Q: I’ve been dating a guy for over 3 years. I've never wanted kids, and he already has one child. I love him and see a long future with him—except for one issue: His 4-year-old son is, in my opinion, a challenge. My boyfriend does not get along with his ex. She is vindictive and is trying to ruin his potential happiness. She also has a temper problem that she's passed on to their son. She spent a good deal of time making my life miserable the first two years. Because of all this, I can't stand his son! All I see when I look at him is HER, and there is nothing about her I like, trust or respect. How do I move past this? Or is it a deal-breaker? —Far From Motherly
Dear Far From Motherly,
Whoa, girl! When you take on a partner, you take on his entire package. Everyone has baggage—sometimes in a wallet, sometimes in a steamer trunk. However, especially in dating, the size of someone’s parcel depends on the magnitude YOU assign it.
Boyfriend shares a history with his ex and his son that you can’t change. If you go to war to push him to choose, guess who will lose! You need not discipline the child, or argue with his mom. But the 4-year-old is innocent and could benefit from your friendship.
When you love someone, you emotionally support him, despite what you want. If you can’t cope, do everyone a favor and leave. But if you do, this unlearned lesson will become YOUR baggage, only adding weight to your next affair. —Dr. Gilda
Q: I'm a 42-year-old mother of a teenage daughter, and I've never been married. Over the past six years, I've stopped dating, or even looking. I have no interest in a relationship (or sex) and I’m LOVING my drama-free life! My friends and family feel there's something wrong with me, but what's wrong with living a life with very little compromise or strife? Should I be craving a relationship, or can this be a different kind of normal? —Alone, Not Lonely
No one can tell you which romantic path to follow. If you decide to live without a partner or sex, that’s your choice. Since you imply that love only offers “drama,” it’s clear that your former relationships were unhappy. Teens take on parents’ views, so avoid male-bashing when speaking to your child. You want to shine her years of sexual awakening in a positive light.
Mama, you say you want: “very little compromise or strife,” huh? That’s unrealistic, isolating, and self-serving. It’s also a poor role model for your daughter. She needs to learn conciliation and outreach. She also needs your unbiased thoughts so she can make choices independent of yours. Live your life as you please, but prevent your past from becoming the template for your daughter’s future! —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!”