Go Ask Alice
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
I’m a 35-year-old woman and I’ve just started dating a man 10 years older than me. He is also recently separated. We started spending time together five months ago and became romantically involved two months later. He told me the divorce process is extremely difficult and especially hard on his two children. The children spend every weekend with him but I have not met them yet. I really want too, but he says no. His ex-wife calls him all the time. He either goes in another room or doesn’t answer at all. I feel jealous and frustrated. He tells me he is serious about me and is falling in love yet won’t discuss anything about his family or divorce with me. What am I doing wrong?? Why doesn’t he trust me?
Grateful for your answer,
Dating a newly separated man is not a good idea if you are looking for a serious relationship. He is in the middle of dividing property, working out custody and visitation, battling over alimony and child support and having to give up friendships – a terrible time in anyone’s life.
He also needs time to heal before he will be ready for another relationship of that magnitude. Many men are not even aware they need this time until it is too late and the new woman gets hurt. I believe it is a very rare man who is ready to settle in quickly no matter how strongly he may feel.
That being said let me address your specific questions. It is very unusual for there to be so many phone calls between separated couples. His wife may be trying to reconcile with him. Even if that is not the case, if she finds out he is already in a serious relationship she may believe he started seeing you before the marriage was over. This could cause him unbelievable grief during an already stressful time and create cracks in your relationship with him.
As far as the children go, they are the innocents in the breakup of a marriage. They want to see their parents together and, as you mentioned in your letter, are having a very hard time with this. For you to meet them now would only have them hate you – you would be the villain in their eyes. They need to mourn and heal and get used to their parents being apart before they can fathom either of them dating.
I understand you have strong feelings for this man and want more from him NOW. But if you insist on asking too many questions about his situation and meeting his children you will drive him away. If he knows you are jealous and want more from him, he will have to hide this part of his life from you.
I do believe it is appropriate and probably necessary for you to ask him if he feels he is really ready to settle down with a new woman at this time in his life. He may be afraid to share his true feelings with you for fear of losing you. He may not even know the answer to the question. If you choose to have this conversation with him than you must do it in a way that is relaxed and loving. Listen to what he has to say without getting upset and allow him to be honest with you. I would have to believe he feels very conflicted.
Here are some questions for you to think about. Can you let go of your need to know every little thing regarding his divorce? Can you wait maybe a year or more before he is willing to include you in his
family life? Can you stop feeling frustrated and jealous? Can you just relax and enjoy your time with him now, without worrying about the outcome?
I understand we cannot help who we are attracted too, but you have chosen a man who is going through a significantly tough time. This has nothing to do with trust, he is going through the natural cycle that any man would in his situation. It is all about him right now. As icky as that is for you, it is the reality and there is nothing you can do about it if you want to be with him.
Think long and hard about what YOU want before you get in any deeper. What is good for you and your life’s goals? I wish I had more positive things to say to you as I know you care about him. But I
speak from what I see in the world and would rather see you hurt a little bit now than feel tremendous pain further down the road.
I wish you all the best. Good luck!!
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Questions should be detailed but may be shortened (or re-worded) for the column. All questions used become the property of Alice Badler.
artwork by Vanessa Quinones