I find dating after a divorce three years ago (at 38), very confusing.
I grew up during so-called sexual freedom since birth control pills and other pregnancy prevention methods were easily available.
Some of my friends starting having sex in their early teens. I had my first experience at 17, with a boyfriend I liked but certainly didn’t love.
The first half of my 20s were about experimenting. I didn’t like dope, but did like wine. Sex with a good-looking guy who treated me nicely was great!
Now, at 41, everything’s changed, at least in me. I have children, a boy of 12, a girl, 14. Their father has a girlfriend and though they think she’s nice, they find it difficult to see them hugging and kissing.
No way can I be that dating Mom who almost dances out the door on the arm of a man my kids don’t know, laughing too loudly at something “he” said.
(That’s how my daughter described a scene from a TV show that she said was “yucky.”)
Everyone says that dating online is the only way to meet a lot of guys and choose whom you want. But how can I be honest with my very curious, smart children if they ask me how I met someone new?
I feel like I’m a throwback to the mode of how my mother’s dating life must’ve been: Meeting someone at their mutual workplace, or the library, or church.
In fact, my ex and I met at our mutual workplace!
So how does a freedom-loving child born in 1981, who enjoyed the “entitlement” years of the millennial generation, now find a comfortable, responsible approach to single life and dating?
Specifically: How do I date in a way that I’m not embarrassed for my children to know about?
Good for you for considering your kids first.
They’ve already had to adjust to their father’s relationship, and they’ll adjust to your dating, too, if you maintain your priorities.
Wisely, you haven’t rushed to dating apps or a dating site too soon.
But there’s no reason (outside of the pandemic’s restrictions) to miss being with friends and meeting new people with whom you share interests.
The availability through Zoom and other online platforms to join a gathering, and/or broaden your knowledge of something through a webinar, is a perfect start to “socializing.”
And after months of social isolation and home-school, it’s healthy for your children to see you enjoying a wider community online.
That exposure may initiate dating someone whom you meet online because you already have something in common.
Once you connect with someone, if a date is suggested, be open about how new this feels for you and how you want a slow introduction - e.g. taking a walk together.
If another date is going to happen, talk to your kids about it right away. Explain that it’s a very early friendship and you’re going to take time getting to know him.
Keep it simple, and open to the kids: e.g. a visit in a park nearby where the children can see you and get to you if they feel the need.
If there’s a negative reaction, discuss it with them immediately and reassure them that this is only a new friend for you, someone to talk together and share some ideas.
If there’s a more worrisome reaction, talk to a therapist yourself and if considered necessary, bring the children into the process.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding speaking up against racism (June 15):
“I’m a white male who recently heard the actor Mathew McConaughey use the term “racial dementia.” It caused me to look at myself.
“Years ago, a woman wearing a hijab, joined our company. My eyes continually saw her hijab and didn’t acknowledge her.
“Then one day, having to interact with her, I discovered an extremely delightful person. I increasingly made eye contact and the hijab faded to the background. I still saw, but it was just a part of who she was.
“I’ve been trying to consider that what I see first is just the “facade” of the person, and then determine who the person actually is.
“This now includes people in the LGBTQ community. Simply because I cannot relate doesn’t mean that I have any entitlement to judge.
“While I’d never openly admit that I’m racist, I now realize that I do have racist thoughts, even if only subconsciously.”
Tip of the day:
When dating post-divorce, reassure children about their priority in your life.