriend as a positive thing for you, too.
- Enjoy the opportunity to win their trust and earn their respect, which will, in turn, enhance your relationship with them. Just being around when they visit is a good start.
What to Do If Your Boyfriend’s Children Don’t Like You?
Maybe they wish he’d never meet someone new. Perhaps they don’t want to share him with anyone else. Whatever the reason, unless they behave in overly aggressive ways, don’t confront them about it – doing so could make them more defensive and close ranks against you even more.
What to do: be patient and focus on winning their trust rather than getting into an argument. If your boyfriend feels that his kids aren’t accepting you, he will probably feel compelled to choose between spending time with them and being with you. That’s not fair if you want this relationship to work out long-term. By all means, discuss the issue with your boyfriend and work out a timetable for time alone together, but give his kids time to get used to the idea of you and them spending time together.
If they are very hostile or aggressive when you are around, it’s not necessarily because they don’t like you. Instead, it could be because they don’t want their dad dating at all.
So, give them time and space to get used to the idea of you and them spending time together.
What to Do If You Don’t Like Your Boyfriend’s Children?
To begin, figure out what you dislike about the kid and whether anything may be resolved. For instance, if the child is always in a bad mood and never smiles or laughs when you try to talk to them, that could be the issue. It might be something like they’re not sleeping well and might require medical attention. If it’s something like they’re rude and condescending when answering your questions… maybe have a chat with their dad about how you would both prefer the kids answer politely rather than being so short with you all the time.
Be patient with them, see what makes them unhappy or uncomfortable, and help them get past whatever that is. Once they get over whatever personal hesitation, there will probably result in a friendlier attitude toward you from then on out. Don’t get resentful or angry at them for coming between you two. You can reach a compromise so that both sides are happy.
What to Do If, After Everything, Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Care Enough to Improve Your Relationship?
First of all, make sure that you’ve tried bringing your concerns up to your boyfriend first. He can’t do anything about it if he doesn’t know about it at all. If he’s done nothing after you brought up your concerns, you know that it’s really his attitude. It is not worth trying to convince him to change if he doesn’t want to, and frankly, neither will you when you have tried so many times.
If you see that “my boyfriend puts everything before me,” you need to fully understand why your partner did the thing that hurt or annoyed you in the first place. This way, each of you can avoid doing anything similar in the future. Even if he doesn’t apologize for his actions, knowing what’s going on would be a relief from being clueless about what happened and why. If it turns out he doesn’t know how much their action affected you, it is a chance for you to explain each time he does something that hurts your feelings. It may take a long time until he starts being mindful of how his words and actions affect you, but at least by explaining yourself every time an incident occurs, you have fewer chances to feel let down again.
It’s no secret that dating a man with kids makes things more complicated than they would be without them. As much as we’d like our partner – or anyone else in their lives – to put us first always, sometimes that just isn’t possible or reasonable to expect. But do remember: although this is true, it doesn’t mean your boyfriend should neglect you. While he might have to put some things first, don’t forget that he is dating you too! He must make particular time for the two of you alone. So try not to get jealous if he devotes more time to his children – remember that they will always be a part of his life and probably yours too, so you need to work out how best to manage this.
It’s perfectly normal for you to feel jealous sometimes. Still, by approaching the situation with an open heart and mind, working hard on your trust issues, being patient with both your partner and his kids, being flexible about how much time they spend together, you can find a way for everyone involved to be happy.