What’s the etiquette on divorce dating?

I got a note from an old friend saying some divorce dating topics on the blog would be helpful to her. Here’s what she wrote:

“Not sure if you know that I a divorced mom of 2 …  I have been on my own for several years and have been very careful with dating, integrating etc…  I have been dating someone for over a year and am now starting to integrate the kids into the picture.  I have been very slow in the process as I do not believe in parading men in and out of my kids life, etc…

Would love to hear thoughts on…

1.  How long should you wait to introduce the kids to someone your dating? …

2.  How long should you wait to have “spend the nights” with the person you are dating and your kids.  Should you have a talk with your kids beforehand….  Should you ease into it… have the person start with the couch and then move to the bedroom???

3.  Steps to make sure that the person you are dating is a good fit for you and for your kids.  I do not think people think this through…  Can they handle day-to-day life with the chaos that kids bring – from sibling fights, every day chatter, activities, etc….”

So ladies (and gentlemen) gives us your thoughts on my friend’s questions. I’m sure you all will have some good insight into what has worked and what hasn’t!

340 comments Add your comment

Liz

January 15th, 2010
7:27 am

Question #2: How long should you wait to have “spend the nights” with the person you are dating? Spend the night? How about waiting until YOU’RE MARRIED!!!

Seriously. You want to set a good example and teach your kids to wait until marriage for sex (most people want to teach their kids this), but you want to have this guy spend the night? Kids aren’t dumb – they’ll know that mommy’s having sex. Yeah: “Kids, don’t have sex until you’re married, but I’m going to be having lots of sex while I’m divorced.”

This will just cause all sorts of problems.

Momof2Girls

January 15th, 2010
7:43 am

@Liz – you took the words right out of my mouth (fingers?). The message you send with your pajama party will be much stronger than anything else you may ever say about “wait until you’re married”.

Absolutely agree, Liz...

January 15th, 2010
7:43 am

…and, with apologies to “Porky’s” (the movie) – “moral turpitude” is definitely lacking in today’s society! We had this discussion about this time last year (sorry, Theresa) and what IS wrong with never exposing your kids to “immoral turpitude”? You’re going to shack up, we all know that and so do your kids, but it does NOT have to be IN FRONT of them, while you preach “do as I say, not as I do”>

mom2alex&max

January 15th, 2010
7:57 am

I’ll be watching this blog with great interest today. Not being divorced, I don’t have 1st hand experience with this.

I do know that my divorced friends used their “weekend off” to the fullest. LOL, sometimes enough to make me jealous (joke)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
7:59 am

I knew we had talked about the sex before — I like the questions about integrating in with your kids and how do you know if the person could stand being around kids for a long time if you did get married? other question I would have is how do you know marriage will be any better/different than wtih your first spouse?? How do you choose the next person better?

Julia

January 15th, 2010
8:01 am

this is one of those.. some think the rules do not apply to them….

Abby

January 15th, 2010
8:02 am

Why do people think it’s perfectly alright to have sex outside of marriage when you’re divorced, but not when you haven’t been married before? Double standard there.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
8:02 am

mom2alex — I am telling you my divorced friends have a hell of a lot more fun than we do! it is depressing. if I see one more photo on Facebook of weekend trips of a new boyfriend/girlfriend (lake trips, casino trips, pool trips, other cities) — I am absolutely jealous. When we went to my friend’s wedding last fall for 36 hours we had to use three different people to keep our kids, paid over $200, had a nightmare in logistics and still basically got away on night. Trips are easy with the new playmate when the old spouse has the kids.

Julia

January 15th, 2010
8:03 am

I now have decided I am not even looking at a man until jacob is graduated from high school and he is only in the 8th grade

Julia, it is ok...

January 15th, 2010
8:09 am

…to look and to oogle men – and it may be OK to do more than that, but I appreciate you putting your son before yourself when it comes to dating and other pleasures.

But, do not deprive yourself just because you think it is better for him – it may not be, as he could possibly get the wrong idea that women are bad and gravitate to the “other side.

...

January 15th, 2010
8:09 am

Enter your comments here

mom2alex&max

January 15th, 2010
8:11 am

Theresa you got THAT right. I didn’t want to say it before. But, I of course don’t envy that they had to go through a divorce (never fun no matter what the circumstances), however I am SO jealous of the fun they have when they are “off”!!!

One overnight is difficult enough when we can convince my parents to watch them, but a weekend would just be downright IMPOSSIBLE to achieve! It saddens me, because I know my husband and I (on the very rare occasions we managed to do this) come back so refreshed, so happy, so much more connected to each other. That’s got to be good for the kids too right?

Sigh….

LOL, at Theresa...

January 15th, 2010
8:12 am

…and her “grass is greener on the other side”. Yeah, that single (after divorce) life does seem to be quite a contrast to what most of us do on a daily basis!

Julia

January 15th, 2010
8:13 am

Theresa this is one of those.. the grass is not any greener on the other side…. I got a smile when you said that you were jealous of that life style of the wild friends :)… I would kill for your life.. stability and a home, good job. I have friends that live that life as well and it may look all fun for then but then real life sets back in.. :)

Jeff

January 15th, 2010
8:14 am

As a single dad, I would NEVER have a sleep over and wouldn’t be involved with a woman who would. My daughter deserves more. YOU are the adult, they are the child and they shouldn’t be burdened with trying to figure out the sleep over thing.

I see often that everyone agrees on the rules until it confilcts with what they want to do. Then they are the exception.

Rod

January 15th, 2010
8:17 am

Theresa – they may be having “fun” taking trips, etc. But I would rather be sitting on the sofa watching TV with my wife. Knowing that I’m with the one I want to be with for the rest of my life.

Those friends don’t have that, so they try to substitute it with activities. There’s no comparison.

Julia

January 15th, 2010
8:18 am

Julia, it is ok… I just got out of a very very very bad relationship and yep was guilty of this… so please yall dont beat me up I am doing this all on my own, not to mention now around every turn something happens because of all that…. He and I worked together years ago and he knew the boy – well since I dont leave him alone we all would go out to dinner… so yea right now.. I am pretty much done and I fully understand the “other” side.. we are dealing with that as well – not with him but his dad is a cross dresser

Abby

January 15th, 2010
8:22 am

So Theresa – according to your 8:02 comment, if you were divorced, you’d be going on weekend trips and having sex with a guy you’re not married to? You think this is a good example for your kids?

JJ

January 15th, 2010
8:24 am

Hey Guys, I had to pop in for this one……..I’m with Jack, I NEVER had any spend the nights while my daughter was still at home. I chose not to date and parade men in and out of the house in front of her. My ex sister in law did that. Two weeks after their divorce was final, she had a man over at the house, in front of her kids. Keep in mind, she gets her kids every other WEEK, so there was no reason to do this with them at her house. One month after the divorce, she had already paraded two different men into the home.

I am just now getting back into the swing of things since my daughter is away at college, and let me tell you, it’s slim pickins out there for a 50 year old woman…….most guys my age are looking for the “arm charm” younger woman. Maybe I’ll put my “cougar” outfit on and try to mingle with the 30something set…….just kidding, I don’t want a “cub”……I would like a companionn, one who is secure with himself, and responsible. That’s not asking much is it? But they don’t seem to be out there………….I’m looking for someone to go out with, go on trips with, an ADULT who is my age, etc.
I’m fun, and full of life, and not much gets me down. I have a very positive attitude and a great sense of humor, and I love being outdoors!!!!! Can we start a personals column? LOL

JJ

January 15th, 2010
8:25 am

Hey, maybe that would be a fun (Sorry MJG) Friday topic, let’s start a Singles Friday!!!

Lori

January 15th, 2010
8:26 am

If you want the guy to spend the night, have the kids spend the night with grandma!! I just don’t think that it’s ok to have guys over. I’d have to spend lots of days out with the kids before allowing the guy to even come over and spend time with them at the house. I think a lot of it depends on the family relationships, how old/mature the kids are, etc. But you have to be so careful these days. Whenever you hear about something bad happening to children, it’s ALWAYS the boyfried who did it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
8:26 am

I didn’t say I would be taking trip if I was divorced — I think I would be crying in bed if I got divorced but I want to be taking trips with my husband.

I’m jealous that we’ve stuck it out for 16 years and don’t get to have that fun and that time alone any more. Michael’s 40th birthday is coming up and we are having to work really hard to fenagle (sp) one night away for this birthday. It’s sad that the husbands and wives can’t get that intimate time that the divorced people get.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
8:28 am

Hey JJ!! Happy to hear from you!! Been thinking about you!! I had a topic last week that I thought you’d show up for —

Julia

January 15th, 2010
8:29 am

Lori no its not .. its church staff, its teachers we had this topic yesterday…. I understand your point but dont just single out the “boyfriend”….

Andrea

January 15th, 2010
8:30 am

When a person is ready to date again, he/she will know it. There really isn’t a timetable. You know what feels right to you. I think it is a good idea to take some time “off” so that when you do start to date, you won’t be carrying around a lot of baggage.

Question #1: I say after you and the person have dated a L-O-N-G time. You really don’t want to start the revolving door with the kids.

Question #2: As for the sleepovers – use your time when the ex spouse has the kids. Don’t rush it.

Question #3: You should honestly talk with the person you are dating and ask them how they feel about dating someone with children. Then watch and take note to what you see. If the person is obviously impatient with kids, don’t be stupid and convince yourself that he/she was just having a bad day.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
8:30 am

Cause Grandma doesn’t want them. parents who have grandparents that are willing to take the grandkids for more than a few hour are very, very lucky!!!!! and need toooo really appreciate that help!! If you didn’t leave with grandma who would you leave with???? my good friend who I feel comfortable leaving with has a grandma that loves overnights so she doesn’t need to swap with me — that would be a great deal — I’ll take her kids for a weekend and she could take mine but she doesn’t need that swap. so we are officially screwed.

Julia

January 15th, 2010
8:30 am

I dont care if Jesus Christ came back to earth and dragged a man in front of me and said.. Julia meet so and so — I will run the other direction. :)

hi there

January 15th, 2010
8:31 am

Thankfully I am not divorced or having to deal with any of these issues, but I think everyone needs to relax a bit. As a parent you know your kids better than anyone else and if they are at an age where you can discuss topics of this nature, go for it. I was raised with parents who might have been a bit to free with the information, but it was something that I have always liked and am very greatful for as an adult now. I didn’t have any fear of talking to my mother about sex or any other topic be it regarding myself or a friend. Heck, most of my friends came over to talk to my mom and hang out because she would listen without judgement and would offer sound advice.

I too have friends who are single and just seem to be living the life, but most of them wish they had what I have. Someone to be there all the time that you get along with and can just live your life. From time to time it would be great to get out and have a “break” trust me, but I just feel like that ship has sailed and unless I have to be back out there, I would rather not.

lakerat

January 15th, 2010
8:33 am

…what started out as a Fun Friday topic is turning into a pity party for Theresa! Buck up, ma’am – life just ain’t that bad (think Haiti) – and all the joy your kids bring to both you and the hubby – even if it interferes with some fun right now. Trust me – it goes really fast, and when the kids are gone and you do have time for that fun, you will say, gee, where did our kids time go? Think Harry Chapin and “The Cat’s in the Cradle” song!

BlondeHoney

January 15th, 2010
8:36 am

My boys were in their 1st year of college & senior year of high school respectively, so the first time there was a sleepover it was at HIS place because my boys were plenty old enough to be on their own formthe night. Now they are off on their own so it’s a non-issue and I’m with JJ all the way :)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
8:44 am

Lakerat — not feeling bad for me, know it’s no Haiti — have fun

DB

January 15th, 2010
8:46 am

Not divorced, and way past the point where my kids would be a factor in my sleeping arrangements even if I was. I did love Liz’s answer, though. :-)

I sure don’t envy my divorced acquaintances. Actually, though, I don’t have too many, for some reason — except with one or two exceptions, we seemed to have fallen in with a remarkably stable group. Neither my husband’s or my family have had any divorces in the last two generations, except for one cousin, and in our 27 years of marriage, we only have had one couple that we regularly socialized with divorce. The only divorced people I know are relatives of friends, acquaintances from work and a very few friends from my children’s school (and folks here on the blog!). Weird, huh?

I was intrigued by your question, “How do you choose the next person better?” THERE’S a question worth mulling over, and I’d say that it’s not nearly as simple as one might think. People change over time, and if you learn to change together as a couple, that seems to work for long-term marriages. Personally, I don’t think you even THINK about marriage until you’ve known someone for a minimum of two or three years — it takes that long to really get to know someone, to see how they embrace or reject life and other people, and to get a true reading on their sense of honor. Anyone can fake it for a short term.

And, while I might get grief for this one, I’d suggest not jumping into bed with someone for a LOOOONG time, to give yourselves a chance to get to know each other outside of the bedroom, first. Sex complicates thing (boy, is that an understatement!), and women, especially are often distracted by great sex and talk themselves into “love” when it’s actually just a really advanced case of “lust.” The sexual revolution didn’t “free” people — it just added another layer of confusion.

Liz

January 15th, 2010
8:53 am

Hey JJ, there is a dating blog on here – Misadventures in Atlanta. But it gets quite raunchy and nasty in there.

DB

January 15th, 2010
8:58 am

@Theresa: I know it seems like a long time from now, especially with the little one being so young. But Lakerat is so right — you’ll look back on this time and wonder how it went by so fast. Oddly enough, once my last one started college, and my husband was 400 miles away on his long-term project (the end is in sight — hooray!), I sorta fluttered around a bit, and then one week suddenly realized, “HEY!!!! I CAN GO WITH MY HUSBAND THIS TIME!!!” Packed up the dog, and off we went — it was so much fun!

Absolutely agree, again, Liz

January 15th, 2010
8:59 am

…that “Misadeventures” blog is quite raunchy – it has the same 18 people blogging every day, all day, and it is mostly “ghetto slang”. I got banned from the site because I took one of the bloggers to task – the next time I tried to blog my post disappeared after being “moderated”, and I have not been able to blog since! The AJC really needs to look into what is happen’ over there.

JJ

January 15th, 2010
9:00 am

I meant I was with Jeff (not Jack) in my earlier post.

Liz, been there to the dating blog……..don’t like it at all. You need an interpreter for that blog…….I don’t understand their language……..

Theresa – life on the other side IS NOT FUN!!!!! Only one income, only one parent, and you do EVERYTING by yourself!!!!! I’ve been very fortunate, however, to be in a position to enjoy life, but I’m getting tired of being the “5th” wheel. The majority of my friends are married, and I envy them.

However, I have been free to go and do what I wanted, when I wanted, and didn’t have to check in with anyone, or make sure the kids were taken care of. I had a great support system with my Mom and brother, who have helped me tremendously!!!!!! I cannot take credit for raising my child alone, I had a lot of help from my friends and family.

Trust me, the grass is NOT any greener on this side of the fence.

Julia, someone will come along that will rock your world (That’s what my friends tell me)!!!! But you have to get out and look, and that’s what I am starting to do. It’s scary, but I’m willing to give it a try and at least have fun. I know there are more frogs out there than princes, but like I said, I’m going to give it a try!!!!!

FCM

January 15th, 2010
9:05 am

Assuming younger children (ES or MS age even HS)

#2 She needs to check her divorce paperwork. I have “that clause” in mine. The one that says nobody of the opposite gender is allowed to stay over night if the kids are home UNLESS we are related. The spirit of that rule is that we want to teach our children the behavior we expect. If she feels ok letting her children have opposite gender overnight guests while under her roof or having her children out having sex then SURE go ahead and model that. YES it is different for a married couple…they are married. Kids know the difference. (NO I was not a saint as 20 something but I was not having sex as an early teen either — I was 18). Sex does complicate things. Have him sleep over when the kids are with the spouse on visitation or at grandmas or something.

#1 You introduce the person when you know the relationship is going to go somewhere. Even if you aren’t sure where. It should be a committed monogomus relationship that is on a path to something permanent. I did that and it still devistated the kids when I told the guy it was over. He hemmed and hawwed after 3 years about whether we would ever be married and he had NEVER spent the nite with me while the kids were home. (different topic). You do ease into this step. You meet at the park. You go for dinner. The zoo or something. Eventually have him come watch a movie at your house.

#3 That is a tough one. There are no garauntees. The BF in #2 was a good fit in many ways. In others not so much. If the BF/GF has issues doing kid activities or family activities (school events like the fall festival or sport events the child plays at) I would say that is a flag. This is AFTER you realize it should be going someplace permanent and you had that talk.

NO I am not an expert but 5+ years of being a single parent does give you insight. :)

@Julia didn’t forget you. Rough start at the house this morning. Wore down my soul. So much drama over the request “get out of that bed and put on that shirt.” She was even excited about the shirt! She just couldn’t get her rear in gear as my Mom says.

FCM

January 15th, 2010
9:06 am

JJ girl I have missed you!!

Bobby

January 15th, 2010
9:09 am

Who waits to have sex until after they are married? Very few people do.

I agree with some of the rest. Wait until the ex has the kids and then have your fun. When they’re young, what they don’t know won’t hurt them. I would not have a “friend” come spend the night with me while my child was at home.

My SIL is taking our son this afternoon for the weekend – doesn’t happen very often. We were talking this morning and my wife said “What are we going to do this weekend?” I just looked at her and said “Bow chicka wow wow!”

FCM

January 15th, 2010
9:11 am

“other question I would have is how do you know marriage will be any better/different than wtih your first spouse?? ”

YOU DON’T.

I asked a good friend at my church when I got divorced what she (or my parents) had done right that they had decades and decades of marriage behind them. (Both 40 years or more). She said “What? There is no secret. Bottom line is you pay your quarter and takes your chance. There are no garauntees that your marriage, or mine, or anyone elses won’t end.” She is right people married 20+ years get divorced (my aunt was married 27 when they did). NEVER get to taking it for granted. ANYONE can get divorce at ANY time…Marriage is hard work.

Eddie's Father

January 15th, 2010
9:15 am

the comments in this blog say it all. we speak of children like they are software. “when do we integrate?” maybe you should have considered the question when your were considering “DIS-integrating” the relationship between the child(ren)’s mom and dad? I know “divorce happens” but it seems to me that if divorce happens, then kids need to learn this lesson quickly; just as they must “learn” how mom or dad chooses to move forward as far a relationships go. each divorce is different, each parent is different, and eaxh child is different. as my (married for 60 years) late grandma used to say; you’d be surprised how well children can handle the truth. most parents (and the child-rearing experts who advise them) are more concerned with spinning divorce, or dating or “grown-up decisions” so as to address their own guilt or emotional issues. kids are pretty resiliant. no need to beat them over the head with the truth, but no need to tap dance around it, either. if you love someone, why would you shield your child from a healthy, loving relationship? if the relationship does not last, so be it. it’s not like this would be your child’s first rodeo.

TTPB

January 15th, 2010
9:17 am

I have been divorced for ten years and have not had any kind of relationship. My EX, however, has had over 10 different women since our divorce and they have all slept over. They even take my two kids on vacations … My kids are in college now, but they don’t visit their Dad much because they are afraid of “walking in on something.” My EX never had morals or good judgment and it took me 25 years to figure it out, but I’m a lot happier now. I’m sure I don’t know everything about my kids, but think they are generally good kids – both doing very well in college. I’m just not sure what message they are getting from all this …

FCM

January 15th, 2010
9:18 am

“Trips are easy with the new playmate when the old spouse has the kids.” Yeah but when, like me, you have an ex spouse who doesn’t exercise his visitation IT BITES!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 15th, 2010
9:18 am

FCM — I completely agree that you NEVER know!! It can happen to anyone, any time!!! I completely believe that is true. No one should be smug in their relationship.

New Stepmom

January 15th, 2010
9:26 am

I married a divorced dad and have experience with all three of these. We had NO spend the nights before we were married-my stepdaughter was being exposed to that at her mom’s house and we refused to set the bad example on our side. My husband (then boyfriend) told me if this would be an issue he needed to know because he had two previous girfriends that would just show up when his daughter was there and expect to spend the night. I was astonished we even had to have the discussion, because I had no plans for a pajama party with his daughter in the house.

I met my husband’s daughter fairly quickly, but we got engaged fairly quickly. I only met her after we were dating exclusively and we knew we were headed for a long term committment. That is a tricky area. I had never been married and we needed to “test the waters” and have us meet, but we did not want to do it too soon or wait too long.

For #3, I could write a book on this. There is no way to completely prepare to combine two lives into one when there are children involved. When you go from being being a play date to a step parent to the child(ren) the dynamic completely changes and I cannot think of a situation that I know of where the transition was smooth and problem free. We are fortunate because we have a good kid, but she does still have some jealousy over me dividing daddy’s time and priorities and has acted out because of it. You have to be on the same page with your spouse and they have to be the bad guy or at least equally as bad as the step parent when bad behavior comes up. Being a step parent is rewarding, but it is difficult. No one should date a person with children and think that fun Saturday afternoons together prior to marriage are going to translate into blissful harmony all of the time when you marry! It takes work to build two families into one and although the rewards are great, you cannot be faint of heart.

Liz

January 15th, 2010
9:28 am

TTPB – You know that your EX has had over 10 different women spend the night with him since your divorce 10 years ago? You know to much, sounds like you’ve been keeping tabs on your ex instead of living your own life.

LET IT GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Jane

January 15th, 2010
9:30 am

Where’s MJG?

JJ

January 15th, 2010
9:33 am

FCM I agree. My ex NEVER exercised his visitation or his Child Support clause……LOL

News…..my daughter met her father for the first time in 13 years, just before Christmas. He had NO excuse as to where he has been, or why he was gone. She met him for lunch and came home and wasn’t overly thrilled with him. But now they have a little relationship, he texts her every day, and it annoys her. I asked what he texts her, and she said “oh, how’s your day”, etc.

She wants to ask him to help her get a car this summer, but she doesn’t know HOW to ask. I told her to pretend she was asking me……LOL. I think a car would be a good payment for 13 years of absence…….he owes her!!!! And it would be nice if he helped out with college expenses, but I seriously doubt that will happen….

cougar crusher

January 15th, 2010
9:35 am

People may be pious about “no sleepovers” on a blog, but it’s my experience that divorced mommies are some of the horniest women on the planet.

And heaven forbid their kids are with their dad that weekend? LOOK OUT.

BlondeHoney

January 15th, 2010
9:37 am

Amen FCM; I was married 20 years when I got divorced. Never take your marriage or your spouse for granted because it can be gone tomorrow.