Q: My girlfriend of three years (we don’t live together) has 3 teenage children who, naturally, are the priorities in her life. I often feel like a distant fourth priority. This leads to resentment on my part and intense jealousy. I know this is wrong of me, but how do I deal with these emotions? I love her more than anything, and I love her kids…but I just want to be first once in a while. What do I do?
Diva Says: First, and most importantly, having needs in a relationship isn’t selfish, it’s human. Feeling like a distant second to anything is disheartening, but feeling like a distant fourth is probably a wee bit much. Even so, your understanding that her children need to be her first priority is admirable. But, if you consider, Mother/Father — Mother/Mother — Father/Father teams have been balancing the Romantic and Familial relationships for centuries now, so it is possible.
What you need to do is ask for what you need and go about finding ways to compromise. Tell her you need to feel more important, like you have value to her that is equal to, though different than the value she places on her children. One child is hard, three can be excruciating, especially for a single mother. She’s probably exhausted. Do what you can to involve yourself in the duties so you can be equally involved in the fun. Maybe if you really make yourself part of the daily activities, you’ll have more pull when you say “Honey, I need for you and I to find some alone time. Let’s leave the kids with (insert friend, relative) and go away for the weekend to reconnect.”
Chances are she wants to interact with someone with a vocabulary that’s not peppered with “Dude” and “Whassup” as badly as you want to interact with her. But remember that your needs are as important in the relationship as hers, and if your needs go unanswered, you’ll grow resentful and eventually the relationship will demise. A little bit of work on both your parts and this could be very successful and happy for the both of you.