DG reader Carol asks:
I’m a single woman with three grown children, ages 26, 24, and 19, all on their own. I’ve been dating a man for eight months who has two adult sons, ages 37 and 35. He is fearful of introducing them to me, although he’s met my children (and liked them), friends, and we are now planning a trip to my brother’s home. I really love him, but am concerned that he will continue to hide our relationship — one son knows he is dating, but not my name or anything about me. How could I support him in introducing us, and after a year, should I write him off if he’s taken no action?
Interesting question, Carol. I became sensitive to some people’s concern about introducing a new love to their kids when a man I dated for 7 weeks cited as a reason for breaking up was my suggesting we take his college-aged kids to dinner. Within a week he broke up with me. There were no other clear issues that would have caused this — we got along well. But who knows if this was a smokescreen or there were other doubts he wasn’t voicing.
I know folks with minor-aged kids often don’t like to have the people they’re dating meet their kids before they have a sense that this new love will be in their lives for a while. They say it’s damaging to the kids to get attached to someone then have the wo/man out of their lives because of a breakup.
While your guy’s kids are much older, perhaps he is protecting them or you. One man shared that his adult kids hated every women he’d introduced them to after his divorce — even almost a decade afterward! They harbored the fantasy that mom and dad would get back together so they didn’t want to encourage dad to have a new love interest. They commonly said things to dad’s dates, like “I’ll never like you.” This damaged some of his relationships with women who didn’t understand it had nothing to do with them. So maybe your guy is postponing an uncomfortable altercation but isn’t telling you the reason.
I’m guessing you’ve said things like, “I’d love to have your kids meet my kids on the next college break,” or “Let’s have your sons over for (dinner, the next holiday, or a fun outing).”
I heard a relationship expert say that men need a 9-month gestation period for a serious relationship — at least for him to realize he wants a serious relationship with a specific woman. If this is true, you’re just at 8-months. I’d try the subtle approach until the 9-month mark (although I realize most men like directness and miss a lot of subtlety). Then I’d have a serious discussion with him, something like, “I’ve suggested we get together with your sons several times. I’m wondering if there’s a reason you don’t want us to meet each other right now?”
Tell us what happens!
What do other readers think?