Friday, August 5, 2011


Single Dads, Aging, and Acquaintansex

I have a few questions for you! Well actually just one question: "Am I going to be able to get laid after college?"

I just graduated and moved to a new city. I only know coworkers, and LOL that is it. I have like two friends who are products of mutual friends from elsewhere and I am slowly meeting some others but ... I like to have casual sex with acquaintances, although not really more than like five times max and actually just once! I used to find these people at parties, where it was fine to arrange for sexual liaison sans date, on the spot, and based on banter and physical appearance alone. But it's also important to me that they not be psychopaths. And that I know them / things about them / that they have an 80% chance of not having crabs, things like that.

But other college casual-sex fans who preceded me in their entry into the real world now have no sex or serious boyfriends. I want 0 serious boyfriends and 100% yes to sex on every other weekend. But I am worried that my social circle will not be big enough to fit in enough casual acquaintansex!  Even college was getting "crowded" at the end.

But I don't like to date, I'm never "lonely," and I don't want to give dudes the wrong idea by like flirting with them in the daytime or eating dinner with them. I know it's like, "but what about all that cute love things you can do with them!?" I don't know, it does not appeal to me! I like to have sex, but mostly I enjoy the echoing silence of my own walls, the ability to potentially sleep with any dude I like, Netflix, and my new puppy (who can spend one night alone, he is almost eight months now).

BUT I do only sleep with guys who are really hot and I have on authority are "smart and normal," which I find out via text message in the car home with them *usually.* So! WHO CAN I BANG? It is important to me to not offend friends and sully the waters of potential future friend circles. I think casual sex is not wrong, but I know some people do and do not want me banging their friends and then not hanging out, I know that it can put people in uncomfortable positions. Which is avoidable in the 5,000 person melee of a large university. But maybe not in this (SORT OF SMALL AND BORING) new city I am a lukewarm fresh inhabitant of.

That was so long but really just will I still get to have casual sex with normal dudes? I do not want one-night-stand horror stories. Will I grow out of my fear of complete-stranger sex? Was college just a paddling pond of genitalia and now I have to swim in the bar-and-formal-function sea?

Also I'm getting nervous 'cause I've been here three months and like no boning has happened, I'm not even sure if my vagina is there still I AM AFRAID TO LOOK.

What? Formal functions? Is that another word for the internet, because I think that's how people find people to bang now, but I am not all down with the millenial lingo lolwutbeastin. Here's what I think: Fucking people is really underrated as a way of making friends with them. You're in a new city, you have previously shown yourself to be capable of pulling hot, smart, normal guys (haha like that's even a thing, guess they are all at those "formal functions"), and I think you should FRIEND the next guy you do end up with if he seems like he can roll. No, not like friend with benefits, which is almost always some bullshit, like benefits, then friend? Benefits, count to 5, friend. BECAUSE. (1) New friends, (2) Hot smart normal guys who you can bang know OTHER hot smart normal guys who you can bang, then you bang those guys and they know other guys and pretty soon the whole world is basically connected via your vagina (provided it's still there, I dunno, three whole months! It probably did disappear) and we usher in the peaceful era of Gaia.

Three potential problems, though. (1) Sometimes guys get feelings from sex, even if you're like "no it's not that kind of sex." And those feelings might mean that it's not easy to friend them, or even if you do they might not be into actively facilitating your fucking their friends. Whatever, crybabies. (2) You will have to somehow make it clear that you are simply trying to friend-hangout, not going all psycho hosebeast, as we said in the '90s, or I mean, as they said in Wayne's World, really, I don't think we said that. The presumptions are against you on this one, because duh if a girl talks to you after she's seen your dick it's prrrooooobably because she wants to get married amirite? (3) It'll take a bit because dudes don't talk about this stuff quite as much, but eventually they will realize they all banged you and that's not a good thing or a bad thing, but you will get a nickname, and it might be a great one or a terrible one, but juuust so you know you're gonna have to own that shit and get a tattoo of that nickname somewhere, so just be ready for that. Just be ready for your next tattoo, is my advice.

I suspect that at the end of this, you will tell me something along the lines of "only you can decide..." but, here it is anyway: Is there any way to really know whether or not you're "ready" to seriously date a single dad? I am 30, have never been married, no kids, and I really enjoyed my twenties, if you know what I mean. Last year I reconnected with a guy I used to be professionally acquainted with several years ago, and we have been dating for almost eight months now. From the beginning, I knew he was separated from his wife, and I was able to deal with that somewhat easily, figuring it'd just be a matter of time before the divorce was final and he was free. Wrong!

About 1 1/2 months in, he told me his divorce was complicated by the fact that he had two (very young — ages 2 and 4) kids. My first reaction: total deal-breaker. I didn't consider it lying by not telling me straight away, just gradually giving me more information the further our relationship progressed. Still, I was crushed. I didn't see him again for a couple of weeks, I was so disappointed. Then, I realized I really missed him, and considered all the other fantastic qualities that attracted me in the first place, and we gave it another go. That was in January. Now I'm back to square one, as resentment on my part has started to set in. He has his kids often, and takes them for every holiday, and I'm starting to feel irritated every time his phone rings early in the morning and he sneaks out of bed to take a call (presumably from their mother) or takes off in the afternoon to run mysterious errands (presumably kid-related). I don't blame him for his sneakiness — I'm sure it's because I haven't exactly welcomed the situation. Clearly, at their age, they will be in the picture and his #1 priority for a very long time.

No, I have not met them, nor do I particularly want to. Which only sometimes makes me feel like a horrible human being, because I feel it's best to hold off on that, unless and until we're in it to win it. He knows how I feel, and is a little hurt by the fact that I basically ignore his kids, but says he understands that it must be difficult. There isn't a particular reason why it's so hard for me — it's every reason you can think of. Neither one of us has dropped "the L Word" but I think it all the time — I swear if it weren't for this, he'd be the perfect match for me. It's almost painful that he says and does so many kind things. I often tell myself to get out before I'm in too deep emotionally. Is it ridiculously early to think I'm not ready to be anyone's stepmom, considering the situation isn't going to change? In theory, is it too much to even hope for, at my age, that your ideal mate doesn't come with a marriage and kids already checked off the list? That I am someone's first priority? How much of a selfish bitch does that make me if I let him go? 50% of my girlfriends say get out, and the other 50% say don't dump him just for that. I really need an objective opinion here. Please and thanks.

Girrrrl, I do not think this dad is single? Because sneaking out of bed, mysterious errand-running, I'm separated, oh snap I'm not? I mean breakups are fucking messy, and it's a whole different story with kids in the picture, but he wasn't like "I am in some messy, iterative ish, but DTF," he was like hide yo (my) wife, hide yo (my) kids. But OK, let's pretend that sketchy shit did not happen, and your question "am I ready to seriously date a single dad" stood alone. I am normally a pretty morally relativistic lady, like what do we REALLY know about people's relationships/motivations/etc., but I am putting my size 8.5 foot the fuck DOWN here and saying yeah, if you really can't handle not being a dad's (a dad to TODDLERS!) #1 superpriority, then holy shit leave the dude alone.

There are enough dads there fucking it up by themselves without your help. (There are plenty of ladies who would find a cute single dad adorable or would appreciate the fact that dad stuff left them with a ton of their own time, or, you know, who are single moms?) NOW. If the question were like, "Is it cool to bang/hang out with this hot single dad on the days he doesn't have his kids, if I don't really care about/want to meet his kids?" then yeah, totally, guess what, he's probably fucking grateful to talk to someone about something other than daycare dropoff time. I wouldn't even insist you have to be ready to be a stepmomma to date him seriously. But I do insist, with all my inherent godly authority, that if you need to be the center of someone's world, you find someone without kids and above all without toddlers. Have you even ever seen a toddler? They're like the convergence point of dependence and terrifying mobility. Right now, it's a zero sum game. If he's giving you what you want all or even most of the time, those kids are ACTUALLY funneling pennies into their mouths and rolling around in dog shit. Even if you could make yourself the center of this dude's world, would you want those kids' heavy metal poisoning/heartworm on your conscience? Look, in general, being a grownup and Making Good Choices is bullshit and you can get away with avoiding it without judgement from me, but when there are little kids around, that shit is your JOB as a MAMMAL.

And, 30 IS grownup. Not bad grownup like old, or even like you have to have your life at all together (haha, life together, hahahhahahah CHAOS), but grownup as in people around you will start to have some kind of stuff going on. You WANT people around you to have stuff going on, believe me. It might not be a past marriage and kids (though increasingly, it will include that), but they'll have jobs and circles of friends and things they do and they're not going to drop it all just to make you feel adequately romanced. The older you get, the bigger and more complicated your peers' worlds are getting, and the less sense the idea of "first priority" makes. You want someone who will give you enough of the right kind of time and attention, cool, good, as it should be! But I advise you not to keep score against the other themes/influences in his life, or you'll end up with a 40-year-old with a job he gives zero fucks about, no serious relationships under his belt, no intellectual or creative pursuits, and the decaying corpse of a pet turtle that he doesn't even know is dead until you point it out.

I'm sorry this isn't a very sexy question for the Hairpin, but I think it might be a universal one.

My parents are getting old. Not that old, but they're reaching their mid-50s and it's a scary realization that your parents may not be around forever and will not always be the middle-aged protectors pottering around your life.

So, I turn to you, and the lovely commenters, for advice. 1) How do I help my parents along this transition? They're doing absolutely fine, monetarily and health-wise thus far (*touch wood*), but is there any way that I can help? Or be ready to help? Is there anything I should be watchful for? What does a good daughter do in this situation? 2) How do other people deal with the age-old (ha!) 'parents getting older, so how to stay sane' question?

Any and all advice would be appreciated.

You are right that that's some scary, sad shit. It's funny, actually, I've noticed that the time your average kids get an inkling of their parents' mortality (unless they are sadly forced to understand it earlier) is often the same time those parents find themselves orphaned. There's some sort of echoing/cosmic mirroring going on there, I don't know, but I think giving them a chance to talk about their own parents is a really good thing to do, and often really interesting for you, and helps you both transition into being orphans and pre-orphans.

But don't do it in a way that's like "you guys are so old, do you want to tell me about your lives before you are blown away by a single gust of wind from Hades?"

As for staying sane yourself, I mean, like I said, sad and scary. That said, if your parents are doing OK and we're not talking like they've just been diagnosed with something serious etc., the reality is they're really not that old, and also we could all get hit by trucks whenever, so don't torture yourself. Plenty of random weird things will probably intervene in your life between now and when they go, and it'll turn out that you steeled yourself for totally the wrong thing. It's funny (not haha) but I feel like normally, our imaginations and paranoia are leaps and bounds ahead of our mundane, unhorrible lives. But parents dying are a real flaw in this theory — it's one of the worst things you can imagine, and yet this absolute worst thing, this total horror, happens to everyone who doesn't die tragically young. That's genuinely incredible, that basically everyone you know has or will actually suffer through one of the worst things you, or likely they, can imagine. And they're all still walking around, doing basically OK. We're either totally deluded or pretty resilient or both? But take some strength of mind from that: It's going to happen, because it happens to everyone, and you'll both not be OK and be OK. The world is full of us and we keep happening.

OMG WHAT THE FUCK AM I ON ABOUT. Uh also genuine practical advice? If you are US of American, make sure they have long term care insurance. If you can afford to help pay for it, the offer's a good one, but it's important for both generations. If you are in a country that takes care of old people like it should, well, CONGRATS, spend that money on fucking drugs to burn the memory of this suddenly very bleak Ask a Lady out of your mind. The Hairpin, A Website For Ladies With Existential Ish. #whorlingvoid

Previously: Lost Friends, Beer Analogies, and "Am I an Abomination?"

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Lady?

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275 Comments / Post A Comment


LW2: it does not sound like he is single AT ALL. while i know you said you think about the l-word all the time, you deserve someone who is going to make you their priority. get out now while you still have feelings left to feel.


@becky@twitter I agree... okay he has kids, so you're maybe not ever going to be the number 1 priority. But you should be A priority right?

I just went through this. Feeling like I'm at the bottom of somebody's list of priorities. It is shitty, especially when they are near the top of your priorities (which is where your romantic partner should be .. right? (obviously the fact that I need repeated confirmation of this is a problem in itself)). I mean blah blah blah people are busy (not toddler busy but still) but is it so much to ask to get some appreciation like "I know I've been really busy lately, here is how I will make it up to you" not like "well yeah we haven't seen each other, because I've been really busy lately."

I would sadly and heartwrenchingly break things off with this dad. My advice should be taken with a billion grains of salt because I'm in the "if you love someone let them go (especially if they are taking you for granted)" camp and ugh it's a shitty camp that's no fun because why can't they just love me back or if they DO love me back, why can't they figure out how to show it properly? And that's totally not even relevant to the question because it sounds like this guy does know how to show it, and argh my problems are like a decade too young for toddlers to factor in so just never mind.

^useless self-absorbed comment full of heart break

ETA: people below who have commented that it's not fair to the children to expect their dad to put you first are way smarter and more thoughtful than me. I agree with all of that as well.


I would also stress that generally, with guys, especially once they get in their 30s, is that when you date them you have to go with the Total Package. You know. Like if they have annoying habits, or children, or they like to fool around on you, you have to know that they're not ever really going to change that. It's just the way they are, for better or for worse, and you have to decide whether that's OK or not. And if it is not, well... then you gotta get out while you can.


@redheadedandcrazy It's tough, though, because if I were said Single (??) Dad, I might feel a little apprehensive about making New Girlfriend a huge priority if she's not even willing to meet my children, and seems to express no interest in meeting them in the foreseeable future. I mean, the kids aren't going away.


@redheadedandcrazy I agree with you. It is the worst to be in the relationship time suck known as "Why can't you love like I want to and/or need to be loved". I firmly believe there is somebody out there who will know how to love you and/or willing to love you the way you want to be loved.


@littlegirlblue So what you're SAYING is ... guys in their 20s can still change!

*blinders on*

@kayjay: defiiinitely, I would like to further amend my comment to say that there are probably a lot of women out there who go nuts for a sexy single dad - somebody who really cares about their kids and is a good father. In theory I LOVE a sexy single dad although I am too young to date one. So, you know, think of the CHILDREN.

@Kitty your comment made me feel sad because it perfectly sums up how I've been feeling. It just sucks to care about someone and know that they care about you too but can't express it the way you need. It really really sucks. A lot.


@littlegirlblue I love you for this. I'm slowly starting to catch on, two 33 year-olds later...


@redheadedandcrazy You're awesome and I hope you feel better soon and find a redheadedandcrazy prioritizing person!


sometimes this site makes me feel so very old.


@brad letter #1 just made me turn into my mother out loud, and letter #3? 50 is not old. jesus H.


@becky@twitter They're not even in their mid-50s, they're "approaching" their mid-50s, which, so is Barack Obama.

major disaster

@becky@twitter Right? I'm reading that and thinking, she sounds like she's ready to put them in a nursing home already.


@becky@twitter - yeah...50. and she's already stocking up on depends. sad.

it makes we want to go someplace special and make some jeans that really speak to me.


What's the commercial out right now where the youngish woman talks to the camera about how worried she is about her aging parents, but they're out rafting and biking and laughing in the sun? Did that woman write this letter?


@melis it's for toyota. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUGmcb3mhLM


@major disaster Word. Let me just say that I'm now closer to 50 than I am to 20. I guess that would explain why my nine-year-old has brochures for "Peaceful Acres Retirement Community" lying around next to her Barbie dolls.



I'm right now so grateful I don't have children who are busily planning for my slow rotting because "OMG Mom's OVER 40!"


@major disaster I am LW3, and thanks for confirming I am overreacting to the 50+ milestone! This entire mini-crisis was sparked by the fact that my parents walk a little slower than they used to and my father has, uh, high blood pressure.

I'm sorry if it came off as a 'OMG THEY ARE SO OLD SOME GOOD RECS FOR NURSING HOMES PLZ' - What can I say, I just like to worry + I want to help?


@agingqnlady Shovel their walk when it snows.


@melis 50 might not be that old for everyone, but it's the age my father had his first heart attack and the age when my parents decided to start having end of life discussions, so lets try not to roll our eyes? Because depending on how well you've taken care of yourself to that point, 50 can mean a million different things.


@kayjay shady pines, kayjay! shady pines.

@agingqnlady Really, breathe. I'm 24 and my parents are in their late 50s (mom) and early 60s (dad), and they're fine. People are resilient and most people that age have helped *their* parents, if not someone else, through this stuff as it came up, and not through a 50th birthday family meeting about mortality. Stop worrying, it's a waste of time and energy, and if they need your help they'll probably ask or you'll know.

(Also, why is this a *big transition* year? They're not even old enough to retire or get a blue plate special)


@agingqnlady Girrlll, wait until they are in their 70s....


@agingqnlady Don't feel bad, I get where you're coming from. My parents are in their mid-50s and while I'm in no way preparing to wheel them off to a retirement home or anything, I've definitely become more aware of their mortality in the last few years, as a concrete thing and not an abstract idea, than I was before. And yeah, it is scary. It's the beginning of coming to terms with the fact that they're not always gonna be around, and they're going to need help from you at some point. I'm an only child so I think about this a lot actually, even though I know it's (hopefully) a long way off. So I don't really have any answers for you, but you're not alone.


@becky@twitter My parents were 50 when I was 10. What a silly, immature 10-year-old I was; I should have been preparing! Always asking my dad to play catch with me. The man could have broken a hip and died!


@brad Agree'd. I'm 21 and my parents are 50s (mum) and 60s (dad) and I worry about that quite a bit. Partly because I'm a worrier, partly because I rely on them so much, and partly because I worry about how my sister - who is dependent on them - will cope after they are gone and what arrangements will be made for her. Some people just worry more about the mortality of their parents and when your 20, 50 and 60 is the age that the media is telling you to worry about. It's scary.


@ABear me too!

major disaster

@heb Of course, but like anything else in life, the best course of action is usually just to react to them as individuals. If they're 50 and having health problems, of course it's reasonable to be concerned about how serious those health problems are and whether you're going to need to be taking care of them. But as a general rule, particularly if they don't yet have any major health problems (which was not indicated in the original letter), mid-50s is really not old. That is, I think, what was so off-putting about the original letter.


@bitzyboozer Yes - thanks! That is exactly what I was trying to say (except you were way more articulate!)


@major disaster Okokok mid-50s is not that old. Perspective goggles - ON.

Lauren Hallden@twitter

@S. Elizabeth Well... I guess "breathe" is always good advice, but I don't think having an end of life discussion is a waste of energy. (Nor is it a "death panel," but that's a complaint for another day!) I'm 27, and I just lost my mother to cancer. She was 59. And I'm not saying it to freak anyone out, but you know, when you become aware that you have a very limited amount of time with someone, the last thing you want to do is waste that time going through the stack of credit cards in her desk drawer.

I think parents, especially relatively young ones, want to keep parenting and shielding you from the nasty stuff in life, even when they could use your help. So starting a "how can I help you?" conversation could be a good thing.


@agingqnlady Please try to let go of this worry as much as you can. I'm assuming (sorry) that you are probably in your early-mid 20s? This is such a great time - you are all adults know, and you can get to know your parents as people, not just Mom and Dad. You are equals now, and your relationship with them can change and grow and can be soooo good! But not if you are too busy watching them for signs of age and illness decades before you have to. You will skip right through the "OMG, my parents are actually fun to hang out with!" stage and straight to the, "better go drive mom to the podiatrist" stage. It's such a gift to get to be friends with your parents - focus on that instead. You'll be so much happier.

Unless, like me, you just like to tell your parents that they are old and going in the home if they don't behave. Shady Pines, Ma!

Lily Rowan

@Lauren Hallden@twitter Yeah, that's a great point, about parents still wanting to shield you. I'm 37 and still have to try to force my mother to lean on me at all, ever, because She's The Mom.


@major disaster Well, it's a good thing she also acknowledges that they're not that old right in her letter! To me, it sounds like she's having her first big "Holy shit, my parents are going to die one day" realization - and frankly, it's a lot easier having these conversations now, while they're still youngish and healthy, then when they're sick and fraying and you can't tell the difference between their sound judgement and their depressive state.

She's just trying to be prepared. I'm assuming she's probably an only or oldest child, and is going to be saddled with a lot when they go. I don't see why everyone felt a need to jump all over her.

Hot mayonnaise

@agingqnlady: Now is when you get to become FRIENDS with your parents. Enjoy!


@Hot mayonnaise @aginqnlady I am friends with my parents and have had end of life and plans for the future conversations with my parents. One of which was a casual Shady Pines hah hah conversation. Which we had in a cafe in Vienna before they took off for Poland.

My point is, you are not some mourning rags draped raven of death for thinking about these issues now, and in fact having hardd conversations is something to do when you feel ready, and then you can discuss their cruise plans for Antarctica. For example.

Also, I am 35 and here are discussions I have had with my parents:

Location of wills.
Who is estate executor.
Distribution of most desired inheritable items.
DNR- desire of, location of paperwork.
Discussion of nursing home v. assisted care v. home care.

Then I quit worrying about it.


@brad Yeah, seriously. You know what else? This question makes me WORRY ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE.


@bitzyboozer: I am an only child and living very far from home with no plans to come back, so it weighs on me quite a bit.


@agingqnlady But on the other hand, if your parents are in their 50s now, they will be in their 70s in just 11-20 years! So that is kind of scary. I just had this revelation myself last weekend at my mother's 52nd birthday party. But also, my boss just turned 65 and his wife is pregnant, AND his grown children already have 6 year old grandkids. So life is pretty crazy, y'know?

@Lauren Hallden@twitter -- I think there's a big difference between knowing about end of life decisions, wills, financial stuff, etc. and what LW3 was asking, specifically because of the phrase "how do I help my parents along this transition?" That does not scream "I need to know about the life and death planning my parents may or may not have done" but more "OMFG they're old!!! I need to support their old-ness!"

I guess I can't imagine going up to someone after they just hit 50 and are in what could be the prime of life -- kids grown up, stable marriage, whatever -- and sitting them down in my mid-20s and asking them how I could "provide some support" for their aging. I'm pretty sure that by 50, they've got some stuff figured out. I do definitely understand that mortality becomes more real, but this seems like an extreme reaction to a benign situation.

And I think terminal illness is a big game changer in terms of how or when to have this conversation. I'm sorry that you lost your mom.


@Lauren Hallden@twitter: But there's having this conversation with someone with a known health problem and then there's sitting down with someone who is, to the best of one's knowledge, completely fine and asking them, "How can I help you as you age?" If they don't look at you all, WTF?! then you've got far more holy parents than I do.


My Dad died super suddenly recently (only 59) and I kinda wish we'd had that kind of discussion (and that he'd bothered to get life insurance to provide for my Mum, who's never worked).


@S. Elizabeth I don't think she meant along the transition to like, death...


I agree that the internet is probably the way most people find people to bang nowadays, although lord knows I am no authority. Just make sure you are totally upfront with them about your lack of desire for commitment and it should be OK? Also I would try not to bang too many of their friends, for awkwardness reasons.
Oh and LW #2, if you have no intention of being a stepmom, please leave this dude alone. I had a stepmom who didn't really seem to want to be one and put herself first, and it did nothing but create resentment on both sides.


@Megan Patterson@facebook also, condoms. lots of condoms.


@becky@twitter Well yeah, that goes without saying I HOPE.

PDX native

@Megan Patterson@facebook So you would say that it's NOT in fact too early in the relationship to consider whether or not you're ready to be a stepmom?


Mid-50s isn't middle-aged anymore? They barely qualify for AARP!


@melis I think you can join AARP at age 50!



But you can't retire until you're 85.


@melis I, personally, think we need to make them work a lot longer too. They get bored playing all that golf!


As someone who has been involved with people who had their dad push them aside for the new wife because she acted like a jealous harpy about him spending time with them, for fuck's sake, please let him go. No one should have to sneak around to see their kids.


@nancydrew Seconded. And I have to wonder if all of his "sneakiness" is just because she's made it clear that she does not like nor is she interested in his kids, so rather than "burden" her with any kind of acknowledgment that his kids exist, he just goes off to see them/talk to them without telling her. Which is pretty damned terrible and unsustainable. Don't make him choose, lady #2.


@nancydrew I created an account just so I could weigh in and agree with you on this. I had stepparents who saw me and my sister as inconvenient baggage they had to take as "part of the package" to be with my bio parents. Seriously, f*** them. Honestly, at times, I really think people with kids shouldn't get remarried or date period, but I know that's a little ridiculous. Ugh I am hungover and rambling but bottom line: that girl should not inflict herself on that guy or his kids, and have the decency to move on, BUT ALSO, that guy shouldn't be with someone who sees thinks his children are her f***ing competition instead of real people who have been dealt a shitty hand in life, and as yet, don't have the wherewithal to make their own lives for themselves. In some far off fairy land, the LO could learn to accept and appreciate the children and respect their relationship with their dad. In real life, the dad will probably chose to stay with the woman and his relationship with his children (and their sense of security in thworld) will be damaged by it. Phew! Ok, in my future comments I will be more witty and less vitriolic, but this issue really hits a nerve for me. Glad to finally join the commenting community!


@Dulcinea84 In a perfect world all single parents everywhere would totally put their kid's interests before ANYTHING ELSE EVER... but I can relate to why this dude is holding on as I've done it myself. It took me 3 years of being in a LTR relationship with someone I thought was my SOUL MATE, but who wasn't into the kid thing... I told myself it was OK because my daughter already had a great dad. As she got older the game of tug of war between the two of them was getting harder to play and it finally clicked that it wasn't working out for any of us. I was in my mid 20's and didn't know what I wanted or needed from a serious relationship, but I made damn sure that whoever I dated next would know that involvement in my daughter's life was a top priority. My ex and I have talked about this a lot, we both wish we had figured it out sooner, but at least we figured it out at all? LIFE, etc.

I do find it odd that he didn't tell her about the kids right away, it's suspicious. A month and a half is enough time to get attached to someone before they lay all their cards out on the table... but 8 months without having any interest in meeting your SO's kids is just as odd, if not more so. You do not really know this person if you're missing out on such a huge part of their life, this is not love.

(I have met someone who treats my kid like the treasure she is and she adores him, it's possible!!)


@Dulcinea84 Oh... And I just want to add how much A Lady hit it out of the park with this: "The older you get, the bigger and more complicated your peers' worlds are getting, and the less sense the idea of "first priority" makes. You want someone who will give you enough of the right kind of time and attention, cool, good, as it should be! But I advise you not to keep score against the other themes/influences in his life, or you'll end up with a 40-year-old with a job he gives zero fucks about, no serious relationships under his belt, no intellectual or creative pursuits, and the decaying corpse of a pet turtle that he doesn't even know is dead until you point it out." Seriously, I have never been in the camp that someone's romantic partner/ "My Relationship" should take priority over all else in my life. Unless I have kids, no one human being is going to be more important to me than anything else, and I won't date someone who feels otherwise. I believe I am a happier person for it. We all have friends, families, careers, spirituality, etc, that need our attention and commitment as much as our Snookums, and if you don't, you will be both unfulfilled and an unfulfilling person to be with. Everyone has the right to align priorities in the way that makes sense to them but I implore all humans to consider branching out.


@Dulcinea84 Thank you, I am hoping stories like yours will jolt this woman into reality and some plain old compassion. The sad thing is I've seen this played out in so many families (including my own) and it never ceases to boggle my goddamned mind. What kind of a person would ask to be prioritized above someone's toddlers? Seriously? I personally wouldn't even consider dating a man who didn't make his kids number one.


@nancydrew Yes. What this LW needs to realize is that when someone has kids THE KIDS COME FIRST. I don't even HAVE kids and I know this. If this woman has such a knee-jerk reaction to it, leave. It's good that she knows what she wants, but it seems a bit like her requirements are going to be hard to meet. No one should be made to feel bad for being a parent, nor should these kids ever be made feel bad for existing. If she ever meets them, this is how she'll make them feel. That's not OK.

Chesty LaRue

@Slapfight I dated a guy with kids for a few months (they were 10 and 7) and as much as it annoyed me for a second every time he was busy with his kids and couldn't spend that time with me, I also realized that he was a totally good dad, which waas awesome! We ended up brreaking up a couple of months ago, partially because he decided to actually go through with his divorce, but I could never actually be mad that he placed his kids in a higher priority than me. Also, if LW's guy decides to actually get a divorce, he may "need some time to think about his life" and end up "in a bad headspace for a while.". I'm actually not bitteer, just an FYI.


@Chesty LaRue Oh absolutely. I was in a similar situation. His ex kept pulling all these horrible stunts, and it was hard to watch him have to fight so hard just to get to spend time with his kid. We've been apart now for a while. It's just too hard for him and he doesn't want to drag me down/needs to focus on his family. There are SO many deadbeat dads. Knowing there's men out there who'd never be one is a good thing.
And you didn't come across as bitter at all. Quite the opposite. I hope with time you find your way back to each other.


@nancydrew Well said. I have a lot to say to LW #2, mostly along the lines of what you've said here. I also appreciated comments by @redonion, @Ducinea84, and @Slapfight.

I think single dads can make great romantic partners *but only to people who have reasonable expectations for the relationship AND AND AND! also rather full and busy lives themselves, as A Lady wrote in her response, and as Dulcinea84 mentioned.* LW #2 and the single-dad-in-question (referred to from here on out as SDIQ) may possibly have different/conflicting understandings of what makes for good romantic relationship, slash, she may have different expectations for this particular relationship than he does. I want to give props @redonion for pointing out something that I thought about when I read the letter: the reason SDIQ is "sneaky" about spending time with his kids may not be due to a desire to conceal continuing romantic relations with their mother, but rather that he knows that the kids' being his #1 priority bothers LW #2. I agree also @redonion that this strategy is unsustainable and will create a rift between SDIQ and LW #2, but also, likely, between SDIQ and his kids. Which sucks.

My mother and my father met several years after my father's divorce from his first wife was complete. My dad and his ex enthusiastically shared custody of my brothers who were 9 and 12 at the time (so, a bit older--still definitely not independent from their parents by any means). My mother was 33 and EXTREMELY BUSY with her own career and her own social life. She knew relatively soon after meeting him that she wanted to marry and have a family with him--AND SHE ALSO KNEW, AND WAS THRILLED TO EXPECT, THAT ANY SUCH FAMILY LIFE WOULD INCLUDE MY TWO BROTHERS, whom she loved as her own sons, and whom she enthusiastically made an integral part of a lot of the time she and my dad spent together. She taught my brothers how to ski. She encouraged them to take violin lessons. Today they are closer to her than they are to their own mother (that in part is a whole other thing related to their mom, but that's not really relevant here). I refer to them as my brothers, and not half-brothers; we are incredibly close despite the great age difference. This has worked out because my mother was gung-ho about the fact that my dad had kids, and she was psyched about spending time with them. She was also psyched about giving my dad the space and time he needed alone with my brothers to keep that relationship strong through the many transitions it endured (divorce, my parents' dating, and their eventual marriage).

The point is, this kind of relationship can work if a) the new partner of the single parent understands what is involved in dating a single parent; is willing to come in third or fourth place after the kids (especially toddlers! Geez!) and other important stuff; and has a considerably full life of their own; and b) AND THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT! if the single parent in question is good at articulating what kind of relationship he or she is capable of at the moment, and if the new partner is realistic about whether that works for him or her. It doesn't sound like this works for LW #2, so all the other shit she's hanging onto here--namely, how he'd be the perfect guy if it weren't for his kids--is moot. He *does* have kids, she's not ready to integrate them into her relationship with him, ergo he's NOT the perfect guy for her. It's futile to keep accepting less than the type of relationship that she wants because she's holding out hope that he'll come around and make her #1 eventually (he won't) and/or because she's waiting for herself to just get used to it and be ok with it. I would never want a relationship in which I was actually the #1 priority in my partner's life (word up, A Lady and Dulcinea84), but some people do want that, and there are men out there who are willing to give it--namely, men who aren't fathers of toddlers :)--and LW #2 will ultimately be happier with one of these. She should let this guy go and move on.

Finally, I would say this: While his divorce may not be officially final, I don't get the impression that the SDIQ is giving LW #2 the runaround; divorces drag on when there are kids involved, and actually I think that bodes well for SDIQ's quality as a father and a partner, because it suggests, probably, that he's really fighting for time with his kids, which we all know is an uphill battle for a father often, since divorce courts favor the mom. If he is legally separated and actively working towards getting further closure on that marriage, I don't think LW #2 needs to worry that he's being dishonest with her. I think the sneakiness of his actions could just come from his not being sure how to break someone less-than-ideal news to a new romantic prospect. I think, though, that that speaks to the fact that they're not really a good match, because she's not interested in his kids (I understand not wanting to meet the kids until she's sure things are going somewhere with him (because little kids get attached to grown-ups they like), but it sounds like it's more than just that, and that there may be some jealousy at play here) or willing to accept that his relationship with them will come first, and also because it sounds like he's been sort of a pussy about effectively communicating what he's capable of in a relationship right now (maybe he's not sure-->maybe he hasn't thought about it-->maybe that means he's not that serious about her-->a good reason to get out, completely independent of the possibility that he's not over his ex, which, again, I don't think is the case).


@priscillamalarky Wait, I think I did a crappy (and longwinded) job conveying the full scope of my feelings on this. I don't want to come off as really harsh on LW #2. Really, I think there are different strokes for different folks. It sounds like LW #2 doesn't want to be with someone who has small children whom he consistently puts first; it sounds, in fact, like she likes to be in a relationship with a man who has time/emotional resources to make her a central part of his life. Hey, that's totally fine. A lot of people want that. I think if they get serious, obviously, while the kids may always be on top, she'll a) meet the kids; and b) be a more (though likely not THE) central figure in his life. BUT it also sounds like she's uncomfortable with not being in that position during this early stage in the relationship. It also sounds like there's some uncertainty about where he sees it going. So, LW #2 is not happy, and ultimately a relationship that doesn't make her happy isn't going to work, regardless of how great the dude is. Maybe he's awesome, but he can't have the type of relationship LW #2 wants, so instead of sticking around she should find other people.

I do think A Lady's comment was important, though: "The older you get, the bigger and more complicated your peers' worlds are getting, and the less sense the idea of 'first priority' makes. You want someone who will give you enough of the right kind of time and attention, cool, good, as it should be! But I advise you not to keep score against the other themes/influences in his life, or you'll end up with a 40-year-old with a job he gives zero fucks about, no serious relationships under his belt, no intellectual or creative pursuits, and the decaying corpse of a pet turtle that he doesn't even know is dead until you point it out." Totally true, and it could be the LW #2 just needs to have a few more relationships/dating experiences with adults who have full lives of their own before she's ready to seriously date a single dad. This could all just come down to timing, really. But the sad fact is it's not working for her, and she's just 30 and shouldn't stay in a relationship that doesn't make her happy even if the guy *could* in an alternate universe. We are in *this* universe. So she should walk away.


@priscillamalarky Oh my god also, sorry, last comment on this. I probably sound pretty young (maybe even naive) when I say that "I would never want a relationship in which I was actually the #1 priority in my partner's life," and I will concede that, yeah, I'm a few years younger than LW #2, and so at this point I have lots of school and self-discovery stuff to take care of, so I'd ideally like to be with someone who treats me as though I'm important but not the *most* important thing in his life. Maybe when I'm 30 I'll want to be among the most central things in my partner's life. Maybe that's something a lot of 30-year-olds want. But if that's the case it'll be important for me to know what kinds of compromises I'm willing to make on that, and whether someone I care about an am interested in getting serious with is capable of having the type of relationship I want, and if he has small children, hopefully I'll be able to be honest with myself about whether that works for me. And if not, I'll have to be ready to walk away, regardless of how crazy I am about *him*--it's not all about the person; it's also about the situation. Really, when you're young (yeah, I think 30 is young) any person who has a situation--kids, an unresolved divorce/breakup, a foundering career, a burgeoning career that requires all their attention, etc--that for some reason makes them incapable of the type of relationship that you know you want should be walked away from, because even if they're a good match, the situation isn't ideal and if you feel like you're making a huge compromise to be with them you won't be happy. The bad timing actually makes them *not* a perfect match. Stay friends if you can, 'cause maybe things can work out (much) much further down the road, but don't expect them to change.


Nice job with Lady #2. His relationship with his children's mother is NOT cooked. And toddlers are an insane time-suck. Did you know you have to feed them EVERY DAY!?!?!?


@kayjay Dude WHAT! Who has that kind of time??


@kaydeel Not me! I put mine in the backyard to graze.




@kayjay I hear you can crate them, as well?


@kayjay Ugh, and when they start talking! They never stop!


LW#1: Your 8-month old puppy cannot "spend one night alone" unless you want to come home to an anxious dog who needs to pee (and may have already had an accident). You are going to have to climb out of your casual sex bed and go home after you find guys on the internet to bang, like a responsible pet owner and not a careless child who shouldn't have a dog. And why would you spend the night if you aren't looking for a "boyfriend experience" anyway?
*1,000 "Young People" headshake of the week*


@City_Dater tell it like it is.

dracula's ghost

@City_Dater I too was shocked when I read that! Spending a night alone?! Ultimate Dog Nightmare! My dog is a year old and there's no way. Not because he'd shit on the floor, but because he'd be so incredibly emo. Dogs are not cats.


@City_Dater Agree 100%. In fact, even adult dogs should not be left alone overnight. Dogs are social pack animals and they want your company. They will wait for you all night long to come home. That breaks my heart.

dracula's ghost

@brownbear ugh now I can't stop thinking about my dude being left alone all night and how he would just whimper. I don't know, maybe a really old dog, like an 8 year old dog or something, who's just like "whatever" to everything, and 100% comfortable with his place in the world....but jesus. It's such a sweet and sad power the human has over the dog--the dog just loves you so much and only wants to be with you, and you control when he can be with you and when he can't, and whenever you're gone he just sits on the couch and waits for you. Unreal


@dracula's ghost

I know! Even an old dog is going to be all "where's my person?" and have a little anxiety in that situation.
My dog is 3, a very independent terrier mix, and she doesn't turn in for the night until I'm home and going to bed myself.


@City_Dater And I've got an 8-month old puppy, who despite excellent control over his bodily functions for his age, would totally do more than pee on the floor if I left him alone for the night. And imagining the sound of the whimpering...yeah, no.


@dracula's ghost this comment just broke my heart a little (a lot)


@dracula's ghost But when you come back he forgets you ever left so its ok.


@redheadedandcrazy Me too, I got a little teary at my desk. I need to go find a dog to hug.


@dracula's ghost OMG 8-year-old dogs are not really old dogs! They are are only middle-aged dogs! Take it back! Take it back or you will MAKE ME CRY.


@Monkey doesn't it depend on the size of the dog? My little dog is 15 years old. Now SHE is an OLD. ASS. DAWG. Spends most of her day falling over... totally deaf. Probably blind. Can't go for walks anymore. Pretty much the only muscle that gets a workout these days is her tail which wags furiously when we come in the room.

Aw man I love my dog. I'm going to go hug her now.

(And we thought we would have to put her down last year but she has trekked along another year so 8 years old does not have to be old! Oh how I would love for my dog to be 7 years younger.)


@redheadedandcrazy Yeah, no, 8 is genuinely old for a giant breed like a Dane or something. But my childhood dog was biggish (like 80 lbs) and he was 19 when he died, so i have elevated expectations for my current booper and refuse to believe that she is old at all. Give your dog an extra hug from me!

dracula's ghost

@Monkey I take it back! 8 is not that old! It's totally middle aged. I just meant "old" like "older and wiser than a dumb little pup."


@City_Dater While I agree with the puppy facts, spending the night is not necessarily seeking the boyfriend experience. Morning sex is appealing even to those having casual sex, and also so is having a warm body spooning you. You can totally spoon without feelings, trust me.

Chesty LaRue

@dracula's ghost Cats are pretty awesome.

Mrs. Brown's Lovely Daughter

@Chesty LaRue All these comments are why I'm a cat person. You can TOTALLY leave a cat alone for a night... or 3. Actually this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why I prefer cats to dogs, but no one mentioned the other things (OMFG THE LICKING UGH). Of course, I'm a couple weeks away from having an infant in my life.. so maybe after that dogs won't seem so needy.

I'm also now sad because my cat is 13 and totally an old lady and she's not going to be around forever and what am I going to do when she's not sleeping on my feet anymore?


@City_Dater AHHH I KNOW. I'm like, why does she even have a dog? LW1 is all blah blah blah NO COMMITMENT EVER JUST HOT PENIS, but having a dog is all about being committed to it. Why not just expand your bed-hopping to crate-hopping and volunteer to foster dogs from your local shelter for a limited duration?


OK, A) first girl, fuck like a champ (and yes, internet), but YOU CANNOT leave an 8-month puppy alone overnight! It is not a cat! Just don't.

B) third girl, yes to talking about health insurance, but also consider asking your parents, if they haven't, to write down in one place (just, like a notebook, although I think there are actually dedicated project books for this kind of thing) things like where their life insurance policies are and if they have a safety deposit box and who holds their mortgage and which utility companies they use basically all the info on any financial stuff you will need to deal with if anything tragic should happen. Mid-fifties is actually still wicked young, bless your heart, but everyone should have that and their next of kin should know where it is, just in case.


@Monkey Also, go to the bank with your folks and sign to get access to the safe deposit box they may have. My parents travel a lot and have had me as a signatory on their box since I was 18, in part because that's where they keep all of their important documents.


@Monkey Five Wishes! I gave each of my parents a booklet last year and they both pretty much ignored it, but I did ask. It's a great tool to have in case something unexpected (or expected) happens that lets everyone know what they want.


@Monkey to LW3: also, at some point try to have a talk with them in terms of what they want done with end of life decision making. SUPER awkward and kind of sad, but a good thing to know. i'm lucky enough that my dad is the son of a former nurse who was absolutely crystal clear in her directives (which turned out were never needed because she died in her sleep at home - would that we all go that way) so he and my mom sat me down in my mid 20s (and they were in their early 50s) and told me and my sister they were donating their bodies to medical research (unless my mom dies before her mother, in which case full Catholic funeral) and here is all the DNRs right here, please sign, etc etc. like i said, sad to think about, but it has ultimately lifted a burden off me and my sister in that their wishes are all spelled out. we is practical folks.


@Monkey And if you have siblings (step, half, full, whatever) make sure they're either there for this conversation OR are fully in the loop. I had the wonderful privilege of watching in the past year three siblings who tried to make decisions for their ailing Mom. The arguments quickly turned in to thinly veiled fights about issues that had been simmering under the surface for years and everyone had a different opinion of what a (fully functional) mom would want.


Can anyone give any insight on how safe it is to find acquaintansexes (best word) online? I know that the internet of today is not the same internet of 10 years ago -- meaning while there are still lots of pedos around, there are also many more normal, sane people -- but I grew up on the internet of 10 years ago so I'm just super paranoid about everything.

If it is the cool thing to do, any recommendations on sites to check out?



@di I got laid a shit-ton from craigslist at one point, but it took a lot of effort to screen the nutjobs. Also plentyoffish.com. I pretty much just acted like a hot bitch who didn't give a fuck and they threw themselves at me left and right? It was a weird time.


@di OKCupid, put down short-term relationships, not casual sex. Do something physically forward (hand grab, etc.) about one hour forty-five minutes and two drinks into the first date, which happens to be in your neighborhood. You'll be rolling in it.


@di Depending on how kinky you are (and there are non-kinky people there too, just... not as out there about it) there's fetlifedotcom.


@SouthernSmirk According to stories my 23 year old intern tells me, Match.com is where it's at. God her stories make me feel like an old shrivelled prude.


@di have ya met.... Leon??

Lily Rowan

@MrComment Or put casual sex and be prepared to spend the next couple of months sorting (mostly terrible) offers. It's highly entertaining, if you're into that kind of thing.


@insouciantlover @MrComment @SouthernSmirk
I imagine I need to get over my preconception that dating sites are not for people my age. Why is everything so complicated when what I want is so simple. Why can't some things always be like college???

Lily Rowan

@di I don't know what your age is, but I've been propositioned on OKCupid by fairly normal-looking guys from age 20 to 60, so.


I feel kind of like, on letter #1 - I totally support (and think it's actually really healthy and mature) the idea of "Oh, I know who I am, and I want sex, but do not want a boyf,". It's an honest and fair approach.

However, if you want to bang a new guy once every other week, as an adult, you are going to have totake risks. It's not wrong to want to do that! It's not even wrong to try.

What is wrong is to think that there is going to be a reasonable way for you to meet 26 new and fully vetted herp-free, hot, sexy, smart, funny dudes who are DTF and not looking for anything serious year after year after year. That is the somewhat immature part.

Life is about choices and balances. If you want to live a super-high-fun, non-traditional lifestyle, you deserve the right to make your own choices, and to have others respect them. However, you also have to accept that part of the reason so many of us live traditional lives is not because we 100% want to, but because there is some degree of safety in the mainstream way of doing things, and if you're going to be a person who has lots of awesome sex w/ lots of new sexy guys, that while there is nothing morally wrong w/ that, the numbers just make things really hard to actually achieve, especially if you're in a small boring city.


@leon.saintjean - she seems so sad that her unrealistic expectations are so...unrealistic.

dracula's ghost

@brad So a new girl shows up in my town and immediately has sex with every boy in my friend group. Ok. All the boys in my friend group are sensitive pussycats who would probably all fall in love with her and then be devastated and it would just be Drama City. And then you're trying to hang out with her at a party but you know she's just frantically scoping out a fresh kill the whole time, because she needs a new dude every other week, like a python with a goat? That's what I was picturing while reading her letter. When you get to your 30's it's just like, not going to happen in a social context (i.e. non-craigslist)


@leon.saintjean Aso, small boring cities are full of people who will find it morally wrong, so she should be prepared for a shit-ton more Judgement than she experienced in college.


@dracula's ghost "Like a python with a goat"! My goodness, that is a vivid image.

Also yes. I found just reading LW1's problems exhausting.

major disaster

@Pixley "I found just reading LW1's problems exhausting."

Thank you for saying this. This is *exactly* the reaction I had (same word, too, in my mind - exhausting).


@dracula's ghost Ummmm, you kind of just described my old roommate *exactly*. She's an expert at quickly becoming a regular at a bar and raking in the ass. And she's 34, so it's possible.


Lady #3: my mom is in her mid-50s and last summer she was struck with accute glaucoma. Several eye surgeries later, she had to quit her job and go on disability because she is now legally blind. It was scary and unexpected, BUT, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is: PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR PARENTS HAVE SAVINGS! Whether this is in the form of retirement, a 401K, or just a general savings account; it is SO important to make sure that they are able to take care of themselves if/when they stop working. We did not find out until all of this had happened that (my mid-50s) mother never saved a PENNY her entire life. And she has a lot of debt. So just... talk with them about it or something.


Hmm, I was going to suggest stealing all their salt shakers to deal with that high blood pressure, but then they'd probably just burn through their savings on ever more secure salt shakers.


@QuiteAimable ...And if you (and by you I mean I) know that they don't have savings? Just hope that nothing bad happens? ahhhhhh

Lily Rowan

@essjay Yeah, I'm going to put it out there that a lot (A LOT) of people never have the resources to accumulate a level of savings that would really make a difference, and it's really not their fault.


@essjay I was scared shitless when this happened to my mom because I barely have the money to take care of myself, much less her. The government eventually came through with disability, which isn't a lot, but it's enough to pay her bills.

Talk to your parents and let them know that you care about them but if something "bad" happens, you can't help much (if at all) financially. Try to come up with a worst-case plan if possible.

(BTW, this whole situation encourage me to start my own 401K that I had been putting off forever because I kept saying "I need that money now more than later". Bah!)

Tuna Surprise

LW #3:
My parents are approaching their late 60s and I can tell you, from experience, they only thing they want from you is grandchildren. BUT, if you are unwilling/unable to do this right now, here are some alternatives.

1. Talk to your parents about money. I know how much my parents have in savings, get in social security, owe on their house, etc. It's nice to have a concrete idea of what their budget and how long the money will last.

2. Talk to your parents about dying. My parents finally bought cemetary plots and made plans for funerals. I had a friend's mom pass unexpectadely last year with no plans at all and it was very hard on her kids trying to guess at her wishes. In this vein, if they've lived in the same house for a long time, start thinking about cleaning out basements/attics so some sucker doesn't get saddled with the task in the future.

3. Have fun! I grew up poor-ish and our idea of a family vacation was camping w/in a 100 mile radius of home. My sisters and I have taken my parents to Southeast Asia, Europe and this fall we're going to Hawaii. It's so much fun to do things with them (especially since they would never do international travel on their own) and I'm sure they appreciate that we're not sullen teenagers anymore.


@Tuna Surprise Ditto on the plans. Both my sister and I have copies of wills and all pertinent financial and legal information. No one wants to talk about this stuff, but there should be no surprises.


@Tuna Surprise Ah, you're #1 point is exactly what I was trying to say!


@Tuna Surprise That's really great advice - thanks! And just another excuse to take some crazy vacations!

Unfortunately, the idea of talking to my parents about their funeral is probably going to drive us all batshit crazy. (+ we're Hindu, so how hard can cremation be?)


L3 - from some recent, awful experience, two things. (1) The fact that you are thinking about this, though it may feel morbid, is actually really really good. There's no real way to prepare for parental illness or death, but awareness that it is something you will in all likelihood deal with will actually help in the long run. Don't dwell on it, but appreciate your parents. Take the time to make your own life secure (emotionally or however else you can manage) so you will be better equipped to deal with the tragic inevitable. It will help if you start to accept that you, too, are an adult. (2) Just being there in spirt often enough. I'm considering a cross-country move for my career in the midst of both of my nearby parents going through some super-awesome-fun times. But they are both supportive because my financial outlook will grow exponentially by the move. They are parents. They want to see you thrive. That's what matters. So take care of yourself. ALSO, if you can strike oil, that would be great.


@perfect_cursive Going to start digging for oil right now - thanks :)


Fuck, man. LW2 pretty much reinforces all my insecurities about being a single parent + dating.

It boils down to this: if you don't like kids, DON'T DATE SOMEONE WHO HAS THEM. It is part of them, and it is not something that you can change or give up, like "oh he doesn't like this particular restaurant but I do and so we make concessions for each other."

Wanting vs not wanting children is its own game. Compromise is usually not an option here.


@Autumn Amen. Well said.


@Autumn Also, good for him that he manages to stay available for them when they need him. God forbid he try to collaborate with their mother to make cooperative parenting decisions. Would you rather he leave them behind and make himself unavailable to them so you can feel secure in yourself? When you break it off with him, give that guy my number.

dracula's ghost

@Autumn also the part where she's like "for now" they are a big part of his life????? Like there will come a time when the dude's CHILDREN are NOT A BIG PART OF HIS LIFE?!? Who would even want to date a dude like that?!


@dracula's ghost "Oh, the kids? They're gone."

dracula's ghost

@zidaane ha ha! "Well they turn 18 and then you never have to speak to them again, legally"


@dracula's ghost My partner's daughter is 35, and I have had to completely accept that when she calls or comes to town, I need to get in line. Luckily, I like her a lot and I have a big ego. But yeah, kids are for life, and they are the priority. Get used to it or leave, LW2.


@Autumn Seriously. Having been the kid on the other side of this equation, children really need their fathers, especially kids who are dealing with the difficulties of a divorce. And anyone who wants to get involved with a parent, you better damn well not just love kids, but be prepared to love his kids, because they are a package deal.


I would like to third the "please don't leave your puppy home alone all night!" people. Dogs aren't cats and need to be let out at least every 8 hours, less if they are very young/old (and they also feel lonely and sad if their owners aren't around all the time). If there's some reason you don't want to bring the dudes you're banging back to your place, maybe you shouldn't be banging them?


@causedbycomma If there's some reason you don't want to bring the dudes you're banging back to your place, maybe you shouldn't be banging them?

Well that's not fair. There are plenty of reasons why she might not want someone to see her apartment. What if Lady No. 1 has judgy roommates? What if she lives in an efficiency and sleeps on a flip-n-fuck? What if her panties and bras are hanging all over the apartment because the building's dryer broke?


@Clare None of those things is really a deterrent to the kind of relationships she's looking for.


@Clare None of those outweigh an 8 month old puppy being left alone all night with nowhere to pee.


@MrComment Fair enough. Maybe I'm projecting. But I stand by the judgy roommate thing. That's a real bonerkiller.


@Clare Roommates are temporary. Own it. "Man, I nailed the shit out of that guy last night. Did you hear us? What did you do? Watch Real Housewives? Oh..."


@Clare If there's a judgy roommate, can't they let the dog out? She did say she likes to live alone, so I'm guessing it's not that.


@MrComment hahaha, I totally owned it, and one night thought my (at the time) roomie was out, and was getting pounded in the shower by my BF when my roomie TEXTED me, asking me to keep it down. Not being one to check my phone while I'm getting it on in the shower, I obviously didn't get the text until WAY after.
Cue a week or two later, after I'd already apologized about the matter, my fey, gay roomie and I get in a minor disagreement about bills, and he BLOWS UP about it, in my face to the point where I was scared for my safety.
So yeah, roomies are temporary, but THEY LIVE WITH YOU. Proceed with caution.

Hot mayonnaise

@foureyedgirl: Ding, ding, ding.


Your answer to number three was very comforting, Lady. As much as my mother drives me up the fucking wall, the death of my parents one day will just devastate me. I don't know how people who have lost their parents manage to go to work and talk and function. Ack, I'm getting all emotional.


@likethestore much like zombies, we bereaved still manage to roam the earth. you don't get over it, you just get used to it.


@becky@twitter thank you so much for this: " you don't get over it, you just get used to it." I lost both my parents, 6 months apart, when I was 23 (4 years ago), and this pretty much nails my frame of mind since then. In some ways I think it gets worse as time goes by because it DOES become a normal part of your life...and then,I can't help but feel this isn't the life I thought I would have. I think it's good that the LO is dealing with the issue now, however hypothetical it might be at this point in time, because I was totally blindsided by it. (even though my folks were sick, almost until the end, I truly believed that positive thinking was going to cure them. Of cancer.)


@Dulcinea84 cancer took my mom 13 years ago. i wish there was something more prolific to say to other people who lose their parents other than, "i'm sorry. i understand. it sucks."


@becky@twitter I have been saying exactly this (you don't get over it, you get used to it) to people for years about when someone you love passes away.


LW3: my parents are still in their 50s (I think mid-50s now) and they're in relatively good shape. What I spend most of my time worrying about (when it comes to my parents) is whether they'll still be around by the time I have children, because I want them to have an opportunity to be grandparents. Mobile, active, fun, caring grandparents. My parents would make seriously the best grandparents.


Omg LW3 are you me? My parents are in their 50s and all their friends are going through long nasty divorces, and I've noticed my folks starting to do a lot of weird bizarre old people behaviors. And I feel like I constantly have to watch them and deal with them because my brother lives across the country. They're fairly healthy but they have old people spirits.


@cloudburst And before anyone gets up in my proverbial grill, no, 50s is not old at all, and I am one in a long family line of neurotics.


I've been seeing a guy with kids for wuite some time now, and really, if you're not ready to embrace the fact that you are NOT his first priority, then get out, ASAP. The kids will always come first. If you yourself don't want the kids to come first, then you're not the right partner for someone with kids. Practice saying things like "No, you should definitely cancel on happy hour with me so you can go to your kid's soccer game" and MEANING IT. If you can't, then get out now.


@cherrispryte ugh, quite, not wuite. I still lack the ability to edit things here.


@cherrispryte My boyfriend has a daughter (and so do I), and while we have melded our children/various ex-related baggage together into an awesome family I would stop bullets for, there was time when we weren't living together when he would bail on me for kid-related responsibilities. AS HE SHOULD. I don't want someone who wouldn't. My daughter's own father did that when he moved away to live with his girlfried, so that's not really a huge turn on for me.


@cherrispryte - why is this? i very much dislike making spelling errors and the lack of editing, a option that is dangled all tantaline, vexes me. VEXED IS ME.


@brad I'm having the same issue. I haven't been able to edit my comments for weeks. I chalked it up to my outdated brower on my office computer, but perhaps that's not the culprit?


@kayjay I've never been able to edit comments, I try to and it takes me back to the top of the page. Sadness.


@cherrispryte - yes, top of page. as though i am being ejected from the right to edit my stupidity. maddening.


@cherrispryte You have to wait for the page to finish loading cherri. It takes 20 seconds sometimes on my browser because of all the tracking software from the site.


@saythatscool Ohhh....I've been reading her name as Cherris Pryte the whole time. Now I get it. I figured it was a name from some 19th century novel I didn't read.


@MrComment I love this a lot.

Lily Rowan

@saythatscool Or just hit the button to make it stop loading. That also works, IME.


@cherrispryte As the sound of Lord Chesterton's gilded coach faded into the background, Cherris sat considering the daffodils in her uncle's carefully manicured garden. Yes, they contained multitudes of beauty in their delicate petals, but what did they know of love? She did not hear Wendell, the sturdily built stable boy approach.

"Lady Pryte?"

She could feel the redness come to her cheeks instantly, but knew not the reason.


@MrComment *Lord Featherstonehaugh (pronounced "faugh.")


@Lily Rowan What, what what. I also thought it was Cherris Pryte and also have the no-editing-comments problem...


@MrComment I'll never like another comment again, just so that always shows up first on my "liked comments" page.


@melis I forgot about that one. The implied knives were just for you.


This ask a lady is VERY confusing.

LW 1: What are you even asking? I can't actually work it out. Yes of course you're going to get to have sex again (casually but with non-total strangers if that's how you like it) once you have established a network of friends/acquaintances in your new city, as you did in college. Patience!

LW 2: firstly, maybe I'm naive, but I don't think your loverr is still with his wife. I just think you dumped him when he told you about his kids, you took him back but are still probably not very subtly seething with resentment about them, and he doesn't want to put you off by being blatant about his life with them. I can't tell you whether his kids should be a deal breaker or not, because there's no should about it. They either are for you, or they aren't. I would say, that if you really and truly and genuinely love him, you should try and put your resentment aside and embrace the kid side of things, because they are always going to be there, and you casting yourself as bitter step mother is going to tarnish EVERYTHING. You're also pretty lucky that his kids are so young, as they will likely be much more accepting of you than older children and IF this relationship is the long haul one, as you seem to think it might be, there is no reason why you won't grow to love them as you do him. Toddlers are cute lovely and rewarding gifts, NOT baggage - they are an intrinsic part of the guy you love. However. If all this seems like too much of a sacrifice for you, and I'm not saying you're wrong for feeling that way, but if you do, I would say get out now, before you hurt him and maybe others.

LW 3: ....this is a sweet letter. BUT. My mother is 55, and if she knew I wrote a letter like that, she would die, of shock. Mid 50s is NOT old!!!! Really and seriously. It's not even slightly old. It's not retirement age. It's not old people's home age. It's middle age. If your parents are in good health, they could as easily live for another 30 years as you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. STOP WORRYING. And for god's sake don't express these worries to your NOT OLD parents.


@sophduck I think she dropped the ball on all three. Or maybe is getting internship credit at her university for writing this. I would prefer someone with more life experience to be writing these answers (consider myself available, Hairpin!)


@Autumn Writing advice columns is super-hard, and I think our Lady up there did an admirable job. Assuming she's young and therefore unqualified because of her age is pretty insulting.


@cherrispryte You think she did an admirable job? Seems like she doesn't have that much of an open mind, which, yes, I would attribute to her lack of life experience, found usually in younger individuals. I apologize for the ageism.


@Autumn What would your advice have been? Not being snarky, just asking.


@Autumn I do. I would have been stronger on #2, and told her flat-out to dump the guy, but aside from that, I think her advice is pretty sound. And I would attribute a lack of open-mindedness to people who are older, rather than younger, but that's just me.


@cherrispryte open-mindedness is funny. i think when we're young, it can be difficult due to a lack of experience. and then as we age, it is difficult because it is exhausting to be constantly vigilant towards our own minds.

but i am over 40, and probably almost dead, most certainly senile.

Lisa Ring

@Autumn I was almost gonna comment just to say how much I liked this one! I think they were all answered well and all v funny.

But I guess that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.


@wee_ramekin for #2 see comment above (basically to break it off and use the experience to find the qualities you appreciate in him in someone else)
#1 in a nutshell, you can have one-night stands that don't involve sex and therefore don't get awkward. Basically, you can go out (even in smallish towns) and meet people and make out with them and not have the intention of doing it with them right away, thus avoiding the one-night-stand but leaving the possibility open for a future sexual encounter.
#3 your parents are not that old and that conversation doesn't need to happen for another couple years in any serious regard if they're healthy. If you're legitimately concerned about it, bring it up the way you would feel comfortable doing with one of your friends. Talk about what you want. Say you saw a television program on Terry Schaivo, and want to make sure they know what you would want, and then ask the same from them. It opens the door and allows them to have control over what they feel the need to be concerned about.


@Lisa Ring Yeah, she doesn't seem like a bad person. I reacted brashly. I will quote "What We Have Going For Us" and say "some people are just not for us."

Lisa Ring

@Autumn Well said.


@Autumn argh, I didn't mean the lady's answers were confusing, altho maybe they were a bit, but rather that the questions themselves were pretty bizarre. I'm definitely not gonna judge the validity of getting someone with 'little life experience' to answer agony aunt questions - I'm 21 and love nothing more than dishing out the advice!

Artressa Vandelay

Lady, psycho-hose beast never went out of fashion!


Easiest path to post-college casual sex was nightclubs imo. Of course, that's in the big city. If you're somewhere smaller you might be slightly more (less) fucked. If your city has bar crawls for tourists that's a great way to do it - have a little vacation romance thing, they go away to wherever they belong and never clutter up your city again, you stay there and don't have to run into people you hooked up with and 'lost touch with' in the produce section.


I hope that LW2's boyfriend is still with his wife, because otherwise I'm shocked that he hasn't dumped someone who is so horrible about his kids. If you don't want to date someone with kids, then don't date them. But wow, it seems like you'd rather your boyfriend be a deadbeat dad who pays more attention to his kids and instead to put all that attention on you. 30 is too old to have that attitude.

dracula's ghost

@thebestjasmine GOOD CALL


@thebestjasmine I am SO with you on this!


Mid-50s isn't old if your parents are in good health, but my parents were both in reasonably good health at 55, and now at 60 both have chronic, eventually fatal diseases that have made us (their children) acutely aware of the fact that they won't be around forever. It's so hard to see your parents' health declining, and all their fear and anxiety that comes with it. While it's wonderful for anyone with parents that aren't struck by cancer/ neurodegerative disease/ cardiovascular disease, it's hard to believe how fast things can change.


@ponymalta I hear you. My dad's not yet sixty and he has terminal cancer. I feel LW 3 should chill out on her worries. If they aren't bringing it up, it might make them feel bad. I suppose it's important stuff to know. My parents always talked about this stuff, so it's hard for me to say.


LW1 - find a cute girlfriend and go to clubs/events/shows. Set up google voice number to give out so if any dude starts getting clingy, you can cut it off without messing with your regular phone.

LW2 - You sound like a self-centered bitch. Those kids are part of him and if you can't handle that, then leave the man be. From 30 on you're gonna be hard pressed to find a man who hasn't had a marriage and/or kids who also isn't a total creep or defective in some way. Maybe start dating younger guys??

LW3 - Are your grandparents still alive? Your parents likely started getting their last wish stuff together when their parents were getting old (really old, not just older.) Don't stress so much over it and enjoy them while they still remember who you are.


@kaydeel uhhhhh, seriously, what city do you live in where dudes over 30 are damaged in some way? Because you should move. Immediately.


THREAD-JACK (I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry)

Austin 'Pinners: We're planning another Pin-Up. This one will be at The Highball, where we will rent a karaoke room and drink vats of drinks and sing/sob "Part of Your World" together. There may even be another cake. (PS - If you don't want to sing, still come. This is going to be amazing.)

E-mail me at austinpinup at gee mail punto com to let me know what works best for you!

Get excited!


@wee_ramekin pics or it doesn't happen!


@Edith Zimmerman Oh em gee, Edith...I did not realize that that post about the North Highlands band was also an open thread. I am so sorry that I thread-jacked. Did I ruin the site (again) :-/?


@wee_ramekin Why are you always ruining the site!!! Geezum.

Anyway keep in mind that The Highball has room capacity limits, so I guess you should make this one an RSVP thing? As much as that sucks? I'm emailing you noooooow


Ohhh LW3 - The Lady is right. The fucked up thing about life is that if you're lucky, you're going to experience the death of both your parents. I hope that going through this is a long way off for you, but I agree with some of the above posters that not being in denial bout it happening helps so much.

My dad died very suddenly in February. As I was scrambling to get home to see him in the hospital in time, I was talking to my mom on the phone and she told me "I know this is the hardest thing you've ever had to get through, but you'll get through it." And those words were so true. I think about my dad every day, and I miss him and I'm still grieving, but I'm also happy and have fun and laugh.

The hardest part for me is worrying about my mom being all alone. Do your parents have good social networks? Are the members of a church/book club/civic group? Not that your parents are actually that old now, but encouraging them to stay engaged as they age will both help them stay sharp, and also ensure that when one passes on, the other has people around who can be a comfort to them.

LW3, I know this is so scary, but when the time eventually comes, you will handle it better than you ever thought you could!


@franceschances Having a good social network is so key as you get older I think! My grandmother has an amazing group of friends and I just really hope I'm able to say the same when I'm her age, because having that support group as you're going through the loss or hospitalization of your partner can be extremely helpful I think.

My parents on the other hand ... do not have a strong social network, and I definitely worry about that. As a kid though, it's kind of hard to encourage your parents to get out and socialize more without coming off strangely I think. I do encourage my parents to go on more dates together and relax more and I think they have been doing that which makes me very happy. Harder though to say "go out and make friends!" Cuz it's not that easy.


@redheadedandcrazy Yeah it is tough. I try to do it by "casually" bringing stuff up, like "Oh hey, did you see that the church is starting a new women's bible study group?" It's totally obvious but I think she appreciates my attempt to disguise my meddling.


@franceschances I've done this before too! "Oh mom, you like to travel, I wonder if there are other ladies who like to travel! In a group together! to go to museums, oh wait there are and I already looked up a few groups for you, I mean not for you, just out of curiosity"


@franceschances We're Indian and just recently moved to the United States, so my parents decidedly do not have a good social network.

My mom wouldn't mind being involved in some Hindu temples around their area, but there aren't any close by and she doesn't drive, so it's hard. I've also researched sent her some places she can volunteer, which have been received with muted enthusiasm, so it feels counterproductive to force her into it!

Your mom sounds kind and wise.


If you live in Minnesota, here's a good resource for starting an end of life planning discussion: http://www.honoringchoices.org/

(There's some stuff that other states can use too, but it's definitely Minnesota based.)


@heb Thanks so much for the link!

dracula's ghost

My parents are ALMOST SEVENTY, if you feel emo now JUST WAIT. The sweet gray hairs and soft crepe-y skin! The inability to work a modern parking meter! It is SO FUCKING EMO. And yet, at "nearing 70" they too realize it's happening, and we talk about it all the time. Honestly, too much for my comfort. Probably every third conversation they remind me that I promised to kill them if they get Alzheimer's. I'm like "I KNOW, MOM, GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" But seriously, make friends with a doctor who can get you illegal euthanasia drugs from Mexico. My parents' ultimate worst fear is ending up not in control of their own lives, in a hospital or nursing home, a burden upon themselves and the world. I think the only way we can help them is to SHOULDER UP TO THAT BLEAK FUCKING REALITY and not be all namby-pamby, like, "oh mom you're gonna live forever, don't talk like that." Own it! Own the darkness and acknowledge it! If you can discuss it openly, laugh about it, hold their hands and look in their eyes and say "I hear what you are saying to me about the nursing home," everyone will feel better. And that is you being a grownup, shouldering the dreadful burden of the world. That's why I liked this Lady's advice for this question. So rarely do we truly admit that we are all going to die, that everybody dies, and lots of people die horribly and with pain, and there's nothing to be done about it. It's worth pondering so that you aren't just wall-eyed with panic-based denial when the worst happens.

They fear death just like everybody else, even though they are old, and our parents. They are afraid and worried. Don't be in denial--talk to them about it. Also practically yes, they should eventually show you where all the important papers are, etc. Also they need to have a "living will," and they need to do all that gnarly paperwork about "do not resuscitate" or the thing that says they don't want to be put on a machine. Oh god it's horrible. But it's got to be done.

also "Look, in general, being a grownup and Making Good Choices is bullshit and you can get away with avoiding it without judgement from me, but when there are little kids around, that shit is your JOB as a MAMMAL." = probably the best thing ever written


@dracula's ghost Are you my sister? My dad wants me to shoot him if he gets Alzheimers, and I am supposed to shoot my mom if she starts acting like *her* mom (I always say "Too late!" to this, which I find hilarious and she does not). But, yeah. I know what their wishes are, I know what their will says. No matter how many times I plug my ears and shout LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!, I know all this stuff.

I didn't realize it was about their fear until we did almost lose my dad a few years ago - and the talks took on a whole new feeling - it was suddenly less about them being morbid and me being in denial, and more about them very urgently needing me to understand and listen, so that when they could no longer make decisions for themselves, I would know exactly what they wanted and wouldn't torture myself wondering if I'd done the right thing. I didn't have to make any of those decisions (thank god, knock on wood, praise allah, thank vishnu, etc, etc), but some day I will and it's good to know what to do.


Haha this sucks, you guys should be like me, my parents aren't ever going to die and neither am I nor anyone I care about, so I have literally no idea what you're all worried about, none at all, death's not coming.

Nicole Cliffe

Me too!! Isn't it such a joy?


@Nicole Cliffe Oh my God, it's amazing, let's take an immortal rafting trip together.


@melis Yes, but are you incredibly thin??


@melis I made my dad promise that we will live until the year 2250 when we will die in a space shuttle accident very quickly. Now NASA is ruining my plans.

Lisa Ring

For the first question lady - Move to Nashville. That's all we do here.


@Lisa Ring WHOA WHOA! Another Nashville Hairpinner?!?!!

Lisa Ring

@QuiteAimable Hells yeah! That's my real name, if you wanna be FB friends.



@Lisa Ring You have no idea how incredibly excited this makes me! I was encouraging an ATL meetup because I didn't know there were other Hairpinners in Nashvegas!

Lisa Ring

@QuiteAimable Yes!! I want to go to there!


@Lisa Ring @QuiteAimable y'all should have a pinup at merchants.

Lisa Ring

@QuiteAimable Also, I just realized that there are approx. one billion Lisa Rings on FB. I'm this one: http://www.facebook.com/squarerootof2 Ya know. If you're into that sorta thing.


@becky@twitter Girl, Merchants hasn't been around in a LONG time!


@QuiteAimable WHAT?!?! merchants on broadway?? no! that was one of my favorite restaurants. fine! then is the park cafe still open?


@Lisa Ring I delurked just to express my joy that NASHVILLE HAIRPINNERS ARE A REAL THING! A real thing you guys! Want to go find the grilled cheese truck for lunch?


@Lisa Ring Delurked just to say HI NASHVILLE HAIRPINNERS! Although maybe I need to get out of East Nasty more often because I am not finding the handsome fellows to sleep with?


@lindsey@twitter @MademoiselleML I will plan the Nashville meetup if you pretty ladies will come! (Lindsey, I'm in East Nashville, too!) E-mail me at julieahollis at gmail dot com and we will pin (haha!) down a date.


@agingqnlady I'm 24 and my parents are both 53 and sometimes I too get the sads thinking about how someday they'll be gone.

Usually its about my dad, because he is overweight and a smoker and doesn't exercise except for playing club hockey in the winter. I feel like smoking+fat+fleeting bursts of intense exercise=heart attack and I really get upset thinking that maybe he only has like a decade or so left and what if I'm not married or have kids by then and he misses all that?

So basically, to me, what you're feeling is normal and just a sad morbid thought that people have sometimes. As for helping your parents, if they don't already lead healthy lives maybe try to encourage that? I'm taking a sort of Gweneth approach with my dad, saying that I love him but smoking is disgusting and he needs to get his shit together like yesterday. My mom and I always chat about exercising and kind of like compare notes and stuff so I'm not too worried about her.

fondue with cheddar

"The presumptions are against you on this one, because duh if a girl talks to you after she's seen your dick it's prrrooooobably because she wants to get married amirite?"

YOU ARE RITE. After my divorce, I had a young, hot dude who I banged disappear on me, and I always suspected that this was the reason. I just wanted to bang him some more!

fondue with cheddar

I can totally relate to #2. I've never gotten myself in that situation, but I I would have all the exact same feelings if I had.

My current boyfriend has four kids, but they're all high school and college age, so if things work out I won't have to be a mom to them. Now THERE'S a perk of getting older!


You guys are being kind of harsh to #2 - seeing someone who isn't really divorced yet (at least that's what it sounds like) *and* has TWO very young children is very different than her usual dating situation. She said she wasn't interested in meeting the kids unless the couple are "in it to win it" - if you were the kids, would you want to meet your Dad's new girlfriend when your parents aren't even divorced? The boyfriend needs to handle stuff on his end (sneaking around = shady), but #2 should be at least open to hearing about the kids.


@CatastropheWaitress She also said that she resents his kids and is irritated every time he is with them and that he has them for holidays.


@CatastropheWaitress Yeah, as someone who's was in the position of his children I really have no sympathy for her. Not meeting the kids until it's serious is great, and in my opinion the right way to deal with things, but it's already pretty clear from the letter that, like the bestjasmine said, she already resents the kids, the time he spends with them even on the phone! No wonder he's sneaking out to take their calls! I've personally been the child in this situation, a new girlfriend being jealous and resentful of the children, and let me tell you, the wounds are still open 18 years later.
#2 Please leave that family alone, the way you asked that question tells me you are not ready to be involved with a man who has children.


@easyonthetonic Oh, and just to clarify, I don't mean family as exwife, dad, children, I mean family as in dad and children. They are now their own little family unit and anyone who even considers dating him must be aware and respectful of that.


Hey, LW3 wasn't saying her parents were OLD, just that they are AGING. As we all are. I am, right now! And anyway, it's good advice for everybody to have their information about insurance and whatever, because heart attacks (and car accidents and aneurysms and WHATEVER) can happen, and everybody should have a living will and nobody should be offended when their relatives ask if they have one because it's just common sense. Long-term advice!


@Pixley EXACTLY. I cannot believe the amount of judgement this girl is getting. Everyone should be having this talk! Regardless of whether or not they meet your arbitrarily chosen age limits! We're all gonna die!

Lauren Hallden@twitter

@heb A hundred times, yes. Sure, 50 is too young to die. But it happens! Life doesn't follow a script. That doesn't mean you have to worry about it constantly, but if you have the talk you'll probably worry less since you've done what you can do.


Uh, and potential problem #4 to letter writer 1: there's a chance that the dude will vanish post-sex and pre-friending. Which is fine -- if they do that, they're not the type you were looking for anyway -- but just keep in mind that YOUR opinion on casual sex and HIS aren't necessarily the same.


I hate the thought of not having my parents and I worry about how their needs will increase as time goes by. Everything is getting more expensive and their incomes are fixed, but today I bought the house they live in and will be helping them with some of their expenses, so that makes me feel a bit better.

Also, is it weird that sometimes when I am at a store that sells greeting cards I read the sympathy cards about losing parents and well up a bit? I just can't help it.


Lady #1:
1. Join a gym
2. Go to the free training session you get at sign-up
3. Bang the trainer. The gym is the barrel, you are the fish, and he has the guns (sorry x 1 million for that!)

Seriously though. You never have to worry about him calling. Later, take your man-getting skills into the rest of the gym.

Jane Marie

one time i dated a divorced guy for a few years who had 2 little kids and we had a great relationship and he had the boys like all the time and i gave him tons of space to take those weird phone calls and run all the errands and la-di-da life was wonderful and then it turned out HE WAS FUCKING HIS EX-WIFE THE WHOLE TIME. *slide-whistle* no lesson here really other than sometimes people are total jerks and there's nothing you can do about it.


@Jane Marie : ugh UGH!!! just. UUUGHHHHH!!!


@Jane Marie Damn slide whistle came out while I was dating a man with children who was ending having sex with the baby momma the whole time.


LW#2, permit me to give you a glimpse of your future:

You meet the kids and you find them cute, if not a little obnoxious and needy. They look a lot like their father, and soon, you begin thinking about how cute our kids would look, and how good of a father he will be to our kids, and how strong and stable of a family our kids will have.

And then you get knocked up and have a kid, and that resentment you have for his kids now takes on new dimensions when it affects our kids. You don't understand why her kids should factor in on our family's decisions and shouldn't she just worry about her family and her kids and leave him to our family? And don't get you started about child support and how much that psycho ex-wife siphons off from our family to support those kids and how much more our kids need and deserve that money.

This isn't the guy for you. Trust.


1) Here's some advice for A Lady: It's befriend. Outside the Facebook alternaverse, there is no such verb as "friend."

2) The fact that LW1 thinks 5,000 horny post-adolescents constitutes the "melee of a large university" tells me everything I need to know about the size of the soft, warm cocoon she is emerging from. If not getting laid is the worst thing that happens to her in the next couple of years she'll be lucky. Enjoy finding out there are consequences and repercussions to your actions, sexual or otherwise!

3) LW2: "I swear if it weren't for [his kids], he'd be the perfect match for me." Oy yoy yoy, thinking like that is bad for him and his kids but worse for you. It's bad enough to go through life wishing away things you can't change, but trying to wish away two innocent toddlers is eventually going to make you hate yourself.


@KatieWK Well said on LW2. His kids were in his life before LW2 was, so basically as far as she's concerned, there is no him without the kids. LW2 cannot think about it as though "if it weren't for his kids" were an option. As far as she's concerned, this dude comes with kids. They are part of the picture, and os there is no "if it weren't for his kids." It *is* for his kids, so this guy is NOT LW2's perfect match. End of story. Pretty simple. Again, well said @KatieWK.


LW #3, here is the best way to help your parents, from my perspective as someone who is your parents' age; a parent of people your age; and getting ready to become a half-orphan due to my 80+ dad's terminal illness.

Ready? BE OK. That's it. Since your parents are basically healthy and financially sound, the best way to help them is to be an independent, self-sufficient person who is fun, pleasant, loving, and doesn't require a constant infusion of parental time/money/energy. As I care for my darling dad and watch his life slip away, I am so grateful that I haven't been a burden to him all these years, and I can give back to him some of the energy he and Mom put into raising me. And I'm also grateful that my kids, although not entirely launched, are proving themselves more and more responsible and independent as time goes on, and being supportive now. Best of luck to you. You sound like a kind, good daughter.


@suze i agree - i'm a child of an older set of parents, and they brush off my efforts to help review medical stuff to make sure they're getting the right care/insurance coverage, etc etc. they just want me to be happy, and want to hang out with me.


@teenie The paperwork etc. is certainly important and needs to be looked at and talked about.

Now that I look back at my comment, I think what I was really trying to say to LW3 (and everyone) is that everyone's parents' lives will be longer and happier if we can keep from piling problems on them as they age.



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Also, do you have any idea how hard it is to slowly spin while typing!? Give The Ladies some credit.


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Absolutely no one is going to read this, but I wish to make a plea to any single parent out there who laments that LW#2 makes them more depressed about dating and relationships. If you are dating someone who has no kids and no kid experience BUT who also has no particular problem with the fact that you have kids (unlike LW#2 who clearly has problems with it), PUHLEEZE help that person figure out ways to fit in with you and your kids! I dated a man with teenage kids who was totally put off the first time I met said kids and I didn't have much to say to them. I was SHY! I didn't know what to SAY! Why didn't you help meeeeee??? :'(


Thank goodness you are thinking about this now... Can I give some advice as someone who works in the medical field?

Besides knowing where all your documents are, GET YOUR PARENTS MEDICAL RECORDS. Tragedy can strike at any time and the risk goes up as you get older, having access to their medications, past surgical history and good documentation can help us SO much if you come into the hospital. Along with that, as they get older make sure everytime they have a test done they (or you) know the outcome. I definitely had a patient this week who was never, ever informed that she had Congestive Heart Failure even though her last three doctors had written about it in their medical notes... Don't be that family!

And I agree with everyone else talking about death doesn't mean it is going to happen tomorrow, but having some planning and knowing when they would like more quality and comfort care versus the most aggressive, sometimes difficult care is very, very important. Knowing when they would want you to let go is sometimes the most humane thing you can do for a person.

Just my thoughts after watching all these families come in with varying levels of knowledge about their own health and the health of their family


Hey #2 Lady, as the step-daughter of a woman who resented my existence, and any time and thought and love my father gave to me, and punished me for it, I'm begging you not to go there.

Having to fight her to keep my dad in my life, to not believe the shitty things she made me feel about myself because she didn't want me around, to block out the resentment she felt towards my mother and never bothered to hide, all mean that even though I'm 30 and they divorced when I was 15, I still fucking hate and despise that bitch for the shit she did to me, and had to go through years of therapy as a teenager, because her campaign to make me feel unwanted left me destroyed.

Don't think you could ever be that evil to your lover's kids? Look at what you're saying about his commitment to them already. You will resent them more and more, you will turn mean, you will be hated forever and possibly fuck people up emotionally. Don't do that.


@bexia Yeah, that. My stepmom is exactly like that, and to this day it's hard for me to schedule a freakin' COFFEE DATE with my DAD who I LOVE because she hates it when he spends time with me. She doesn't even have to say a word to me, because it's so obvious that she despises me. But I remember when she did mention it - one of my earliest memories is being 3 or 4 years old and sitting in the kitchen listening to her talk to her friend who was over for lunch, and she told her friend that she absolutely hates children and she never wanted them. I can feel the guilt and shame and discomfot OF EXISTING to this day whenever I think of that moment. Seriously. Don't be like her, please.


@J Keems@twitter I don't know if I'm just super emotional today, but oh man, that story almost made me cry. Between that and the woman who wants to leave her little puppy all alone, these letters broke my heart. Now I'm happy that the other letter writer is being neurotic about her parents, at least it's because she loves them and cares about someone other than herself.


@J Keems@twitter

I like children, and I'm glad you're here (all grown up)!

But I don't like parents who do this or let this happen. It's THEIR responsibility and THEIR fault.


@atipofthehat Yeah, my heart breaks for those two little kids, because their dad needs to figure out pretty quickly not to date women who don't like children or who resent his children; if not, they will hurt forever.

@bexia I never had the step-parent experience, but there was some "what to do when your friends get preggers!" thing on here a while ago, and the lady in question suggested not seeing the kids as weird demon things, but as "oh hey, new person in my life!" I liked that.

LW #2, can you deal with those new people in your life? You should like them, they are part of the package. If not, why are you not walking away?


@J Keems@twitter Ugh, I am so sorry. That breaks my heart for little 3 year old you. I hope you know you are a worthwhile human now!


To LW#3, if and when your parents start to rely on Medicare as their main health insurance, adding supplemental health insurance, if they or you can afford it, really helps with medical bills. My father practically lived in a hospital for the last 9 months of his life, and the bills were minimal, partly because of his supplemental insurance.


"The world is full of us and we keep happening." sounds like the best song lyric of ALL time.


LW #1, what are you thinking? You can't just leave your dog alone! And yes, that is the most important thing I got out of that entire letter. Seriously, you either need to take care of your dog properly or not own a dog at all.


Aack, reality check. I adopted my adult dog 1.5 years ago when I was practically engaged, but now I am single (stupid elopement dress should I dye red and go jump in a swamp?). I have never even thought about that I can never sleep over at a man's place again, unless I bring my dog! I am about to go on a romantic weekend getaway with my new man (a separated-not-yet-divorced father of a toddler fyi) and thank goodness I have an overnight pet-sitter.

On the other hand, reading LW #2 made me feel like a frickin adult. I'm in my mid 20s and I've just started dating a father to a toddler. And he told me about his kid and wife (yeah, let's face it, he's still married) on the second date before my second beer. I ain't no preschool teacher, but I personally love hearing about his nights in with his son. Finding out he was a dad actually made him more attractive to me. Plus, his kid is adorable (at least in photos) so it gives me happy future fantasies of a cute family. Not saying LW #2 should have the same exact feelings as me, but damn, so negative! I would break up with someone who didn't like my dog, nevermind my kid(s).


Oh, LW#2, I've been there mmmhm. Short version: I stayed, and I'm happy, but I think you should go. Long version: the okayness or not-okayness of your emotional reaction probably feels worrying, but isn't, I think, really relevant to this decision. Those feelings are an unavoidable reality, in a way that's unreasonable to expect yourself to change Just Like That Real Quick, and they are going to get so! much! worse! as the equally unavoidable reality of his life with kids and ex and extended family opens up.

The hurt of losing someone you're juuust eek starting to love? Has nothing on the hurt and frustration and self-doubt you will feel farther down the road when things do get more serious, and you do find out just how much his world is defined by the ongoing significance of his ex (he's probably *not* still doing a sex with her -- but it will feel like he might as well be, because the process of divorcing while seamlessly continuing to have fraught, intense conversations about your shared children many times a week means you never really have a chance to get "over" the ex in the sense of "stop thinking of them as the centrally obvious major character in your life, whether or not you have any continued interest in their succulence of their ass".

And that's not even starting in on the complexity around the kids themselves. I am (dun-DUN!) about to marry a 35-year-old divorced dad with a 4-year old, and I love them both. But shit is hard. Watching him hurt and have worried divorced-parent guilt and wrangle constantly with this other woman who continues to make him feel like crap is hard. Having the 4-year-old suddenly announce that he wants to call me "Mom" out of left field, which made errrrrrbody's emotions blow many extra-weird gaskets, is hard. Realizing that he feels worried about missing visitation time if/when we go on honeymoon is hard. Basically, trying to locate that line between taking care of myself and taking care of him is much harder than than it was in relationships where the boyfriend and I were the only main characters in the story.

You'll get a lot of people telling you that "his kids come first" and that you're evil for suggesting otherwise; but it's also pretty widely accepted that in established, committed families with children, the adults' relationship should take first triage priority (within reason! assuming kids are loved and well cared for in a baseline way). It's the central linchpin of the whole operation. You're not there yet, in terms of commitment level, but most blended family therapists will take that position farther down the line if you reach it.

PS: Wednesday Martin's book _Stepmonster_ was smart and hugely helpful to me when I was first thinking about whether or not I could handle confusing unexpected stepmom possibilities at all, and it's very ... validating, especially on the totally normal feelings of jealousy or frustration at everyone telling you to take a backseat all the time.

PPS: Phew.


I like this A Lady a lot!!


hot, smart, normal: pick 2. you cannot have all three.


Oh, LW2, you should always always be kind to the children. Who knows what could happen - maybe you end up marrying this guy and for whatever reason, you don't have children of your own. Then one day, when you're old and gray these children will be the ones to shuffle you off to a nursing home. And you don't want them to stick you in the crooked nursing home they saw on 60 Minutes, do you? You want them to be like LW3, who though they may decide that you're ready for a nursing home at 50, they will surely put you in the swankest one money can buy.


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LW1: I was totally in your position once upon a time and I had great luck with OKcupid. seriously.
LW2: My father dated after marriage when i was a kid and ended up marrying this lady who had 4 kids of her own and basically hated me and my siblings (esp. the girls) and it was awful! It drove this huge wedge between my dad and i that has taken years to somewhat over come. and i will tell you the truth it all happened 8 years ago and he has since left this lady and we never see or talk to her but i am so fully not over the shit that happened when he was with her. Think about your own parents, how would you feel if your dad was dating some lady who pretended you didn't exist/weren't important. You can find other boyfriends but those kids won't find another dad.
LW3: I think what's really important is just keeping in contact with your parents. you know they are not in trouble now but you also need to know the minute they are in trouble. Most elderly people find it hard to give up their independence but there are some things you just have to force on them, like anit slip shower daisies and paying the neighbor kid to do the heavy lawn maintenance. Think about the things you don't want them doing for themselves, like carry a huge bag of water softener salt, and do it for them! don't ask them if they want help, just show up at there house with the bag of salt and say I'm carrying this downstairs! Check on them often and love them all the time but do not try to treat them like children, they will not appreciate it. They are right, you will never get over losing a parent but you will learn to live with it. It is OK to be sad over it anytime the sadness hits you but it is not OK to wallow in that sadness everyday. My mom has been gone since I was 15 most days I'm OK with that but some days I just have to turn on Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" (Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine/You taste so bitter and so sweet) and drink beers and SOB for a while. and that's ok too. ;)


Wow, #1 is some really terrible advice. You should run these by A Dude first. Guys don't want to be your friend after they fuck you. If they like fucking you, and they like you, then they will want to keep fucking you. It's actually insulting, emasculating, to be told that the sex part is off the table, and let's just be friends, etc. The exception here is when a guy regrets doing you in the first place (most likely due to issues of appearance and alcohol and the interactions therebetween).


I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the hell out of this column. I thought the advice was some of the most fun reading I've done on the internet in a spell.


I'm a little late to this, but just wanted to share as an actual 31 year old dating an Actual Single Dad, and also as a child of parents who have Both Turned 60 in the past year.

On the Single Dad thing. A) This dude is not single. If his divorce is getting dragged out for some BS reason that he's not totally specific about, I would be outta there like a SHOT. I did not meet my guy until the ink had been dry on his divorce for more than a year, he'd done his healing stuff, and decided he was ready to get back out there and date. B) The first thing everyone wants to tell you when you date a single dad is "Remember his kids come first!!11!!!!Eleventy!OMG!". If you're an intelligent person, you obviously realize that kids have certain needs that have to be dealt with right that second (food, toilet, injuries, etc.), and small children especially require a great deal of schedule juggling. But that does not mean that you shouldn't still be ONE OF his top priorities. If he's slipping out on secret errands and taking phone calls he doesn't want you to hear, that's a no-go.

If you just want to have some sex, and so does he, rock on with it. But this does not sound like a steady relationship, particularly if you're super not into kids. (This is tough, though, because I wasn't super into kids when I met my SO, but I was definitely open to at least meeting his daughter and giving it a try.) Either way, I think you're doing the right thing not getting too into the kids until you're sure the relationship is on the right track. It just doesn't seem like *he* is ready for a real post-divorce relationship.

As far as parents go - talk with them and make sure they and you are aware of where important medical and financial documents are kept. Talk about who would get power of attorney if one of them were ill. Ask if they have a living will or advanced directive. If they don't, ask them to get one. It could save you or their spouse from some hard decisions at a hospital bedside. Know the names and phone numbers of their doctors, and what their situation is regarding things like life insurance. That way if something happens to one of them, you can take some of the pressure off of the other one by seeing to affairs. Ask them where they keep important papers in case you have to go to their house to find them when one is ill.


To LW3, I kinda know what you're talking about, my parents have decided to have that talk soon. They're around 50 too, one is fairly healthy (a disease that is in check), the other not so much(lots-o-surgery in the past and some pretty recently, plus dementia and high BP). I'm only 17, but I've been wondering what I would do too. I think around this time in kid's lives this pops up (ya know, what will I do without them around? No financial stability, or someone to hug and rant to after a hard day).

To LW2, Drop him. Only because I feel like it would be for the best. For him and the kids, and you. You seem to have no interest in being a mother-figure to his children, I mean you are already beginning to resent them and I'm sure no one wants you to become the Evil-Stepmother from Cinderella.


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Late to the game here, but as a 30-year-old single father of a 4-year-old, I have to say that I really don't think this guy is seeing someone else. She has made it VERY clear that she wants nothing to do with his kids, so why would he stay in the room to take a call or notify her when he's going to pick them up for ice cream? My ex and I have 50/50 custody and despite having been divorced for years, we still talk/text/email almost every day...ALWAYS about our son. Always. It's stuff like, "He didn't wet his bed last night! Yay!" and "We're at the zoo and here's a picture of him having fun!" and "Can you pick him up from daycare on Thursday so I can go to an appointment?" Heck, I'm the default babysitter for when my ex has a date! (She used to be mine, but I noticed quickly that women didn't like coming back to my house to find my ex wife and mother of my child there. Oddly enough, men don't seem to mind coming back to her house to find me there.) So if he's an involved dad, and he's still amicable with his ex, and the LW has made it clear she doesn't want anything to do with his kids, the sneaking around all sounds perfectly normal.

What DOESN'T sound normal is not finding out he has kids until almost two months in. Seriously, "I have a kid" is like the third thing I say to a date, right after "Hi" and "My name is Greg." And even if I didn't, if I'm actively dating this women she'll likely be at my house sometime in the first few weeks and she's probably going to want to know why I have a toy bin in the living room, or why there's a room with a twin-sized bed with dinosaur sheets, or hey, who's this kid that you seem to have dozens of pictures of all over your house? Did she not go to his house for the first month and a half they were together? And if she did, did he not have any toys, pictures, or anything else that indicated he had kids? And even if she didn't go to his house during that time, did she never ride in his car and notice two car seats in the back? I don't understand how you could date someone with kids for a month and a half and not notice some sign of them, unless he was actively trying to hide them from everyone he met. And with that, I would bet good money that he DOESN'T HAVE KIDS!


Yeah, sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but your eight-month-old pup isn't "old enough" to be left alone for the night so you can get some. Best to do it in your own bed.


LW1, are you Karen Owen?


I'm fifty-three, and believe me, that is not actually old. I'm still figuring out what to do with my life; hell, I'm still hoping for true love! Really,unless your parents have a specific, diagnosed health problem, you are worrying needlessly. Now, my mother is 71 and just had a stroke. Her brother died in his sleep of a heart attack at 64, so every morning if she doesn't get up before me, my heart pounds as I go in to check on her. This really gets on her nerves.


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