I am divorced with three kids. My ex and I were married 15 years and together 17. My dating experience before my ex was sporadic at best. I was not a social butterfly. After the divorce I dipped my toes into the dating pool. I have written about some of my escapades in earlier articles so I will bore you again now. Some things I took away from those early dating experiences were this. Do not date a man who does not have children of his own, do not date a guy whose kids are waaay younger than yours, and do not date a guy whose head is still in his past marriage with or without kids.
Example one. I met a guy on-line with no kids. We were the same age. He had dated previous women with kids so I did not think much of it. Red flag #1: he disliked my kids texting or calling me when were out together. In fact he was so bugged by it that I excused myself to the women’s room to text my kid back. Plus he was open to giving me parenting advice without having met my kids or me asking for any advice. Thankfully only about two months of my life were lost on this guy.
Example two. Another on-line guy. Same age again. His children were waaaay younger than mine. In fact one was a baby. Huge red flag. Not because I do not like babies but I had to wonder about the ending of his marriage and the birth of this child. It didn’t look hopeful to me at all. Being newly divorced and busy helping my three kids cope with all the changes in their lives I realized that I did not want to play mom to another man’ s child especially when the kid cannot talk or walk yet. Just too much.
Example three. The guy with or without kids whose head is stuck in the past. We all meet them. They are very anxious not to take on any of your burdens or “baggage” but they arrive at your door with a lot of crap. Mostly anger at the ex-wife and this inability to see anything else but what she did to wreck the marriage.
Fast forward a few years and I break my first rule. I meet a guy with no kids. He has never been married and was 48 when I met him. I was just instantly attracted to him. I suffered none of the previous feelings of suffocation after three dates and the guy wants to move in. This guy was good. He was funny and never does take himself too seriously. No kids. At this time, my kids are older—two in high school and one finishing middle school. How hard can this be now?
We just started our third year into the relationship. Year one and two almost flawless. A few run offs into the gutter over minor things but nothing major. In fact coming from such a crappy marriage and pretty much destitute I think things were going really good. I can talk to him, I can criticize him, I can take two days to process information and still come up with wacky thoughts and he still loves me. Not really thinking about having a long term relationship after a fairly long marriage I was not thinking about how to gel as a family. Year three is about gelling. He has no experience with having his own kids. Kids break you in as babies, you go through the pre-school and school years to sharpen your skills, and then it all goes to hell in the high school years. He is coming in at the “all goes to hell” years. These are the years where I know “nothing”. I can’t drive right, talk right, think right, or have the right facial expressions. It is actually the life course each one of us takes but it is hard to view it that way without the bigger picture.
I have no guide book on how to do this. None. I look on-line for articles and information but there is none. Now he is 50 and still childless. We are starting to talk and think long term. We do not live together. My oldest just finished his first year of college. It is much harder to nurture the relationship because my youngest is with me all the time since he and his dad do not get along. It makes things more complicated. I wish I had someone who has been through this but I don’t. However we are still managing. We are good communicators and we also like to laugh.