I’m back — Did you miss me? Let’s raise our coffee mugs and beer steins and whatever else you have to Aunt Becky, who is out of Internet coverage and has recruited me to fill in as only your friendly neighborhood The Daver can. Thanks to all who sent Daver-friendly questions! Now gather ’round, gather ’round, and let’s all use our inside voices today, because The Daver is trying to catch up on his sleep thanks to being on Mr. Mom duty for several days.
Dear The Daver,
As my topic implies, I am dating someone who is not my baby’s father.
Since I know that you met your son Ben when he was 2, and therefore did not biologically create him, (or if you did your sperm are AMAZING,) here is my question:
When you and Aunt Becky first got together, how did you handle situations in which people assumed, seeing all three of you together, that you were a happy little family? Although we have been friends for a long time, our relationship is very new and it gets awkward when people who are not in the know congratulate him on the baby, or want to take a picture of the three of us.
He doesn’t seem to mind, but it’s gotta be a little weird for the guy…he doesn’t have any children of his own and I don’t want him to freak out when people just thrust him into the daddy role.
Is there a graceful way to handle this? I feel like just letting people assume he’s her daddy is maybe doing him an injustice, but to correct new aquaintances makes THEM feel awkward and apologetic.
Help me out, here, The Daver.
I know that when people thought Ben was mine, I was always kinda flattered. I mean, I didn’t want to take credit, but he and I were Best Buds from the day we met, so I was perfectly happy to be in pictures or have someone guess wrong. I mean, sure, it was a little disconcerting at first — here I was, walking in to this person’s life, and I wasn’t expecting to become a capital-D-Dad so quickly, but in a way it just…happened. I loved him and wanted the best for him, and my biggest fear was measuring up to that.
Changing the way others perceive things is impossible; we had to put my last name on Ben’s school records because otherwise the school calls and asks for “Mrs. Ben’s-last-name” (NOT what she wants to be called, thankyouverymuch), and the mailman marks mail for him with a “here?”. To this day people comment on Ben’s resemblance to me. If I tried to correct all of them, I’d never have a conversation that didn’t involve explaining my ‘special’ relationship with my son. So I just say, “He sure is good looking, isn’t he?” and laugh later on.
So I’d say the only person you need to worry about is your boyfriend — talk to him about those awkward moments, have a laugh about the way people assume stuff, and tell him what YOU expect. Then when it happens again — because it WILL — you can give him a knowing look and he can play the role as much or as little as he’s comfortable doing, because he knows where you and your daughter stand — and those are the people he’s most concerned about anyhow.
Hey, The Daver!
I’ve been dating this really awesome guy since January. We’ve seen each other every weekend ever since, we call each other many times a day, he has my house key and his toothbrush is hanging on my bathroom. I’ve met his parents a couple of times and he has met all of my friends.
And still, the last time we’ve talk about this (in the beginning of april), he insists that he’s not my boyfriend, because he doesn’t want to have a girlfriend. But we agreed that we aren’t allowed to date -or sleep- with other people.
The Daver, what the heck does he want?? I mean, he says he doesn’t want to be my boyfriend when he clearly is! He’s even thinking about all the stuff he will buy when he moves in with me!
Is it to lame to ask him if he still doesn’t want to go formal with me? Is he afraid of compromise, or just the idea of a girlfriend? Is he just waiting for a better chic?
The NOT girlfriend.
Oh, NOT girlfriend,
Alas, I don’t have psychic powers and I can’t see into his head to tell you for sure, but I have to ask you this: what do YOU want? If using the terms ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ to describe your relationship is important to you, then it’s important to understand why he’s so adamant not to be called those terms. Perhaps a previous relationship went too fast into those terms and it spooked him? Maybe he doesn’t want to jinx a good thing? Getting guys to talk about this stuff can be tricky, but if it’s upsetting you then he needs to know, and he needs to know why. Rather than just asking him to go ‘formal’, sit him down and share with him how it makes you feel, how he makes you feel, and what it would mean to you to use those terms, and give him an opportunity to open up about it. If he shares honestly, give him a BJ as a reward*, to encourage further sharing.
What you don’t want to have is the doubt you feel about this seemingly minor terminology issue turn into doubt about the relationship as a whole. If the terms don’t match the usual terms, that’s one thing (Becky calls me “fart-face” or “asshole” more than “husband”) but if the commitments you expect aren’t there on both sides, that’s another, and you don’t want that to cloud the good stuff, or fester into something more serious.
He’d better not be waiting for a ‘better’ chick, though. Besides the fact that he’ll be waiting a long time, because OBVIOUSLY, that’s just a dick move, and we may need to put his balls in a jar.
*that one’s for you, SciFi Dad. But I’m only half kidding. Less than half.
Dear The Daver,
(I’m a recent lurker, first-time poster, I love this blog!)
I have a problem because my boyfriend has a problem. He recently read a list of symptoms on The Internet and found that the crappy, omg, awful doldrum feeling he’s had for over a year is chronic depression. Except for suicidal tendencies, the list reads like a mini-biography. He has mentioned going to a therapist and even gone so far as looking up our local HMO approved shrinks in the area…but hasn’t made any appointments. I graduated from college with a psych major so I’m obviously all “oo-rah! go talk to a shrink!” but I don’t want to be pushy with him. I just want him to be happier, so how do I encourage therapy without saying “you’re a really unhappy dude, please make an appointment”? A guy’s perspective is much appreciated and I can’t really ask his friends on this one. Thanks in advance!
From personal experience being this very boyfriend, let me tell you: make him an appointment, and take him to it. This is not something that gets better on its own, and while depressed, it is unlikely that the idea of getting better registers enough to stir real action in him. Obviously, if you make the appointment and he outright refuses or gets upset with you, you can take a step back, but chances are pretty good that he’s not doing it because he’s just…not doing it. We depressed people tend to feel like making appointments not mandated by jobs or life is an awful lot of effort, and we’re already spending most of what we’ve got on the other stuff, so maybe next week I’ll feel better…
Now that my symptoms are managed, I’m so thankful that Becks made me go. And that she called me an idiot for stopping my meds when I felt better, and took care of me when I crashed after stopping my meds (even though she told me I was an idiot), and got me back on them. I learned my lesson, as most people who face this kind of thing do: the hard way. Having her to get me through the consequences of my mistakes changed everything.
So good luck. He’s lucky to have you.
As always, agree, disagree, and help these kind folks out better than me in the comments!