I made some chumpy errors in my separation, but generally got it right; consistent with your philosophy. I found Chump Lady about 15 months into my separation and it really clicked with my experience. I still lapse into feeding the troll a bit but the ex has a knack for winding me up. She is still with the Other Man — fucktards.
My question is about my picker (haha that felt funny writing that) as I’m shit-scared about ending up with another narc. I really thought I’d picked reasonably well with my wife for 14 years…
But my question is about my current partner and my picker. Facts:
- I’m 17 months into separation.
- We’re both 42.
- She has spent much time single but has had long term relationships. Never married.
She has no kids.
- She said she loved me 3 weeks into our relationship which I reciprocated. I’m not saying I didn’t, but I’m a softy, we were (and are) having so much fun. I read about love bombing but can there be genuine love and excitement in this regard? Should this be a red flag?
- We drink quite a bit when we’re together. I really don’t need more encouragement on this front. Red flag?
- We’ve spent nearly all available time together since we met.
- She met my kids about 6 weeks into it — something I said I wouldn’t do for 6 month minimum. She is great with my kids.
- 6 months into our relationship we’re talking about moving in together.
- She is generous with her time and is giving in a thoughtful way. She volunteers with many charities.
- We have different backgrounds but like the same stuff generally. She’s a farmer, I’m a city boy. Her parents divorced amicably when she was 12ish but co-parent amazingly. My folks are still together. We’re both outdoorsy, love the same music, are fairly similar professionally, both fairly confident socially but she is very social and has a very wide group of friends. I have a few close friends.
- We laugh together big time.
- I’m quite financially conservative and sorted, she sort of lives pay check to pay check. We haven’t really talked about this too much. Red Flag?
- She’s been cheated on by a serial cheater. Her partner for 5 years when she was younger.
- I don’t know if I ever want to get married again.
- Is it still too soon for me? Aargh!
Shit it gets more confusing the more I write.
I’d appreciate your thoughts.
My first question is why aren’t you divorced? I realize there are some wretched states that require a year of physical separation before you can file. But 17 months??? And while dating for 6 months of that 17-month separation, your divorce hasn’t gone through? WTF?
I’m not saying you have to put your life on hold, (I’m not against dating while separated per se) but do recognize that you are NOT emotionally available for a full, reciprocal relationship right now. You’ve got some very unfinished business with your ex. Like getting legally free of her. And unchumping yourself, which takes quite a bit of decolonizing the mind to achieve.
So, all to say, WHOAA Andy! You don’t know if you ever want to get married again? Dude, at 17 months out from a blistering separation, you should be taking baby steps like, “Maybe I’m too old for cargo shorts.” Or “Gee, I guess that kayaking meet-up doesn’t like look too much of a commitment.”
This is the time for rediscovering yourself, adjusting to being a part-time parent or full-time single one (depending on your custody agreement), and maybe dipping your toe into the dating waters. By which I mean 50 mediocre coffee dates. Practicing meeting people with zero pressure, dumping those who don’t measure up, and being dumped by those who don’t totally adore you. (And not taking it too personally, because HEY it was a mediocre coffee date and you don’t have THAT much invested).
It’s not impossible to meet an incredible person whom you want to commit to in the early days after a divorce. It’s just unlikely. And KEY WORD here — DIVORCE. Incredible people you want to commit to don’t generally spawn letters to Chump Lady. So, let’s UBT your potential red flag list, shall we?
I’m 17 months into separation.
See my WTF above.
We’re both 42.
You’re young. What’s the rush? (Yeah, 42 is YOUNG. I’m telling you that from the wizened old age of 49.)
She has spent much time single but has had long-term relationships. Never married. She has no kids.
This should give you pause. You DO have kids. Kids are a major commitment, and while I have absolutely nothing against the single and childless, you have both traveled very different life paths. There are things that childless people do not get, like vomit in your hair, or sleepless nights with colicky babies, or spending all your disposable income on orthodontists, or 3 a.m. last-minute science projects (thank Jesus for 24-hour Walgreens!)
My point is — kids require sacrifice. You don’t have shared experience here. Your kids have already been thrown over by one parent for a fuckbuddy, make sure whoever you introduce them to (more bitchslapping on that in a moment) understands your priorities as a parent and doesn’t take offense.
Maybe she’s 42 and always wanted kids and loves the idea of yours. That’s nice. But in my experience, people do the things they want to do in life. If she really wanted kids, she would have had some already or adopted some by 42.
Some people can step into family life and some cannot. If you’re looking at the future, step-parenting is a HARD gig for anyone. I imagine it’s even harder if you have no real experience raising children.
She said she loved me 3 weeks into our relationship which I reciprocated. I’m not saying I didn’t, but I’m a softy, we were (and are) having so much fun. I read about love bombing but can there be genuine love and excitement in this regard? Should this be a red flag?
Ding ding ding!!!! THREE WEEKS? Dude, you don’t know anyone in three weeks.
I’m sorry, that strikes me as love bombing. I get that it all feels very heady and validating, especially after infidelity — but real adult love builds organically over time.
And I’m probably going to get crucified for saying this (but what the hell…) she’s doing the pursuing and while that’s flattering, it’s a bit outside the norm.
Hey! I didn’t make the rules here, folks, I’m just reporting on them. Generally, in straight relationships men do the pursuing. Don’t revoke my feminist card, but women? Do not chase men. Absolutely show mutual interest, encourage, but DO NOT CHASE.
Courtship is where a guy needs to bring his A game. If you’re a woman doing all the work, what are you communicating? You’re saying you’ll do all the heavy lifting. That effort doesn’t matter that much to you. (It matters. I know it and you know it.)
So best case, her pursuit comes across as a bit needy. Worst case, it comes across as disordered.
The people who move quickly and love bomb to seal the deal are fucked up and want you to commit before you figure that out. A woman who says “I love you” three weeks in? I’m weighing my thumb on the scale of disordered.
For the record, yes, I believe in falling in love. I also believe in not rushing it. Because I believe in grown-ups. (And leprechauns! And gentleman picking up the check! And home-cooked dinners! And thank you notes! And anachronisms of all kinds!)
Yeah. I said gentleman picking up the check. (At least on the first date.) You don’t like that, guys? Get back to me when women have equal pay, reproductive freedoms, and universal child care.
We drink quite a bit when we’re together. I really don’t need more encouragement on this front. Red flag?
Yes, Andy. Red flag. This person is not bringing out the best in you.
Also, what does it say that she needs to get shit-faced when she’s with you? Healthy people do relationships sober.
We’ve spent nearly all available time together since we met.
How much time do you have? You’ve got kids. Do you impose any boundaries on your time?
Look, you don’t love someone any less if you can’t spend every available minute with them. I love my husband, but I’m really grateful when he flops on the sofa to watch 70s sitcoms and leaves me alone to listen to English boys choirs and cruise for pinecone elves on Ebay. I don’t love Bob Newhart. He doesn’t love pinecone elves or flutey boy sopranos. It’s OKAY.
Does this woman really like everything you like all the time?
She met my kids about 6 weeks into it — something I said I wouldn’t do for 6 month minimum. She is great with my kids.
This is WAY too soon to introduce your kids. At 6-weeks, you have NO IDEA where this relationship is going. I don’t like a) how she is trampling your boundaries and b) how you don’t have any boundaries.
Also, I’m thinking it’s no coincidence that you spend all your available time together and she’s very quickly met your kids. Gee, what’s that Venn diagram look like? Whose great idea was this?
6 months into our relationship we’re talking about moving in together.
GAH! A red flag so red it could be communist China!
NO!!!! NO!!!! You have CHILDREN. Your divorce isn’t final. This is a HORRIBLE idea.
She is generous with her time and is giving in a thoughtful way. She volunteers with many charities.
Well, there can be a thin line between “generous with her time” and “dominates your time.”
It’s nice that she volunteers for charities. I hate to be cynical here, but this doesn’t tell us much.
We have different backgrounds but like the same stuff generally. She’s a farmer, I’m a city boy. Her parents divorced amicably when she was 12ish but co-parent amazingly. My folks are still together. We’re both outdoorsy, love the same music, are fairly similar professionally, both fairly confident socially but she is very social and has a very wide group of friends. I have a few close friends.
Generally speaking, I don’t think opposites attract. I think people with similar values and backgrounds make better mates. By the time you’re 42, you should know yourself and what your deal breakers are. Introversion? Not a deal breaker. Likes to spend every holiday in a moldering tent? Deal breaker.
If you do that work to get to know yourself after a divorce, you have a better idea of your deal breakers.
We laugh together big time.
That’s great. You should laugh. You’re SIX MONTHS IN. It’s just dining out and fucking at this stage. Who doesn’t love that?
I’m quite financially conservative and sorted, she sort of lives pay check to pay check. We haven’t really talked about this too much. Red Flag?
Depends on your deal breakers. Men picking up the check (at least on the first date!) aside, I believe in mutuality in relationships. Forty-two-year-old grown ups need to be able to stand on their own feet financially. I have the utmost respect for farmers, but it’s not the most remunerative profession. Most farmers work at least two jobs to get insurance or do without.
(Which, now that I think about it, how do you date this woman at all? Maybe it’s winter where you are. Farmers have very, very little spare time. It’s a super intense lifestyle.)
I think healthy people want an equal. That doesn’t mean you earn the same, but it means you both bring a lot to the table, and you can live just fine on your own. A lot of us, after divorce, don’t have a lot to bring to the table, and need to spend time recouping our losses — financial and emotional.
If anyone should be hard-up financially, it’s you — a divorce and children. And you’re not. She is. What does that say about your values and priorities? It’s worth looking into. Certainly before you even entertain the notion of living with her!
She’s been cheated on by a serial cheater. Her partner for 5 years when she was younger.
Okay. Just because someone was once a chump doesn’t mean they’re a good person for you to date.
I don’t know if I ever want to get married again.
That’s totally understandable — YOU’RE NOT EVEN DIVORCED.
Is it still too soon for me? Aargh!
Yes, Andy, it’s WAY too soon. Slow the hell down. Don’t self-medicate with new and shiny relationships. I’m not saying you should dump this woman. I’m saying you should get to know yourself a lot better. And that takes TIME.
Which you don’t have if you’re spending “every available” hour with her. Fill out your life some more and slow down. How she reacts to less than total centrality will tell you a lot about her character. Good luck.