Dating The Divorced Man

Dear Karen,

 I’ve been dating a wonderful man for over a year now…I just adore him.  He’s (very) recently divorced and has two young kids he sees every other weekend and one night a week. His relationship with his ex is okay – not great, but not awful.  My question is this: he shoots down my suggestions that I come over on the weekends that he’s got his children. I think it’s important that they get to know me, and also that they know their father has a new woman in his life.  What’s your advice about how to handle this? – Trudy, NH

 Hi, Trudy,

 You’re got quite the situation on your hands!  Let’s dive in…


 I’ve found that this surprises lots of women, but the truth is that men feel profoundly deep feelings for their children.  The part of them that is the Provider/Protector comes out most strongly in those relationships. 

 We love that about them, and we need that in them, don’t we?  I don’t know a woman who doesn’t absolutely swoon looking at a picture of a father being tender with his child. 


 One of the reasons women don’t “get” men’s depth of feeling is that men don’t use the same “language” to express them.  So, when we approach men as though (to use a phrase I heard) they’re “hairy women who are behaving badly”, we miss out on so much.  Perhaps we even unfairly judge men because they’re not verbally expressive with their kids (or with us).


Your man is a father, with deep feelings for his children, and he’s lost them because of a divorce.  A divorce he’s probably feeling responsible for, so he’s feeling worse because it’s due to his (fill in whatever here: neglect, stupidity, stubbornness).  The kids are suffering (kids always are hit the hardest through divorce).  His ex-wife has a huge amount of control over how his relationship with his kids will evolve.  She’s the ex, so you know they don’t have the best relationship in the world.  It may be ok – and we hope so for the kids’ sake – but it ain’t great.  He’s likely going to spend quite a bit of energy trying to keep her happy (translation: make sure she doesn’t mess with the bond between him and his kids too much).

 He’s also going to spend a huge amount of energy trying to offset the damage done to the kids by the divorce.  We all know men who get accused of spoiling their kids, and I’d bet it’s most often men of divorce, trying to make their kids happier (or at least not unhappy).


 You must – if you’re going to continue in this relationship – be on his side, and help him have the kind of relationship he wants to have with his children.  If, for now, he’s going to work hard to protect them from the emotional upheaval it would cause to introduce them to a new woman, you have got to understand, support him – and above all, don’t take it personally!  The truth is, it is probably going to be really tough for those kids to deal with you.  That means that their fantasy (and they probably have it) that their mother and father will get back together again is dead.  And it also means that, if he’s really into you, they may be losing him, too.  Very tricky, hard stuff for kids.

 If he’s the right man for you, it’s going to call forth all your compassion, understanding, and high self-esteem.  You have chosen to be in a situation where you will, periodically, not feel like his top priority…his children will be.  Frankly, I think that’s great that you’ve got a man who cares so much about his kids.  It says a lot about who he is as a man.  Your man.