Ask Amy: Dad wants to date, but first he needs a clue

March 1, 2013

DEAR AMY: How does an older (40s) single dad re-enter the modern dating scene?

After 13 years of married life, I was divorced over 18 months ago (I didn’t approve of the wife’s boyfriend) and am the primary caregiver for my 9-year-old son.

Between his commitments and mine, there is very little time to play the social singles scene. Options at our church are limited. Where does a guy look for an honest, intelligent and stable woman? No drama, because I’m dating for two now! -- Fresh Start

DEAR FRESH START: I love your description that you are “dating for two,” because when you are a single parent, your child’s interests are interwoven with your own.

One way to meet other parents is to get involved in your son’s activities at (or after) school. Parents who know you and your son — moms, especially — will introduce you to single people.

Parents Without Partners brings single parents (and their children) together for activities and support. Check parentswithoutpartners.org.

Meetup.com is a simple and brilliant concept: Groups form around a variety of interests and post a notice on the site, inviting anyone to “meet up.” My local community has meet-up groups for photography, hiking and food. Volunteering for a favorite charity will also put you in proximity to new people.

You should also dip your toe into online matching. The nice thing about this is that you can go at your own pace and choose to meet people who have similar interests or who conform to certain criteria.

DEAR AMY: My husband of 28 years and I disagree about privacy issues. I think that as his wife I should know his e-mail account passwords, his voice-mail number to get messages, if he is on Facebook, etc. I feel he should be an open book.

He says I am nosy and it is none of my business. He says he will do what he wants. I think I should be able to read his text messages. He told me, “It’s my cellphone, you have your own!” He doesn’t lock it, but he said he will.

Some trust issues have surfaced recently, but he said it is all in my head. -- Suspicious

DEAR SUSPICIOUS: I agree that spouses should be “open books” to one another, but I also believe that individuals have a right to privacy. Trust in a relationship creates a space of sorts where individuals can operate freely and privately. Ironically, you can have all the privacy in the world if you have nothing to hide.

Your suspicion provides a rational reason to want access, but your suspicion also gives your husband the motivation to dig in his heels and then blame you for his behavior.

You two should talk this through with a marriage counselor. And you should realize that you could be given total access to every device in your husband’s life, and he could still (and quite easily) do, say or write things you will never find out about. At the end of the day, trust (and transparency) is a choice.

DEAR AMY: I’d like to pass on some words of encouragement to the “Distant Dad” who wrote about his kids being moved 1,000 miles away.

I was 4 and my sister was 2 when my parents divorced. I don’t remember a time when my father lived nearby, but I was (and am) close to him, regardless.

My sister and I spent summers with him when we were younger, and once I was old enough to voice my opinion and be taken seriously (10 years old), I alternated years living with him. We didn’t have Skype or e-mail or digital pictures, but (as you suggested) he sent postcards. He made a point to integrate me into the life he had. We didn’t do fancy trips, and he didn’t buy me things. None of those things mattered then and they don’t now. Just being a normal dad when we were around was the best thing. He always loved me, and I always knew it without any doubt. -- Charity

DEAR CHARITY: How beautiful. I hope “Distant Dad” takes heart from your story.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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