Dear Barb—The New Guy

Dear Barb:

I married my ex when we were both quite young.  Even though our relationship was difficult we tried our best to stay together for our daughter.  Eventually, though, it got to the point that we were arguing constantly and we both felt it wasn’t the best atmosphere to raise our daughter.  We separated when Melanie was nine years old.  My ex met someone right away and Melanie didn’t like her, but since she didn’t live with her dad, it wasn’t a big trauma for her.  Her dad spends time alone with our daughter and that seems to be working out.  Fast forward a few years and Melanie is now a teenager and I have begun dating.  I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone for quite a while, but recently I met this guy at work and we just clicked.  When Melanie got wind of the situation she freaked! She does not want me to see anyone.  Her reaction was similar to the way it was when her dad began dating his girlfriend.  Since Melanie lives with me most of the time, I cannot do what her dad has done and not include my new guy into our lives.  I am not sure how to handle this situation.  I love my daughter and want her to be happy, but I really like this guy.  He’s very understanding and knows that I have to put my daughter first.  I don’t know what to do now.  Looking for some advice.  Thanks, Heather. 

Hey Heather:

Good question! First, I would like to say having a teenager has its own challenges, adding a divorce and new relationships adds even more stress and adjustments.  The most important thing is not to rush things.  Allow your daughter to slowly get used to your boyfriend.  Also, take time to get to know this person and make sure he is someone that you want to introduce to your children.  You did say he’s very understanding, but you didn’t say whether he has children.  That will add another dimension to the mix.  Your daughter will have a whole new family to adjust to.  Initially have short visits, begin with the three of you going to a place of your daughter’s choosing.  That way she will feel she has some input and is still important.  Also, it’s essential not to spend a lot of time away from home with the new person.  This may cause resentment with your daughter.  Try to manage your time with him, while your daughter is visiting her dad.  As your relationship progresses reassure your daughter that you are not replacing her father, he will always be her father.  If your daughter is not willing to open up and accept someone new into your lives, then I would suggest you and your daughter seek some professional counseling to help with the adjustment phase.  Take it slow, one step at time.  Thanks for your question Heather.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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