AoM,

Did not introduce myself but if you noticed from my last post I am a recovering Nice Guy. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Just got out of a 4 month relationship with a girl with a 1 year old son. Being the Nice Guy that I was, it did not end well and I was left avoiding conflict once again.

Anyways it got me to thinking.... does a woman having a child leave the ultimate trap and project for the Nice Guy?

It sure seemed to happen to me. She completely let me in her life with her friends (3 of her best friends were all single and with sons albeit successful in careers), her broken family (alcoholic dad, semi crazy mom who she supported), and her son. I sacrificed time and was very patient with her time. I thought I could be the one who could support all her needs. We didn't go out much but I enjoyed times at home with her and whoever else was there. Of course when it came down to me dealing with conflict or our differences, I didn't know how to ask for fear of looking like a jealous and inexperienced guy.

She had always mentioned how well I fit into her life. As a Nice Guy, that meant letting things slide even if I didn't like them. Her life was busy and I wanted to be cool about it. Big Mistake!

She had a crazy past with relationships and the child's father. She knew she couldn't ever be with him which gave me some comfort. When she went out dancing and I would meet her up she seemed to not really want me there because she knew everybody at this country western bar she goes to. I didn't know how to confront the issue and I blew up. 

The road to recovery will be paved with challenges but I am going to learn. It already feels great. 

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I suppose women with children may especially appeal to men who want to play the hero. I can see where the presence of a child would make someone extra reluctant to be confrontational or express anger.

I don't know if experience dating is really helpful. For me, it took some experience dating to recognize problems in myself that I needed to work out, alone, before I could be a partner in a healthy relationship. Like you, a lot of that had to do with recognizing passive-aggressive and non-confrontational tendencies and resolving to not behave like that any more.

What I did was read everything I could on romance - lots of silly stuff, some biographies, some surveys of scientific studies of relationships and attraction, AoM, etc. Where my reading gave instructions ("Stop hanging out with women and start dating them") I asked myself, "Do I think this is good advice?" "Does this match my worldview?" "Is this something I could reasonably expect myself to do? a date to do?" Where it was descriptive, such as the biographies or this very AoM post, I asked myself, "What would I do in this situation?" "What should I do in this situation?" "Where could this person have avoided this problem (at what stage, by doing what)?"

After several months, I had an idea of how to identify my feelings and how to express them, and what was reasonable to expect from a partner. For example, if I were you, my reading taught me to recognize that I was unhappy at the western bar because I felt excluded by my date and suspected my date was flirting with others. Then to think if this was something I could/should whisper in my date's ear and address immediately, quietly endure and discuss the next day, or if it was the kind of thing to blow up about. It's really the first part that's the hardest - identifying your own feelings and their source.

Exactly. Emotion would immediately take over any thought about resolving. It was just anger and bad decisions. 

I don't know if the presence of the child is relevant.  If your relationship with her is strong, well, being a father (or step-) is a delight.  If not, you won't be his father (or step-) anyway.

But:  1 y o?  Boy, what a quick rebound from divorce!  Or whatever it was.

Haha... yeah the dude is an asshole. It was more mixing the Nice Guy with the issues she had. The kid just made things go faster.

There is a difference between being a Nice Guy and a push over.  You can still be nice while explaining your needs and expectations in a relationship.

If she goes to a place that sucks up her social time with you, it is fine to ask to go to a different place for some "US" time.    

Also realize that requirements can be simple things to maintain and grow the relationship.  I have a requirement of myself and my wife that we have a good solid kiss good by in the morning.  Not a peck on the cheek, a real kiss.

It is okay to have requirements and you can still express those needs clearly and nicely.  As with any relationship there should be room to negotiate the timing of fulfillment of needs.  

Dismiss your fear of appearing jealous or inexperienced and replace it with the idea that voicing your contentions allows you to figure out if you are dealing with a partner that will develop a mutually enjoyable and interdependent lifestyle, or if you are dealing with someone that values independent behavior over a stable relationship.

 

And note, the word I used was interdependence, which would be similar to (and excuse the M word) "Marriage as a Mastermind." Two separate systems working together to create something greater.

 

NOT codependence - two broken systems leeching from each other.

 

 

Jealousy is perception of threat, not lack of trust. And trust is grand... but, I would rather follow Ronald Reagan on that; "Trust, but verify."

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