ForumRelationships and Stuff ► Advice for dating a dad
[Edit] I'm sorry this is so long, just a lot on my mind

I'm dating my friend I met 6 years ago when he was just trying to get in my pants and use me to make his ex jealous. I knew he was crazy back then when I was barely 18 and he was 23, there were so many red flags but I wasn't interested and then we stopped talking after our semester together ended.
I'm 24 now and he's 29 with a 4 year old son. His ex of 10 years (they were on and off apparently and open relationship at some times) was cheating on him for a couple months. This was just last year. After he found out he tried killing himself this past July, 2019. He's fine now and goes to therapy occasionally. He also lost custody of his son, he tells me, because she has good lawyers and claimed that he hurt or something. We had our first date on September 1st, when I had no idea about everything that had happened. I could've sworn he told me they split up in February but I guess I was wrong. I was fresh out of a relationship too so we told each other were not serious but we'll see where this goes. 8 months later were still together. It's been constant up and downs, mostly downs. We love and care about each other and I love his kid too. I've gotten over the baby momma drama and his family drama and dealing with an unstable person. He was horrible when we first started dating, he'd always bring up exes or old stories, or his sons mom, or this girl he loved who passed away and said she was his soul mate. We've already had many Long conversations about unhealthy things we'd do and how we can make this work. He had horrible temper and some weird perspectives on issues that didn't sit right with me. We've been able to resolve a lot but not without almost separating a couple times.
The point I'm making is that our relationship started off rocky and has always been rocky. But he's the only person I've dated who I can see a future with, sometimes. I moved in early April. We've been ok-ish. But I feel like I'm at my breaking point with this relationship.
He told me recently about his long term career goals and got a little detailed with like salary and title. It was nice to hear. Out of curiosity I asked about his goals with his son. For reference, he always talks about his kid, and getting him back, and how much he misses him. He said he doesn't have any plans for his kid in that way. Long story short, he wants to focus on becoming a better role model first and being someone he's proud of before he starts fighting for his kid. I understand that but it's still bugging me but i don't feel like it's my place to judge. I told him if I were in his kids position, I'd want my dad to fight all he could for me. I'd want to see both my parents equally. The way he explained it feels like he doesn't care about getting his kid back for joint custody. We only see his kid twice a month if we're lucky. And he's paying about 3 grand in child support a month he says. So I asked , do you feel like you're not ready to be a father? He said he doesn't feel ready to be a father figure. Which to me sounds like he's not ready to be a good dad, anyone could be a bad dad. He said he struggles with depression sometimes and I understand that you have to take care of yourself before you take care of others but I wish he had thought of that before committing to a child. I just feel disappointed in him, I don't want to start a family with him. But I'm wondering if I'm not seeing this from all the right angles. It just feels like he's not a good parent, like he's half-assing it, and not stepping up to the plate. I want him to be an active parent. For the record, he and his son get along very well, he's great at being a dad and playing with him and disciplining properly. I just feel lost on what to do. Do I trust he'll get better and then be a more active parent or do I leave?
It seems to me like this man has a pattern of lying to you about some pretty serious stuff, including his relationship status and probably the abuse of his ex.

On top of these and all the other red flags, it also doesn't sound like you two really have compatible visions of the future.

My vote: leave.
In my opinion, this sounds like someone who is trying to improve. And from your description, it sounds like he's making some progress.

I'm definitely not equipped to give advice about whether you should stay or go, but I disagree with what Fwip said - I do believe this guy will change with time. If you really see a future with him, I think you have a chance, but it's not going to be easy.

The fact he goes to therapy is very promising. I think you should encourage him to see his therapist even when he doesn't feel he needs to - proactively. And I think you should join him for some of his sessions, both to help him out and to get a better understanding of your problems together.
The fact he doesn't want to enter his son's life until he's got his own shit figured out also seems like a positive thing to me - I grew up with a depressed parent and that shit fucks you up way more than an absent parent does. It sounds like he misses his son, but he understands that getting him back right now would be selfish and might hurt the kid.

People do change, and people do turn their lives around. Change is painful and requires a lot of work, but it is achievable; in this case as much as any other. It's your call whether you want to be with him through it, though.

If all else fails, you don't have to treat this as a binary choice - spending some time away doesn't mean your relationship can't resume later in your life when he's in a better place.
While it sounds like he may well be trying, it sounds like he's a far cry from stable. I think you deserve better than someone who has consistently lied and misled you. I agree with Fwip. Look elsewhere.

There are plenty of men out there. Find one who has the same goals as you and has a clearer vision of what they want out of their life.

As someone whose parents went through a messy divorce, I wouldn't encourage him to fight for his son unless he's worried about the care his mother is providing. Stability, consistency, and positivity are the most important things for a young child. Having parents fight over custody is fucking awful, frankly. It sounds like there's already a consistent visitation plan in place... He should stick to it.
If you're this frustrated and rocky 8 months in but can't see yourself having a future with anyone else then, frankly, you'll be better off alone.

I know you want what's best for him but that's not your job to ensure. That's his problem.

And it's pretty rough to expect him to be a dad when he has made the decision not to be. Is it sad? Yes of course. But I'd be furious if someone tried to tell me I had to be a mother when I didn't want to be. That is my decision alone to make. And he is making some effort, he pays his support and sees the kid and has a good relationship with him. It sounds like he's done what he can, he hasn't just walked out and never looked back.
You should leave.
He seems narcissistic. this is an abusive and unhealthy relationship. he has no intention of taking care of his child. He is content to let his ex raise him alone but he plays on your heart strings claiming he loves and misses him. That is disgusting.
Leave. There are better people for you out there.
Thank you all for your input, I really do appreciate the time you all put into giving me advice.
So little update and some hindsight: Neither of us were ready for a relationship, we ended up hurting each other a lot despite how much we love and care for each other. We had about 3 serious and lengthy talks about ourselves and I decided that we just are not healthy for each other, and even though he says he's in love with me, only sees himself with me, he even proposed to me (but with a $350 ring, while we were in a hot tub at a hotel, and he makes $90k a year so its not like he couldn't afford something nicer or put more effort into it), I just am not in love with him. I love him, his kid, and I would never close my doors to them, but I can no longer see a future where we are together. He has A LOT to work through, and I told him I'll support him as much as I can if he'll let me.
He was definitely emotionally manipulative and toxic at times, but I mean we all are to some extent. He also cannot control his emotions and proved that he cannot support me, which I found out when something serious happened to my family member.
I was miserable towards the end, and if we stayed together I cant imagine how horrible I'd have felt being in a place that I wasn't happy in.
The good news is that I learned a hell of a lot being with him. My communication skills, expression, self-reflection, have all improved. I also am un-learning my own unhealthy qualities so that I can be a better person, too.

A lot of you mentioned that he was trying to change and that I should give it a chance and you're right, he was working hard to improve himself and I'm proud of him, its just not the right time/person. I'm happier now and if we find our paths crossing later then we'll see what happens. I'm just glad I'm a lot better at spotting red flags like his instability, his lying and secrecy, and the emotional attacks. He honestly wasn't trying to be a bad guy, as much as this post might have made him look like, this is just how he has learned to survive and he's getting better.
Forum > Relationships and Stuff > Advice for dating a dad