I’m 42, mother of two teenagers, a son 15 and daughter 13, and also dating again. I work from home but may soon return to an office.
I’ve been divorced for over one year, having separated 30 months ago. A close male colleague made my transition to being separated easier by visiting and getting to know my kids, always boosting my spirits with his good humour. He’s long divorced and understood my disorientation.
The problem now is that while I was grateful for his friendship, he’s been hoping for and expecting more.
When he raised this recently, he almost disbelieved that I had never realized his intent. I was mortified. He said I’d been “using” him and that it’s time I stopped playing the innocent woman whose husband left, when I’d long been aware that my marriage was beyond fixing.
Added to my guilt feelings about my friend, my teenage son added a new element to my situation. It happened when each of the children were invited to close friends’ cottages for a weekend.
I took the opportunity to go with a girlfriend to nearby wine country for the same period... lots of ambiance and plenty of flattering men around... refreshing and fun.
But I came home to a disaster. My son and his friends, realizing no adult was home, found a reason to take a lift home on the second day and held a party that afternoon and evening.
Neighbours later informed me about the noise. My garbage bins revealed the empty beer bottles.
I now realize that I need to rethink what it means to be living as a single and dating while divorced. Your advice, please.
Mapping A New Lifestyle
Your role with your children hasn’t changed. Think of it as the business of being a parent who’s divorced.
It doesn’t mean you can’t date or have time with friends at adults-only gatherings. If your ex-husband is regularly involved as a parent, scheduling safe opportunities for you to be away from children is relatively easy.
As before, you still need to be aware of the factors now affecting your children: Choices of friends, social pressures, teenage issues regarding growth spurts, hormone changes, moods, challenges etc.
It’s as complex as the employed work that you regularly handle, but has further-reaching effects on your children and you.
Thank your male friend for his caring, and apologize for missing his cues.
Recognize that early dating with new people is a form of socializing, part of the process of adjusting to divorced life. But it’s not full-on immersion in singles’-style life.
Divorced daters need to keep a reality check on who they are at their core: Adults with past experiences in love and disappointment, who still have major responsibilities to children who need their guidance and thoughtful care.
Together, you and your husband should tell your son the difference between asking permission to have friends over with a parent on site vs. secretly arranging for underage, unsupervised kids to drink alcohol, with the dangerous possibility that even one party-goer among them is driving.
My spinster aunt is a clutter-bug though not a hoarder. She collects anything and everything, for me to have when she’s “gone.” I’ve told her repeatedly that my apartment’s small and I prefer to live minimally.
How do I finally refuse her unwanted “gifts” (aka junk)?
Occasionally accept one thing, graciously. If she wills you the collection, give it to Goodwill, a church bazaar, and/or a fundraiser for a cause.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding my grandparent alienation:
“My life was totally ruined by a controlling son-in-law. He alienated his parents first. When I asked my anxious daughter if he’d hurt her, she screamed at me!
“Within months, I was banned. He’d lost his job and I became the scapegoat. They twisted stories to my husband till he didn’t believe me. We acrimoniously divorced. My other two daughters chose the winning side.
“My ex was so influenced by my grief over losing the grandchildren, he told people I was mentally ill. Depression and anxiety will do that.
“I’m 69. After a 40-year good marriage, I had to move away. Never was I told my “crimes” in person nor given an opportunity to refute their stories.
“In Ontario, grandparents have zero rights to grandchild access. We desperately need a law allowing our rights as grandparents to at least have contact with the children we’ve loved.”
Tip of the day:
Divorced people with parenting responsibilities need increased awareness of children’s adjustment plus their own.