Loneliness & Dating

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mjhawks, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. mjhawks

    mjhawks Member

    Keep in mind as I write this post, I assume we are all open and honest.

    I left my husband 4 years ago. At that point I was the president of the man hating club. I waited more than a year before I even talked to a guy. It was about that time that I started to get lonely. So I stuck my toes in the dating pool.

    For me, the biggest challenge is not my psycho ex-arse, but my 16 year old daughter.

    I have had two "boyfriends" since I left the ex. Neither ended well. And I tend to think if I don't learn from the past I'm destined to repeat it.

    The first one was amazing. He was kind, sweet, attentive. He liked my girls. Once, he tried to give me advice on DQ. Saying "You need to show her some respect if you ever want to get any." I politely ripped him a new one, and explained that he has no point of reference to speak on parenting since he hasn't raised any children. Further, he didn't have enough time invested with DQ to fully understand the whole situation. And lastly that he should never use the words "You need to" with me. He slipped a few times and I would raise my eyebrow at him and he would immediately apologize. Fast forward a couple months and I was madly in love, as was he. It was like one of those fairy tales. We never fought. There was laughter, and slow dancing in the middle of the kitchen. He would sometimes wake me with soft singing. It was as perfect as any relationship could be.

    And then all hell broke loose. DQ cut her arms up, ended in the ER. I had to be with her for 3 solid days until they found a bed for her in a psychiatric hospital. Finally on the night I took her to be admitted, he broke up with me. He didn't understand the complexity of mental illness. He didn't understand why I was handling it the way I was. I felt like someone had dragged my face across concrete. But I had to muster the strength to get back up and do what I needed to do for DQ.

    The second was great at first, (aren't they all) but the more time he spent with us as a whole, the angrier he got with DQ. Which I understand. No man wants to witness their girlfriend being screamed at, no matter who is doing the screaming. Doesn't mean I was going to put up with it. I explained that she was baiting him into a fight, because that's what she loves to do. Again, he couldn't wrap his head around it, and left. Never really giving a real reason, he was just gone. Which was totally fine with me, because he was doing more harm than good. That was a year ago.

    Since then DQ has escalated little by little. Aside from her outburst at our family, she is highly inappropriate when my male friends come to visit. I should qualify this by saying, I don't have girl friends. I have guy friends, because I get along with them better. There is no hanky panky, which most outsiders tend to question, but it's true.

    She will wear skimpy clothing, with her boobs hanging out. I tell her to go put a shirt on, and when she refuses, My best friend especially, will tell her to do what her mother said! I've been told that she makes some of them uncomfortable, the way she acts, dresses and talks. She cornered one of them into a discussion about how great it was to have sex for the first time. While my friend tried to be there to listen and give her responsible adult input, she turned around and asked why he was using clinical terms rather that the "P" word and the "D" word. He immediately came to me to discuss this. It made him very uncomfortable.

    You can see why I'm terrified to even get into this with someone new.

    But I am lonely. And I think part of taking care of myself, for me at least, is to find something lasting and meaningful. And then there's the old saying, "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I know that DQ is not going to get better.

    It's like a catch 22. If you're upfront with someone, why wouldn't they bolt. I mean who really wants to sign up for this craziness. But if you don't give them all the information, it almost feels like tricking them.

    I started seeing someone a couple weeks ago. Just a couple of dates, but we talk every day. The other night, when the police were here, he texted to see how my day went. I am nothing if not honest, so I told him what was going on. What DQ was really like. I told him what her diagnoses is and suggested that he look it up. I also explained that I don't need to be rescued. I've got her situation on my own. But that he should know the whole picture.

    He said he understood, he would look it up, and he was there to listen if I need to vent. He said he knows I don't need to be rescued, it's one of the things he likes about me. That I'm independent.

    Did I do the right thing? What have been some of the challenges you guys have gone through with romantic relationships? Any advice?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    After my divorce, my difficult child was an older teen like your daughter. Plus I had an eight year old and didn't want her to have to experience my possible parade of men before or if I ever met Mr. Right. I didn't date for a while either, but once I did, it was never involving my kids. I sort of saw them when I could and not at my home. I was well aware that Difficult Child was going to scare men away and also that I could have a relationship without living with somebody. I really just wanted to date. I did not really do much to meet men except place anonymous ads in newspapers, which was as close to online dating as possible at the time, but I liked it. I could use a voice message as well as my paper message to explain "I don't drink so no heavy drinkers or drug users and no smokers, please." I got an amazing response (something like 100 letters), but finding good men was a challenge.

    I found that, in my opinion, most of the men I met had problems of t heir own and baggage of their own, including kids, and I was very careful and logical about what I'd take on. I had some dumb rules...lol. They had to have been married at least once so that I know they are capable of a commitment, but they could not be married more than once. That left me with a lot of once divorced men!!!! No drinkers or drug users. Being able to say that really helped eliminate the alcoholics and drug abusers as I said that even pot was a turn off. My now husband wrote me a very sweet letter, but I didn't connect with him right away and then I lost his letter. Luckily, I had called and let my number so a few weeks later he called me back.

    We went slow and I had to decide if I could deal with having money problems as he did not make a lot of money. I decided he was well worth that and I'm glad I made that choice. We have never lived high on the hog, but he has been a great father and husband and money can not replace all the extra time he put in with our two adopted kids (another prerequisite I had was that the man was interested in adopting children). Hubby also was married before, but had no kids so I considered that a plus. He did not move in with us until we had seen each other for three years, mostly every other weekend and marathon late night phone calls when people used the phone. I think us getting to know one another more slowly and really well helped. Anyway, we married shortly after he moved in, so there was never a parade of men, which I think was best for my particular kids.

    Maybe you are going too fast and exposing your kids and your boyfriends too each other too soon. Difficult Child will be gone soon and it will be easier. I always felt that our kids did not want to see us dating or go through a number of relationships. Let's face it. Kids are not excited by the thought of their parents sleeping with boyfriends. The older ones know we may, but they don't like to think about it. Even my adult children don't ever ask me about my sex life...lol.

    I would sit down and write a list of acceptable and not acceptable traits and stick to it. Write down red flags. I would not date a serial husband or one who used to abuse drugs/alcohol. We can't save them or fix them. All we'll get is more grief. Who needs that? I did learn from my first marriage...I learned I did not want another marriage as bad as that one, although he did not hit me or use drugs. He was verbally hurtful and that was bad enough. It was pretty extreme.

    If I couldn't find a nice, stable man without a lot of baggage, I was in no rush to ever have another relationship. My biggest issue is I wanted to adopt more kids, and you had to be married for that at the time. So I did marry Mr. Right and we have now been together twenty wonderful years and have two of the neatest adult kids in history. So it worked, but I put a lot of thought into it. I did not just run with my emotions and did not go fast.

    I don't know if this helped or not...lol. Just sharing how I did it. That ensured that Difficult Child was not overexposed to men and that they were not exposed to him. He was not their child. They didn't need to take care of him or deal with him. I felt that it was up to me and my ex. And I couldn't see blending a family. I personally feel that a blended family is not something I wanted to do. I think another person's kids moving in with your own kids makes it twice as hard to work and I do think it causes resentment. I selfishly put my kids before "his" kids, so to speak ;)
  3. mjhawks

    mjhawks Member

    I completely agree with what you've said. I have a long list of "Hell No" that I check off before I will even go on a first date. Of which there have been plenty. I actually go on a lot of first dates, and see a red flag, throw in the towel, I'm done. I spent far to much of my life trying to make an a-hole happy. I'm not wasting any more of mine.

    So, no drug use!!! No heavy drinking, no racist or homophobes (I think this speaks to their character.) I would also not date anyone who was married more than once. I also inform them upfront (on the dating profile) that I don't fight. I think it's a waste of energy. So if it's a habit of theirs, to look somewhere else. Kids are not an issue for me. I can't hold that against someone, but I make it clear that I'm not looking for a dad for my kids. I've got my stuff covered.
    I also don't care how much money they make. As long as I don't have to pay their bills, I'm good.

    It's only now that I've been on multiple dates and see no red flags, right out of the gate, that I question the sanity of it all. And I should say, that I never introduce them to my kids in the beginning. But you never know how someone is going to react to DQ until it happens.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yay, that's the problem..lol. By the way, I put in my dating profile that I didn't care about the person's race...all are welcome...and I also would not be happy with a homophobe. I have many gay friends and don't appreciate the judgment of people who in my opinion don't have any idea what causes this. I think I put in my profile that I'm socially liberal so I didn't get too many Rush Limbaugh fans...haha. Not that it's a bad thing, but it's not for me.

    My idea of a long time, however, is YEARS...lolol!!!!!

    Why not wait until she out of the house? I don't mean, don't date at all...just leave her out of it so you can enjoy your relationship. Then your relationship can also be a much needed respite from Difficult Child?
  5. mjhawks

    mjhawks Member

    I actually try to keep my dating life a secret from my girls. I don't think it's something they have any right to know about. And Itty Bit is still holding out hope that me and her dad will get back together. Although, I think that's fading fast as she's discovered he smokes pot, and has become aware of how much he drinks.

    The problem with keeping it a secret is actually Itty Bit herself. She is so freakin smart and hyper-aware of other peoples feelings. She is super lovey dovey and considerate. And did I mention smart. She is the one to quickly figure out if I'm talking to someone. Like the other day I was sitting on the couch texting and she said "You have a ridiculous grin on your face. You must be talking to a boy." I can deny all I want but she just cocks an eyebrow at me. She's 11. The MOST intuitive person I've ever met.

    I am trying to balance what I want with what my kids need. And I agree, the longer I wait to mix the two, the better. I have learned from that mistake. I do want Itty Bit to have a positive male role model in the home before she gets too old to see what a good family is. It's a tight rope act, I'll tell you that.
  6. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    LOL, yes I have advice: keep at it and the right guy can handle your situation. You can't meet Mr Right when you are involved with Mr Wrong.
    I met my husband (married 25 years now) when my Difficult Child was 16. He said he wanted a daughter more than anything. I thought he was crazy. Still after everything that Difficult Child has put us through we are still a strong couple. I will say my Difficult Child didn't like me dating my husband and upped her antics and theatrics to try and ruin the relationship, however I had it in my mind, that she would rather I be lonely and have me all to herself (trapped) and I was looking at the years down the road when she would be busy with her own life and I wasn't about to spend the rest of my life lonely just because she wanted to keep me in that position. One thing that helps when you have Difficult Child is too date a long time without involving the children. The two people in a relationship need time to build a relationship together outside the craziness that the Difficult Child's bring into the picture. She can't destroy what she has no access too. Use your dates with new man, to escape from the craziness and develop strong relationships that are NOT based on the children as soon, at least the older more problematic child will be gone from the house and you can then move the relationship into a long-term situation. Enjoy romance as an outside activity that does not involve your crazy household, but instead is something nice you do for yourself; like a candlelight dinner out, a quick cup of coffee, a movie etc. I see no reason why you cannot introduce the non-troubled child to someone new, after you have built something with that person for yourself first.
    Finding Mr Right can happen when you have a troubled family, but it has to be something that you do for yourself and you have to be willing, at least in the beginning to drop those issues at the door. Let the person know after some happy dates that your child is troubled but don't make the situation the sole focus on that other person having a relationship with you (it can be too much baggage, where as the person begins to fall for you, they are also more likely to stand with you as you go through problems) . He will be dating you, not your children, until there is a proper time and place where you both make the choice together. The thing about this last part too is that you want to make sure the man is interested in you when you meet him and not some perv interested in a single mother with young girls. It happens, a lot. So you not only have a right to a private life outside your girls, you are doing them a favor by not introducing someone new to the situation too quickly. Win, win.
    God luck and keep you eyes wide open for Mr Right!
  7. mjhawks

    mjhawks Member

    Oh I am terrified of that too. I'm no descriptive. I say I have 2 children. I don't say whether they are boys or girls. And it's only a couple dates in when I talk about my girls at all, EVER. And I started with Itty Bit, and how awesome and smart she is.
  8. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Another piece of advice is, after all you endure, you have the right to have fun. It seems you have a good handle on what you want and the dangers of the wrong type of men. Don't give up and look at dating as something you have earned to have fun for yourself. Dating someone is something fun you get to have that is all about you! (until you find that special someone)
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    MJ, I wanted exactly what you did...for my kids to see a normal family. The problem was, even though I no longer loved their father and he hadn't been that nice to me or the kids, they still loved him. So after my husband and I moved in together and then got married, the kids were stand-offish and slow to accept him or us and my Difficult Child was vocal about, "You should still be with Dad." They never really benefited from our marriage because they felt badly for their father. I don't know that we can undo what happened in cases like ours. If Itty Bitty still loves her father, regardless of how much of a frog he is, then probably nobody else is going to win her over or take his place in her eyes. Don't marry just because of that. It should be for yourself, with a mindful understanding that the kids will need time to adjust. In our house, my husband and I talked about it early and often and decided that he would NOT take on an authority role...he'd leave that strictly to me and my ex. That worked better than when he tried to discipline them and heard, "Why should I listen to you? You're not my dad."

    We did adopt two children of our own and they benefited MASSIVELY from seeing a stable home and loving parents. They both feel they had a stellar childhood, unlike my older kids feel. They are both well adjusted young people. But the kids I already had think of my husband as Tom, their stepfather because they already have a father. They like him, but he isn't a father to them. My younger daughter thinks her father, my husband, hung the moon and he feels the same way. My autistic spectrum son has had a wonderful life and tells us how much he loves us all the time. But my older kids? When they see my husband, they just shake hands or smile and chat. It's like I lived in two families. It's weird...lol.

    Just sharing my experience. Yours could be different. No two situations are the same.
  10. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Dating is tough when you have a difficult kid. I had two of them, so it seemed like there was rarely a time when someone wasn't acting out or in the hospital (and occasionally, in the hospital at the same time). I had a tendency to do this "full disclosure" thing when I met men -- I'd tell them everything about what was going on with my girls, with a "take it or leave it" attitude. This tended to result in either (1) them running or (2) them wanting to rescue. In hindsight, it wasn't a good idea. It set the tone for the relationship being about my kids, not us. It also meant I pushed my own needs aside even further - because I wasn't just going into dating looking to get my own needs met, I was pushing that aside somewhat to find someone who'd put up with my kids. A fine line, really, because obviously acceptance of troubled kids is important if a relationship is going to succeed, but that doesn't have to be decided up front. By that "full disclosure" thing, I began to slowly build a wall around me .. a wall built with my kids' issues. The "I" of me got lost in all that.

    In the end, I gave up on trying to date while my kids were still at home. I didn't have the energy to be honest - it was one more thing on my plate that I just couldn't handle. Instead I used my "me" time for social interactions with friends - mostly single friends with no kids. If I had to do it over with what I know now, I'd approach dating completely differently -- I'd give just the basic information about my kids when meeting someone, and make the beginning of the relationship be completely about getting to know each other, as individuals. That way it could be a true joy for me ... an adventure that was all about me and that other person.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I didn't talk much about my kids at first either, especially Difficult Child. I wanted to see if it would even be worth my time...if WE had something good going on. Without even bringing up Difficult Child, I met so many people who would have never worked for me, even if I had no kids. It is really hard to divorce date and I'll bet it's worse now with all this new technology...causing ADHD for those who are in the dating world and like the idea that they can connect in a frivolous way to new people every day. Heck, every minute.

    Difficult Child was seventeen when I married my husband. It was a shock to him to see that my teenage son literally lived in his room, never coming out, it was such a pigsty that there was no way to clean it without ServiceMaster and that he would lie, cheat, steal and be as rude as a kid can be. His sibs, Goneboy and Princess, both avoided him. And Goneboy and Bart had this little competition thing going on..."I'll go out my window to the roof and get into your room through your window and steal something and let's see who can do it best. Ha ha ha!" It was scary and when we were at work, we couldn't stop it.They hated each other, but Goneboy was smarter and got away with more stuff because he acted like an angel. Into this ruckus came my husband. He also had a very needy, yet hostile eight year old girl, still reeling from the divorce who wanted mom to herself. It was a miracle he didn't run screaming.

    Things eventually settled down, especially when, during a time we seperated because I became unsure and scared, I had to throw Bart out of the house. When my, at the time just a boyfriend, came back at my urging, things were more settled without Bart stirring the pot. But still...my now husband did a lot for Goneboy and Goneboy did not appreciate all he did anymore than Bart did. In fact, Goneboy, who thinks he is the smartest person in the world and is probably way up there (so he is sort of right about his smartness) thought that my husband didn't make the intellectual cut, even though he is well spoken and bright.
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I raised my granddaughter from the time she was 11 on. My husband did not want to raise another child, so he left. Like you, after awhile, I was wanting to step back in to the dating pond.......my present husband appeared......I was very clear about what I was dealing with, at the time my mother was also living with me. It's remarkable he didn't run for the hills!

    He not only stuck around, he agreed to help me raise my granddaughter. She was/is a typical teenager. My daughter was a different story. In and out of jail, acting horribly to me at the time, staying with us on occasion with her 4 cats.......she likely inherited some kind of mental illness from my bio-family which is riddled with mental illness, but she has never been diagnosed. My husband helped me through one of the worst times in my life, the 2 or so years of learning how to detach from her shenanigans. He was a rock, he made me laugh, he talked me off the ceiling, he stayed.

    Now my granddaughter is away at college, my daughter has calmed down, seems to have changed, at least with me ........and my husband and I have begun our own adventure, our own life together. Even in the midst of the worst times in life, love can appear and offer you what you are looking for.

    I think as the others do, take it slow, be present, be honest and direct about what it is you want. Communication is, in my opinion, the most important thing to master in relationships..........I think it's imperative to make it clear what we expect and what we want, not material things, but what makes us happy, how we want to be treated, how we want to be loved......no one comes with a how to book, we have to be willing to take the risk of letting another know what it is we truly want. Saying I want to be happy is not enough, I think we have to train those around us to treat us in the ways we want to be treated. And, when we are irritated to say it, not the usual, "no, I'm fine," but to state that it hurt our feelings, or whatever it is.......over time, whatever is unsaid, will erode the connection and kill the intimacy.

    It's taken me a long time to learn that, but in all relationships, that makes a huge difference. And, my experience is that men want to know, they think we are from another planet anyway, they don't understand us, we are very different, so the more we can tell them about what it is that makes us happy, the better it is for everyone. My husband always says, "a happy wife is a happy life." He is old enough to know the real truth of that statement!!!

    It's risky to sit in front of someone you love and really be honest about your needs and wants and desires..........but that risk is what opens the doors to true intimacy, the deep connection most of us really want.

    I wish you smooth sailing on the choppy waters of relationships.........