Q. I’ll be 39 in a couple of months and I have a young son. His dad and I divorced a couple of years ago. I’ve been dating since my divorce, hoping to find a relationship. I’ve had a couple that have ended because I wasn’t willing to introduce them to my son after just a few weeks of dating. They wanted to start hanging out with my son and me, but I told them I wasn’t comfortable with them meeting him until we had been dating for six months.
They were in theory OK with that, but both broke up with me pretty quickly when I held firm to that boundary. I usually have one or two nights a week to spend time with a partner, but sometimes I need that time to get work done or just deal with life. In both relationships I was told that I wasn’t committed enough. They both talked about wanting to move in together within the first month of dating. I’m certainly not perfect, but I like to communicate daily. I also don’t want to rush into moving in with someone I’m not incredibly certain about. I’ve always been that way. I’ve also always been pretty busy. But of course when I didn’t have a kid, I could make more time for someone than I can now.
Am I being completely foolish thinking that I can find someone who will date me for six months or more before pressuring me to meet my kid and start planning to move in with them? Is this fairly normal dating behavior?
A. You’re not being foolish at all! You sound thoughtful and responsible. You’re protecting your child and your own happiness.
You are being great.
I can’t speak to what’s normal, but moving in with someone is a big step, especially when you have a child. It seems way too soon to have that kind of conversation when you’ve only known someone a month (I’ll validate that). It’s great that these people are enthusiastic about next steps, but they haven’t been the best potential partners for you. The right person isn’t going to ask you to rush.
Keep dating. Continue to make time for yourself. Seek out people who seem to get it — those who are comfortable with once- or twice-a-week dates until it makes sense to try for more. If someone is fantastic and the vibes are very good, it’s possible you’ll revisit the six-month idea. But frankly, as a child of divorce I say ... you know your kid. Do what’s best for him.
Remember that these people said you weren’t committed enough for them. They need something you wouldn’t want to offer, even if you were dating without a child in the picture. This process is about finding people with similar priorities.
It’s not you, it’s them.
No. Hold firm to your boundary. It’s a huge red flag if anyone wants to push it.
Not only is your rule totally reasonable and protects your son from unnecessary confusion and stress, but it also seems to be a good tool to weed out the ones who really aren’t worthwhile. The good news is you don’t waste too much time on the men who aren’t going to be compatible with you in the long run, which gives you the opportunity to keep seeking out someone who respects your boundaries and your son’s well-being.
Six months is a good start. However, it is even more wise to consider dating them through all four seasons. You need to know what that person is like when they are angry, for one thing. You need to find out if they are controlling, are not good with money, etc. Also, if you have a kid and your dating partner does NOT, that can be a huge conflict going forward. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent.
I knew my wife was the one on our first date but I wasn’t crazy enough to ever tell her that.
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