Is there a light at the end of the tunnel when dating a brand new mommy?
Post birth is such a tough time and she is going to be emotionally all over the map. I would try not to make any big decisions about the future of your relationship right now because what it's like right now is not going to necessarily bear any resemblance to what it will be like in a month or two. You don't know that she won't feel differently a little down the line. Right now her focus is naturally going to be on the baby and on making sure she herself is keeping her head above water. I agree this is going to be a very hard time to sustain a new relationship, but if you can stick it out it may improve. Or then again it may not turn out to be the right relationship. You just don't know at this point. I think it is hard to know for sure.
Can you try to not focus so much on whether this is The One and just enjoy her company and spending time with the baby? This is still a pretty new relationship, after all, and it could potentially take more than two months to really know if it's a relationship you want to pursue even in the absence of complicating factors. Also, while it makes sense to want a certain amount of time/focus (does she ignore you now? Or does everything just revolve around the baby?) that time/focus is going to have to take a different format with a young baby around.
I would give her some time, and also be on the look out for signs of PPD (post-partum depression), since you mentioned depression in your post. If you think she might be dealing with a little more than some mild "post baby blues," she might want to talk to her doctor or midwife -- there are options out there to help her feel better emotionally. Try to hang in there, and like the previous poster said, just enjoy spending time with her & the baby, support her as much as you are able/willing, and don't dwell too much on the future of your relationship until she's had a lot more time to adjust to being a mom. Most newborns are especially needy and draining, and she's a single mom, it's a hard time all around.
I'm gonna be all tough love on you. Sorry.
In my experience, a person who asks for instructions on changing a diaper is looking for one of two things:
a) to convince me that they are incapable of changing a diaper, and so I should never ask them to do it, or
b) to make sure that I notice how helpful they are trying to be.
You would think that item B would be a good move in romancing a new parent, but actually not. If you're going to do a favor for a new mother, make sure she can lie down and rest while you're doing it. If I have to stand at your elbow and give instructions, it would be faster to do it myself.
You have not known this woman very long. You first met her in person when she was eight months pregnant, and the baby is just a few weeks old now. You seem to be trying to move this relationship very fast, and I'm not sure that you even realize that you're doing it.
For example, the offer to put the baby on your health insurance. I can see how a person with a good heart would offer this as a solution to a problem, but it's a whole new can of worms. If you put the baby on your health insurance, you are unlikely ever to be able to get the baby *off* of your health insurance. A family court would be likely to find that you had chosen to act as a parent and remained obligated to do so. That court might impose more obligations (like child support) and allow you to assert some rights (like joint custody or visitation). So it's not just "would you like me to put the baby on my health insurance?" that you're asking, but "Would you like to be in a legal relationship with me that we cannot possibly dissolve for the next eighteen to twenty-six years?"
Ninety-nine percent is the low estimate for how focused this woman is on her baby right now. She might well be 100% focused on the new baby. Which is fine and right and good for her family. She needs to think primarily about what's good for her family. She may not yet be up to thinking about whether you're good for her family. And while her relationship with the baby's father may be over, because of the baby, he's still in the picture, with legal rights and obligations that may mean she has to come to some kind of terms with him whether she likes it or not.
Attention and affection are reasonable things to want, but they aren't reasonable things to expect from her right now. You can be patient for the next few months and then take it slow, or you can decide it's not worth putting up with and move on. Either choice is okay. Stressing out a new mom by demanding that she pay attention to you instead of her baby is not okay.
It's great that you want to help, but be careful not to put her too deeply in your debt. Don't do more for her then you feel okay doing even if she never returns the favor in any way. Don't create legal obligations for either one of you without discussing all the implications.
I agree with a lot of the above, although I got the impression that he asked how to change a diaper and then subsequently did so on other occasions, not that he just asked how to make himself look good. If I'd been helping with a baby before I had my own, I'd have had to ask that too.
Especially agreed with this; "It's great that you want to help, but be careful not to put her too deeply in your debt. Don't do more for her then you feel okay doing even if she never returns the favor in any way. Don't create legal obligations for either one of you without discussing all the implications."
I've been a single mom. And, after two months, a guy was pressuring me for more affection and attention, I'd be gone. And that's without dealing with all the changes that come with giving birth.
She has her hands full, and her attention SHOULD be on the new baby. Frankly, if you can't see that this is the way it SHOULD be, then you're not in the right relationship. If you care about her, give her the space she needs-- her whole life has been turned upside down. The reason I ended up with my amazing partner is that he never, ever once pressured me to give more than I was ready to give, and never, ever once resented the fact that my kid always comes first.
She's not a machine, and you can't put kindness coins in her and wait for affection to fall out. That's not how it works. And if you resent this, then frankly, you need to move on. Because, I'll level with you. As a woman, and a mom, this creeps me out.
Unless you've done it yourself, it's almost impossible to understand the huge physical and emotional changes your GF is going through right now. Having a baby is huge... having a first baby is huger. Going through labour is huge. Being a single mother is huge. Coping with a new relationship is huge. Sleep deprivation is huge. Being "touched out" from breastfeeding or even just baby-cuddling is huge. And I'd imagine knowing your new BF had seen you give birth could be a lot to process, too!
If you really love her and want to spend the rest of your life with her, the best thing you can do for her is to give her space. Help with the baby, give her support, but don't bug her about the future. And don't expect her to have the emotional energy to express gratitude, especially physically.
I'm sure you mean well and are a great guy, but I get a hint of "I deserve her love" in your tone, and that's not fair. Yes, you helped her through labour and started a relationship with her when many other guys wouldn't have; but you did that because you were attracted to her and wanted to be with her, not out of pure disinterested altruism. That doesn't mean she owes you love or affection. Just because you've acted like a "keeper" doesn't mean she has to want to keep you. You know? Looking at it in an "I change nappies, so she ought to love me" way is unhealthy - that's emotional blackmail, not a reciprocal relationship. She has enough on her plate right now without feeling guilty that she's not loving you as much as she "should". Love is a relationship, not a reward.
ETA: OK, DuchDork said it more bluntly than I would have! :p She has a good point, though. If there's ever a time to repeat to yourself as a mantra "This isn't about me... this isn't about me", now is it.
is not at all how you should be approaching a relationship with a new mom, or ANYONE. She doesn't owe you her heart. It's great that you've been so helpful and kind, but you shouldn't be doing those things with the expectation that you've now bought her love. We can't all be attracted to every kind person in our life. I am sure she is so thankful to have someone who was there for her in a way the baby's father couldn't be. Being grateful doesn't require falling in love.
And, as has been pointed out, she's only just had a baby. Even if you were married to her 10 years and made this baby together, you'd probably be experiencing the same lack of attention at this time. That is how it is with new babies. Her body and her hormones and her mind and her emotions and everything are completely different right now. You aren't her family, at least not yet. She and that baby are a family. A couple months of being a good person to her doesn't make you a member of their family.
Part of being a good person, or a Nice Guy(tm) as people like to talk about online, is about accepting the fact that not everyone will feel the same about you as you do them, that things won't always be about you, that you won't always come first with anyone you put first. Part of being a good person is realizing when sometimes, it is NECESSARY for you to not come first or get what you want.
You might be a keeper, but not necessarily for her. You can't pressure her into feeling like she now owes you a serious and long term relationship because of the list of things you can check off. You are moving things too quickly and looking at her situation from your point of view, rather than hers.
If you truly care about her, you'll back off a bit and you'll accept it if she decides it just isn't working. That doesn't mean she won't always be thankful for the time you were in her life and it doesn't mean you can't remain friends. Don't be nice just to get what you want, be nice simply because it's nice to be nice. If she's not for you, someone else will be. That doesn't speak negatively of her. You can take your time with her as experience as you move forward. Be thankful to her for that.
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Attacking or Name Calling
Honesty and bluntness are a fine way to respond to this new member's questions but name calling needs to be edited.
I see the situation a little differently than the other posters. This is the part I'll focus on:
I was there the day the baby went home and am there everyday day she asks me to come over.....
I understand she is 99% of the time focused on the baby and stresses and depressed. But she gives me no attention and 0 effection. I brought it up to her and told her that I need a little more attention and effection. She responded by telling me how great I am and I am the best thing that has ever happened (the kind of thing a guy loves to hear), but she didn’t know why she could not feel the love or give me enough. I am worried that I just don't do it for her.
She asks you to come over. She tell you that you are great and the best thing that has happened. Those ARE "attention and affection." Part of the problem is that you aren't seeing them for what they are.
It sounds like what she doesn't do is say she loves you or have a desire for physical affection. The two of you are in a very complicated situation. Most women aren't really "there" in a relationship for some time after giving birth -- it's hard on marriages and lots of men who made babies with the love of their life feel kicked out of their lover's heart when the baby arrives. But for couples who've been together and have a solid base, they can trust that things will return to normal at some point (may be not for 18 years, but eventually).
You guys don't have a base. She has zero idea how she feels about you. You were really great to her, but her life is so complicated and overwhelming right now, she really, truly doesn't know how she feels about you.
I think that the responses you've been getting reflect that a lot of women see it as unrealistic to expect anything more from her for some time.
I think your real question is "is there hope of a 2-way relationship with this woman at some point?". I don't know the answer to that one. It's possible that she will always want you around, like a family member, but that she'll care for you more like a brother than a lover. It's possible that while she needs you, she's never going to love you. Some women really like nice guys, but aren't capable of allowing themselves to feel anything for them -- seeming to need to repeat a pattern of having men around who treat them badly. I suspect that the longer the list of ex-boys friends who've treated her badly, the worse the chances are that she'll ever love you.
It's also possible that once the fog and depression clear, she'll be in love with you. There's really no way of knowing right now. I agree that you shouldn't do more than you are Okay with doing and not having returned. It's not fair to either of you. When the fog clears for her, it would be really unhealthy to start a relationship based on so much debt. You want her at that point to be able to make a real decision based on what is going on in her heart, not risk her staying with you because she feels she owes you a debt of gratitude to be paid as a lover. That's would be icky for both of you.
Its hard to know what is best in this situation, but I wonder if getting a little bit of distance in the relationship would be healthy for you. Do some things with your friends. Go see a good movie. Keep spending time with her, but don't make her your whole life in hopes that someday, she'll make you her whole life.
She's being kindly vague. No one 'does it' for her right now. Not you, not any other guy.
Please take a step back and understand that she doesn't owe you anything. And that doesn't say anything about you, whether you're nice or not. This woman is at her most vulnerable. Nice guys don't pressure new moms to escalate the relationship.
Also, I'm guessing she wasn't being intentionally deceitful, probably more naive. But she should have told you sooner that she was pregnant. You wouldn't have been an ass to quickly but politely turn down a pregnant woman. It would have been tough, but you are in no way obligated to start a relationship with a woman who is about to start a family. A 2 month old flirtation and infatuation does not obligate you to anything, either. Really, is that the way you want to start this next stage of your life? Having almost stumbled into it?
What are your plans for yourself? Prior to this, did you want to have a family?
In my opinion, it isn't too late to walk away from this situation, in fact it's going to be best for both of you.
What does she want? Is she mainly looking for a friend, a boyfriend, a husband, a safety net, or a babysitter?
What are you looking for with her and her child? Are you looking to be seen as the good guy? Do you love her or just want her dependent and adoring on you? Are you wanting to make a commitment to her?
This is most likely a confusing time for her. A new baby is hard on even established relationships. It is not a good time to ask for attention and affection from a mother. It really sounds like you want something she doesn't have to give you right now. Her energy should be going to herself and her child. Honestly it may be best for all of you that you back off on being with her entirely for a few months and just let her sort out her feelings and her life more by herself.
Don't try to step in so much and save her/smother her. Don't be there every day. Don't try to put her child on your insurance. As her friend, point her to other help and resources in the community. Tell her you believe she will be fine, can take care of her baby and that you care about them. Let her know that you are still interested in her romantically but understand that she needs space right now and you need to wait to be her boyfriend until she is sure that is what she wants.
I don't think you get to ask, and I don't know, honestly, why you'd want it if you HAD to ask for it. If she doesn't feel comfortable giving you affection, pushing her for it isn't good for either of you, and she'll probably end up resenting you.
I love my partner, but I'm just NOT a very affectionate person. I make an effort because I know it matters so much to him, but honestly, once I got pregnant, I just couldn't. I know I used the term 'touched out', but it's really hard for someone to understand unless they've been there. When I'm pregnant or nursing, I have an entire person dependent on me for their basic survival-- for every. single. need. to be met, I have to be on call and responsive 24/7, or the kid dies.
Pregnancy is impossible to explain. Yes, for some women it's all glowy happy awesome fun time, but for some of us, it feels like losing bodily autonomy. I throw up 24/7. Everything hurts. I can't sleep, even though I'm tired allll the time. Birth isn't just painful-- it's physically exhausting. I believe people use the analogy that it's like running a marathon without training for it. Add to it that, after that, the kid needs to nurse every two hours minimum. Whether you're sleeeping or hungry or you don't feel like snuggling, that kid is going to be latched on to your breast for thirty minutes every two hours. Eventually, I feel claustrophobic. I feel like all I want is not. to. be. touched. by anyone. When someone tries to touch me? I want to claw at them. I want to pull hair and kick and scream to get away and just have my body to myself.
So, I had to explain to my partner that all bets were off. That he had to let me lead the way on physical intimacy, or I would lose my mind. And because he loves me, he backed the freak off. Because caring about someone? Means that you put their needs first when they're vulnerable. And this was after years of being together.
After three months, even unpregnant, I wouldn't be kissing or having sex. Some people like to take things slow, and in a relationship? The person who needs to take it slower gets to pick.
Honestly... I feel like it's rarely appropriate for anyone to ask for hugs/kisses. I suppose in certain situations -- i.e. at the end of a long, hard day, asking your partner, "I had a hard day, can I have a hug?" -- it would be acceptable. But for the most part, I feel like physical affection is something to be freely given, not something to be requested. I think when & if she feels like being more affectionate, she will just do it -- you don't need to ask for it.
Once she's had a bit more time to settle into motherhood? When she's no longer feeling stressed, exhausted, physically uncomfortable/hurting, etc. I agree with the previous poster who said just let her know you are interested in her. Maybe say something like, "I know this is a tough time for you & a big adjustment. I want you to know that I care for you very much & am interested in a romantic relationship with you. I understand if that's not what you want or need right now, and I want to give you the space you need. When you are ready to talk about it, let me know."
I'm going to go against the grain here. Yes, she just had a baby, but that doesn't mean you can string someone along, only calling when you need/want things, essentially using someone, especially when she says she doesn't know why "she could not feel the love". I'm not talking about affection or sex because I can understand her not giving those things to you; however, it sounds like that was a problem before she gave birth. Yeah, I know, she was 8 months pregnant at the time, but a mature adult communicates and says what they want/need out of a relationship. If she wants a babysitter and someone to help without any commitment, affection, or love, she needs to communicate that to you and you can decide if that is what you want. If she isn't sure what she wants, she needs to communicate that. If she knows she isn't interested, she needs to communicate that. Having a baby doesn't excuse her behavior, IMO.
In terms of your questions, you cannot make her fall for you, love you, or even like you. What you can do is start living your life outside of her and her child. Let her know you care about her, but that you both need to focus on your own situation(s) right now. If I'm you, I am going to be a friend to this woman and date other people. Maybe you two will come together in the end or maybe you will realize that you need something different than she can give you.
I'd just drop the relationship part and be a good friend to her right now (but a good friend with boundaries). Otherwise you will start resenting her for not giving you enough and she will start resenting you for asking too much and pressuring her at a time when she really couldn't give more. Drop the relationship. If you remain friends and she is interested in a year, then you could always rekindle it but now is the wrong time.