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Parallax - Advice            March 5, 2001

  Dating single dads

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What's wrong with me? I am an attractive, smart, caring, professional, college-educated woman who's dating a wonderful single dad who makes me smile and laugh and feel my absolute best. He is the fulltime dad of a four-year-old daughter who has bad asthma, so many of our dates are canceled due to attacks or kid related things. That's fine. I don't mind that he puts his daughter first (he should), but lately I feel as though I come dead last on his list of important things. For example, on my birthday last weekend, he turned down a date with me so he could measure a friend's wall for pictures. Could he just be nervous about getting too involved? He's been divorced for three years and hasn't dated since, so it might be that he's afraid of getting hurt. What can I do? Is there some sort of single-parent etiquette I'm not following?

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Her view:

Dear Still Single,

Single parents do have less time, but they should have time for birthdays - barring emergencies. He sounds like a reasonable fellow. Why not talk with him? He might be completely spacing on the 'putting you last' front. He might not even be aware of what he is doing. Perhaps he thinks your relationship is so solid that he doesn't concern himself with managing you. Or, as you say, he may be looking for some distance. Have it out. Either way you'll feel better for knowing and then you can decide what to do about it.

If he wants space, you should probably let him have it. He may have concerns about his daughter. I have a feeling he may be oblivious to all the stress he is causing you and simply too busy. You need to figure out what you want from a boyfriend because he will always be busy with a child, and you'll always need to work around his daughter's schedule. You may not be ready for that type of relationship.

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His view:

Dear Still Single,

The only etiquette I know is universal. You like someone and you pursue them. If you have a child, you may put them first, but not indiscriminately. You try to incorporate the kid as much as possible, but you don't turn down dates to measure walls.

Turning down a date to measure a wall is the worst kind of turndown. It's the one where he didn't even bother making up an excuse. He really, truly preferred spending time with a measuring tape and a bunch of old photographs than with you. What a way to express caring, eh? Tell me, how else does he make you feel your absolute best?

I don't think this man is nervous about commitment - I think he is sending you a strong signal. If I were you, I'd look for someone else. You are, after all, a catch.

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