I also had a one-way ticket to South America burning a hole in my handbag.James and I met on a snowboarding holiday in early 2011, and he was perfect for my non-committal tendencies.
I’d been attracted to Evan because he was responsible, self-assured and not like the other guys I’d dated, who could barely look after themselves.
But I ended up feeling like a frustrated outsider.’ Charlotte and Evan split after five years.
But that doesn’t mean you’re not sat anxiously at home sending ‘how did he do? ‘My boyfriend Evan made it clear from the start that I would always come second to his daughter Lola, and that I wasn’t to tell her off – even when she was rude to me in my own home,’ admits my friend Charlotte, 33, who has her own experience of dating a dad.
‘I can’t tell you how many times I was reduced to tears by a seven-year-old!
I’m four months into a relationship with a man who has a child who I’m about to meet for the first time and, to be honest, I’m bricking it.
But I make it to the park after almost turning back, to find James* (my boyfriend) clutching a Pokémon rucksack and an armful of coat, from which a pair of huge eyes and a half-smile appear.
However solid the relationship is, I live in fear that my girlfriend will lose patience and one day say, “I don’t need this, I’m gone”.’ The terminology doesn’t help. James’ son and I bonded over a shared appreciation of Star Wars and the kind of imagination that can turn an empty washing basket into a spaceship. ‘If you thought about the energy you have to expend for little or no return when dating a man with kids long term, you would never do it,’ warns Ruth, who was 28 when she got together with Tom, who had a five-year-old son, Jacob.
The word stepmum is loaded with negative connotations, often prefixed by ‘evil’ or ‘wicked’ (thanks for that, Cinderella). James’ boy has a perfectly good mother and, when he’s with us, his dad does all the disciplining, cooking and bottom-wiping. ‘Tom and his ex split amicably, but when he met me it was quickly twisted into a “he left us” story.
You just clean up the popcorn and put the crayons away until next week.
Rightly so, it’s his parents who watch him star as ‘third sheep from the left’ in the school nativity.
I have been given a unique window on to a world I never imagined before I met James.