Feeling Left Out

Dear Dr. Love: I am not the kind of person to write in for advice, but I am feeling overwhelmed and desperate. I hope that your advice can help me make the best decision for all parties involved.

I am dating a wonderful man. We have shared a wonderful nine months, and both agree that this is a one of a kind relationship. He is truly the man that I have been looking for. The problem is that he is separated from his wife, and has been for about a year and half. They have a sweet little boy together. Both mom and his son live out of state.

My boyfriend is a good father, and tries to spend as much time with his son as possible. The problem is that I am feeling left out, and screwed by his efforts to maintain his bond with his son. He tells me that all of his trips are about his son, and that he has no feelings for his soon to be ex, but he still stays at her house when he visits his son, and this has be feeling very hurt. He turns his cell phone off while he is there so he won't upset her, which means I can't contact him for days at a time. He only calls me when he manages to sneak out of the house without her knowing.

I have tried very hard to be understanding and supportive, but more than I have been is impossible. I realize that I am not top priority, and I appreciate his efforts to be a good father, but I am beginning to think I am wasting my time. He says he loves me, and that we will have a great future together as soon as he gets all of this solved, but I don't know if I am strong enough to endure more of this.

Please help if you can.

Answer: 

You have beautifully described how you feel to me. Have you told him? The best way to do so is to simply state what he's doing and how you feel. For example, you could say, 'One of the things that I love most about you is that you are such a devoted father. However, when you visit your son and turn the cell phone off and I can't reach you for days, I feel hurt (or whatever you feel). '

The thing that concerns me most in your letter is the fact that this man breaks contact with you when he's with his ex. and his son. Yes, it's true that his child is important, but he is behaving in a very black and white way. When visiting his kid you are invisible. Why can't he make room for you when he's with his son? Why is this an either or equation?' Plus, what's the message that he's sending you when he doesn't want his wife to be upset by your phone calls? Is he saying that her feelings are more important than yours? Is he more attached to her than he wants to admit? Is he guilty for having left her and is his not taking your calls designed to ease his guilt?

He needs to be open with you and own the thoughts and feelings behind his turning off the phone and breaking contact with you. He also needs to take responsiblity for the effect that his behavior has on you. You need to ask him how he wants you to interpret his being incommunicato (ask him what his behavior is telling you about himself, his feelings about his ex. , and his feelings about you and your relationship).

You also need to look into yourself and find out why you are so willing to accept crumbs ('I understand I am not his top priority'). Every woman needs to feel that she is her man's top priority no matter how many children he has. I hope that you are able to work this out.

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