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My friend’s resentment was just fear dressed up as something else, and the girlfriend was just collateral damage. He’s doing the best he can, and the last thing he needs is to feel even guiltier than he already feels.

That clear and simple explanation cracked everything wide open for me. Even though I already knew that, it hit me in a new way when my friend explained it. Chances are, no matter where he is, he feels like he’s letting someone down, and between the two factions in his life, you are (supposedly) the grown-up. Sometimes when parenting duties push me off the docket, I can see in his eyes how torn up he feels—how much he hates disappointing me but has no choice.

While it’s true that his kids wouldn’t like anyone with their father, it isn’t anyone—it’s you.

You are the woman who’s actually there, feeling resented, in the way, and often tossed aside for more important things.

I get lost in my own plans to ensure that I get whatever it is I think I need and become convinced that there must be some “answer” that I just haven’t found yet. There’s no plan, no specific actions that I can take that will ensure the success of this relationship (or, incidentally, cause its demise).

Either his kids will come around or they won’t, and either my boyfriend and I will be able to move through all of it together or we won’t.

Yeah, I know, the children of the man I love don’t want me around, which makes said man feel guilty and stretched in too many directions, in turn causing fear and insecurity for us both.

Tell me one more time that it’s not personal, I dare you. His kids dislike you only as a concept, not as a person—they’re looking for that same safety and stability we all are, and you just happen to be the embodiment of all that threatens that.

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