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How Do I Have Patience with Step-Dating?

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From the U.S.: I am 43, in a LTR with a man who has full custody of his four kids ages 10, 14, 15, & 19. I have full custody of my three, ages 8, 9 & 12. We have been together nearly a year and things are completely committed and long term. We talk a lot about the future but mostly it seems to be framed in terms of a time when our kids are grown. He has met my kids and I have met all but the 14 year old on separate occasions. He says he is afraid to introduce me to the 14 year old because she has scared off women he’s dated in the past even made them cry.

Okay, I can respect his wishes and I’m certainly not going to pressure him into doing something he doesn’t feel comfortable doing. Only parents can know when the time is right for an introduction.

As a result we mostly only see each other when our kids are with our exes. This would be all well and good except his ex does not take the kids on a regular schedule and will actually refuse to take them in order to stop him from seeing me. She took them Saturday so we spent the day hiking, but then she refused to keep them overnight (as she is entitled to) so the date was cut short. Generally I am very understanding but found myself sort of lonely Saturday night wishing he would get over his fears about the 14 year old so I could tag along to a movie with all of them or something.

I love this man and he loves me. I really like the kids I’ve met and he seems to think my kids are great too. As a result I can say that while I may not be looking to marry again I do want to get to a point where I can be folded into their lives and them into mine more. Let’s call it step-dating.

I suppose the sage advice I am seeking is how to be patient with all this. Are there typical milestones I can be attuned to to keep the relationship moving without putting undue pressure on either of us or our kids?

How Do I Have Patience with Step-Dating?

Answered by on -


I wish there was a simple answer but people being what they are, there isn’t a step by step process for blending families that works for everyone. It may be that you are more ready to move on than your boyfriend so you are the one who is frustrated. It may also be that his relationship with his ex makes it more complicated for him.

From your description, it seems to me that your boyfriend’s problem isn’t really with the 14 year old. Just because she scared off one woman doesn’t mean that she will be successful in doing so with you. You are a different person. Hopefully, the teen has grown up some.

The problem of more concern is his relationship with his ex-wife. He seems to need more support in insisting that she keep to the divorce agreement regarding visitations and that she stay out of his personal life. You might be more successful in moving things forward if you addressed those issues directly. See if he can talk about what he needs from you in order to draw a clearer boundary around his personal life — including his involvement with you. He may not realize that the kids would do better if they had a predictable, stable schedule. Your relationship would do better too.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Have Patience with Step-Dating?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Have Patience with Step-Dating?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 5 Jul 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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