You’ve been dating for months, maybe even years. On and off the online dating-go-round. Finally, you meet someone you really like – even love. But as hard as he tries, you can’t get the buy-in you need.
Your friends don’t like him, your mother doesn’t like him, even the dog doesn’t like him. Worst of all – your kids don’t like him.
Maybe one does and the other doesn’t. Your friends give you the run-around, or can’t put their finger on exactly what it is that bugs them.
Are you in too deep?
Do you slow things down?
Do you go with your heart – full speed ahead?
My Touchstone? Sex and the City
Okay. It isn’t my Bible, but what single woman doesn’t have some episode of Sex and the City that’s like a chapter out of her dating life?
I’m thinking of the entire relationship between Carrie and Petrovsky. Charlotte tolerated him, Samantha kept mum, Miranda didn’t like him and she was very vocal about it. As for our heroine, she’d been on the dating scene for a long time, and as the early 30s gave way to the late 30s, it was easy to see that she felt time closing in.
Miranda turned out to be right about Petrovsky. He was charming but self-absorbed, generous with money but not with his time, one could imagine him a splendid lover, but “loving” was another matter. Any woman in his life would always be the bit player to his starring role.
Was Miranda jealous of the relationship?
Mostly, she was sensing something off, and trying to protect her friend.
Good Guy. Good Going?
I remember a guy I dated some years back. At that point, I’d been on my own for six years. I was tired, I was beginning to feel my age, and I was staring into four more years until both my kids had flown the nest.
I was worn out from going it alone. I wanted a relationship. A committed relationship. I thought I had found one.
I knew there was no perfect, and as in every relationship, you pick your battles and make your compromises. But he was a good guy, uber-romantic, wildly funny, and genuinely seemed to care for me. He charmed me from the start and swept me off my tired little tootsies.
My kids were polite and they seemed to like him. The dog adored him. Wasn’t that a good sign?
It was only after he dropped my heart over a cliff (with not so much as a flicker of a warning) that one of my kids fessed up that there was something about him he never trusted.
Clearly, my radar was off. It’s not that I was desperate, but I was hungry for the sort of attention he lavished on me. And at the time, I still imagined that someday I might remarry. (It’s been a few years since this romantic interlude; my opinions on ageist assumptions and dating dramas haven’t changed, but my thoughts on remarriage have.)
Asking Kids What They Think
Since I deferred romantic involvements for a number of years after divorce, by the time I did date, I was dealing with narrowing demographic options. Still, there were plenty of coffee dates, lots of funny stories, and occasionally someone I cared about.
And sometimes you just need an adult to smile at you over a drink!
Naturally, there are differing opinions concerning how much to involve kids in your dating life. My take? It’s a matter of circumstances. Friends with benefits or a fling? No contact required. Anything more? Different story. But always, always, always ensure your safety and that of your children.
I also believe that once something begins to be “serious,” it’s wise to ask your kids what they think. As in the case above, their instincts can be better than ours.
A few years back, though both my sons were in college at the time, I asked them what they thought of the man I had been seeing. They seemed to genuinely like him, and in addition to that, they used their own local network to “check him out.” When all impressions came back on the positive side, I admit, I was relieved.
What If You Want Him and They’re Adamantly Opposed?
Would I marry someone my kids hated? Hell no!
Would I live with someone my kids disliked? Again – no way!
I don’t know what I would do in a situation where I was madly in love, wanting to be together and my children disapproved. For me, their opinion matters and I respect their judgment. It is that respect that would encourage me to look closer at the man I was with, to reconsider my own perspective. I would also watch the way he behaves with my kids, not to mention his own. And I would try to sit down with my children and ask for specifics, providing a calm demeanor and environment in which to do so.
In part, I know my kids aren’t jealous or wanting for attention, so any discomfort or objections they might have would be a matter of my best interest. Nor were my boys jealous when they were younger; if anything, with the amount of time I have needed to work, it is the gentleman I’m in a relationship with whose expectations of attention are sometimes unmet.
My bottom line? I always factor in the opinions of my kids.
Ever been in this situation? What did you do?