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Single Dad Blues

Dear Philippa:

My problem is I am a new part-time parent. My son lives with me every other week. The women I meet seem to have trouble with this arrangement, mainly because when my son's here I want to spend as much time with just him as possible. The alternate weeks I'm free to do whatever. Is this unreasonable?

�Jason, Gainesville, Florida


Dear Jason,

Dating as a single parent can be tough for anyone. It sounds like you want to balance you personal time and parenting time. And that's good. I don't know how old your son is or what you've been through to establish this kind of dual custody, but I think it would helpful for you understood how the women you are meeting might be feeling about this every-other-week availability.

I'm basing this on my experience dating a man who handled his shared custody role very much like you do. When we first started dating, seeing someone on his set schedule was fine. However as time passed and became closer, things changed. The more two people like each other, the more time they want to spend together. If you are wonderfully close to someone one week, then the next week you are out of their life, missing them until the following week, it can seem like a roller coaster existence. Add to that situation another factor. I had spent time with this man's son and he liked me. I felt fine being included in their activities together. But, unfortunately, that wasn't what my boyfriend wanted. We eventually split up and I was hurt.

Jason, if you don't want to get fully involved with someone, be clear in your words and actions. It's not fair to get emotionally close to someone without recognizing that it's natural for the other person to want to be included in your whole life.

Tell the woman from the start that at this point in your life you prefer a more casual relationship, one where you see each other every other week. The week with your son, the woman should be free do whatever she likes, including seeing other people. You don't want someone who builds her life around your schedule. Like the women who date married men, eventually your girlfriend will want more out of the relationship.



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