Tribune News Service
Q I'm 39, divorced with a 7-year-old daughter, and it's difficult to find someone interesting who doesn't have a lot of history. I just met someone I really like, but after three dates, have come to find that he's separated, not divorced as he first told me. He and his "ex-wife" still live together because she is saving up enough money to move out, but they no longer sleep in the same room. Should I continue in this relationship?
A Let's break this down so you can see how red the flags are. This man has a ton of history, not just a little, starting with the fact he's still married. It sounds like you are feeling desperate and are settling for a bad relationship. If it were just you, you could do whatever you want and if it is a bad choice, rack it up to bad choices. But your daughter deserves stability and to see her mother have some respect for herself when picking a partner.
I cannot think of a better example of when Ex-Etiquette for Parents Rule 1, "Put your children first," would apply. Rethink this. A bad relationship is not better than no relationship — it's just a bad relationship.
In all fairness, he could be a very nice guy; it's just too soon. You and he are on two different timelines. It's always best to finish one relationship before you enter the next, and he's not finished with the relationship he's in. He's not even separated, and the truth is, you don't know for a fact that they are really sleeping in separate rooms. To call her an "ex" is a lie. He has misrepresented himself from the beginning. More important, if he and his ex don't have enough money to separate, that means you may end up supporting him. Do you like him that much? History can get expensive.
Most important of all, consider what "settling" says to your daughter. She's watching and learning from every move you make. Will you tell her you have a boyfriend, but the two of you can't spend time at his home because his wife lives there? If you don't hold yourself in high regard, your daughter will not learn to hold herself in high regard. She will expect what you present to her and possibly re-create the same kind of relationship.