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Dating a man who is not what I thought

Oct 2014

I have been dating ''Mike'' for a few months. I'm a single parent and I live in an apartment and run a business owned by my ex. Mike thinks that I own the business and although I don't know how much money Mike has, he owns a glamorous home and he tells me that he is an entepenuer and he lives off his investments, so I don't want him to think I want to be with him for his lifestyle and fortune. I haven't been with anyone serious in a while, and being with Mike is exciting. I have dreams of traveling the world with Mike and being the one to share a glamorous life.

I have a feeling that Mike may want to get married and that is exciting. From what Mike has told me, his ex just up and left him and he has to care for the kids. As any woman would be, I am curious about the ex and I want to know more about what happened in the marriage but I don't want to put Mike on the spot. After I talked with some friends, I went to the courthouse and reviewed Mike's public divorce file. I just want to know if his ex will be knocking on the door for support and money and taking away from the life Mike and I will have.

I'm so disappointed. While I won't go into details, what I read in the file was not the Mike I know and, his wife gave him the house, the country club membership and she pays him child support.

I'm now intimidated by his successful ex. She has a successful business, is well educated and she's younger than me. I'm also not comfortable thinking about a future with Mike. We have a great time together, but knowing that he has the kind of life he has thanks to his ex, it seems like a bleak future for me as the child support will eventually go away.

What should I do? Should I end it with Mike because he is not who he really claims he is? On one hand, if I hadn't gone to the courthouse, I wouldn't know any of this. And if it was the woman who was getting support, no one would question it. But on the other, maybe I'm old fashioned and I don't want to waste my time with a many who isn't a traditional earner.

Any advice? I like Mike

It sounds like neither of you has been completely honest with the other - you have both misrepresented yourselves, so I can't see this relationship going anywhere good from here. If he is lying about how he made his money at this early stage then to me that is a red flag. He may think you have more money than you do and be looking for a replacement for his ex to bleed dry. I think I would steer clear and look for someone more honest. I'd also ask yourself what made you feel the need to be dishonest about not owning your business and do some work on that. Maybe by being more genuine yourself, you will meet someone else more genuine? Best of luck. Reality Check
Run, don't walk, in the opposite direction and don't look back! -Seen the fallout first hand.
This is not about Mike. This is about why you would even consider dating someone who clearly isn't who he says he says. What does being intimated by the wife have to do with anything? I get it's exciting but you have a child, and this person has truth/reality issue. And why wouldn't you want to have questions? You are already putting yourself at a disadvantage by acting like you don't deserve answers... Walk away.... anon
Sorry to sound harsh, but since Mike's money seems to be what you find most appealing about him, it sounds like you'll need to move on to someone who can give you the ''glamorous lifestyle'' you are looking for. anon
If I were you, I'd be really wary of this guy. He seems to be going with you because he thinks you own a business [ have money ]. He is not being 'up front' with you about his past [a big red flag for me]. He's telling you stories [lying] to you] of how he acquired his wealth. If he's lying to you about something like this, then there are more lies to come. I have been married now for 24 years [ my second marriage]- and the primary most important thing my husband and I agreed on is how important TRUST is between a couple. The fact that you feel uneasy to ask him specific questions about his life- is not good. Basing a relationship on a 'romance or fantasy' --on what you hope this guy will be- is a train wreck waiting to happen !! Today, you cannot be naive about people. People [men and women] lie when they see that they can 'get something' from the other person. Just watch Dr. Phil, and see all the gullible women who 'fall for men' and then are conned out of money, their homes, everything. I am so glad that you went down and looked at his divorce records !! That was extremely smart of you !! And..what did you find ?? That he wasn't telling you the truth of how he acquired his money !!

I know you like him, and if men are charming, good looking, or you're so lonely that just to be with someone [anyone !] that you're loosing the ability to see him for what he is- a con guy... is that what's is going on here ??- I would really step back from him until he is willing to have an honest conversation with you about his past. You are going to have to tell him you know how he got his money- and that will be the test of his character. Will he stomp off, look at you as if your 'snooping' on him - or will he open up and tell you honestly tell you about his life ?? You also have to tell him that you don't own the business...that will be a big 'test' of where he's coming from.

If it were me, I would not trust this guy. He's lied to you now, and what comes out of his mouth from now on- can you trust and believe what he says to you ? To use a quote [also from Dr. Phil] : '' The best predictor of future behavior- is past behavior''.

I know how hard it is to be single and wanting companionship, [as I've been there], but, please, do not be foolish and get more attached to this guy [fall in love with him] and get hurt or slammed in the end. Wishing you the best, judith

Seems like you've both misrepresented yourselves and you have in common the desire to be supported by someone else. Perhaps you see too much of yourself in Mike. Just saying....
Rather than worry about the ''real'' man you're dating or ending it why not start a conversation about money, hard as that is. Tell him your financial situation honestly (maybe he's pursuing you mistakenly as another cash cow!) and ask him what you want to know about his. Ask him to talk about his marriage. Unless you can speak honestly about such difficult subjects as money and values and expectations within the relationship you don't have much to base a real relationship upon. Depending on how such conversations go, you can more realistically assess whether to stay or move on. Isadora
You guys are definitely wrong for each other, because you both expect the other one to bring in the money and afford an elevated lifestyle beyond your own means! You call this thinking ''traditional'' as it applies to you and he might call it ''modern'' as it applies to him. He thinks you are a business owner like his ex, which served him well financially once before and you thought he was rich and supports his ex, not the other way around. My take on this is that you deserve each other. He will be just as disappointed in you not owning your business as you are in him right now. For some reason you seem to think that it is okay for you to have these demands on a man and lie about your assets. I would not call that traditional but unethical. You could both grow tremendously if you dropped the lies and expectations and are both willing to bring in the money and enjoy each other as human beings who want to share their lives together. Is that likely to happen? full-time working, happily married mom
Oh my gosh! Even before you reached the part where you learned he lied about being self-supporting, I got the vibe that he is conning you. The issue isn't that he is being supported by his ex-wife, it's that he lied to you. You wouldn't have gone to the trouble of checking courthouse records unless your spidey sense was already tingling.

You have to be honest with yourself too: Was the idea of not having to worry about money anymore one of the main things about him that appealed to you? If yes, then you are vulnerable to being conned. He will tell you what you want to hear and you might believe.

Please do not pursue this relationship. You deserve an honest life partner. Too many red flags

I find your note very odd. You state that you don't want Mike to think you are only into him for his money, but then you go on to indicate that, in fact, that is exactly all you are interested in, since if he isn't a ''traditional earner,'' you want nothing to do with him.

So maybe it's Mike who should be disappointed in you, not the other way around.

He said his wife up and left, and it seems true, from what you discovered: she pays child support and gave him the house. So, she doesn't want him anymore, yet you still feel intimidated by her? Why?

I think the problem isn't with Mike but with you. You want to lie to him (about who owns the business you run) yet poke around behind his back (by looking at his divorce record, public or not, rather than simply asking him) and judge him, quite harshly, by those unfair standards.

I hope for Mike's sake he recognizes himself and runs far away from you.

You are also not the person Mike thinks you are. It sounds like you are both being deceitful and I am certain a relationship built on untruths won't last. If you really like and respect him you need to come clean about the apartment building you live in. You should also ask him about the specifics of his divorce. Surely if you are fantasizing about a life together you should know the entire truth.

I believe you have your head firmly planted underground....and although I get it on one level---most people would love to be taken care of financially and travel the world--it sounds like just a dream.

My suggestion-slow down. Get to know him. Find out the details of his life and let him know yours. See how you feel about each other after you each know the truth. anon

I think you'll get mostly moralizing responses, so I'll try not to go that way. Both of you are being less than honest with one another, and possibly with yourselves as well; this does not bode well for a stable relationship. Both of you also have children. How about visiting a therapist on your own, and trying to work out what would be best for you and for your child/children? (Here comes the moralizing part: Note that ''glamour,'' in its original sense, was a magical spell that made things or people appear more beautiful and desirable than they actually were.) Down on Glamour
So basically you're both lying to each haven't corrected him in his assumption that you own the business, and he's telling you he's an ''entrepreneur'' and totally misrepresenting himself. A future with this person would be exactly the opposite of what you imagine it will be. And you don't once mention how your child/children feel about this guy or what his relationship would be with them.

Get your priorities straight and open your eyes! gotta be kidding me

Your primary focus should be doing what is in the best interests of your child(ren).

Two things leap out to the reader of what you have written: You are not being truthful to ''Mike'' about your own financial circumstances. Mike is not being truthful to you about his circumstances, either.

It seems that what you want from this relationship is eventual marriage. How can you even think of such an outcome when there is no transparency in your dating relationship?

If what you want is eventual marriage, you and Mike will need to level with each other, at minimum. The best case would be a complete mutual disclosure of all pertinent matters concerning money and relationships with the ex'es. After that, go slow and do not consider marriage or cohabitation until you have dated for a couple of years.

And keep this man away from your kid(s) until things have begun to make sense. Horrified by your situation

I think you posted this to BPN because you feel like this is too good to be true, but you are swept up in the moment and want a sanity check. OK here its: definitely steer clear of this person - NOW! You shouldn't feel bad about having looked up his file, as he was being dishonest with you and you need to protect yourself and your family.

I am not sure why you were not honest with him the ownership of your family business -- but that raised alarm bells for me - something was stopping you from being honest with him to begin with, maybe because he seemed to give you extra attention for owning your own business, or else it is because you had an instinct not to trust him in sharing the truth.

It sounds like you had a fun ride, but you need to put the brakes on it, and fast, as it won't end well. I am guessing a bunch of other BPNers will tell you the same. anon

You already knew who this man was - this was why you went and read the court documents. Now that your hunch was confirmed, the best thing to do is the old-fashioned thing - the thing a person of character does. Leave because you do not want to be in a relationship with someone who lies. Better now than later
Dear ''I Like Mike,'' I am in the midst of a divorce from a man who is, sadly, not what I thought...Just warning you. My soon 2B-ex is out trolling for women on Tinder and the other dating sites. He's immensely charming and looks successful on the surface (ivy league/business owner), but is controlling and narcissistic once you're in a relationship with him. You don't see the addictions (sex, spending, gambling, food) on the surface. He keeps them well hidden from his closest friends and family. I feel for the women who are dating him (and there are lots!) - they don't know what they're getting into! Re: Mike, my advice is to take it really slowly. From where I sit now, I can honestly say that I had glimpses of my ex's problems before we were married. I just chose to ignore them because I was ''in love'' and I thought ''love could conquer all''. You might want to really get to know Mike b4 you get serious! Couple of other suggestions: meet his parents and siblings if you can and ask them what kind of a guy he is. Have him take a battery of personality tests and see what they say. And then, if you're feeling brave, have one of your friends ask the ex out for coffee or exchange emails with her. I'm sure she'd love to tell you what drove her crazy about him... Ashley
I guess it depends on what you are really interested in. If you are only looking for the lifestyle, well, it looks as if he might not be good for it, and you will need to move on. Best of luck with that. But if you really like him, and would like to make a go of it with him, you will need to figure out what kind of life the two of you could actually put together.

After all, if he's not what you thought, you aren't what he thought either. You both seem, perhaps, to be interested in bigger fish than you've actually caught. It may not be that together you can be rocketing about the world, but could you have a reasonable life together, with the resources you actually have on hand?

What would your situation be, if you both put all the cards on the table? If I were you, I'd come clean about the business you don't, in fact, own, and see how it goes from there. If you stay together, he's going to find out, eventually, and the longer you maintain a lie, the uglier the truth will seem. It sounds as if his account of his financial status was vague, and that the assumptions you made based on his house and current lifestyle were wrong. Whereas telling someone that you own a business when you only work for it for it is flat out lying. That is, he is merely not the man you thought he was, but you are not the woman that you told him you were.

If you are lucky, he's a nice guy and has come to care for you for yourself, and your lie won't much matter. If you are lucky, he wasn't looking for someone to finance a lifestyle he can't sustain, and so he won't care that you are not the owner but only a worker in that business. If you are lucky, maybe you two can move beyond this rocky start and build something honest between you. Or you can both keep looking for that bigger fish. lw

You'll get dozens of responses to this, but I'd say: make up some excuse for why you need to break off the relationship (job, ex boyfriend, anything that will convince him to stay away). Run. I realize you're having a good time, but something wasn't right to begin with, otherwise why would you look up the records? I didn't even know you could do that! And you found out that he is nothing but your basic, garden-variety liar. You couldn't possibly marry this guy, because you would always question whether he was telling the truth. And it's extremely creepy that he would make up a story, instead of being honest. If he can't be honest with you now, there is no way in hell he will be honest when you have genuine issues to discuss. And issues WILL come up, even in a marriage that started out on solid ground.

The reasons I think you should not explain it to him are: a) he's creepy, and b) you're really emotionally invested and you're enjoying yourself, and he would undoubtedly say something that might tempt you to forgive him and stick around.

Sorry. You'll find a better person.

So both of you have financial attachments to ex-es/co-parents of your children that you both have not told each other about. In your case, you actually lied to him to make yourself look better. In his case, the usual gender roles are switched, he has physical custody and receives child support for that responsibility. Maybe he has not given you all the details because he would be worried about you possibly judging him not being in the usual male role. Perhaps as you get to know each other better, he will tell you these things himself.

I'm a little taken aback that your main concerns are glamour and envy of the ex for her wealth and lifestyle. These are surface concerns that say nothing about the inner person. Worrying about his child support ending too seems desperate - that is certainly not in the near future.

If you marry him or anyone, you could choose to create your own life and livelihood together. In any case, you need to be honest with each other about finances and everything else. Trust is the basis of a relationship. Blending families is complex.

If you found some other character issue in his court papers, like abuse, then I would run. If he's actually lied about something else, well, so have you. - Time to get real.

Sounds like you meant to sign ''I like Mike's money'' hope he sees this

Dating after Divorce--when did you get physical?

Aug 2014

AS a divorced, straight woman in my 40s who is starting to date again for the first time since my teens, I'm wondering when other middle aged divorced women (and men, too, for that matter) have taken a new dating relationship into the level of physical intimacy? I realize this question has no one answer--it will depend on individual values, level of emotional connection/intimacy with the dating partner, etc. But in general I am finding that the men I have dated want to become physically intimate really quickly, after just a couple of dates, if we are at all compatible and have even the slightest bit of chemistry. I'm not comfortable with that--I need to know someone really well before I get involved at that level--so this has resulted in me not continuing to see any of these people. To be fair, my dates have been with existing acquaintances; I have not yet tried on-line dating where I spelled out in words the type of relationship I am seeking. So--just as an informal poll/reality check, when did you as a middle-aged dating person become physical with a new partner? Am I being naive or unrealistic here thinking that I want to get to know someone over several months before becoming physically intimate? Starting Over

I have both been a mid age (and older) divorcee in the dating world and counseled newly single women for over 30 years. The most important thing to remember is that there are no rules. Eveyone makes it up as they go along. There will be men who feel as you do about instant intimacy and there will be others who want to get it on immediately and call you names when you don't. Follow your own dictates and your own comfort level in every case whether it's months or minutes. Don't be bullied into doing otherwise. Enjoy your new freedom to do exactly as you please. Isadora
Hi, like you said, it is up to the individual. I think if they are trying to sleep with you after a couple of dates that you have to talk to them. You have to ask on the first or second date if they are looking just to casually date or find a long term relationship. If it's meant to be the question won't turn them off if you bring it up really casually with a smile. I wouldn't sleep with anyone until at least the 7th/8th date and only if you really like them (not just because of chemistry). Because you could end up dating for awhile and it's more difficult emotionally if you are getting over someone if you've slept with them. If they want to sleep with you after 1-2 dates then their motives are pretty clear, so you just have to decide what YOU want and not if should or shouldn't give them what they want. Switch the focus to what you want. Good luck. Have fun. Kris
No, I don't think you are being unreasonable at all! Do what feels right to you. Don't compare yourself with others, follow your own drum beat. The right guy will come along, and I don't think that going faster than you want with men will make Mr. Right any happier. Get to know people.

Also, like you said, you CAN spell it out in your online profiles. That way, dudes know what they are getting into. For myself, I jumped into bed pretty fast after my divorce because I was very horny. But, only one of those guys was a good lover. We slept with each other after going out with each other three times. He wanted kids and I didn't, so we stopped seeing each other. I would say that the longer you hold out, the better, because there are so many diseases out there and so if you are going to take the chance of getting one it should be with a man who you have a relationship with and who will probably be around for a while. Good luck!

I'm sorry to report that it does seem that men really want to move to get physical faster than what you are probably used to. I've been with my spouse since 2002 so I largely missed the online dating stuff (no advice there), but I have several very close friends who are dating right now in their late-30s and they report very similar experiences that you've laid out. I think, generally, that the men looking to get physical within a handful of dates aren't serious about wanting to get into a relationship OR aren't seriously considering you as a contender for a long-term relationship unless the sex is amazing. Even then it'd probably turn into a physical relationship more than anything else. (In my 20s I didn't think it was weird to have sex after only a couple of dates, but as we get older we unfortunately get taken less and less seriously when we ''put out'' too soon. I sound so un-feminist saying this, but I think it's the sad reality).

Anyway, here are the rules that my friends play by with dating as ''mature women'':

  • kiss by the 3rd date or the guy thinks you aren't interested
  • sex no sooner than 10th date or 3 months of seeing each other (whichever comes sooner or feels most natural, not a hard and fast rule)
  • it is unrealistic to think someone will want to get monogamous before they have sex with you (if that sounds depressing, you can surely find some men who don't feel this way but it seriously limits your pool of candidates, which might be ok with you)
  • it is unrealistic to assume a man will be monogamous once you have sex unless this is specifically discussed in advance (the ole 'sex doesn't equal love' thing), so don't make that assumption or you may be disappointed. that said, don't lower your standards or comfort level when it comes to physical intimacy.
  • avoid situations such as this: after having a few drinks after dinner, he drives you home and you invite him in ''just for a moment'' with no intention of having sex, then end up making out on the couch and then telling him ''ok that's enough, time to go home'' because even though you have every right to do that (should I say that one more time? you have every right to do that!!), men get their hopes up and leave disappointed. Better to just make out on the porch and then say good night before going inside, keep your boundaries firm and consistent, and not send mixed messages. My inner feminist hates me right now.
  • also, in terms of online dating: no extensive online chatting or texting before meeting in person - if someone is interested in you but doesn't want to meet up for coffee within a week or so of ''meeting'', that is a red flag. My friends are shocked at how many men want to spend a Saturday night instant messaging for 4 hours instead of actually going out and doing something! no thank you! Anon
    I hit the dating scene (8 years ago when I was in my 36) after being with my boyfriend/husband since I was 20. I dated one or two guys who were trying to get me into bed on the first date! I decided I didn't want to sleep with anyone and everyone so when things started to get steamy, I'd mention that I don't have sex with guys until I've dated them for 3 months so we can get to know each other, etc. That way guys who were really just looking for a casual fling would hightail it out the door while the others who were looking for a real relationship and thought I was someone worth waiting for would settle in. No sex doesn't preclude kissing (there were some serious make out sessions involved) and if after 6 or 8 weeks, you are ready for that step, then go for it. Good luck!
    I'm in my late 40s and have been dating online since Feb. I thought I would want to wait a while before including sex but had a somewhat short but exclusive relationship with someone where we did click and were intimate. Somehow that unlocked a door or something and now I'd just like to go out and have fun. My thinking is that I won't have this chance again so I will have some fun for a while and will think about when I want to start a more serious search......

    Anyway I think you're right that people (men) are interested in having sex soon. I just found myself thinking that way too and I didn't anticipate that........ I thought I would be more hesitant..... I think it's just important to do what you feel comfortable with. Best of luck!

    Hit and run is an issue for women dating young men, so slowing things down until the third month or twelfth date makes sense. A bigger issue for single women dating middle aged men is not slowing down the progress of the sexual relationship - au contraire. And Viagra does not work for all the contenders. In hindsight (no pun intended) I would take an early test spin (with seat belts) for well qualified candidates. An early check on the road-worthiness of the warrior will eliminate the mere cuddlers and smoochers. That is unless you are content with holding hands in front of the television and short walks on level ground. Coulda Woulda Shoulda

    Recently divorced mom of 2yo - how do I start dating?

    Oct 2012

    I'm a recently divorced mom of a 2-year-old, in my early thirties. My marriage was a difficult experience (to say the least) but after taking lots of time for myself during the separation/divorce (it's been almost two years), I'm feeling ready to take the plunge into dating again. My question is, how do I get started? I honestly feel overwhelmed by how different things are now...and I also have no idea how to navigate dating/single parenthood. I wouldn't describe myself as shy, but my confidence took a hit with my divorce, and although I'm actively working on re-gaining it, the idea of ''putting myself out there'' is somewhat elusive to me. I know I need to do it, but how? Are there steps to take, or things to try/avoid? Realistically, how does a busy single parent date these days?? Feel like an inexperienced teenager again

    In a way it is easier that your child is so young. It is harder whent hey are older! Here is my advice. Start slowly. Tell people you know that you are ready to start dating and see if they know of anyone that might be suitable for you to meet. If you decide to go on line, I highly suggest you use sites such as as opposed to the ones that don't require a membership fee. I found that you will meet higher quality men who are actually interested in a relationship and not just sex. I also suggest that you screen these men carefully. Remember that if you meet a man who has kids but does not have any custody of them I would steer clear. If you value your life as a mother and a family woman, you need to be with a man who thinks in a similar fashion. I also recommend that your child not meet anyone until you are in a stable and committed relationship. Otherwise it is just too confusing for the child.

    Good luck. It is actually sort of fun! be open and real. Men love women who are confident in their own skin........ anon

    I started dating when my kids were 4 and 2. It required a lot of bravery, and I had to give myself daily pep talks. I bought some clothes that made me feel good, I asked friends to help edit my on-line profile for, and I pre- arranged to have a babysitter on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. If I didn't have a date, I took myself to a yoga class, went grocery shopping, etc.

    Once I was having dates that led to sleep overs, I arranged for a babysitter to take the kids every other Saturday overnight! I met my partner about 12 months into my dating adventures, and I now consider that time to have been interesting and fun. (Not that I ever want to be back on

    Go for it! You can do it! formerly single

    Dating/Finding Love after Divorce, in my 40's

    Oct 2012

    I am recently separated from my husband, and although I'm not ready to date yet, I am very interested in finding a new partner to share my life with. I am in my early forties with a young child. I recently went on - just to see what was out there in my age range, and I was practically in tears after looking through 30+ pages of guys. There were lots of shirtless photos, and the way the guys described what they were looking for in a woman was pretty appalling. My friends assure me that there is someone out there for me, but after the experience, I'm really worried! Is there a better dating site for my demographic? Where are any other 40+ women meeting nice ''normal'' guys these days? I haven't been on the dating scene in over 15 years, and I'm terrified!!! Looking for Mr. Right - Part 2

    Please do not think you're too old or it's too late. I found myself suddenly divorced at 50 and had the same fears you had. I wanted a solid relationship and/or marriage in my future-not just a boyfriend. And I was afraid all the men my age were only interested in women under 30.

    At the insistence of my best friend, I signed up for match and found that, in fact, there were many, many men who were interested in meeting me. Of course there were also tons of 50 year old men who wanted to date a 25 year old, but it's simple enough to screen those people out with your profile and by setting up your search terms to exclude them.

    What remained after I did that were a whole bunch of really great men who asked to meet with me. I scheduled coffee dates, 1 or 2 a week, for several months. And after 3 months of great, but not quite right for me men, I met the man I later married. I adore him, he's perfect for me and I know I would never have found him if we hadn't both been online.

    The trick, I think, is to look at meeting men as fun, to be genuinely interested in them rather than disappointed if he is not THE ONE. With that way of looking at it, you can enjoy the process instead of feeling hopeless and depressed about it.

    A last helpful hint, if you go the online route, post a photo of yourself that has been taken within the last month and that really represents how you look. You want a man who accepts YOU as you are, not someone who will be disappointed when he meets you and finds out you don't look like you did ten years ago.

    It is never ever too late for love. And the man you are crazy about DOES exist. He's looking for you too. Probably online. Older Mom

    I recommend that you use a different dating web site. Here is my theory. On the first thing men and women do is look at photos. One just pays a fee and sets up their profile. On sites like or you take a variety of personality tests and you are matched up in a much more specific way. You also don't see photos right away either so you get to make a judgment based on the personality of the person rather than the photo (and vice versa of course.) I met a wonderful man on and our personalities were very well suited. I think that sites that take more time and attention will yield a more quality individual who is also really seeking a relationship and not simply wanting to date around or find pretty women with whom they can have sex. Good luck. and Keep at it. It does take time....but I found it very worthwhile. ALSO- be open to dating all sorts of people and try to keep an open mind. Tell your friends that you want to be set up with quality individuals. You really need to cast a wide net...stay positive and try to have some fun with it. happily coupled
    You'll hear a hundred stories like mine--which begin just like yours. I met my second husband after 4 years as a single parent in my mid-forties. We met on a blind date through mutual friends, after he spent years looking online and going through dating services meeting perfectly nice women who just weren't his match (and vice versa), for whatever reason. Like you, I took one look at and went running--not my scene (though I have two different friends in long-term relationships found at E-Harmony, so you never know). Enjoy being single (I know that sounds funny, but there really are a lot of advantages to it, even with a kid, especially if your ex is a real co-parent who gives you some free and flex time to reinvent your life). Become who you want to be, then it's amazing how the man who wants you to be just who you are will come along. I don't believe in fate or magic, just in embracing yourself with or without a partner. That's the best ''plan'' for meeting someone later in life, I think. Don't rush it. When you're ready, ask your friends to look around for you or join an activity group of like-minded souls. Couldn't be happier
    Just as in regular life, there's lots of chaff amongst the wheat. Match com is the most inclusive and thus the best online site. It has both shirtless jerks looking for a fling and successful refined widowers looking for wives. You need to persist, to block from contact anyone who offends you, and email guys to be generally informed of their intentions. I have been on and off match for two years, and the second I turned 50 my emails dropped dramatically. So, I strongly suggest that you persist at this.

    I should add that Match is worth it because it's cheap for what you get. The really expensive services screen for income but not being married and wanting to cheat (It's Just Lunch accepted my ex-husband before the divorce started). If you persist you are well-suited to find love again. Anon.

    This response is for you and the person who wrote in under: finding a life partner at mid-40's. I'm sorry you are in this situation and my heart goes out to you both. I was once in your position, 42 and single and wondering what went wrong and why I couldn't find someone to marry. What was wrong with me? Where were all the single, young great guys? Etc. Etc. What changed? I stumbled across an article and later book by Lori Gottlieb titled ''The Case for Settling''. Now before you get your back up, check it out on Amazon and read the reviews. The book opened my eyes to the type of man I should be going after and what my ideals in a mate should be. It was very illuminating and really changed by dating life. I am now more happy that I thought possible with a partner and we are engaged to be married this winter. Good luck sister! Trust me! Read this book!

    Dating as single mother in her mid-20's with baby

    Jan 2012

    I am a college-educated young woman (age 25) with a 6 month old daughter. Unfortunetly my ''picker'' was off (as Patty Stanger would say) when I started dating my daughter's father almost 3 years ago. He was a great man in my eyes, but still had lots of hopes and dreams for his career instead of an actual career (mind me he was 10 years older, I should have known better that it will never happen) I strung along, but eventually enough was enough and I needed to move on. We broke up about 3 months ago.

    I am now looking to start dating again, but as a single, young mom with an infant I'm not sure how will it go. I have a good job and am financially independent. Honestly I am quite the whole package, but I'm not sure how this will go. Ideally I'dlike to date someone around 32-38 with a great career. I don't need anyone to parent my daughter or support me, I just need a financially independent man with whom I can build a future and not worry about finances constantly. I've signed up for so that's my starting point.

    So I guess my question is, for those that went through something like this, how did the dating go? How receptive were the men to the child? I'd love to hear personal stories. L.

    Oh darlin' you are at a REAL fork in the road. Don't do anything you will regret, like putting ''finding a man'' between you and your infant. I would think you put that out there first. ''A perfect starter family, just add love'' You really want a guy that WANTS a baby. Gosh that is tough. Be super careful..... and take it slow. Good things for you. Reenie
    What's the rush here? You are 25, broke off w/your ex 3 months ago, and have a 6 months old baby - if you really want to give yourself a gift, take one solid year off from men and just enjoy your baby and your life. Unless a meteor hits the planet, Earth will still have plenty of men to choose from one year from now and you'll be so much stronger, more confident and wise that you will only choose incredible guys. Alternatively, if you're not really ready to start dating, you'll choose the wrong/bad men again, get incredibly frustrated and bitter about it - and it goes downhill from there. Don't rush it. You are young!
    The only real financial security is going to come from what you can do to equip yourself to be a good earner and saver. Any plan that involves relying on one other person is, at the end of the day, very risky. Please, be mature.
    Answering your original question, there are plenty of men out there who love being stepparents. I know several quality men who married women with children and adopted their children. I would also agree with the earlier posters that being in your mid-twenties is a special time and why not take advantage of that? Especially since you are able to provide and care for your child without a partner's help. You have plenty of time to meet a life partner, and not that much time to enjoy the young years and develop a special bond with your child (age 1- 5 are quite special.) Not saying that you shouldn't put effort into a relationship if you meet someone very special, but I wouldn't invest a ton of energy trying to meet Mr. Right right now (because he might turn out to be Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right ) Anonymous

    How do I ask the coach out on a date?

    Nov 2010

    I am a single mom of a 6 year old boy. We often go to the gym to play basketball, while a basketball class is in session. The coach always brightens up when he sees us and is very friendly. He also has made it a habit to play with my son on the side (while his students are stretching or what not). He does not wear a ring. I would really like the opportunity to know this positive, friendly man better, but don't know how to go about it. As a female I feel that simply asking him out is too forward, or is it not? I don't want to ask him out while he is working, and have considered sending him an e-mail, which is posted on one of his fliers. Life is short, and I don't mind getting rejected, but I don't want to make him uncomfortable either. Is there some other more subtle way I could open the door to the possibility to seeing him outside the gym? It'd be great to hear from both men and women on the subject. Thanks, Clueless Single

    What about emailing him and asking and mentioning that you hope it won't be awkward if he declines your offer. You could also have another topic in there like how much your son enjoys the class, etc Sounds like a risk worth taking... Susan
    I don't really have dating advice, but a single-mom cousin of mine married her sons' soccer coach and it worked out very well (they have two more children.) ask him out for coffee/hot chocolate
    You don't have to ''ask him out on a date'' and risk embarrassing either of you if he is coupled, gay, uninterested, etc. You certainly can invite him to something social like a holiday party, a cocktail party or dinner party (that you can give just for this purpose!) If you don't entertain (and I suggest that more single people do this), then invite him to something with your child: ''Son and I are going to a Craft Show this weekend. Would you like to join us?''

    About dating: there are no rules. Anyone can invite and anyone can pay. The more informal you are about getting to know another person in order to explore any possible friendship the less stressful it will be for both of you. Isadora

    YES! Ask him out. It would be completely ''too forward'' if he wasn't showing any interest but if he is doing as you say he is doing then by all means work up to it. You can speak with him after a game and casually mention grabbing something to eat if he had no plans. By asking him out - you dont actually have to say - want to go out - but by staying after practice you can simply mention if he wasn't too busy maybe one of these days we can go grab a bite to eat or? leave it open for him to respond then he can also do the asking out. Guys like being asked out, that is to say if they are interested in the girl. And yes, life is short! so go for it.

    you can also join in when he plays with your son - pass the ball around with them and strike up a conversation. ask him questions, give him some clues as to your interest in him (like smiling at him not necessarily being an overly zealous flirt) and maybe he will do the asking himself but it wont happen if you just stand on the sidelines and watch. good luck! anon

    I was a single mom (still am, but she's out of the house) in your position once, which turned out to be the beginning of a long, wonderful relationship. I know this may not be politically correct but I strongly feel the guy should ask first. HOWEVER, you can start by chatting... nonverbally flirting, taking note of his reaction and the general vibe. Does he approach you, start talking, keep talking, smile, maintain eye contact, etc? You can feel these things and if it's there, it's a great game, the oldest one in the book. Be the one to leave a little before you'd like to, with a smile of course. In other words, give a little but let him go after you if that's what he wants.

    In the meantime, do you know any of the same people? Could you strategically find out about him - is there a girlfriend or whatever.

    In my case, I saw this guy around and was friendly and chatted some. I played it friendly and somewhat cool by ending chats pretty soon, etc. I might've accidentally touched him on the arm once while talking, like I might a woman. I found reasons to speak to him at some length a couple of times. One time was pure pretext and it was highly nerve-wracking. I could hardly breathe. We actually spontaneously hugged goodbye and then both of us were separately horrified and elated. We didn't speak again for WEEKS. I thought the feeling was mutual but I didn't really know.

    He was about to go away for the summer - MONTHS this had been going on. So I was planning to break my own rule and call and ask him for coffee. An absurdly casual ritual considering my feelings! I set up a time, had a kid over to play with my kid, closed myself in the bedroom with the phone and sat there staring at it. At that moment it rang! It was him saying he couldn't stop thinking about me! I'm so glad it worked out that way, although he would've adored me even if I'd been the one to call. As it was he felt extremely lucky to snag me and I had no doubt about his interest!

    If this guy's not available, you've maybe made a nice buddy and sharpened your skills for the next guy. Good luck! - play it and have fun

    Well, you sounds so sweet that it would be a shame for him not to realize that you are available. Here's what I would do... In my experience, I have never had any success with me asking the guy out. They feel too much pressure. It seems to me it's a pretty primitive system, but if the guy likes you enough to want to date you, he will definitely let you know. If he is the kind of guy that is too timid to ask you if you are single, or give you that special smile -then he is too timid in other ways. All you have to do is smile at him, say ''I was thinking of trying out X restaurant this weekend w/ my son, what do you think about the food?'' That's it. If he is interested he will get the hint. (i.e.,you don't have a date this weekend, you are entering into conversation territory other than basketball) If not, he will politely say ''oh so and so place is great, you should try it''. Meaning, without me...In my experience, guys who are attracted to you and want to date you will get very smiley, ask a lot of questions about you, etc. They will eventually ask you out on their own. And if he doesn't, his loss! Good luck, let us know how it ends :)!! anon
    Does the coach know you are single? available? I would try to somehow get the message to him that you are interested. (i.e. ''johnnie's dad is not present in our lives so I really appreciate your ability to connect with him ''(or something like that) That way he will know you are single. Do you flirt a bit with him? Start conversations? Thank him for the time with your son? I would try to turn on the friendly button and see if he responds. Another thing to try is asking other moms or dads(subtly) if coach might be single.....cannot hurt! good luck...go for it! single mom
    It sounds like he may like you and just be too shy to broach the subject. A good friend of ours was a male kindergarten teacher and had a very hard time dating. He said he didn't want to appear to be hitting on his students' moms. I would give him a winning smile when you see him and tell him you think it is great he plays with your son when there are lulls. You could then say, ''Hey, would you like to grab a coffee sometime?'' Just make it sound casual, not like a date. What is the worst he can say? ''Sorry, I am married.'' ''Well, I am married, but I would still love to grab a coffee.'' ''Sorry, you aren't my type.'' I find most people are flattered that you would ask them to get together for dessert or a coffee. I have made quite a few friends that way and we now meet fairly regularly. If the coffee goes well, I might wait a week or so and then bring him some homemade cookies. ''Well, it is the holiday season and it is just a little thank you for your helping with my son. He so enjoys playing with you.'' mid 50's lady
    Why don't you tell him what you've told us...that you'd like to get to know him but are shy about asking him for fear of making him uncomfortable...he can take it from there. Honesty is usually the best way to go, I think. (then again, I've been out of the dating scene for many years so who knows what I'd do in your shoes....BRAVO to you for approaching this...let us know what happens). anon
    Why don't you tell him what you've told us...that you'd like to get to know him but are shy about asking him for fear of making him uncomfortable...he can take it from there. Honesty is usually the best way to go, I think. (then again, I've been out of the dating scene for many years so who knows what I'd do in your shoes....BRAVO to you for approaching this...let us know what happens). anon

    Dating a younger man who has no car, by choice April 2009

    Hello. I am a single parent, mid-late 30s with a 10 year old. Unfortunately there is no involvement from my child's father. I met a 23 year old. He is very nice, chivalrous, intelligent, funny and ambitious. We had a wonderful first date and he has asked me for a second. Despite his age, I have really started to like him. He is PRE-Law and has 2 part time jobs. But, he just told me he has no car, by choice. He has an apartment and works/goes to school by BART. I feel bad, but I feel like the fact that he has no car, in addition to his age and that he is still in college, is too much. Its the combination of these things that makes me feel uneven. I have worked full-time since I was his age, and have been able to buy a house and buy a new car every 7 years. He has been a gentleman and could be a great prospect, if only he had a car, then I could probably deal with the age and college thing. Would it be shallow of me to not want to date him because he is a 23 year old undergrad without a car? No car, no love?

    He seems like a hard working, intelligent, nice young man who had a different philosophy on cars than you do. Perhaps you should examine your values and upbringing. I remember my mom commenting on the cars my boyfriends drove when I was in high school. A nice car does not necessarily equal a good or productive person. Make a list of all your friend's good qualities and any negative things you feel. Also, look at this as an enjoyable relationship, not that it needs to develop into something permanent at this point. I recommend looking on-line for a downloadable book called ''Dating without Drama.'' I found it very helpful. I wouldn't give up on the relationship for lack of a car. Let him drive your car on dates if that makes you feel more traditional on a date. And I have dated years on both sides of my age. It is the other interests that matter more to me. And enjoy your relationship! kl
    Only one date? Give the guy a chance! Maybe make up a list of qualities you are looking for in a significant other and compare him to your list. Is a car really at the top of your list? What about goals and values? If you are concerned, don't dump him, just take it slow. No need to rush. Sanon
    I think the fact that you have issues with him not having or wanting a car (you said he said it was by choice) says more about you than him. Personally, having or not having a car in an urban area with mass transit would not be a deal breaker for me and good for him for not polluting and living his life without the hassle and expense of a car. Sounds like you only had one date with the guy. Might be too soon to make any solid decisions about anything with him. Maybe just see where it goes. How do you know he's going to see you again? anon
    He may not be owning a car for environmental reasons, which is admirable. He also gets more exercise -- another benefit. If you like him as much as you do, he's probably worth enjoying, with or without a car. He can BART over to you. It's not always easy to find an enjoyable partner, and there's always going to be some issue or another. If one less car is the worst issue, you're in good shape. anon
    I once had an affair with a man who was MUCH younger than I was, and it was exciting and wonderful. But there was no way we could be partners -- our lives were quite simply in different places. Seven years difference is not that much on the face of things, but there is much more than simply a number of years to take into account, as you're finding. You have a child and you have different expectations from life. This younger man has A LOT of development ahead of him and will need to find his bearings, achieve some financial stability, etc. in the coming years. You are longing for stability right now, and you already have embarked on a stage of life that your lover is not yet ready for: parenthood. I wonder whether you have broached your feelings about a more substantial relationship with him -- you might find that at his age, he has not considered commitment seriously. And even if he were your age, it could be that your values would be different. His choice not to have a car coupled to your obvious desire to have a car would be a warning flag even if you were age-peers. If I were you, I would enjoy the warmth and excitement of the affair, but keep it within limits if you can. You could easily find yourself in the unhappy position of having nurtured this relationship and this man through pre-law and law school, only to find that he wants to move on afterwards. So if I were you, I would take it easy, and if you can't do that, move on. newly minted pragmatist
    I think there are two issues here. The first is what is important to you, personally. Clearly, having a car is, to you, a measure of adulthood and a dealbreaker. If it is that important to you, if you attach that much value to car ownership as one of the indicators of adulthood, then it is unlikely that your feelings about this will change and it would be a kindness for you to end the relationship before it goes further.

    My question is WHY this is so important to you. Many people make the deliberate and thoughtful choice to live car-free. For many people it is a way of lessening their ecological footprint. For some, it is a conscious, responsible decision not to spend money on something when they have determined that money can be better spent elsewhere (and you did say he is a student working two jobs). It seems to me that he has made a personal, responsible, adult decision about how to be in the world - and that you do not agree with it. I don't hear that he is critical of your choices, but you seem very uncomfortable with his.

    You two appear to have very different value systems; the car issue (not the fact that one of you owns a car and the other does not, but the fact that you've both made conscious choices about the importance of car ownership) points, to me, to more fundamental differences. Your reaction to his car-free lifestyle says to me that you will have difficulty accepting other differences in your values as they arise. I don't think his choice is irresponsible or immature, but I don't think you two are compatible if this bothers you as much as it does. Friend of many car-free adults

    What exactly is the problem here ? You enjoy each other's company, and you are looking for ways to wreck it by worrying that he lacks a car ? You aren't getting graded on this assignment, except if you enjoy upsetting yourself. I suggest you stop worrying, and be happy that this relationship is not about one person's financial resources. Anon.
    I think it is good that the younger generation is surviving without a personal automobile! Yes, you as a mom with a kid to drive around cannot perhaps relate to that life style. I would not judge someone on the fact that they are smart & alternative & creative enough to not have an automobile! Hey, if you like him, you know his age, you know there will be differences, but if you like him, then go spend time with him and don't ''trip'' over it. The important things are values like does he like kids/your kid, is he respectful, nice to be with, etc. Sandy
    Really? Does a CAR mean that much to you?? Why? YOU have a brand new car...what difference does it make? You might want to rearrange your priorities. If he's nice, a ''gentleman,'' is working, going to school, is a good lover, what more can you ask for? I wouldn't date someone that young but not because of him not having a car. Maybe you really have deeper reasons... good luck! anon
    Yes, it's shallow to not date somebody just because they don't have a car.

    But it's not at all shallow -- in fact, very likely a wise move -- to not date somebody who is in a radically different part of their life than you are. You're mid-to-late 30's, done with school, with kid(s), either had a career or chosen not to, presumably have had serious relationships. He's early 20's, still in school, has not yet started his chosen career, no kids, probably too young to know much about serious relationships. It's almost hard to fathom what the appeal would be (other than sex, not that there's anything wrong with that).

    I think once two people are both five years out of school and into real life, age differences don't necessarily matter much. But when the two people are on opposite sides of that ''adult'' boundary, it's very hard to really have a lot in common once you get past the surface attraction. Find somebody at your stage of life

    The car is the least of it! Of course he doesn't have a car, I didn't either as a college kid. He seems nice, but you are at different places in your lives. You seem hung up on the car thing, but it makes perfect sense for him not to have a car, he is not lazy or something, he is just 10 plus years younger than you. No biggie, stop dating him. anon
    I think your gut is telling you this guy is too young for you. I didn't have a car when I was 23 either. The lack of a car may have gotten your attention, but I think the imbalance is more basic than that. He might be a great person but I think you should look for someone a little older... IMHO
    It sounds like this is less about the car and more about the very real difference in your values/ lifestyle. single mom
    I totally understand why the car thing would push it over the line for you. There's something mom-ish about driving someone around who doesn't drive. Why not just show him the post you wrote or tell him how you feel? A lot happens between his stage of life and yours and it's OK to feel what you feel and it doesn't matter why. Anyway, I don't think the car thing is silly. Good luck. Anon
    In my view, if you have to ask a group of anonymous people whether you should be romantically involved with someone, then I think the answer is pretty clear that you do not have feelings for this person. And secondly, if a thing is a deal-breaker, then it's an open and shut case. a romantic
    First, most guys are nice in the beginning, otherwise they'd never get laid, so let's not put too much into how great he is at first.

    I think you're putting too much focus on the wrong things. No car is a different way to live for sure, but shouldn't be a dealbreaker - yes, that would be shallow. But a guy in his early twenties and you're 36-38? That's ... (add any negative descriptor here that suits you). But letting age be a dealbreaker is not shallow.

    I really think that once you got to know him, down the road, the car would be a thing, but the age and life stage difference would be a problem. You're in settled-into-your-life, mommy stage. He's just starting out in his adult life and probably hasn't even had much of his wild stage worked out.

    Cultural references would also be missing. Does he even know who Milli Vanilli was? No. Did he have friends in high school with crushes on the Top Gun characters?... He may not even know that movie. I'm giving random, stupid instances, but it's something that would show up over time. I befriended some older teenagers/young adults as a social experiment a few years ago, and while you can find commonalities, you hit walls in certain areas.

    If you're going to go for this, be kind and don't expect him to be anything other than a 23yo who hasn't gotten far in life yet. Maybe better as a short fling than something deep.

    I may not be getting the story right, but it seems to me that giving more worth to a car than a person sounds rather shallow, yes. anon
    oh man, this one had me on the floor, laughing! Seriously? It sounds like the fact that he has no car would be one thing you could credit him for! He's wise to the world, doing his part to keep his carbon footprint down, etc. He's not a teenager that needs you to drive him around, he doesn't want a car. If he was 40 and had no car would you fault him? Probably not, so what's the real issue? Probably his age, or even going deeper, people's impression of you because of his age. I really don't mean to be rude, but it's been one date. Does it need to be so heavy on your mind? Can you have a couple rather platonic dates and see what happens? Is this guy really ready to be a father figure to a kid only about half his age? If not, see him on the side for awhile, don't let it take over your life. if you want someone prominent in your life, I'd move on. He may be a great catch, but he's barely a grownup, in the sense that a parent would understand. He was in junior high when you became a mother! take it slow

    When and how to introduce toddler to my significant other

    March 2009

    Wondering if single moms who've been there can give me a little advice about introducing my toddler (18 months) to the new man in my life.

    I'm a single mom--son's father and I had called it quits before I discovered my pregnancy--we've developed a friendly, supportive co-parenting relationship and share custody. Until a few months ago, we lived as housemates--our son has adjusted pretty well to the two-home situation, though he's got a little separation anxiety/clinginess that he'd never had before when changing from one parent/caregiver to the next.

    I would like to spend some casual, daylight-oriented time with my son and the new man in my life--hiking, farmer's market, fairyland, etc. (read: NOT sleepovers). Am I wrong to think my son will take on ''Mommy's friend'' as he's pretty much taken on all the other caring ''extra'' adults in his/my life--happy to see them when they're around but not seeming to expect/rely on them? Will an 18 month old sense that this friend is ''different'' somehow? Is it reasonable for me to try it and see how he reacts, or is it really better to just keep these two parts of my life distinct? Is the timing of this--so close to his dad leaving the house--unfair/unreasonable across the board, or is it really kid-specific (some kids would be fine; some would not)? Thanks for the insight

    First of all, I commend you for moving on and taking care of your own needs after the separation, and while having to care for a toddler.

    However, I do feel strongly that the anxiety your son is expressing since you and his father separated homes, is a clear sign that right now he needs to be assured that his little world is safe and secure, and that critical care givers will not just go away.

    Watching you having a closer bond than with just regular friend/acquaintance could be setting off more anxiety. Bonding with your new/current boyfriend might be a good thing initially, but if he doesn't stay around, he will experience another traumatic separation. I don't mean to judge you as somebody with unstable relationships - don't get me wrong. But from your posting it sounded like a rather new relationship. I would give it some months before your boyfriend spends 'regular' time with your son, and a lot more time (up to a year) before you introduce him as a partner.

    Your son's feeling of security should be what drives the decision. Sympathetic

    I have experience in this matter, and my suggestion is to move very very slowly. It sounds as if your child is already upset about the changes in your living arrangements so I would wait for this to settle in a bit. I dated several men over time and realized that the best thing to do is wait until you are sure as one can be...that this person will be in your life for a long while. Otherwise it gets hard on the child to have men that come in and out of his life. This could be especially hard if the child gets attached to someone you are dating and then you break up. I am all for having some type of love life while being a single mom, but I really think the children's needs should always come first (even though it is hard....) Good luck. another single mom
    I am a single mom as well, and I separated from my son's father when our child was almost 1. Like yourself, I was reluctant to introduce my son to anyone at first, but at that age he didn't really understand the difference between my boyfriends and my male friends. It wasn't until he was 3 that he started making the connection. Now that he's 5 I am VERY cautious about who I introduce to him. single mom
    Short answer: Your child's age works in your favor in general, but it is soon. I've been there and I'd say before any bonding beyond acquaintance occurs, be very careful and do keep these 2 parts mostly separate for at least 6 months while you get to know this person. I'd personally say unless you're going to marry the guy, don't even blend it at all. A breakup would be hard but manageable for you - but for a toddler it means a lot more. I'm probably conservative on this but it really worked best for me at least. Anon
    Your son is very young, and he is likely to go along with what you plan without too much questioning, since you establish for him what is ''normal''. But even with an older child, a sensitive approach to establishing new normalcy in the form of a new significant other can work well. My son is twelve and his Dad and I divorced several years ago. When I met someone new I was really concerned about my son's feelings and tried to keep the two guys in my life separate. But circumstances forced their meeting and becoming acquainted, and it has been fine. Really fine. I explained to my son that I had met someone I cared about very much and hoped that it would be OK for them to meet. And we started doing things together. And now my new partner lives with me. My son is fine with this. He can see that I am very happy, my partner is very good with him, and I have tried to change his life as little as possible. I would say that you definitely should introduce the two of them if the relationship is serious. Your son will most likely be very comfortable if you are happy and the man in your life is kind. not as single a mom anymore
    I would say wait and keep these areas of your life separate. If you have shared custody, then you probably have time alone that can be with you boyfriend. I think people often underestimate children's senses of security. Your son already has his parents split-up and lives in two different homes. I always try to imagine if I'd like to live in two homes in the same week, and I think most adults would not, but our kids often have to.

    When kid's foundations are like this, I believe they need as much attention from their parent as possible. Thus, when it's your time with your son, it should be all about your son. If your boyfriend is there, your attention will be split.

    I am not saying to never introduce a new boyfriend to your son. But I'd suggest making sure you are introducing someone that will be a committed and stable part of your lives. Date them for a few years first. Too often, single parents introduce and let their kids get attached to new boyfriends/girlfriends, only to break up. You should be filtering who has influence on your kid and not letting people weave in and out of his life, creating more instability. He's already dealing with enough instability in his little life.

    I am speaking from the child's perspective. My parents split and I was introduced to many ''new'' boyfriends. I hated it and I was always jealous of my mom's attention to them. I even lashed out at the boyfriends. My mom and I can talk about it now that I am older and she thinks it was one of the worse parenting moves she ever made. With a kid in split-up household, they need their time with you to be ALL about bonding with ONLY you and them.

    Just my humble opinion! Good luck! Former Kid with dating Mom.

    Physical affection in front of children OK?

    July 2008

    Is it wildly inappropriate for physical affection (hand holing/hugging) in front of your children with someone you've only been dating for a few months? I am having a hard time integrating my new man into my life for fear that I will in some way harm my children. T

    I am a divorced mom of an eleven year old boy and have begun a serious relationship with a new man. I think a number of factors come into play here, and you give very little info in your mail. How old are your children? How long have you been separated/divorced from their father (assuming you were with their father)? How serious is the relationship with the new man? By all accounts, one should not share a relationship with kids until the relationship is a serious one, because they can easily develop attachments to the new person or feel threatened by his presence. Better not to involve them at all unless you think that this is a committed relationship. If it is sooner than a year after your marriage/relationship break-up, they may not be ready to process a new person coming into their lives. I went to talk to my son's therapist before introducing my son to the new man, and we proceeded very slowly and did not engage in physical affection in front of my son. The therapist said that my son did not need to be told explicitly that this was a physical/intimate relationship, but instead we could do casual things together to let them get acquainted naturally, without so much investment. My son guessed in any case that this was a ''boyfriend'' and he had questions -- was I going to marry again? Would he have to move (he didn't want to)? Why, if I didn't like being married to his Dad, would I want to be with this guy? All of these are legitimate questions and reflect my son's anxieties. But my son is eleven and very articulate -- younger kids might not be able to voice the concerns they feel. So I would go very slowly and gently, and not introduce them at all if this is not a solid relationship. That's what I've heard and read in every source I consulted. Note that I don't say you should stay solitary or celibate! Enjoy. another man with a new man
    Congratulations on your new beau! There is no evidence that your kids will be hurt by seeing a date hold your hand. In fact, it would be good for them to see that you are treasured and cared for. It would be much worse for them to see no affection at all. Maybe your date could hold hands with your kids, too. Affectionate
    This is probably on the conservative end of answers. I've been through it and I say tread carefully. You don't say how long you've been divorced, the gender or age of the child, whether and how the ''real'' dad is in the picture, and those things matter. Any male is a father figure (which may feel bad if there's a father in the picture) and an attention-taker - taking your attention away from the child. That's how they see it. Also, length of relationship does matter. I would wait at least a year before introducing the person as more than an acquaintance because he could be gone after the child began to open up to him. Divorce is usually traumatic to a child and introducing a new relationship is an adjustment even at a later stage. Personally, I kept all men I wasn't going to marry totally separate from my life as a mother. one person's opinion

    Gen X and haven't dated in 16 years - what's it like?

    June 2007

    I am considering dating after my separation. I have not dated in a generation, about 16 years, so I know nothing of texting, internet dating, bikini waxing, cosmos, etc. Are men our age, Gen X, expecting us to be like women of Gen Y generation? I want to be myself, but I am intimidated by all this new technology. Any advice is welcome from others who are dating again. Gen X Single Mom

    Be yourself! Some people will find it refreshing, and you can be most comfortable when you don't have to be what you're not. It'll be a fun new experience. I don't do any texting nor drink cosmos, but I do intenet date (it's fun) and my last boyfriend convinced me to start shaving down there, despite my initial reluctance.

    Go with your comfort level - if you want to do or try some of these things, go for it! It not, then don't. Gen X, 2

    So you are Gen X wanting to date Gen X, and you're worried men your age want you to be like Gen Y? And you think Gen Y is signified by technological things like texting, online dating, or bikini waxing? That's silly. Be yourself, and be open to learning about new things, should they come up. Don't worry, the interpersonal realm has not that much has changed since you dated 16 years ago. You're just getting cold feet and reading too many pop journalism articles. Born in 1969
    I think that a guy our age knows what to expect. A woman- not a teenager! Try to stick in the age group or older. I think Gen X and Gen Y are worlds apart (just my opinon). Look on just to see what's out there. You'll do fine:) anon
    Be yourself. Nice men want women who are themselves. Trying to be something you think they want will only get you someone who is less than nice. Or a disappointed man when he finds out you are not who you say you are.

    My advice is to immerse yourself in activities that you truly enjoy. If you like outdoor sports like hiking, jogging, etc. this is the time to join some clubs and have fun. You should also start going to the singles groups at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church. It's non-denominational and has no religious component. There are different groups depending on your age. The one closest to Gen X would probably be Islanders. Events are planned year round and include bowling, dinners out, movie nights, camping, etc. It beats bars and Internet chat rooms. This is a great way to meet single men. I highly recommend it. Good luck

    I am about your age and met my wonderful husband on I think that the Internet dating sites provide an opportunity to meet people. There are downsides to them but they can be effective too. One problem was that I met a number of men about my age who thought that Internet dating was a way to date as many women as possible without much risk. Another problem was that guys often would fall in love with some fantasy woman that they had concocted out of my profile and wouldn't even know me. These methods invite a person to describe their perfect mate and then search for a person who fits every qualification on their list. People are individuals, however, and you can't possibly predict who you will meet and really like. One guy told me on the phone that he only dated women who wore size 2 or smaller. Good luck to you and good bye, I said. Not many size 2 women running around.

    If you just think about it as a method to meet people, it works okay. I did get sick of the process but I couldn't see many other options. Then I met my husband and we have been wonderfully happy. Just like any other situation, you just have to be careful and selective. I tried to write my profile in a way that would steer guys away who I didn't want to date by saying things like ''I like to think,'' and using words like ''pedantic.'' I really tried to represent who I was accurately and to put down general qualities that were essential to me, such as likes animals, progressive politically, and so on.

    Good luck. Dating can be interesting but it would be a lot more fun if you knew for sure that you were going to meet someone great soon. Alison

    My ex demands I not involve our son in my new relationship

    May 2007

    I am a 40 year old single mom and I have a 4 year old son. His father and I share time with him and we split the financial costs associated with his school, clothes, etc. We dated for a few months, split up, got pregnant, became parents. We have both been in his life since birth, have never gone to court, just work out a schedule for him to spend time with each of us which is basically 50-50 with each parent. We are not interested in dating eachother or having a physical relationship with eachother.

    Things have been great until I started seriously dating a man. I am going on 3+ months with a man who I am very much in love with and am in a committed relationship with. I have dated before this man, but have never gotten my son involved because it just didn't feel right. This time it feels right and my son and I spend some nights at my boyfriend's house.

    My son's father is furious and demands that I not have my son involved with my relationship for overnights at his house.

    I feel like this new man is really a partner. He is supportive and wonderful to me and my son. I know the relationship is new, but it feels very much like it won't end anytime soon. I do not spend all the nights I have with my son over my boyfriend's house but I feel like I have the right to have a relationship and to involve my son as I see fit and that it's natural for me to have my son and boyfriend get to know eachother. My son enjoys my guy and is not acting out in any way as a result of this ''change'' to his routine.

    His father disagrees but won't agree to discuss it with a counselor and I feel like he's just trying to control my life.

    I would like to hear what other SINGLE PARENTS think about my situation. Thanks

    Even if this turns out to be a lifetime relationship, it has not yet stood the test of time. Surprises do occur. Wait at least a year to involve your child. Divorced mom
    I think that having your son spend a lot of time with a man you've only been with for 3 months seems a bit excessive. I realize that it seems like things are going great and the 3 months feels like forever, but from an outside perspective it doesn't seem like much time at all.

    I divorced my daughter's father and have since been married twice. During each period of dating I held off introducing my daughter (who was 6 years old the first time and 12 the second) to my dates until they became serious relationships, and then only introduced her to them as friends for months afterwards. They did not spend the night until things had advanced to the nearly engaged stage. I probably wouldn't even have done that, but extenuating circumstances (boy, that's a whole 'nother post!) intervened.

    It's just a lot for kids to deal with. You've got plenty of time away from your son; can't you spend time with your new guy during those times? I knew a woman who would never date after divorce because of her kids, which seemed kind of sad--it suggested to them that if things don't work out, you should never try again. I want to model for my daughter that I can pick up and try again to be happy, and so can she. But on the other hand, you don't want your child to have to cope possibly multiple times with you dating and breaking up and dating and breaking up, and 3 months just doesn't seem like much time to establish that this guy is the one. What's the harm in waiting a bit?

    I'm a single mom of a 4.5 y.o. girl, and have been dating a wonderful man for almost 2 years. I thought I took it slowly as far as introducing my child to my new boyfriend goes, but he just reminded me that he was actually introduced to her on our first date (well, of course he was: he picked me up at my parent's house, which is where my daughter and I lived at the time).

    Honestly, I think then I waited almost 1 month before starting to have outings together.

    As far as sleeping arrangements go, I would never have had my boyfriend sleep over in the beginning because the possibility of my kid waking up and finding us in a compromising position would have been too great. So, we would have him come over after bedtime to watch t.v., but he would leave at about 9:30 p.m. This eventually transitioned (as we became more involved) into him coming over directly after work, having dinner with us, watching t.v. as I put my daughter to bed, and then us staying up later, ''talking''. I waited until my daughter was comfortable with my involvement with him before even entertaining the idea of having him sleep over--which, we decided, was rather uncomfortable for HIM because he isn't used to being woken up at 6:30 a.m.

    On an aside, my parents helped to give me some occasional adult- only overnight time. That being said, I dated a few men before this wonderful guy, and honestly, I found that the single men without children couldn't understand my devotion and constant prattle about my own kid. That meant that single dads were much more fair--and fun--game. Also, the date could be considered a 'playdate', if the kids were involved (later dates). I think my bottom line is keep the kid out of the picture as long as possible, as they are most certainly aware of the goings on (i.e., mom has a new person in her life), and sometimes that can be overwhelming for them (what if mommy doesn't love me as much), not to mention the inevitable questions if your child is old enough (is he my new daddy?, are you going to marry him?, how come you spend so much time with him?, etc.)

    Dating with a child is tough, don't let anyone tell you different. Parent's Without Partners (org?) helped me get my dating game back on, after a long hiatus post-divorce. Again, IMHO, single (men, for me, a hetero) parents of kids are easier to associate with--and develop relationships with--than single, childless men. That being said, there are a few child-less men who are great, and are available. I wish you the best of luck in this shark-infested dating pool, and my main train of thought: keep your kid out of the picture for as long as possible, for everyone's sake, especially the child's. been there, done that

    I am a single Mom with 2 children and am siding with your sons father completely. Yes, you have a right to have a life and a real adult relationship. You also have 50% of your time to pursue that relationship. Good grief - 3 or even 6 months is NOTHING in terms of time - no matter how it feels now. I think it is absolutely fine that you have this man meet your son, get to know him during outings, at dinner ect. ect. but taking your son to sleep over with you at your boy friends house, in my view, IS crossing the line. The relationship is just too new and really, as wonderful as it seems now, in 6 months it may be over and how is your son going to feel then? With kids, just please go slow. Spend the night at his house when your son is at his father's. If you don't end up with this man and your child becomes too attached, it will feel like a divorce when you split - and that is really hard for kids. Sleep over on your own time. Kids First!
    I basically agree with you, and although this isn't quite what you said, I think that in this time and place people go a bit too far in ''protecting'' their children from the fact that their parents are sexual beings.

    But I think that getting counseling help regarding any disagreement you have with your child's father is for the best if the two of you can't resolve it on your own- you may want to initiate counseling yourself sometime in the future if you are concerned about his behaviour in some significant way. The point of good counseling is not at all for one person to gain control over the other, but for the two people to come to understand each other better and discover ways to meet in the middle.

    I'd suggest that you deal with your fear of being controlled by taking some of the initiative around finding a counselor. You can each come up with some names, each ''interview'' prospective counselors on the phone, and keep doing that until you find someone you both feel comfortable with.

    Don't look for someone who just supports your point of view around this particular issue, look for someone who is experienced with separated couples with children, who you feel safe to open up to, and who has a creative and open-minded approach to interpersonal problem solving. Anon

    i am a single mom of a 31/2 year old. i feel your pain around trying to balance your dating life with your role as a parent. i met someone last year, and was convinced that they were 'the one' (and at 35, i had enough dating experience to know, i thought). i brought my son for sleepovers, we all hung out together, my son got attached. and then we broke up. i am exceedlingly lucky that i happened to choose someone who still wanted to be in my son's life, and they still see each other regularly. however, i would never, ever put him in that situation again. how we as adults are in relationships sets the pace for our children's attachments, intimacy and relationship patterns as adults. in my dating since, i have made it very clear that no one i am dating will meet my son unless we are at the point where we are ready to move in/get married. you are lucky that you share custody and have so much free time in which to date. the danger in terms of your son's emotional health is not while you are dating, it is what will happen if you break up. is this person someone who would continue to be in your son's life even if you weren't together? would you want him to be? given all that, it is also hard to separate other issues--like maybe your ex is afraid that this new man will replace him, and you need to have a conversation with him about that, or maybe he has genuine, well-founded fears about your son getting attached to someone who might not be around. hard to say. i wish you all the best. single mama
    Been there, single mom, trying to date. I haven't met a (the?) man I'd want to marry or be with long-term, so I've made do with an altered but actually good part-time relationship. I totally understand the need to date and I've looked around and have seen blended families... those are made up of people who felt - I think rightfully - entitled to happiness and who met the right person. It's a good sign that your son seems to be adjusting.

    BUT (you knew there'd be a but!) three months is such a short time. He may be everything you think he is, but would it hurt to let a year go by before getting your son accustomed to and maybe loving this father figure? On the wild off-chance it doesn't work out, THAT'S when your son will be hurt. Can you really know everything about him? If he cares about you, he will work with you to maybe make the overnights less frequent for 6-9 months... there could be some middle ground.

    Another thought is to browse Barnes & Noble under blended families. my two cents

    Dear Single Mom, Three months does seem like a short time to get serious about a guy, but you have to go with your instincts. Maybe the father of your son is jealous. Is he in a relationship himself? He might also feel that he will be replaced? You might assure him that he will always be the father of your son and he will continue to see him, but that it's really good when there are more caring adults in a child's life. Also assure him that you know this is the right thing for you and your son now and that you wouldn't be exposing him to a creep. It sounds like you don't have a parade of men flowing through the house and are really sure about this guy. You have every right to do what you are doing. I know it's hard when the father's are mad, but it's HIS stuff, not yours. This may be the next step in ''splitting up''. There's not really anything he can do to prevent you.

    I get along really well with my ex's partner, sometimes better than with him! I like that there is another person in my daughter's life who loves her and is looking out for her. I'm not partnered now and I am careful about who I bring around to meet my daughter. There have been some duds, but we've all gotten over it. Though none have slept over, more like meeting at dinner. It's life afterall! And it's practice for them too, seeing how we are in relationships. If we in a healthy relationship but it doesn't work out, it's okay too. Not trying to jinx your new relationship but just to point out it's not the worst thing in the world if it ends and your son was involved. I wish you the best of luck. I know it's hard to juggle everything as a single mom, especially when there's that third person there! Happy mommies are better mommies!

    I am also a single mom, 36 with a 4 yr. old daughter, so I truly understand your predicament. But, that said, I must say I am concerned that you take your son over to your new boyfriend's house for regular sleepovers. That is not appropriate-- in that, I agree with your ex. You can sleep over at your boyfriends when your son is with your ex. Or, your boyfriend perhaps can sleep over at your home. Unless there have been serious discussions as to becoming a family together with this new person (and new relationships ALWAYS feel as if they will last forever!), it is unfair and inappropriate to bring your son for sleepovers for your own enjoyment and convenience. It is not ''his'' space, not at this point, is it ''your'' space. The relationship between you and any new romantic interest should be kept fairly private, and increase in levels. But not to the point of bringing your son over to sleep unless it has been established that that will become his home too. Sorry to be critical, but I was taken aback by your posting. T
    oh GIRL! My boyfriend's ex-wife is all up in my grill over the kids being at my house. Now that he's moved in, and it's his house, she's less butty about it, but IMO she can't stand that he's moved on. Keep in mind, she's led a multi-block-long parade of men through their lives since the divorce, but don't even try to question her judgement... I don't have any advice, but a lot of empathy. Some people just can't let go. Glad you didn't marry this guy. Good luck in your new relationship. (Maybe 3 months is a little soon, maybe I would have waited one more month, but you're the best judge of that! And how could you find out if he's a partner if he never meets your kid?!)
    Have you thought about mediation? There is a great organization called East Bay Community Mediation that provides volunteer mediators at a very low fee. The mediator can help each of you negotiate a workable arrangement, and can assist in eliciting the feelings underneath each of your positions, which will hopefully help each of you understand the other person better and lead to a lasting, workable plan. I myself am a mediator and would be happy to talk with you further about mediation and/or help you get connected with a mediator suitable for your needs. mary
    as a single dad for the past 6 years, daughter is now 8 1/2, who has not had a date those entire 6 years (not that i am not trying, as i am, lots; i am 63, however, and for that and other reasons am a difficult match), my feeling about your situation is that your ex is indeed trying to be too controlling about this, just exactly as you said, and he needs to let it go.

    on the other hand, i can certainly understand his feelings, and you would probably do best to attempt to do the same, although this won't be easy (for you). he was used to your previously loveless and mostly dateless arrangement, probably mirroring his own situation, hence is now feeling jealous/insecure, whatever. still i am with you 100% on this and feel he needs come to terms with the new situation and not be a controlling jerk. he definitely does need to agree to counseling (have you tried suggesting he go on his own if he is uncomfortable going w/ you?) to help get through this.

    again i can totally understand his helpless and vulnerable feelings here, but still feel he needs to see the broader picture (you and your son and your needs as a family) and lighten up and deal.

    best wishes for good luck. doug

    Going on vacation with boyfriend + his kids + my kids

    April 2007

    I am divorced and mother of two wonderful boys, ages 9 and 11. We have not lived with their father for 7 years. They have frequent phone contact with him, and see him three or four times a year, as much as we are able to make work with money and time away from jobs, etc. Last spring I met a wonderful man, also divorced, with three children. We started dating, and spending a lot of time together. I have shared with my children that he and I are friends, good friends, who like to spend time together. We go to movies, or dinner, and spend time together on the weekends with his and my children. We have taken one weekend trip together with all our children (5 all together), and did not share a bedroom. We were and are very careful physically with one another in front of the children, and only spend nights together when the children are at sleepovers with friends or grandparents. We are now planning another combined family trip this summer, for the last two weeks of July. After over a year of dating, and spending time with our families in various settings, is it wildly inappropriate for my friend and I to share a bed while on vacation? His children are ''savvier'' than mine, in that their mother has had a long- term boyfriend living in their house for over a year. My boys have never had that experience, and have lived alone with me for over 7 years. I do not want to make them uncomfortable, nor damage their psyches. On the other hand, sleeping on couches or bunking with the kids while on this holiday seems a little odd, too. How do I handle this? My children are quite fond of my friend, and his children are of me as well. As a group the five kids get along pretty well, not without the usual sorts of conflicts that arise with any group of children. Any advice, thoughts, pearls of wisdom would be great. Many thanks. help!

    Oh, gee, you will probably get alot of varied ideas on this. If I were you, I would want to sleep with him and just don't make a big deal of it to the kids. It is a long term relationship, you all know each other, and I think it is important to demonstrate to children what a healthy, caring adult relationship is, rather than sneak around and adhere to some Victorian morality.

    After my friend and I had been dating about 3 months very intensely, we did the same thing on a ski weekend. We had intended to each sleep with our kids, but the two boys immediately took over the sofa bed in the living room and the two girls took over the king bed in the master bedroom(!). We wanted them all to enjoy themselves and the only place left was a small double bedded room or the kitchen floor. We made a show of leaving the door open all night and he slept in his sweats and me in my flannel jammies under the covers while he slept on top of the blankets. Word still got home to his ex-wife who threw an absolute hissy-fit about how inappropriate it was (this is the woman he left because she was having affairs with men like their soccer coach and pediatrician WHILE they were married!). So, there is no telling what people will regard as appropriate. I say do what feels most comfortable for you and your friend. You will probably feel happier which your children will pick up on (and yes, someone will probably object, but that is their problem). love my kids AND my guy

    I would suggest that you clue your sons in on your relationship. I think that the hardest part is behind them; the fact that you separated from their biological father. The fact that you are moving on and have been so extremely considerate of them, is commendable, though. You don't mention much about how they handled your divorce, but assuming that they are okay with the situation the way it is now, I would allow them to be part of the next phase; a new man in your life. I have found with our children that explanations and honesty are the best solution. I think that if you mention to your sons that he makes you really happy and that you have taken a long time to get to know him really well, that they would only respect you for it. JOJ
    Hmm, I think your kids might be a little savvier than you think. For instance, they hang out with at least 3 kids that are savvy enough to fill them in. Nevertheless, it is a little disturbing to have to think about your mother doing that so definitely do not spring this on them when you are already on vacation. Have a nice talk with the boys soon, so they have time to process it long before the vacation.As it regards vacation make sure you play up the fun for them, that it will be all kids in their room! Have the talk with just you and your kids and your boyfriend should do the same with his kids. Don't make it like you are asking their permission, but more like you are acknowledging a fact that they probably already caught on to (but making sure not to make them feel dumb if they didn't know).As it regards vacation make sure you play up the fun for them, that it will be all kids in their room! Kind of like when they found out Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth fairy wasn't real! Maybe you can get some sleepovers before vacation! anon
    Look, you're allowed to have a grown-up relationship. Your kids will be okay - it's especially nice that they already know the guy and are comfortable with him.

    I personally think it's a good idea if you two think you'd like to be together for awhile, or see the relationship going somewhere. But either way, he's been around long enough - your kids will adjust.

    It's probably a good idea to tell your kids at some point soon that this guy is your boyfriend, and depending on what their personalities are like (if they need to be prepared for change), you might casually mention the sleeping arrangements ahead of time, so they can quietly process it and not be shocked. Such as: you and Bobby and Joey will share a room, Mike's daughters will share a room, and Mike and I will share a room. anon

    Single mom, boyfriend, and 10yo who still sneaks into my bed

    Jan 2007

    I am a solo mom, who has always been single (which means there is no other parent at all), with an almost 10 y.o. son. After a hiatus of 10 years I am dating someone. Needless to say, working out the logistics for intimacy is very challenging. My particular issue is that my son still comes into my bed in the middle of the night (I never wake up when he does). I would like to now have him stay in his own bed because at some point I would like my boyfriend to be able to stay overnight with me. I am very aware of the preception of ''kicking'' my son out of my bed for someone else. I am looking for some guidance on how to do this. Help! I would also like to hear from other parents in this situation about how they juggled time alone with a paramour as well as time with their child(ren) around. Right now I am proceeding very slowly, but am tuning into my own personal needs for the first time on 10 years. Thanks for any words of wisdom. anonymous

    Three points in yr post. 1.Your 10 yr old is too old to be sleeping with his mother. I emphasize both ''his'' and ''mother.'' 2. Do you really want to model for your son that it is ok to have a boyfriend sleeping over with his mom? I want more kids to know that they need to be way, way more selective and knowledgeable about sex, society, stability, and morality. 3. You gave up ''your needs'' when you had a baby. (See pt. 2, above) You can wait until your precious and only boy moves out. Have dates outside his home. Your son needs you to spend time with him. Trust me on this. Why don't you two do community volunteer work together? anon
    Good heavens, I had to write after reading the post suggesting you wait until your 10 year old is grown before dating and having overnights with a boyfriend.

    If this is someone who seems important and with whom you are having an ongoing relationship (which is how you describe it), then you just need to explain that to your son. Children will react differently to this news -- some overly thrilled, some overly angry. You need to get clear with yourself that this is an appropriate thing you are doing and communicate that clarity to your son. It will settle out in time. You absolutely deserve to have a relationship that includes sleepovers and, in fact, it could lead to a wonderful relationship for your son as well. Best of luck! sabrina

    I asked a friend in the same situation and this is what she told me... I took out names, so I am not sure about editing:

    Honestly. I talked to my son and told him that it was time for me to be in a relationship and that at some point my boyfriend would spend the night. He was cool with it - at 10 they know a lot about this stuff even if they don't know the details. It was different as my boyfriend and son knew each other before I knew my boyfriend but jealousy is still, after 8 months, an issue. I try to talk to my son openly and I spend time with just him at times as well as with my boyfriend.

    Truly, I think it has been good for my son as it has made him more aware that all people have needs and that love comes in many places. It has certainly made my son more aware that I am a woman and adult as well as his Mom.

    I am relieved to have my son see a healthy and open relationship - to see us argue and get through it kindly, to ''neck'' (as he calls it) and see healthy love/affection, to see my boyfriend be kind to me and do sweet things and visa versa. He would have had no idea how to treat a woman or how he deserved to be treated by a woman if he had left home with no example. I was always worried about this.

    I honor your courage and strength. My friend is one of the best mother's I know, and her son is doing extremely well. The traditional family, is not the only best way to raise children. Wishing you the best

    At 10 your son may be old enough for a sleepover at a friends house. that way you can have your sweetie over undiscovered. after a while, when you are sure that the relationship is strong. you can simply tell your son that boyfriend is sleeping with mommy tonight because that is what people who love eachother do. if he comes in in the middle of the night anyway you can take him back to his bed and cuddle him there for a bit before heading back to your man. i hope this helps. hopefully i'll be in the same position myself one day! stacia
    The original post expresses a very serious concern, which ideally should be handled with professional assistance. It is not inappropriate to warn of potential trauma for a 10-year old boy who is suddenly prohibited from sleeping in mother's bed because she is dating. This was the original post's real concern. Certainly there are therapists in the Bay Area who have experience with similar situations.

    I experienced a similar situation. I was 12 when a teacher, whom I knew, dated and eventually married my mom (single for many years previously, after the death of dad). I thought it was fine, felt it was fine, acted adjusted, but I repressed significant issues. This precipitated inexplicable suicidal thoughts, acts, etc., and led to a loss of three or four years of ordinary childhood. I was not overly dependent on my mother, either, so I assume a boy who sleeps in his mom's bed could be more destabilized.

    Good advice cannot be absorbed if it comes with too much opinion. Because single parenting and sexual freedom provoke such strong opinions, several responses to this post seemed painfully opinionated, although only the conservative one created a backlash. Concerned

    Boyfriend moving in with me and my 3 y.o.?

    Jan 2007

    My boyfriend is moving to the Bay Area from southern California in the next few months. Although marriage is intended in the future, it is not something we are planning presently. (background: we've been dating long distance for a year, but have been friends for almost ten years)

    What we have been discussing is living together. He already spends most weekends at my apartment with me and my three year old daughter. They both adore each other and are wonderful together. What I'm unsure about is 1. how to answer my daughter's questions as to why B sleeps in my bed; 2. if living together would confuse her or not; 3. how to explain living together if B moves in; 4. how to explain marriage if we later get married; 5. if living together is a bad idea or not; and 6. what exactly is B's relationship with my daughter if we're living together -- do i need to talk about that with her or not?

    Last bit of info - I was never married to my daughter's father. He sees her about 5 to 15 hours a week, but she has never has overnights with him. So my home is really her only home. Any and all advice, comments, shared experiences that answer my questions or are just tangentially related are very welcome by me. I don't know any other single moms, so I'm on my own for this. Trying to be good mom

    No- please don't move this guy in! Be patient and see if you actually get married first. anon
    my husband and i first moved in together when my son was 4 years old, with me not having been previously married to my son's father. i think that the most important element is that you and your partner are committed to each other so that your daughter does not get caught in the middle.

    we ended up going on and having another child, before we were married. i cannot remember if the discussion of marriage ever came up so you may be worrying about things that never arise, but i have always talked to my son about the many definitions of family and how many different equations can come from that one term. and, my husband has never tried to take the place of his father. my son is actually closer to my husband, though he may not readily admit it, but also has weekly contact with his dad. we have never tried to make the situation something that its not, nor forced anything on him other than his siblings!! i think just be open with your daughter and let things evolve naturally while including her in the process. and talk to her while encouraging her to be open with you about how she's feeling. best of luck in your new life. anon

    Hi, I can't believe you haven't met any sinlge moms here in the Bay Area! Well, there are lots of us out here, with and without boyfriends. To comment on your situation, I guess I would be wary about moving in right away if you haven't had the time to be together in the same town. I think it would be harder on your daughter to figure things out if he moved in and for some reason you guys didn't hit it off domestically and then moved out, than if he came over a lot and started to spend the night slowly before he actually moved in. As far as explaining things to her, you just say, adults who love eachother sleep together and it's another kind of love that's different from how you and she love each other and how your boyfriend and she love eachother and how she loves her father. I don't think there's another way to say it. She will figure it out eventually. Marriage and living together, hmm could be the same for a 3 year old, so I wouldn't go into too much detail except for saying that that's what adults do. Maybe you could say adults live together first and then if it works out and everyone is happy then they get married! If you are going to live together try to make sure that she doesn't feel displaced, try to keep her room as is.

    As far as her relationship with your boyfriend, it's nice to have another adult caring about a child. He's not her father, but can be a guiding loving person for her. Good luck! anon

    You need to put your daughter first and foremost in your life. If you and your boyfriend are really serious about marriage, have you two sat down separately and together with a wise and experienced third person and gone over with a fine tooth comb your views on money, sex, household duties, conflict resolution, parenting, estate planning, activities that involve each of you three individually and in different groupings of your family? Unless you are prepared to do this work at least twice with months between cycles BEFORE your boyfriend has moved north, you are not truly mature enough to get married. Then get married before the dude moves in. As I said above, it is your daughter, not yourself and your love life, who you must put in the forefront. anon
    The way I see it, you have two choices. Either get married since that is your intent and then you can then explain that when people get married they love each other and form a family and live together. Or just say that when people love each other they live together (? especially when they are going to get married soon??) Ring those bells if you're gonna ring 'em

    How to approach boyfriend sleeping over?

    Jan 2007

    I am a single mom of two boys ages 8 and 4. I have a boyfriend whom they adore and he loves them. I would like to be able to have my boyfriend sleep over when the boys are in my house, but don't know how to approach this. We lived with another man briefly, so they have experienced my sleeping in bed with a man other than their father. How have others approached this with their children? Thanks for your advice. anon

    You indicate by your post that you have already had at least two failed relationships. You are parenting two kids, both sons, which cannot be easy. But you must model for them commitment and stability. That means ''dating'' out of the house, and minimizing contact with boyfriend. They are very impressionable and are just beginning to understand sexuality, morality, commitment, respect for girls and themselves, and a myriad other fundamental lessons. They both need all of your extra time, not some joe-boyfriend. I suggest you and the kids do volunteer work together (like Habitat for Humanity), work on assisting their education and teachers, and do other, deeper activities. They will be out of your life and into their own in less than 10 unbelievably short years. Use these years wisely. Be a strong, proud woman. anon

    How to turn a friendship into something more?

    June 2006

    OK, communal parental wisdom, I have a question that is really about adult relationships but touches on how to survive as a parent post-divorce. I am recently divorced and just shy of fifty. Recently I contacted a man I met before I was divorced both to ask a work-related question and to test the waters to see if he might like to get better acquainted. We have had five get-togethers of the strictly lunch and coffee type over the past three months, all except the first instigated by him, and these are always pleasant but limited in time (two hours or so) and scope (we don't talk relationships at all). During that time he said nothing about any kind of ongoing relationship with someone else or even alluded vaguely to the presence of a woman in his life. For my part, I vaguely alluded to shared custody and no longer wear a ring, but didn't discuss my divorce. Come to find out via a mutual acquaintance that he has a girlfriend, I don't know how serious though I do know that they don't live together. Question (particularly for you males out there, I know there are some out there) -- how do I interpret this? I am interested in the proverbial ''something more'' but have proceeded with extreme caution. Ah, it feels just like teenagerhood. Input from all welcome.

    If you want a partner who will surrepititiously go on lunch dates with other women and then ''forget'' to ever mention you exist, well then by all means, go for it. I guess as women get older, they don't get any smarter in the ways of love. This is disconcerting. Really, the type of man who fishes around for the next, uh, fish, before ending the relationship he is in is a coward, a liar and has absolutely no integrity. As you have no idea what it would be like to be in an emotionally and physically intimate relationship with him (I mean it could be awful anyway)yet and are not physically or emotionally or finacially attatched, why would you even consider a man like this. It is not like the two of you are together and have problems you need to work out. He's proving to be a problem before step one and you will have only yourself to blame if you go ahead with this. P.S. Why don't you check in w/ the girlfriend. I am sure you will learn a lot. Sorry to sound harsh. I do feel for you Take Care of Yourself
    Given the fact that you and he have not discussed personal issues, it would seem to me that he is treating you like a friend since you have not indicated that you are interested in anything more. Since you have discussed work, it is easy enough for him to tell his girlfriend that he is seeing a friend from work for a casual lunch. I would suggest talking about other issues, such as asking if he has plans that weekend, or maybe say when he asks if you are free for lunch the next time, say that you are busy but was wondering if he would like to meet for a drink (or coffee) after work. See what he says. He and his girlfriend might be serious, or they might be both dating others; you won't know until he says something. This is the Bay Area and there's a wide variety of relationships here. Many years ago I dated someone named Tom, who had a boyfriend named Adam. Everyone was on the same page and we had no issues with that (both Adam and I saw Tom separately, and in fact I never met Adam). More recently I had a female friend seriously dating a man who was also seeing another woman; again, all were knowledgable about what was happening. Just some things to consider. L.
    glad you posted; i just love this stuff, as a recently (well, 5 years ago now, come to think of it) dumped 62 year old dad of a now 7 year old, after 17 year relationship. you at least have something going, so good for you. but what to make of, or how to interpret what is happening with you? from my perspective, unfortunately there is no obvious read on him for you. clearly he is interested, since he has asked you for 4 of the 5 meetings you have had. but whether or not 1)he is very tight with the non live-in girl-friend but is just enjoying a little extra company with you, or 2)even wanting some kind of extra-relationship fling with you, but will still be committed to her in the end OR 3)things with her are not all that serious and he really IS checking you out for something more serious, i just don't think is all that clear at this moment.

    therefore, i think all you can do is just go along with your life and see what, if anything, develops, either here or elsewhere. but keep in mind that ANY of the above 3 alternatives is possible. please however don't mortgage your emotions to any one of them, if you can help it, because it may not be the actual one. good luck and please keep me posted, in case you have time or interest in doing so. i much enjoy hearing how you and others go about these things. d

    Hi, Uncharted territory with these new relationships. Putting yourself out there for a deeper connection is tough. A few things came to mind as I read your post as I too am coming out of a 7 year commitment. First is to remember that you know when someone is into you. He would be wanting more than a few hours here or there. Also, any man I have dated will want to go out in the evening to a play or to dance. There is lots of eye contact and any excuse to sit closer than how friends would sit. If you really are attracted to his mind/body put it out there a bit and see if he is interested in going out to dinner. Let's try and get a date that is longer than 3 hours. Don't be shy when you see someone that looks interesting at the store, supermarket or wherever you are say hi. As my grandma says, ''put on your lipstick and go with the attitude that today anything can happen''. Feel free to ignore the lipstick part (; Good luck and have fun! My 2 cents
    Don't jump into ANYTHING that you have some doubts about if you're recently divorced. It's way more trouble when you're older and have kids to get into things and to break them off. Given that you have learned he has a girlfriend, I'd suggest you either: stay away COMPLETELY from the possibilty of ''something more'' (my preferred option for you), or ask him about it. To me, the fact that he didn't mention a girlfriend probably means that he's testing the waters with you, in a less than straightforward manner (and I suspect he'd be equally vague and elusive about you). Usually this means he'd be interested in being deceptive about his girlfriend. Honey, you have time! Don't worry! and Don't start into anything virtually guaranteed to cause stress.

    Don't push this until you find out from him (and maybe your other source) that his girlfriend is out of the picture completely. And if he indicates that he may be interested in something more, or if your meetings get to be more than casual (e.g., nice dinner or something that feels more like a ''date'' to you), come right out and ask him about the girlfriend. Make him be straightforward w/ you. It's not unusual to start out w/ past acquaintances right after a divorce, but it's probably a good time for you to meet more than just one person, and keep them all at friendship/casual level for a while. You can't replace the good things you lost from your ex just yet

    Re-entering the dating world with a 3-year-old

    May 2006

    My instincts are failing me on this one, so I need some help. I've been divorced for a year now and am re-entering the dating world with a three year old. What are the rules here? Don't introduce boyfriend until when? (I assume some number of months? or are brief at the door intros okay earlier?) Is it ever okay for boyfriend to stay over at night? In separate bed? on sofa? what about when you are no longer dating but in a ''serious'' relationship? What, if any, activities are okay to do together? and when? Or do I just learn to wholly segregate my parent life and my dating life? (which seems hard since I am so intrinsically a parent) Obviously I want to do what is best for my child. Any guidance from those who have been through this before?
    Want a social life again

    I consider myself instrinsically a parent as well. That's why in dating, I only date men that have children and are actively involved in their children's lives or men that have a strong desire to be fathers and for some reason, have not yet. Further, I have been divorced since my children were 6 months old and 2 years old and they are now 8 and 10 - and I've learned the hard way not to involve my children into my relationships. The right time is when I know the man I'm dating is going to be my husband. Dating is hard enough for us, trust me when I say it's twice as hard when you have kids because when the relationship ends, it's a break up for them too. In dating, I talk about the kids all the time as he does about his daughter but we decided not to merge until we are ready to take it to the next level. Also, I don't date anyone that I don't think is likely to make it to the next level.
    SIngle Mom that Dates
    Hi. A few years ago, I was in this exact situation and I followed my instincts. I did not think in terms of whether boyfriend should be introduced, stay over, etc. I judged everything by my one principle that a child should not have someone come into their world and become significant to them, only to then lose that person. This might condition a child into the feeling that lovers are temporary. Since a small child forms attachments so quickly, I did not want to make anyone part of our household in any way unless I were certain that person was going to be around for a long time. Therefore, it was 6 months before my child met my boyfriend, and it was almost 2 years before I began occasionally including him in family dinners, or going camping as a threesome, and so forth.

    Now of course my child is attached to him, but we have been dating for 5 years. For 3 years my child would only see him every few months; now it's once a week or so. And I have never had him spend the night. I feel that someone who spends the night becomes, in my child's eyes, an essential part of the household, and I don't want my child's household world to be disrupted again the way it was when my husband left, or growing up with the idea that men come, and then they move on. As it happens, I dated a while, and then I ended up with my current boyfriend of five years. I have never regretted having myself be fully guided by what I feel is best for my child. I felt that if a potential boyfriend did not understand my attitude, then we were better off without him. But guys I dated respected my position, and may have been relieved to get to know me without having to also form attachments with my child. I imagine men don't need the burden of potential guilt if, after a couple of months of dating they are no longer interested, they'd be hurting a child as well.

    When I read your post, I was inspired to respond right away! I'm a local single mom who dove back into dating when my daughter turned three.

    Your questions are excellent. You sound very thoughtful.

    Dating as a single mom has been quite a life-changing experience for me! You can read about what I've learned at Literary Mama,, where I write a column called ''Single Mom Seeking.''

    I, too, have struggled with issues such as sleeping with a man for the first time. As it turns out, single motherhood has been my first lesson in learning how to date - for real. It sounds like you have really great instincts. Feel free to write to me!

    Warmly, Rachel

    I would be curious to read the responses you will get for this. I am in the same boat as you. I did start dating while my husband and I were separated. In hindsight,emotionally, I wasn't ready to date even though I was the one that wanted the Divorce. I wasn't ready to share myself emotionally with anyone else. The dating was fun as it got me out of the house. My son has a good relationship with his father so I only went out on dates during the weekends when he was with his father. And no, I did not introduce my son to any of my dates. I broke up with 'Joe' after dating him for about 3 months. A few weeks later, an friend of mine emailed me. We both had a crush on each other for a long time while I was married. (Although he was not the reason for the divorce. My husband and I managed to screw it all up by ourselves). In any event, he is wrong for me on paper for so many reasons, he is 6 years younger than me for one thing. (He's in his late 20s and I am in my early 30s)However, I decided to take the chance and said yes to dating him. I found our dates to be so much fun and he is a wonderful person to be with. (Keeping my fingers crossed!) I know he loves kids (HE babysat for one of his single mom friends) but I would not introduce him to my son and vice-versa until things got more serious or until he asks to spend time with my son. (The last time he saw my son, he was 6 months old)

    My best friend went through a divorce with a 2 year old daughter. She met someone right after who not only asked to spend time with her but also planned activities to include her. Needless to say, they are now married and are one big happy family.
    Newly single

    Finally found a guy I like - but he's younger than me!

    April 2006

    I am a single mom (separated for three years) and about to turn forty. Although I get lots of attention from men, I have not been interested in anyone (at all) since leaving my husband and so have fallen into a rut of politely saying ''no thank you'' to all men who approach me. I keep telling myself I'm not ready, the divorce isn't final, I'm too busy with my child etc...Recently, a man has shown a great deal of interest in me and I am shocked to find that I am interested in him too. The problem is he is seven years younger than me! Although he is the only man I've looked twice at in years I am tempted to say ''no thank you'' again because he is so young. I know we are all individuals, age is just a number, men do this all the time,etc...but I am not a man. I feel ridiculous bringing this issue here (it makes as much sense as consulting my child's magic eight ball, which invited me to ''ask again later'') but I wonder if anyone, esp. women my age have insights that might help. Is such an age difference a good enough reason to reject the advances of an otherwise desirable guy? Am I just protecting my vanity, reputation, or whatever? I have not dated since I was younger than this guy so I have no idea what's ''normal'' now. Am I making a big deal of nothing? anon.

    7 years is nothing in terms of age difference. Go for it, and see what happens! anon
    Go for it! While I'm married and have not been in your situation, I have friends who have and are the same age as you. Who cares if he's younger as long as you enjoy his company. Take it one step at a time, and live and enjoy your life. You are entitled to have some romance. At the same time, you have a child so there needs to be some boundaries established with any new relationship you embark on, regardless of age. Go for it!
    I've been married to a much younger man for more than ten years, and am very happy that when I asked myself the question you are asking yourself, I decided to give it a go. The only area where our age difference makes any difference at all is that we are of different musical generations. Other than that, the important things -- the things that make or break a marriage, like having well-matched values, for example -- are utterly unaffected by our age difference. Before I met this man, I had generally dated men 2-5 years older than I was; I can tell you that most of them had far less maturity than the guy who eventually became my husband (when he was 28 and I was 40). Age Is Only a Number
    Woman, go for it!! You will only know if it works or doesn't work by trying it. And if there is chemistry and you have some connecting points then it could be fun. You don't need to go into it thinking you are going to get married or that he is going to be the child's second father.

    Speaking as a single mom (10 years divorced!), it's really nice to have the attention and affection from a nice man when you can. It's a hard job and you need adult initimacy too! You don't need to broadcast it at first, in fact, I don't talk about or bring the new man home to meet my daughter or friends until I'm sure about him and we've been seeing each other for a while. Even then, in 10 years it's only been a few, not exactly a parade.

    He must be around 32? Not exactly a spring chicken, it's not like his biggest memories are from college or high school! I think we learn things from all relationships, about ourselves and others. Have fun! anon

    Don't worry about it - if you like this guy, just ignore the age difference. I am 11 years older than my husband. We started dating when I was 39 and he was 28. We have been together for over 10 years now and we are very happy. We have many common interests and the age difference really only comes up when we are reminiscing about music we listed to in high school (he listened to crap and I listened to the good stuff - ha ha). Anyway, it is not a big deal. At first, I had a few insecurities about being older, especially since I'm a woman and women worry about their looks a lot more than men do. It's socially acceptable for old geezers like Hugh Hefner but really ''scandalous'' with genders switched! However, I soon realized that no one really noticed the age difference. Even being around his friends, they just don't seem to recognize the difference unless I bring it up. He says that women live on average 10 years longer than men, so we are about even!
    Not too scandalous
    Am you making a big deal of nothing? YES. anon
    I'd say go for it with this guy. A seven year gap in ages is a big deal when you're 24 and he's 17, and still something of a deal when you're 30 and he's 23. But if you're 40 (almost) and he's 33, it's no big deal at all. The older you get, the less this kind of thing matters. My now husband some 15 years ago dated and lived with a woman 7 years his senior and they got along famously. Unfortunately, the poor lady died of cancer after only a few years, but I know they were happy and in love right up until the end. Both families were very happy to have them settled with each other. He and I met a few years ago and are now married. I'm only a year older than him, but I think if I were 7 years older, it wouldn't matter. Good luck. DB
    If you have lots in common and chemistry, you go girl! Both my husbands were younger, one by a year, another by 4 years. Most of the time it made no difference at all. My present relationship is with a guy 17 years older. Most of the time, again, the age doesn't matter at all. Just keep the good communication going and have fun. You deserve fun in life and someone nice to share those experiences with. kathryn
    Lucky you!! I would not worry about the age difference at all. I am 40 and would definitely consider dating a 33-year-old (although I can't because I'm married!). I think the biggest issue is whether you both feel you are in a similar stage of life. For example, the difference between 22 and 27 can be much greater in terms of ''just out of college'' vs. ''stable job/life and looking to settle down'' even though the age difference is only 5 years. 33 and 40 are not so far apart if family/work/life issues are compatible. anon
    Stop worrying sweetie! 7 years is nothing at ages 33 and 40, and will continue to matter even less as you both age. Put it out of your mind right now so you can get to the things that matter :-) I know two couples with women ten years older than the men - they both met in the women's late 30's early 40's.
    Currently seeing someone 5 years younger
    In a word (or few): dating a younger man is no big deal at all. My husband is 4 years younger than I am. His best friend's wife is 7 years older than her husband. My 65-year-old aunt married her 55-year-old husband when she was 33. My other aunt on that side married a second husband who is six years younger than she is when she was in her late 30s. And so on. It's really no big deal and I wonder if your concerns are really more just about getting back into dating again (which is perfectly understandable!). The only question would be if this man wants children biologically related to him. But I'm jumping the gun and if this is an issue you'll no doubt talk about it in good time anyway.... Good luck! anon
    My experience with this is only peripheral. My best friend (48) is married to a man 12 years her junior. They have two children and have been married for over 10 years. My sister is almost 45 and married to a man 7 years her junior. They also have a daughter and have been together over 10 years. I think both have come to view the age difference as a non-issue. I say go for it! Anon
    First, congratulations on finding that ''feeling'' again. Isn't it wonderful? I am also nearing 40. I don't think that the age difference should make any difference. I understand your statement ''men do it, but I'm not a man'' but really, I don't think it should make one bit of difference if you are compatible. If you enjoy his company, see him some more. Take it slow and see where it goes. Good luck and enjoy!
    I am in the same boat as you-seperated/divorced 3 yrs haven't dated since-41 years old. My rule of thumb for dating at this age is 10 years up and 10 years down(31-51) and there can always be exceptions. The older you get the gap in how people behave becomes smaller (usually). If you are 40 and he is 33, that doesn't sound weird to me at all. Anon
    Go for it, girlfriend! It great that you're finally feeling the spark again. Honestly, 33 and 40 doesn't seem that shocking to me; I think the age gaps lessen as we get older. It seems to me like the issues with younger men often revolve around kids (the older woman wants to start a family, the younger man isn't ready yet, or the older woman is leaving her fertile years and the younger man has conscious or unconscious problems with that), but since you're on the BPN I assume you are already a mother so the issue is moot. Congrats on being attractive as your youthful, vital self. anon
    You're probably going to get a lot of responses to this, but I thought I'd chime in. I got divorced at 34, and met a man 6 years younger when I was 38. It didn't even occur to me to think of him romantically at first (I was always into older men), and when it did I felt slightly embarrassed at being so much older, but I must say, he's the best man I've ever met. Almost 5 years later, we're married with a 3 year old, and I never thought I could be so happy. The age difference has had virtually no impact except that I beat him to 40... So go for it! What have you got to lose?
    younger guys rock
    I am 41 and married to a man 8.5 years younger. I was in a similar position as you 4.5 years ago when we met--meeting fewer and fewer men of interest, and most seemed young (as in immature) even if they were my age or older. The only time hubby and I notice the age difference is when discussing certain aspects of pop culture, and even then, I'd say we have ''knowledge overlap'' most of the time. I think what it comes down to is does the man have the same timeline as you (for commitment, marriage, kids, whatever); granted the younger the man, probably the less likely they want those things, but there are some who are open to it.
    happy with younger man
    Forgot to mention some other salient points...I think it's cool to be able to say I married a (significantly) younger man. It's also very fun to have him find me so desirable and sexy, and appreciate my independence and no-bullbleep attitude.
    happy with younger man

    When is it appropriate tell kids the relationship is serious?

    Feb 2006

    When is it an appropriate time to introduce someone as a significant other to your kids? I have a 4 year-old son, never been married, and my son's father & I have not been together for over a year. I had started dating a few different men several months ago, but nothing serious and I have kept all that completely separate from my son (i.e. I never brought any of my dates around my son). However, I have been dating one man pretty much exclusively for the past month and we've been talking lately about moving our relationship to the next level (monogamous, boyfriend/girlfriend, exclusive, or whatever it's called). He is extrememly supportive in any way I want to handle things with my son in regards to including him into our lives, undertstands completely that my son is my first and foremost priority and that everything else falls into a distant second. He is also all for ''the slower, the better''. My son has met him as ''mommy's friend'', so he is familiar with him. But considering the relationship developing into something more, I don't know how to do this so that my son feels comfortable as well, and that I don't give him the impression that I am trying to ''replace'' his daddy with this new man. By the way, my son has a great relationship with his father, which I want to continue to support. Do I talk with my son about it? Or do I just hang back and let things develop without having to say anything? How have some of you handled the experience of dating, finding someone really special, and letting your kids know, too? Because not everyone is just ''mommy's friend'' or ''uncle so''.
    Dating is Hard

    Please don't make the same mistake I made when I first started dating again. You've been dating someone for a whole month and think it's time to merge (bring your son into the relationship). You are dating the guy, not your son. Leave him out of it until you're ready to say ''I do''. It's hard enough when a relationship ends but then to have to nurse your kids through the break-up, well they did that already when you and the father split up. It's easier to leave them out of it.
    Been there, but never ever again
    There is this great group for singles at the Berkeley Richmond JCC. Actually the facilitator (Rachel Sarah) is a single mom, who wrote a book about being a single mom and the dating challenges that she had to face. You can go to They meet every Thursday at 7pm. Perhaps you can go and she can give good advice about it.
    My father died when I was 4, and my mom dated afterward. Based on my experience, I would encourage you to be cautious about letting this man become someone your son counts on until you have a secure commitment with your boyfriend. It can be heartbreaking and bewildering for children to be ''broken up with,'' believe me. It's like a divorce except that the one person simply disappears, and the child has no real claim on him. A kid can experience this as a life lesson in how little he matters in the world and how risky it can be to trust others emotionally. Basically, I just think you and your boyfriend should be mindful of the relationship he is building with your son, and remember that your son is a separate person who may come to love your boyfriend, too. Keep things light and friendly until you know where things are going -- and certainly don't move in together until your future together is clear. My two cents.

    Dating a widower

    Sept 2005

    I have a friend who was recently widowed. I know the Dear Abby columns say only the grieving can decide when they are ready, especially after there has been a long illness (which there was), but when do you think it is socially acceptable to begin to date? The timing issue will surely come up in polite conversation, and wouldn't many people think anything less than six months is too soon? There are children involved too. I think Dad should sit them down and let them know he is planning to have a private life, but is it better for him to get going without any announcements to them yet? If anyone has experience with this, it would be so helpful to hear it - either from the point of view of the widower, or from the point of view of someone dating a widower. In my single life, I have met a number of widowers, but there had been a signficant time lapse since their wife's death. Any comments welcome.

    From the children's perspective, he should wait one year before starting to date, and at least two years before remarrying. I lost my mother when I was 29, and after 31 years together, my father starting dating about one month after her death. My siblings and I were horrified. He started exclusively dating one woman two months later and married her less than 2 years after my mother's death. We can't stand the woman -- partly because we see her as an opportunist taking advantage of a widower, and she is ''all over'' him physically (too much PDA!), which makes us want to puke. So from my point of view, if you want the kids to like you ..... WAIT! With younger kids, it could be different... they could be ready sooner, or their hate for a new woman could be even stronger, I don't know. anonymous
    Your msg doesn't say anything about why it matters to you. Are you the one of the dates? If so and you're uncomfortable, wait. If so and you're comfortable, go ahead. If you're not one of the dates, stop worrying because there isn't anything you could do about it anyway, other than lose your friends by placing some notion of etiquette over their happiness.

    When and how to involve the children is a separate question, one that has nothing to do with social acceptability. Let it be

    I started dating my now-wife about 4-5 months after my first wife died. You don't say anything about the age of your friend, but my experience in meeting a lot of other widows and widowers is that men are often ready a lot sooner than women, as long as they are not elderly and married for several decades.

    It doesn't mean that they aren't still grieving, but the company of an understanding woman sometimes helps- it did for me. I think men need women more than they sometimes like to admit. Your friend should know that a new relationship will often bring up grief in ways he didn't expect. But it doesn't mean he shouldn't do it. And it's not every woman who is secure enough to take that on.

    As for the kids, you didn't specify the ages of his children so it's hard to say what he should or shouldn't tell them. I didn't have any so it wasn't an issue for me.
    Happy Widower

    Wonderful new boyfriend - when can he stay over?

    Sept 2005

    I'm in a wonderfully awkward situation and I need some help from someone who's been there, done that. After being separated almost 5 years from my almost ex husband, I've finally met a man that I love being around. (I've dated off and on before, but my boys have never met my past boyfriends.) He's a great guy (and a parent himself), but my boys are feeling like they are ''losing'' mom, not gaining an adult in their lives. Recently, he has been spending the night a couple of times a week, but my boys have woken up for various reasons in the middle of the night (which they haven't done for years) and have wanted to come and cuddle in my big king bed. I don't want to exclude any male in my life from night time cuddles, but want to do what is best for my sons. So help me out here: do I only have him stay over when the boys are at their Dad's (3-5 weekend nights a month); or, hire a sitter and go to ''his place'' for a few hours; or, try to create some middle ground - i.e., if the bedroom door is locked, they have to wait - if the bedroom door is closed but not locked, they may come in - but can expect that my boyfriend will be there (both of us with pyjamas on by the time we unlock the door) and that we can all cuddle together. Or does someone have another great idea that keeps everyone happy? P.S. this is the best sex I've ever had in my life and my boys are 9 and 10 1/2 years old. Thanks!
    Hoping for the best

    You don't say how long you've known your new friend, or when your boys first met him, but I wouldn't push them in any way to become buddies with him; they'll get to know him at their own pace. (And I think expecting that you'll all cuddle together right now is premature.) Even after 5 years, your boys may still wish and dream that you and their father will get back together; finding a new man in your bedroom might be proof to them--I mean, upsetting proof--that this will not happen. (Imagine yourself at their age. Would you really be happy to find your mother or father with a new person?)

    You might consider just having your friend over when the boys are with their father overnight, and, as you mentioned, hiring a sitter some afternoons and evenings. But I'd be sure to have frequent weekend where it's just you and the boys.

    Good luck to you and your sons and your new relationship. Melanie

    I was in this situation when my boys were about the same age as your sons. I had a big advantage though - my boys were at their dad's half the week so I had a lot more time to work with! First of all, your boys are old enough to understand the concept of knocking before entering anyone's bedroom, and waiting to be invited in (or not). It's a basic privacy rule at our house, and this rule became really important to my boys when they got to be teens, which yours will be soon. Family members need to always respect each other's privacy. I think a talk is in order explaining this: if mom's door is closed, that means she wants privacy. If your door is closed, I'll knock and wait for you to tell me when I can come in (and then do it, every single time, to set the example.) You don't have to give a reason why you want them to always knock first (and believe me, in a few more years, your sons will not want to explain to you why *their* doors are closed!)

    Second, for now, I would try to maximize time at the boyfriend's and minimize times the boyfriend sleeps over. Can you increase the days the boys are at their dad's? 3-5 days/month is not very much. When your boyfriend does stay over I think you should give your boys a heads up. ''John is staying over tomorrow night and I'll want some privacy after we go to bed'' or something like that. Does your boyfriend feel OK about the night-time cuddles? My boyfriend was really uncomfortable about appearing to be the ''other dad''. He said his role was more like benevolent uncle, so he sort of stood in the background, friendly but not really parental. So he didn't do the kinds of things usually reserved for the mom or dad, like cuddling in bed or disciplining. My boys have a good relationship with their now-stepdad. he is a super nice guy, so that's one reason, but also, they were able to see their dad a LOT, and have a good relationship with him, and never felt that their step-dad was trying to be usurp his role. Good luck! a mom

    I only have one question, and one suggestion, for you. How would you feel if you found your mother's door locked, because she had a new guy in her bed?

    Your boys are permanent, and your responsibility until they are 18. If you can find a way to have the ''best sex of your life'' without it having any repercussions for them, go for it. No man should be in your bed while your children are there. If he's a ''new'' boyfriend they probably shouldn't even spend time with him out of bed -- in case you decide that he's temporary.

    Since he's a parent too, I'm a little disappointed that he doesn't seem to feel that way himself.

    I'm sure you'll hear other opinions, too. Heather

    I was in a similar situation, though I was the new partner and had to get used to my partner's (now husband) 9 year old son being with us overnight. It's hard for kids to accept a new person in their parents life, so we really eased into this. We spent alot time together doing fun stuff, getting to know eachother, before we ever had an overnight. Even so, it was challenging when we moved in together. My partner started by sleeping in his son's room with him -- I'm not sure if this was the right thing, but it was comforting to the child. Then, when we were a little more accustomed to being in the same house, my partner moved into our room and his son got accustomed to it. His son never really felt comfortable crawling into the bed with the two of us, so I would sometimes vacate the bed in the morning so they could have cuddle time together. Good luck with the transition.
    Being a newly single mom, I understand your situation. My kids are 11 and 7 and their Dad left us two years ago. I just started dating once I was officially single in January and am having a great time! I only have my lover come to my house to spend the night when the children are at their Dad's. They have enough to deal with, as he is living with the girl he left us for. I have to respect their right to have no interaction with another adult in their living space at their primary home so I keep that part of my life separate. I remember when I was a child, how creepy it was for me when my Mom had her boyfriends stay at the house. Just keep their feelings in mind. Good luck.
    Divorced with kids

    Relationship with a man who barely likes my 5 year old son?

    March 2003

    I recently ended a 2 year relationship with a man I was hoping to spend the rest of my life with. We've talked about the future and everything seems beautiful except for one thing...he loves me but barely likes my 5 year old son from a previous relationship. It's very unfortunate that a bond has not been built. The only way they connect is through soccer, but not much time outside of that is spent with him and my son, it's usually the three of us. He can't seem to get past the fact that''he gets on his nerves''. It hurt to hear that. I'd like to know if anyone out there has been through this and what anyone could recommend. Because part of it is that I'm not sure he's ready to handle the full weight of being a parent. We don't want to lose each other but I don't want my son to get hurt in the end if a relationship never transpires out of our union. jj

    If your boyfriend is willing, I suggest parenting classes. BOTH of you should attend. He will learn to cope with the issues around parenting, co-parenting and being a new parent addition to your family. You will learn how to support him and your child emotionaly.
    coming from experience
    I would not consider marrying a guy who says my son ''gets on his nerves''! What kind of a father will he be? I think it would only lead to misery for everyone involved.

    My husband has a 5-year-old who lives abroad with his mother. He stayed with us for about a month while we were still dating, and that was definitely a testing point for our relationship. Luckily we had a great time together, and I felt confident to take our relationship to the next step and get married; the last thing in the world I would have wanted to become was a ''wicked step mother.''

    I'm sure there are other guys out there that will make a good father to your son.
    A ''not so wicked'' step mom

    This is a tough one. I was a single parent myself until recently. I married when my son was 12. I dated my husband for three years before we married, and he and my son get along well as buddies, although I know my husband finds that my son gets on his nerves at times. One thing my husband is having a difficult time with, although he has good intentions, is the parenting-role, both nuturing, being authoritative (you just have to, sometimes) and making those occasional sacrifices. It definitely takes a while to figure out how to be a parent. Most of us had the luxury of starting out with a newborn and growing into the job with the growing child.

    All I can say is, perhaps you and the guy can remain friends until your son is a bit older and is more interested in adult activities, or maybe you have to give up on this guy and try to find someone who is already a father and has had that crucial on the job training.

    Good luck, Dianna

    I am a firm believer that once you have children they MUST come before a new partner. You cannot be too cautious getting into a relationship with someone and if they show any sign of not accepting and loving your child then you must let them go. Your child always needs to know that they are the most important thing in your life and when you bring someone else into your life you are distracting from that.

    My mother raised me alone after my father died when I was only 1. She was very young and dated off and on through my childhood. I know she loved me but it is very confusing to a child when different men come and go. These are very formative years and the relationships your child experiences will affect them the rest of their life. Your child knows that your boyfriend doesn't care for him/her and that is not someone you want as a father figure. debbie

    If he really loves you he should be open to going to couple's counceling with you. Maybe a good therapist could help shed light on what's really bugging him - something tells me it's not really your son (personally). Anon
    I'm confused...did you ''recently end'' this relationship or are you still with this person? You say one and then go on to talk about how to deal with the fact that your partner does not like your child. In any case, you are a package deal and I would not be with someone who did not like my child. Just my opinion
    I feel for you in this situation where everything seems great except for one thing, and that one thing is sooo important! You say that you already ended the relationship, that's one solution and if you want to stick with that I don't blame you at all. The fact that you wrote, though sounds like you want advice on if you did the right thing by ending it? You are very wise to put your son and his feelings first. I would stick by that bit of truth and see what happens. It's possible you could stay with this man but just not let the relationship develop into 'the rest of your life' kind of union where you live together or get married. I certainly wouldn't want to live with a man, even the biological father of my child, unless they thought my kid was as wonderful and precious as they truly are!! It's possible that if you don't push things, a relationship between them will develop as your son gets older. Hope that helps. been there
    Hi- My mother married my stepfather when I was seven years old. He (according to my mother) was not really interested in becoming a parent to me but he 'loved her'. I annoyed him. As a result, my mother pulled away from me and I spent after-school time, weekends and holidays with babysitters and relatives. I became very sad and did not do well socially or academically. It wasn't until I became an adult that I made the connection. If I had been allowed to stay with my parents weekends and holidays I would have felt resented and like a third wheel. I understand that you need to 'live your life' but PLEASE- Don't fool yourself into thinking that your child will not be affected by you choosing to bring someone into the family who isn't interested in him. I still resent my mother for leaving me out of the equation when she chose to remarry. It was an extremely selfish move on her part. anon.
    You chose the well-being of your child over your own relationship with a man who wouldn't/couldn't be his ''daddy''. I have a lot of respect for you, for doing this for your child. I am impressed that your friend could admit his reluctance or inability, instead of pretending it would all ''be alright''. Its a tough time for you, but your child will thank you for this later, and you sound like a good mommy. Heather

    Just started dating - my 2-year-old is making it really difficult

    March 2002

    I'm a single mom with a 2 year old. I've just started dating someone and my toddler is really making it difficult. She is very different with him and quite rude and demanding of my attention. How do I know if she's this way because she's jealous or because she really just does not like him? And it does make a difference to me. Unfortunately there is no father involved so I have no choice but to have her around us during this stage of our courtship. Has anyone been in this position or have any advice? Thanks, M

    I have been going through the same thing with my daughter, who just turned three. She would be aggressive with him (like kicking him, or pulling his hair!), and would get very cranky with me when we were around him. Things were very difficult for the first five months or so, but have mellowed considerably since the beginning. The one thing I think has helped is that we invite him over to do things that are ''kid-centered,'' like dying Easter Eggs, or going to Habitot or Kindergym. It helps them to form a connection when he shows up to do fun things with us that are just for her. I think this helps her feel less threatened by his presence, and helps her to accept that he is her friend, too, not just mommy's. Also, I sat down with my daughter one day and just talked it through with her. I explained to her that some kids have mommies and daddies that live together, and some parents live apart. And if the parents live apart, they still need friends in their lives to love them...etc. This helped to give her a frame of reference, so when she expresses aggravation at my boyfriend, I can remind her of the conversation we had about how mommies and daddies need other adults to love them too, that we need hugs, etc. This really helped settle a lot of questions and worry for her. If you would like to email me about this, feel free. Good luck. Elizabeth
    A few considerations on the matter: You mention that your daughter's father is not in the picture. Does she have any interaction with him at all, or with other positive male role models; grandpa, uncles, friends, neighbors? Have you had any previous boyfriends that she DID like? Or is she just now dealing with a. sharing you for the first time with someone else along with b. having someone of a different gender in the house? If a and or b apply, her behavior seems understandable! Just food for thought. Christine
    I was in your shoes about 10 yrs. ago. I was a single parent for 5 yrs. and tried never to have him around while I was ''checking out the market''. His biological father was never involved but we did talk about one day him having a ''daddy''. When I would go out I would leave him with usually grandparents. I did have a couple of good friends that I could leave him with also. I don't think you should involve the child in this relationship unless you know it will be long term. Also remember, children are very good judges of character. Please pay attention to the story in the news about the mother slain right in front of her children, which is something no child should witness. I know this is way out there, but it obviously is the way it is many times. I also did sometimes (because I was young at the time) put my social needs before my sons needs. Not too much, but when I look back I feel bad. There was a time I went to Reno or LA or someplace a bit far and left my son for a weekend. Well when I called he thought I wasn't coming back. Just be careful. Also when I did become engaged, my son was 5. He wasn't demanding of my time, but again there are so many things going on in a childs life at that age. He had a new school, new house, new dad. This was all very hard on him and started him out on the wrong foot in school. He was very good for us at home, but would act out at school, with other authorative figures. Because of these actions and the fact that he had started school with officials who were not understanding, he now has a paper trail that most school officials immediately look at and don't ask why, just put him in the same boat as when he was in kindergarten. Even though his behavior was temporary, it has been very hard to get that away from him. I know this may be futuristic for you, just thought I'd shed some possible light on it. Good Luck, Michelle