Be honest, but don’t spill everything about your blemished past right away
Q: I’m a woman, 47, with a successful career. I have an adolescent son who lives with me and spends regular time with his dad.
I’ve been on my own for years after a too-young first marriage; a nightmare second one, which I fled; and a third which lasted 12 years, produced our son, but ended due to infidelity.
Due to living beyond my means, I filed for bankruptcy last year.
I’ve been communicating online recently with a man who’s respectful and kind. I’ve been guarded. We plan to meet soon. There are many things I’m not proud of in my past but I try to focus on now and the future.
I intend to be honest with him, but should I offer all this information? I sense a real connection there.
To Reveal or Not
A: The connection you sense online is, so far, wishful thinking. It’s still unknown and untested.
Your judgment in the past wasn’t so great so remember all that you’ve learned by hard experience when you do meet in person. Be honest, but don’t spill everything; it’s too soon and will leave you too vulnerable.
When he asks about your marriages, start with the briefest true response — I was too young, chose badly the next time, but did have a substantial marriage with a man who’s a decent father who unfortunately cheated. Period.
As you get to know this man, you’ll both have to share more details. What about his relationships? Any mistakes?
While you’re dating, you’ll have to mention the bankruptcy because, if it’s a secret that gets exposed, he may wonder if you’re interested in his money.
He’s likely been guarded, too. You’re assuming he’s kind, but you won’t know until you see his behaviour with your young son, over time, as well as with you. Proceed slowly.
Q: I’m 27, a single mom of a girl, 3, seeing a divorced man, 47, with an adult son. Our eight-month relationship has been fantastic. Age hasn’t been an issue.
We were coworkers and friends for a year prior to dating. We’ve evolved to being crazy about each other and now he’s hinted about living together.
I’m happy about a possible future together, but eight months’ dating feels too soon when I have my very young child to consider. We haven’t even said the L word yet.
I’ve gradually allowed him to spend time with us when she’s home (she spends weekends with her father).
They adore each other, but I still worry that it would be too big a change for her anytime soon. I ended an awful seven years with her father 18 months ago.
My boyfriend’s a good father to his son, and he’s also a good son, brother and friend. He treats me with respect, is very thoughtful, passionate, funny, intelligent and supportive.
Yet I’ve always had commitment issues.
Now I am concerned about dragging my daughter through unnecessary pain. Am I unreasonable to think it could be another year or more before I’ll be willing to get that serious?
A: Wanting to go slow is the right approach. You’re being responsibly cautious in building the relationship between him and your daughter gradually before seriously discussing living together.
With your weekends free to be with him, you’re not delaying the romance, companionship or opportunities for intimacy.
You’d have time to learn more about each other instead of dealing with household and legal issues. Meanwhile, you’re giving your daughter the security she needs rather than a fast move to another life, with another man.
TIP OF THE DAY
Divorced parents of youngsters need to feel trust and stability before cohabitating again.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ellie chats at noon Wednesdays at thestar.com/elliechat. Follow @ellieadvice.
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