It’s so easy to talk about my kids and the silly things they do. It’s easy to write about crazy things other parents do or the stuff my ex-husband does without asking me. It’s not nearly as easy to write about myself or what is going on in my personal life as a single mom. So I’m going to take a stab at it….
I was engaged last year to a guy with kids and was scheduled to get married in July. I met B by chance while out with mutual friends. In fact, earlier that night, I had been on a disappointing blind date. B was pretty over the top romantic from the beginning. He would feed me mushy lines, want to talk on the phone for hours, and after only two weeks told me that he knew we were going to fall in love and get married. He managed to drop the L word after only six weeks and honestly it scared me a little. He would tell me how I was his perfect girl and that he knew we were meant to be together all the time. In fact, being so open with his feelings pushed me away some in the beginning. My best friends will tell you they didn’t think the relationship would make it three months because I was the girl who typically ran. I thought either fairytales really do happen, or he’s a stalker and they are going to find me in a basement someday. Haha.
I was extremely careful when it came to my kids. They originally met him as my friend. We took all the kids out as a chance for them to meet and get to know each other. I didn’t allow B to stay the night while my kids were home until probably 8 months into the relationship. I didn’t want to send them the wrong message or allow them to get too attached.
After about a year, we started discussing merging our families, living together and getting married. All of the kids had mixed feelings about this but we both said we would make it work. Although B constantly ensured me he couldn’t wait to merge our homes, he was a little sad about selling the house he worked so hard for. We worked diligently on the house for months preparing it for sale. Once listed, no one was interested. B paid way too much for the house with 40 steps to the front and severely slanted floors. This caused so much stress in our relationship. Our wedding date was quickly approaching and we hadn’t sold the house. To top it off, B was working ALL the time and I constantly had the kids by myself. B’s oldest was becoming very resentful. He wanted his time with his dad and wasn’t too crazy about me in the first place. When I didn’t have the kids, I was attending events with B for his job. I also had a busy life between my work, soccer with A and my son’s activities.
In addition to stress caused by four kids who weren’t siblings, B never seemed satisfied with the amount of time I was able to give him. There were times when I felt it probably wasn’t going to work but then he would do something over the top romantic like write me a song or give me a love note and I’d be sucked back in.
B had borrowed money from me often (I KNOW – big red flag) but I had no idea how bad things really were. A few weeks before breaking up, I found a notice from the Sherriff’s office. Although B wasn’t ready to be honest, within a few days I discovered his house was about to be foreclosed on. I knew that I was the only one who could qualify for the loan (other red flag) but I was okay with that because he was supposed to provide the down payment. (Note: he did save the house, which I’m glad he was able to do for the sake of his kids.)
Communicating became very difficult. I knew that it was time to end things but all I could think about is how not having him as a part of my life would impact my children and how much I would miss his children. I also kept holding on to the person he was in the beginning. After a few weeks of arguments, avoiding each other, etc… we finally broke up. It was extremely difficult. I was a mess for a while. Although I knew that he was not a good man to have in my life (I do realize I was not perfect), my life was changing. Some for the good; No more work events on evenings and weekends, no more loaning out money, no more stressing over how the kids will get along… No more dealing with someone who is so unorganized that they can barely make it to work on time or take care of simple household necessities. My kids were devastated. I felt like a horrible mother.
Two months later my kids were finally starting to feel normal again. We went to a huge festival that my family organizes. My entire family attends every year and we are treated as VIPs. Not being considerate of mine or my kids’ feelings, B, who has no association with the festival, showed up with a date. My children were angry and I was shocked since he knew we would be there.
Because we live in such a small town, we hear everything. He and the girl from the festival moved in together only a few months later and got engaged over Christmas. As one of my closest friends said: “Some people like to come home and drink a six pack each night, some like to tailgate in the fast lane and others like to get engaged a couple times a year.” You have to love friends!
I told my kids about the engagement so they wouldn’t hear from someone else. You could tell they were surprised but they both asked if I was okay (I was) and made a few jokes about him being engaged again so soon and dropped it.
The hardest part of all of this was being there for my crushed kids, while I was also hurting. I will always bounce back but seeing my kids hurt was crushing. I haven’t dated much since the breakup. Not because I’m not over it – I am – but because I can’t imagine putting my kids through something like this again. A friend recently told me that dating with kids isn’t hard if it’s the right person but you know, it takes a while to figure out if they are or not. This friend also has two children and remarried. However, she married someone without kids. I think that makes a difference.
I know it has taken me a lot of words to get to the point here but hey all you single parents: how do you date and protect your kids? Do you bother dating? Do you think it’s easier for those with kids to date someone without kids? I’m sure married people have some great advice too. Give it to me!
P.S. Please do not say “it sounds like you are better off” or “you dodged a bullet” or anything else like that. I am aware of that! J This is not to focus on him but more to tell my experience with relationships. I want to talk about how to have a successful dating life with kids. 🙂
P.S.S. This is really hard for me to actually post. I’m putting a lot of my inner thoughts and emotions on the table. However, I am always open to feedback and look forward to receiving constructive input.
I have been divorced for over 4 years now and I have had one significant relationship. This man, too, seemed too good to be true and I ignored many, many red flags. He had three children significantly older than mine and that was fine….they are great people. However, despite the amount of time we were together we never really merged the families and only had a few outings where everyone was involved. This was not ideal either. I ultimately was hurt in such a profound way that I am still working things out with myself emotionally. All this being said, I think as single women with children we are way more vulnerable than we’d like to believe. Sure, we’re all very independent and self sufficient. We provide the majority of support to our children both financially and emotionally. We run their lives and our lives without trouble. We give them a much better home life than we would have had we stayed in unhealthy marriages, etc. However, because we are women I think we still yearn for true love despite what relationships have brought us in the past. I am certain that I would like to date again and find a decent man, with or without children, with whom I can share my life. What I’m finding, however, is that there are NO decent men to be found. Am I bitter? Maybe. Cynical….for sure. I’m hoping this is just a temporary situation, though. 🙂 What I’ve found is that if I talk to my kids (and, yes, I think sometimes the topics are more mature than they are) every step of the way, they have an understanding of what’s happening regardless of whether it’s good or bad-and there aren’t a lot of surprises. I do think communication is the best way for them to understand how life really is and that sometimes things work out and sometimes things don’t. Sometimes people are good, and sometimes they’re bad……they’ll treat you with respect or they’ll hurt you for their own gain. I want them to trust fully, but also trust their instincts. Ultimately what I think the worst part of dating with kids is…..the baggage. Not the baggage of having kids (some people I’ve met have actually characterized kids as baggage…..WTF?) but all the emotional crap and other b.s. that comes with failed marriages, midlife crises, men who absolutely refuse to grow up, and the lack of solidarity between women, i.e., women who don’t play by the rules b/c they’re so desperate for a man. Ugh. Anyway, Gina, I certainly appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I know it’s difficult putting yourself out there, but it can also be very cathartic. There are a lot of us women out here and it certainly is inspiring to know we’re not alone! Keep it up and good luck with dating. I hope I haven’t been too much of a downer. I think my next stop for manhunting may very well have to be at church!! 🙂
Thank you for your honesty. I truly appreciate. I can’t believe there are no good men out there. You just haven’t found the right one for you yet. I found one who apparently thinks he’s right for everyone. LOL Laughing about him being over the top about all the women he dates and being engaged twice in the same year is much better than being bitter over it. I agree, our children are not baggage. However, I will not have any more biological children and that seems to be an issue for other men. Oh well, i know what I want. Women who are not true to each other drive me crazy. I don’t understand women who will be with married men, date guys in relationships, or even get emotionally involved with guys who are in relationships, etc. I don’t care if the relationship is unhappy. He’s still in a relationship and how can they attempt to work on it if he’s cheating. I have strong feelings on this issue… Women have to stick together and I hope to raise my daughter to be a woman who always has the back of other women and isn’t stabbing them in it. You are a strong woman Cindy and have great kids. Again, thank you for sharing. I hope others will as well.
Thanks Gina…..I just read this. I really appreciate it and I’m glad we’re on the same page.
Searching thru the web and found this blog site. I feel like this is a page out of my life but I went back to this man after he promised me things would be different…they were a bit (since his children had moved out of state) but he still isn’t comfortable sharing me with his family…and something is still not right but I am lonely so I stay…..Did you ever find that man at church?
Actually Katy, I found him at a school fundraiser… dressed as a zombie… 🙂
Thanks. I meant Cindy…she’s the one I was relating too! but Halloween is coming 🙂
My one bit of advice… I’d rather be lonely than be with someone who doesn’t love me the way I deserve.
I’ll say that the one thing with having a successful relationship having children or no children, is to always take it slow. Anywho who truly respects you and loves you, will never pressure you into anything regardless if it’s getting engaged, having sex, getting married, whatever. Any person who would do anything less, is not worth having around. Taking it slow is the first step in moving in the right direction, especially in protecting your children. After all, it can take quite some time to get to “truly” know someone.
Secondly, you could always date and simply not bring your partner around your children until you felt completely comfortable with the situation and/or in doing so. Anyone who truly respects you will be more than fine in doing so.
Whether you know it or not, you have already taken steps forward in trying to do the right things for your children, in just simply writing this article to protect them. That shows what a great mother you really are!
Good luck to ya. Although with all that I’ve read here, I don’t think you’ll need it!
My friend Todd tried to post this several times but it wouldn’t take. So here it is: I think the most important thing to do when dating is to take it slow, whether you have any children or not. Anyone who truly respects you for who you are, will be understanding to this concept. You’re already taking steps in the right direction though, with writing this article in trying to protect your children. Sometimes it can take a very long time to really get to know someone and the best thing you can do to protect your children is to take things slowly. To take the time in seeing what this person is all about.
You can always date on your own time when you have a sitter and date “out of the house” so to speak. What I mean by that is, you don’t have to take the person you’re dating around your children, until you truly feel comfortable about it. Again, anyone who truly respects you will be understanding to this request.
My friend Holly had this to say (via Facebook): I think children that are the age of ours are old enough to 1: see mom actively date and understand that not every “date” is going to end up being Mr Right. 2: Our girls may learn a thing or two, how to be a good date, how a date should treat us, and laugh and learn at some of the mis-steps along the way. When someone comes into our lives that may be a good fit for our families and lives, then its time to make the intro. Maybe they are the be all end all and maybe not. But the key is taking it slow, being honest and not seeing things through rose colored glasses. Facing facts and being straight with our kids, our “guys” and OURSELVES. But as women, we deserve to date and find the man to spend our lives with.
Our job as parents has to be about more than what we think we deserve or want, as this sense of entitlement only serves ourselves, changes on a whim, and produces selfish children. Protection against the insecurity and rejection a child must feel when another adult chooses to leave should be a priority. We can explain and explain a situation but ax the saying goes ‘actionsalong speak louder than
speak louder than words’. Dating by its very nature is trial and error. In a child’s formative years they need to be learning from their own mistakes in a secure as possible environment. The advice of ‘taking it slow and dating on your own time’ is selfless and provides the best chances of a secure environment for kids.
On a personal note Gina, I’m certain Mr. Right is out there for you. And making your decisions based on selflessness, the perfect mate and the perfect timing will come together!
Ive been single for a while now. I like to go out and party with young 20’s something women and take pics on my phone and send it to all my friends. It makes me feel like that Tiger again like back in the days when i dated pageant girls. Bringing them around the kid though is another story. Unless it gets serious I dont think I would rush into that. Your child should never see the guy or girl 2 early your dating. Bringing them to Soccer games, Family Events, Church etc.. needs to be done at the right time. I have yet to find the one but I will keep hunting.
Gina I remember how difficult these decisions are! I can tell that you put your children first, so anything else that comes along, they will get through okay just by knowing that they are your priority. As hard as this has been for all of you, they can learn a lesson of strength and resiliency from you that can be very helpful when they are adults. Kids don’t have to think parents are perfect or always right; that would create an impossible standard to live up to. It’s okay for them to see you make mistakes, it takes the pressure off of them to try to be perfect. This situation has also taught them that it’s okay to back out of a situation if you realize it’s not right for you–that’s an important lesson! I also think there’s nothing wrong with wanting a relationship for yourself, and realizing that the kids eventually grow up, so it’s healthy for you to want your own adult relationship. I have asked my own kids, “Do you really want me to be sixty and call YOU because I’m lonely and I need you to pick up my denture cream?” That usually helps them remember why mom deserves some grown up time to develop her own relationships. It’s all about balance, and enjoying your time with the kids while they are young–which you do. The kids will grow up so fast that before you know it, you won’t even have to worry about bringing a potential mate home to meet the kids–they’ll be grown!
Thank you to everyone who commented here, sent me private messages and posted to Facebook. I appreciate your input. Please keep the comments coming. And feel free to share this with other women who may be going or have gone through the same thing. It’s nice when you can relate to each other and know that someone else understands.
An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers
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Your posts are very insightful. As a single mom you do have to careful. Bringing kids in too soon from either side can skew a growing relationship. You can get attached to the kids, fall in love with how someone treats your kids or just the idea of having that person there to help. I know. I’ve been there. The general rule from most doctors and psychologists is that you should have 6 months alone with your love interest before you introduce the kids to them. You did everything right, just not with the right person. But beware the man who writes songs or poetry for you. They can muddle your thoughts with their pretty words. Judge them by their actions instead. Words are easy to change but actions always show the real person.
I don’t believe there is any “specific” timeline as to when to introduce your children to your love interest. As a parent you have to use your own judgement and your own comfort level on what you think your children are ready for. I agree with Holly’s statement above that it is ok for your children to know you are dating, have a close friend you are enjoying spending time with etc. The level you introduce them at is again up to you and your comfort level of your relationship on what you are willing to share with your children.
If you happen to find someone who is thoughtful enough to write songs or poetry for you in todays world, I hope you realize how special that is and RARE in today’s world to have a caring person like that in your life! Men these days do not take the time to court their women!
I would have to agree that there US no specific timeline. You always know best and I can tell Gina will always put her children first 🙂