My stepdaughter reminds me of my ex – can I cut her out of my life?


Last week we gave some tough love to a man who was ashamed of his girlfriend.

This week we hear from a man who is considering cutting his stepdaughter out of his life because she reminds him of his ex.

It’s an odd situation, with some revealing answers… Let’s see what the experts think of this.

The problem:

In my late 20s I married a woman with a five-year-old daughter (the father wasn’t on the scene). The marriage wasn’t great but the sex was amazing. Despite our problems, we went on to have two sons before we separated after nine years.

My stepdaughter was a difficult teenager and dealing with her precipitated the end. When she went away to university, my ex and I dated again but we still couldn’t make it work – and it was only the sex that kept me going back.

Three years ago I met the woman of my dreams. I realised what I’d been missing and this time it’s not just the sex that’s great – it’s the whole package.

The trouble is, I have a problem with my stepdaughter, who’s the spitting image of her mum. Although she reminds me of a horrible time in my life, being with her makes me think of my past life and the great sex I had with her mother.

I know it sounds heartless but I feel it would be easier to cut her out of my life so I don’t have these unwelcome reminders. I’m in love with my partner and I just want to stop being dragged back into my sexual past.

What the experts say:

Please don’t cut your stepdaughter out of your life – you’re the only dad she’s ever known, and such an act would be cruel and confusing for her.

Instead, deal with your feelings. Dr Angharad Rudkin thinks something is unresolved in your relationship with your ex. ‘One of the main reasons for your split was your stepdaughter,’ she says. ‘While your rational self knows it wasn’t a good relationship, emotionally it’s unfinished business.’

Don’t be angry with your stepdaughter because she is a replica of her mum. Is the fact that she’s physically so like your ex an unwelcome reminder of the ‘good old days’ when you were younger?

James McConnachie wonders about another possibility. ‘I have to ask whether you’re in some way attracted to your stepdaughter. I don’t mean you want to have sex with her but unwanted sexual feelings have leaked into your relationship,’ he says. ‘Her presence brings her mother to mind, which makes me feel that the pain of the split hasn’t really healed.’

McConnachie fears that something in the present isn’t right. ‘Despite your claims that you’re with the woman of your dreams, is part of you missing the past, even with all its pain and stress?’

Both of our experts feel it’s important to focus on your role as a father to your stepdaughter, and that rather than avoid her, have some therapy to get to the root of this issue.

‘Acknowledge and understand the intrusive thoughts you have about your ex,’ says Rudkin. ‘Once you do this, you can achieve peace with your stepdaughter and give her the lifelong fatherly relationship she deserves.’

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