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I'm Falling in Love With Someone Who Has a Child

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Dear Athena,

I think I'm falling in love with someone, but he has a child. I don't mind children, and maybe I'd like to have them one day, but I don't know how involved I should get when I don't know if this guy is who I want to settle for. I never expected I'd start to fall in love with someone who already has a child. What do you think? He's a lot older than me. He sees his son a lot, so I've spent a lot of time with the child. He's a sweet little boy who seems to like me a lot. Is it bad to get close to the guy and his kid even though I don't know what's going to happen? I just don't know what you do in these situations.

Signed,

Miss Unsure

Dear Miss Unsure,

It's commendable that you don't want to get in the way of this guy's family unit. But here's the thing: He has invited you in. I appreciate the fact that you're considering the kid's feelings, but you have to check in with yourself before anyone else. First question: Are you willing to consider a life you didn't expect?

And here are some more questions to ask yourself: Has he said "I love you"? Have you told him how you feel? If things get serious, can you imagine sharing the responsibility of his child and maybe still having one of your own? Does he want more children? Do you even like children? Clearly, there's a lot to consider here.

If you do stick around to see what happens, you must keep in mind that this is less about you and more about the relationship between this guy and his son. They're the ones who are really together forever. It's up to the father to decide how to incorporate another person into their lives. He's responsible for setting those terms and boundaries.

In any serious romantic relationship, there is the potential to grow attached to your partner's family or friends. The more attached you become, the harder it is to say goodbye when things between you and your beau fall flat. While forging a bond with a small child is more complicated and sensitive, the risk is the same. Sometimes the right guy is worth it.

My advice is to explore what this relationship has to offer. Talk to your guy. Tell him what you're thinking about. Life rarely unfolds the way we imagine. The people we fall in love with are often not at all who we pictured, and the circumstances are often unexpected. But that's what makes life interesting and surprising and special.

Maybe you'll decide that you're not ready for what his life looks like right now. But maybe you'll decide you are. And then you can proceed with an open, curious heart.

Yours,

Athena