Online dating seems to be the norm these days whether you’re dating the second-time around or never-married. With all the chatter, news coverage and advertisements for online dating, it’s easy to overlook the many other ways of meeting new people.
My current guest, Missy was 35 years-old when she divorced. That was almost four years ago. She’s remarried now and she and her husband met the old-fashioned way. Here’s Missy:
I was not looking to date specifically, although I had come to a place where I was very open to companionship. Nurturing and partnership is such a part of my chemistry and my personality and with that I acknowledged I probably would want to remarry one day.
I didn’t know when or how and I wasn’t out hunting, but I acknowledged that is what I enjoy. I enjoy doing life with someone else. I’m not so independent that I would prefer to be single for the rest of my days.
Anyway, a friend I knew from the church knew a man who had gone through a divorce and they had been really good friends for about ten years, The gentleman from my church called and said, “I’ve got a friend. Are you interested? Would you want to go out with me and my wife and we can invite him and we can all meet.”
I was very turned off to that because I didn’t want any witnesses to the spectacle if it didn’t go well. So, I said, “Feel free to give him my number and he can call me if he wants to.”
Sure enough, I guess it was about two days, he called and said, “I’m Mark’s friend and you’re a neat person that I might like to get to know.” We talked for about fifteen minutes and then we agreed to meet for a lunch. I just thought, “Well, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
We did hit it off fairly early. I knew right away that it was somebody that I would like to know. I was fairly cautious in the beginning. He was a bit more enthusiastic.
It just takes time and process. He has two daughters and I have three little ones and we both have all of our children the majority of the time. It’s a long process of getting know each other and getting to know each other’s children and families.
Reality is much more upfront the second time because we know what can go wrong. We have so many other responsibilities besides each other. You can insulate and bubble yourself in that dating afterglow. You’ve got to be living in life, in reality. In many ways I think that helps to get to know a person faster, because all of those pretensions are stripped away. At least for us they were.
One of my initial thoughts about him was that he was just a kind person and I was able to trust him very early on. He’s dependable. What he says is true. I think that knowing someone whom I also trusted who had known him for many years validates who this guy says he is.
I was around him with his family. I was around him with his work comrades—all of the different environments. He’s also a soccer coach for a local high school. So I remember when we were first meeting thinking, “Oh well, at least he’s gone through a background check, because you have to do that if you work with kids at high school.” You just don’t know these days. I hadn’t been on the dating scene for twenty years. It’s definitely a different model, but you find ways that it works. For me it’s been a very good process, an enjoyable process.
Much of our dating happened when my children were at their dad’s and so I got to know his girls earlier than he got to know my children, because they had front row seats to our dating process, pretty much. We didn’t introduce the children to each other until we had dated for about six weeks, when were at the point where we realized, “I really do care for this person.” We began the process of introducing kids at pick-up and drop-off. “I’m going out with this person,” and using the names.
Since his girls are teenagers we were dating role models for them, without a doubt. We discussed that very early on. They are learning how this happens by watching us in many ways. It is a gift. It’s also a very huge responsibility.
There was a time after we had dated for about four or five months where he wasn’t quite sure how his girls might respond to being around little children on a more full-time basis, because there are benefits to the age differences as well as drawbacks.
The benefit, I think, of his girls being older and mine being younger is that there is no competition between the two of them. When we’re all together it’s not like, “My children are trying to get his attention and his girls are trying to get his attention,” and there’s no tension in that way.
But the drawback is that when you’re a teenage girl, little kids can be annoying. You don’t want to get stuck with feeling like you’re the babysitter. Let’s face it. I was a thirteen year old girl once and I would have been mortified to have to deal with little children. I’ll be honest. It was a very real concern.
He was really evaluating whether this was something he wanted to ask his girls to deal with. That was so hurtful at the time to me because that was one of my great fears, “What man is going to want to come along and have to basically help me raise another man’s children?”
We pulled back for a time to evaluate and pray, and determine whether or not this was worth the effort and the challenge that it was going to be. We determined that it certainly was. His girls actually very much encouraged him not to walk away from me, because of them, which I’m grateful for.
It was very mature, especially the older one. She made comments, “You know what? I’m out of here in two years. Don’t make decisions about me.”
The Divorce Coach Says
In the age of online dating, we tend to forget that personal introductions are a great way to meet new people but it does mean letting friends know you’re interested in dating and what you’re looking for in a relationship.
I’ve also had situations where someone wants to introduce me to a friend and wants to host a dinner to orchestrate. I’m with Missy – that just feels awkward. Feels contrived and manufactured. And what if you really don’t hit it off? I know it’s done with the best intentions but I’m much more comfortable just giving them permission to share my phone number.
I love Missy’s perspective on being role models for her now-husband’s teenage daughters. This is such an awesome opportunity – you get to teach your kids about etiquette, expectations, getting to know each other and for some, when a relationship is no longer working. Instead of just talking about it, you get to walk it. But, and this is a big but … you have to be ready to date. Being a role model for your kids should not be your primary motivator for dating.
BTW … did you know that in the U.S. the average length of time people wait to get married a second time is about three and a half years and there’s no significant difference between men and women?
Are you dating? What do you think your kids are learning from your dating?
Missy blogs at Far From Flawless where she writes about leading a Christian life with a blended family hoping that sharing her journey will empower others to shun the mask of imperfection and open themselves to authentic living.