Dating A Man With Kids And Feeling Left Out? It’s Not Personal!

dating a man with kids

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

It might be one of the biggest gripes divorced women have: when you’re dating a man with kids and feeling left out.

Several years ago, I was in a relationship with a divorced guy who had a 13 year-old daughter who refused not only to meet me, but she wouldn’t even acknowledge that I was in the picture.


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I remember feeling so frustrated and angry about the situation. I mean, you can’t really be angry at a 13 year-old, especially one who is dealing with her parent’s divorce. But I did have a little resentment. I remember saying to a girlfriend one time, “The little brat’s just going to have to deal with it!!” The issue caused a lot of friction in my relationship.


When she finally agreed to meet me, I’m not kidding when I say I was so nervous, I spent two hours getting ready. I changed my shirt 14 times, and was more scared to meet this kid than I was for any first date in my entire life.


Fast forward, she is now an adult and we ended up becoming very close, even though I am no longer with her father. I absolutely love her and I consider her a friend.


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I realize now that her not wanting to meet me had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with other factors.


I just spoke with a therapist yesterday, who was telling me that a large population of her clients are divorced men and women, and that she sees so many clients who are dating a man with kids and feeling left out. She said that this causes tension in the relationship.

If you think about it, the downside of not meeting the kids is that you are very limited in your relationship and can only get together when the kids are either with the ex-spouse or if they have plans.

But an even bigger negative is, people in this situation tend to feel hurt and frustrated. It truly is hard not to take it personal.


People dating a man with kids and feeling left out might think, ‘The kids just don’t like me,’ and what I want to say is, nothing can be further from the truth!

Here are the real reasons your boyfriend’s kids don’t want to meet you (or even admit that you exist)

1. They might still be hoping their parents will reconcile.

I heard once from a therapist that no matter how old the kids are–even if they are in their 40’s, they never lose hope that their parents will get back together. So, if you are , you could be standing in the way in the kids’ minds.


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2. They might think ‘All women are the same’ or ‘All men are the same.’

This could be the case if the kids have issues with one of their parents. For example, let’s say a woman left her husband because he was abusive, and let’s say the kids saw it. Why on earth would they want to meet their mom’s new boyfriend? If he’s a man, they might think he is abusive also. In other words, their father has given them a reason to think all men are abusive. So, even if you are the nicest guy in the world, they might unjustly lump you into a negative category.


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3. They might be scared and uncomfortable.

As a girlfriend or boyfriend of someone, you might not realize that the kid is really uncomfortable, not because of you or anything you did, but because all kids are nervous and shy and uncomfortable around new people—especially someone who is spending so much time with Mom or Dad! Think about how scary it would be for a kid.

4. They might be protecting their dad or mom.

In the case where the mom or dad was left by the other parent, kids might be afraid that you will do the same thing, that you will hurt their dad, just like mom did. So, they might be defensive and very protective. Also, when it comes to the other parent, the kid might feel like if he or she accepts you, he or she is betraying that other parent.


5. They might not want to get close to someone who might not be around for the long-term.

Think about it. Their parents just broke up (even if it’s been several years, to a kid, it doesn’t matter.) So, they now maybe only see the dad on weekends or maybe custody is 50/50 and weeks go by when they don’t see one of the parents. Or, maybe one parent left and they don’t see that parent at all, and they feel abandoned. So in their eyes, who’s to say you won’t do the same thing?

There’s a reason kids can benefit by going to therapy during and after a divorce. Kids have so many issues that they might not be able to cope with or even express, and one of them is meeting people their parents get into relationships with.


So, when it comes to dating a man with kids and feeling left out, cut the kids some slack if they aren’t on board with meeting you. They are dealing with a lot and it has nothing to do with you. How could it?? They don’t know you.


The key is to be patient, to be understanding, and try not to push too much. Remember, this might be frustrating to your boyfriend, too.  And, most importantly, don’t take it personally. If you are in a healthy, loving relationship with their mom or dad, once they meet and get to know you, they will love you!

Like this blog? Check out, “Loneliness: It Might Be The Worst Pain Someone Can feel”

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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    4 Responses to “Dating A Man With Kids And Feeling Left Out? It’s Not Personal!”

    1. L

      I have enjoyed your articles, and never thought to reply until this one (“5 Reasons Your Boyfriend’s Kid Wants Nothing to Do With You”). There are a few reasons you left off; 6) the boyfriend may be neglecting child to meet his own needs or yours. If the child is told, “If you don’t want to be here when she comes over, you can leave.”, or he has the girlfriend to spend the night during his visitation weekend (not to mention legal agreement there is to be no overnight guest during visitation), or he leaves the child at his apartment alone during visitation weekends to go over girlfriend’s house…all the while, the girlfriend plays oblivious and chooses not to say/suggest their overnights or time spent is done on weekends child is not with him. Ok, that could have been 6-10, but I think you get my point. Sometimes, it is personal. And it’s not always about the kid, but about how the adults are treating the child.

    2. Elizabeth Rust

      What I haven’t read as reasons are:

      1) the Dad doesn’t want his kids to know that he is in a relationship and the kids don’t even know about you. Rather than being honest about that it’s easier to say that the kids don’t want to meet, after all, how would you question the truth of that?

      2) He doesn’t want the ex to know he’s in a relationship. This is a whole other topic.

      3) He simply wasn’t/isn’t committed to being in a long term relationship and sees no need to create a bond between you and his kids

      4) he perceives a relationship between you and his kids would lessen their love and attention they give to him or he thinks they might perceive that the attention he gives to you means he loves them less.

      Although it may feel like it has something to do with you, it’s not personal, it’s low self worth on his part, however it affects you on a personal level. I’ve had to deal with the 1,2 and 4 scenarios in my current relationship of 5 years. From the not ready to meet, then downplaying our relationship and his feelings for me when telling them about me , to meeting and the kids loving me, to him lying to them and sabotaging my relationship with them thinking that they loved me more than him. His kids went from loving me, texting daily, us doing things together as a “family” and making family plans for vacations etc. then literally from one day to the next all communication with me from the kids stopped and it went to outright and open resentment, rudeness, undermining me and hostility from him when his kids were around and the kids followed his lead. He would pretend like he had no clue why and blame his ex which wasn’t the case at all. It’s now in the rebuilding stage. The kids and I will be fine as our relationship from the first meeting was natural and loving regardless of what they had heard from the ex wife and Dads erratic behavior and unfounded fears.

      What really happens in these situations, (especially for the woman) is trust is broken. The comfort, ease and safety that comes with knowing you are loved and your partner has an avid interest in your well being and protection… that comfort disappears. Comfort that is essential in an intimate relationship and is a long process to repair. It trickles over into me wondering where else have I or will I, my kids or his kids become collateral damage to his ego issues. I simply don’t trust nor believe him the way I once did, the shine that trust brings is off and this can’t be recreated after damage is done. Throw a plate on the ground, now pick up the pieces, glue them back together and tell it you’re sorry. No matter how well you try to repair the plate it will never be the same as it was.

      Be the person you want your kids to bring home to you to meet. Kids learn how or how not to love by our example and our example is the blueprint by which their own relationships will be modeled after.

      My advice to anyone going through this is to print out my last two paragraphs and hand it to your partner. Let it speak for itself.

    3. Dor

      Can’t relate to this article, but good advice for those who are dating divorced men with kids.
      Remember, seeing ur mom or dad with another woman or man is difficult for children.


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