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Ask Amy column

Q. How does an older (40s) single dad reenter the dating scene?

After 13 years of married life, I was divorced over 18 months ago (I didn’t approve of my wife’s boyfriend) and am the primary caregiver for my 9-year-old son.

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Between his commitments and mine, there is little time to play the social singles scene.

Options at church are limited. Where does a guy look for an honest, intelligent, stable woman? No drama, because I’m dating for two!

A. I love your description that you are “dating for two,” because when you are a single parent, your child’s interests are interwoven with your own.

One way to meet other parents is to get involved in your son’s activities at (or after) school. Parents who know you and your son will introduce you to single people.

Parents Without Partners brings single parents (and their children) together for activities and support. Check parents
withoutpartners.org.

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Meetup.com is a simple and brilliant concept — groups form around a variety of interests and post a notice on the site, inviting anyone to “meet up.” My local community has “meet-up” groups for photography, hiking, and food. Volunteering for a favorite charity will also put you in proximity to new people.

Also try online matching. The nice thing is you can go at your own pace and choose to meet people with similar interests.

Q. My husband of 28 years and I disagree about privacy issues. I think that as his wife I should know his e-mail account passwords, his voice-mail number, if he is on Facebook, etc. I feel he should be an open book.

He says I am nosy and it is none of my business. He says he will do what he wants. I think I should be able to read his messages. He told me, “It’s my cellphone, you have your own!” He doesn’t lock it, but said he will.

Some trust issues have surfaced recently, but he said it is all in my head.

A. I agree that spouses should be “open books” to each other, but I also believe that individuals have a right to privacy. Trust creates a space of sorts where individuals can operate freely and privately. Ironically, you can have all the privacy in the world if you have nothing to hide.

Your suspicion provides a reason to want access, but it also gives your husband the motivation to dig in his heels and then blame you for his behavior.

You two should talk this through with a marriage counselor. You should also realize that you could be given total access to every device in your husband’s life, and he could still do, say, or write things you will never find out about. At the end of the day, trust is a choice.

Q. I’d like to pass on some words of encouragement to “Distant Dad” who wrote about his kids being moved 1,000 miles away.

I was 4 and my sister 2 when my parents divorced. My sister and I spent summers with him when we were younger, and once I was old enough to voice my opinion and be taken seriously, I alternated years living with him. We didn’t have Skype or e-mail, but (as you suggested) he sent postcards. He made a point to integrate me into his life. We didn’t do fancy trips, and he didn’t buy me things. None of those things mattered. Just being a normal dad when we were around was the best thing. He always loved me, and I always knew it.

A. How beautiful. I hope “Distant Dad” takes heart from your story.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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