After I moved (fled) from the Peoples Republic of NY State, more specifically the City proper; someone gave me some dating advice.
Their advice was to never ever take advantage of the emotions of a single mom. They meant, single moms have enough going on that they don’t need a man claiming love as a way to get them naked. They meant not to use that form of emotional blackmail / shitbaggery to take what you want. It hurts a woman who is most likely already hurting. It further damages her child / children. They meant to be overly cautious and overly considerate when dating these women.
I have never been the shitbaggery type, but it made me think a bit and I agreed with the advice. I dated quite a few single mom’s after I relocated to Florida. I always insisted on never meeting kids until such time as we were an actual thing. It just seemed to me that the children should not meet a parade of men and I really didn’t want to bond with a kid only to have mom and I not bond well. As you might imagine, most of the dates did not turn into much. It’s the nature of dating. You have to go on dates with lots of people to find a few who are compatible enough to really connect with.
In my search, I met a woman who had a 5 ish year old son. We got along very well. We dated for about 4 months before I met the son. Once I did meet him, I liked him a lot. Things went along swimmingly for about another year. But, as often happens in dating, that relationship grounded on a rocky shoal.
I then met another single mother. Her son that lived with her was 15. I met him after about 3 months as well. He and I met accidentally, when his mother had me come over when she thought he would be gone. I met his three siblings over time. It worked out, well. Her kids are now my “kids”.
I am providing that long preamble to set a tone. There are things that honorable people do when dating as an adult. There are things friends will clue you in to when dating divorced / single moms or dads. There are things you as that mom or dad should do to insulate your children while you date.
Its funny, I never hear any such guidance in regards to widows or widowers.
The guidance should be fairly similar.
1. Don’t meet the kids early on
2. Don’t use the word “love” unless you really know / mean it
3. Don’t make or discuss big future plans unless you mean it
4. Don’t have huge swings in your emotional availability or make sudden (unilateral) changes to the relationship status
Widows and widowers (especially recent ones) are people who are much more vulnerable. They are a bit more tender and a bit more desirous of an emotional bond. They are much more likely to have difficulty building a bridge. But, if they do, it will be a significant thing to them. This importance will exaggerate the consequences of the bond being leveraged, manipulated or broken. This group of people will also tend to be less likely to see these things coming, which might well increase the import of the blow.
I have never lived the life of being a single parent. I have lived the life of being a widower. I have had a relationship of HUGE import to me, yanked out without warning. In my case, she was a widow too. Not nearly as recently, but still a widow. It is my sincere belief that the people she dated after the death of her husband (as a general rule) did NOT follow the above (don’t be a dick) rules. I think those interactions (among other things) led to her subconsciously not following them as well.
I bear her no ill will. Quite the contrary.
Even before I became a widower, I didn’t bond often, but when I did… I bonded deeply. The death of Dawn seems to have accentuated that dynamic.
I do bear the pain of compounded loss and especially the pain of the 4th rule being broken soundly over my head. I will survive. But, I also know the easiest way for me to thrive, but at least for now… that path ends in a demolished bridge.