Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dating, With Children

So, I have a boyfriend.

His name is Wes, and he is an engineer by degree and does computer data compiling stuff with big numbers by trade. He went to school with the husband of a good friend of mine, and came very highly recommended and with excellent references.

He also has two cats.

As we've been dating over six months now, there has been lots of charting new and previously uncharted territory. I suppose every relationship has a fair amount of that when it's first starting, but as he is the first "boyfriend" relationship I've had since getting a divorce, it sure seemed like there has been a lot of stuff to figure out.

Like meeting the kids.

At what point when dating someone do your introduce your children? Clearly first dates and wedding day are both not ideal extremes, but there is a LOT of middle ground in there for the vast majority of relationships, and I have a serious lack of friends-with-children-who-are-dating to get advice from or even just watch stumble through their own relationship chaos.

I had decided when the first flutter of a thought of dating had entered my head that I didn't want my children's childhood to be nothing but a memory of Mommy's different boyfriends rotating through their lives in a continues cycle of disappointment (lots of books and some movies have references to bad childhood memories linked to "mom's latest looser boyfriend"), therefor there was no need to worry about this until I was dating someone who had made it past two dates.

And although that methodology did an excellent job keeping my children well away from short lived flings and jerks, it certainly didn't bring any help once Wes managed to establish himself as something that was going to be around longer than a short lived fling and who wasn't a jerk (or pedophile, because let me tell you, there's nothing like reading Where the Heart Is to make you eternally paranoid of pedophiles as a dating mom).

Ultimately, Wes asked a couple months into it if he was going to get to meet the kids.

(You know, while I was still twisted into mental thralls trying to even come up with some sort of system for this or set of guidelines or... something.) 

It's scary. You don't know just how long term this is going to be. There's the very real part where your kids might bond to somebody who you ultimately break up with, and how it could be another loss in their little lives. Nobody wants that.

But there's also the part where it might give them more realistic expectations of love and dating and relationships. It would be sad if it didn't work out, but they would also see that life goes on after a break up (and you know, maybe give something real to reference when someone is 15 and sobbing on her bed about how she'll never love anyone ever again since the beau of two weeks just broke her heart and you're trying to console her).

And the part where you know somebody for more than 48 hours and have these life experiences with them and a growing evolving relationship before ever even deciding on such things like marriage. That's a good thing for little girls to see.

So while I was still internalizing the mental debate with myself over what sort of time line one should have before introduce a significant other to small offspring, he came and hung out with us at the park one day.

But don't worry, it took a whole second afternoon of hanging out with Wes before Kristina far too loudly started asking if I was going to marry him.

[See: the part where I was talking about trying to instill realistic relationship time line expectations in my children]

And now, several months later, it's still a little scary, but it's also going really well.

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad all is still going well!

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  2. I recently started dating someone with two girls and I met them a few weeks into dating. I think how they are introduced can make a difference too in regards to their expectations (and how big of a deal the introduction ultimately is).

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  3. Good for you. I would also freak out over this (and I read that book, too!)

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  4. As I started reading this post I thought of "Where the Heart Is" and was full of empathy and terror for you. Then you mentioned it! HA!

    Good luck with Wes. Erm. Wes. Wesley. His name is Wesley, isn't it! WESLEY! And so now I will assume he wears grand colourful sweaters and is a child prodigy. How do you resist yelling "Shut up WESLEY" at him in a Picard-esque English accent?

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