Dating Advice for Single Parents and after Divorce

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How do I know I can trust him?

I have met a really wonderful guy who adores me both mentally and physically, however through a lot of bad experiences, I have a problem with trust when it comes to him and other potential women. He is in the middle of finalizing his divorce after 17 years in the relationship. I have not been married for more than 10 years, hence my bad experiences with men who cheat. Do you have any tips for building trust before I lose what could be the best thing ever? — Pam I., 38, Ebensburg, Pa.

You used the word building — that is exactly why trust is so hard once it is demolished. I’d like you to consider an idea. The only way to build trust is one thought at a time, one action at a time and one experience at a time. So ask yourself if the man you are with has given you a thought, action or experience to break that trust. If he hasn’t then you need to accept the possibility that you are using your past experiences as an excuse to keep yourself closed off and safe. After all, you have good reasons, right? The thing is that you don’t have a good reason with this man. The choice is yours — either stay buried in the rubble of past hurt, rejection, and doubt or let it go and give the actual experiences of your life a chance to build a new idea of what love can be. I can promise you it won’t get easier, so you might as well give trusting someone a try.

P.S. If he has given you reason not to trust him, leave.

Bring my daughter on dates?

I’m a single mother with a five-year-old old girl. My parents get upset when I take her on some of my dates. If I don’t take her with me, I would never go on dates. Do you think it is right for me to take her? — Jackie K., 26, Woodford, Va.

You have a great opportunity here to enlist babysitters. If your parents get upset, then why not sit down with them and explain your predicament. There might be a solution that would work for you and them. If they agreed to baby-sit once a week, they could have more time with their granddaughter and you could go on an enjoyable date alone. I don’t think taking her with you on a date is a great idea for a few reasons. First and foremost is that it will be hard to be yourself and have an adult conversation with a five-year-old listening to every word. Second, your daughter may become attached to the man you are dating and then feel another loss when you stop dating him. It is best to wait until you are in a serious relationship before introducing your children. There is another option you might want to consider — other single mothers who live near you who might want to share childcare. If you can find a single mom with a child around your daughter’s age, it would become a play date that your daughter could also look forward to. This might take a little effort but once you build this support system, dating as well as other activities you’d like to do may become possible.

Will he be good for my daughter?

I am a single mother with a great concern about who I bring into my daughter’s life and when. What kind of questions can I ask a man to help me be more assured that he would be good to her? At what point is it good to introduce the two and see how he handles her. After all words are just words, right? — Wendy W., 36, New London, Wis.

When you have dated a man long enough to know you are seriously interested in a long-term relationship, that is the time to introduce children. Instead of asking questions I would watch how he treats his family and friends. What kind of stories do they tell about his loyalty, compassion or concern he’s shown them in the past. Then I’d examine closely how he treats you. A person can’t really change who they are to fit a circumstance. They might put on an act for a while but in the end an act is hard to keep up forever. So, before you introduce your daughter make sure you respect the way he treats people in general.

I would also spend some time figuring out how you want him to interact with your daughter. In my experience it works best to draw the line by saying that you are her parent and it will be your job to parent her. That way he doesn’t feel like he has to walk in and be some sort of father disciplinary figure. It will also allow you to parent her without his comments, control or criticism. You might tell him ways he can support you in being the best mother you can be; by helping with dinner so you can spend more quality time with your daughter or by listening to you when you are struggling with a disciplinary consequence. The way he ‘is’ with her is up to you and will be based on the boundaries and expectations you set.

Why do daughters make dates vanish?

What about us single dads? I meet women easily and before I had my two girls I had a different gal almost every weekend — really. Now that I’m raising the girls on my own I couldn’t even buy a date. Don’t get me wrong, I still meet girls, but when they find out that I’ve got the two little ones, they seem to vanish and lose interest. Why do girls want a man to accept their kids and be unwilling to accept mine? I figured that rearing two kids would show I was stability and trustworthy. — Trace P., 38, Washington Court House, Ohio

I’m not sure how old the women are that you are trying to date, but I would first off suggest you date women your own age. If you are interested in younger women who have no children, then I can see how this situation might occur, but I seem to hear constantly from women (ages 34 to 40) who are looking for a man just like you, so I’m a little confused. I for one find men who are loving fathers and are willing to take on the task of raising children much more attractive than single fathers who are without responsibility.

Why can’t we be alone together?

I met someone on Yahoo! Personals. We hit it off extremely well right away. He tells me I’m the best however he doesn’t have much free time from his work and children and when he finally gets some time he spends it with friends. We have dated for about a month and he has never invited me to do anything alone with him. He seems to only invite my son and me to hang out when he has his children. What do you think is going on with him? — Jamie C., 27, Watervliet, N.Y.

A month is not that long, he may need some time to get to know you. Although I do find it odd that you have spent your only dates together with your children. It could be that you will need to be more specific about your expectations. First thing I would do if this arrangement bothers you is change the parameters. Tell him you’d like your next date to be just the two of you. If he can’t go along with it, then he isn’t interested in the same kind of relationship that you are. This means you either let him go, or decide that you will abide by his rules for a while longer. Whenever you are uncomfortable with the way someone is treating you, it’s very important for you to have the courage to be clear about what you want and need. That way you find out right away if the relationship is going to be an equal partnership (where each person’s needs are equally important), or a one-way street (where one person runs the relationship and the other follows along afraid of being rejected).