Q: I am a divorced mother of a 15-year-old girl, dating a man for two years who has a spoiled, bratty 9-year-old daughter. In my presence, she desperately vies for her father's affection. I think he has an unusually intimate relationship with her. While most guys will compare their girlfriends with their exes, he compares me to his daughter! He'll say, "Try this. My daughter likes it," or "Come sit next to me while I’m working, as my daughter does.” We go to romantic restaurants, and he says how his daughter would like the place, and that we should bring her next time." Finally, we can’t go on vacation alone because he says his daughter would be jealous if we didn’t take her. Please help! —Girlfriend Interrupted
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It’s not unusual for a daughter who’s separated from her father to make him her idol when they’re together. But a dad unable to differentiate between his child and his girlfriend is creating problems. First, any girlfriend will resent a back seat in the theater of romance. Second, daughter dearest will grow to mistake daddy for her mate, impacting future relationships that can’t meet that standard. Already, she’s “jealous” of his going out without her! This guy has guilt over not being a full time parent, but this is no remedy.
You can sweetly share your feelings with him, but I doubt he’ll hear you. If you feel too triangulated, it might be best to move on to someone whose focus is YOU. —Dr. Gilda
Q: How fast can someone recover from a long-term relationship? I filed for divorce from my husband of 18 1/2 years. Four months later, he's taking his new girlfriend (who just separated from her second husband) and her three kids on weekend vacations with our two kids. He just proposed to her, and our divorce won't even be final until November! He insists our kids love her and they are all a happy family. My kids are developing an attachment to this woman. What is going on in his head? I knew he couldn’t be alone; for him, having someone is better than having no one. But this seems selfish and ignorant. Am I wrong? —Peeved
When people try to fill potholes in their heart with other people, they end up with more potholes. Two desperate parents with a mentality of fear found each other. It’s pitiful that 5 kids are exposed to the vibe that love is a Band-Aid. A better role for kids to model would be for their parents to undergo deep introspection before they hook up.
When you divorced this dependent, his behavior stopped being your issue. Unfortunately, your kids are involved. What you must do for them is demonstrate your own strength and wit. Show them you know yourself before you get close to another partner. This way, at least your kids will have one grownup to emulate! —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor at New York’s Mercy College and has written 15 books; her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”
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