I am entering the 5th year since my divorce and have been feeling quite lonely for the past few years. My sister was urging me for years to try online dating and I finally did. The first guy was nice but not my type which was a bit discouraging. But the second guy I met was really nice and not too bad looking either. We’ve gone on a few dates now and things seem to be moving kind of quickly. He is super nice and we really enjoy each other’s company. We’ve had a great time on these dates and I give him props on being creative. We’ve listened to music in the park and he’s invited me over for dinner, all things my ex would never put any effort into doing.
After our date last weekend, he invited me to go to church with him where I could meet his kids. The problem is that his ex wife goes to church there too. While I am interested in meeting his kids some day, it seems a bit soon for me as I don’t feel ready to introduce him to my kids yet. And I definitely don’t feel prepared to meet his ex-wife. While I’m not against church and want to support his desire to go to church, I haven’t attended church in forever and feel pretty uncomfortable going. I have mixed feelings about this. I can’t be alone anymore but on the other hand I also don’t want to move too fast.
-Unsure After Divorce
Dear Unsure After Divorce,
Wow, ex-wife, kids and church? Now, that’s a trifecta! I think it’s perfectly fine that you feel hesitant considering this picture, especially with this being the first relationship you have pursued post divorce. So let’s start with the feel goods. It sounds like you are enjoying his company and are going on some great dates. How exciting! Way to get out there. It’s not easy letting your heart be vulnerable and open to love again. That’s a big first step.
With the invite he extended to meet ex wife and children, he also presented an opportunity to have an honest conversation about how you are feeling. Maybe that is simply telling him that while you’re flattered that he thinks enough of you to want to share his church and introduce his kids to you, you’re just not ready at this time.
Or, if you feel comfortable to open up, I would relay exactly what you expressed in your letter; although you are open to him meeting your children one day, it doesn’t feel like the right time yet. And when and if that time comes, I would suggest a more neutral ground for introducing the children such as a park, museum or bowling alley where you could do something interactive.
It’s up to you to decide to open those doors when and if you are ready.
Church and ex-wife are two other chapters in this relationship. It’s up to you to decide to open those doors when and if you are ready. As for the ex-wife, I suppose they have a functional relationship if they are meeting under the same roof on Sundays, but again, that’s an important conversation to have. I would take this invitation as a time to speak honestly. Tell him that you respect his invitation, and that you appreciate him respecting your decision on the timing.
Dear Unsure After Divorce,
Good for you! You challenged yourself to try something new and you followed through. You went online. Even went on a few dates. Now the next steps. Truly, you are the only one who knows the speed you need to travel on this journey.
However, we should acknowledge that there are quite a few warning lights that could be going off that may or may not be worth heeding. Divorce can bring many pains with it including the fear of hurting again. That is a real fear that will need to be faced whether it is in this relationship or a different one.
The good news here is that you are enjoying your new love interest and he seems to be someone with whom you can have fun. It also appears that his children are quite important to him and that he has been able to maintain a good relationship with his ex-wife. All good things! Despite these good things, it also appears that he may have trouble with the brakes or may have a hard time slowing down once he has his mind set on something. Not only is he trying to introduce you to his kids and to his spiritual community, but also to his ex. This does seem like a bit much at one sitting.
I encourage you to put yourself out there but always know that you control the speed and flow of your heart
If you’re feeling in your heart that he is moving too fast, here is your first true relationship test. How does he respond if you decide not to go? Explain your reasoning and if he is worth your time, he should pass this test by respecting your needs. If not, it may be better for you to hit the brakes now rather than later. I encourage you to put yourself out there but always know that you control the speed and flow of your heart.