Updated: Jan 16, 2019
Originally published online under Zoosk: The Date Mix
At first when you got divorced or lost your spouse, your kids were all sympathetic and trying to cheer you up, right? They called you all the time, asking how you’re doing in that voice of concern they develop for dealing with aging, lonely parents. You’d say you were “okay” or “getting there” and you were always available to babysit the grandchildren.
Now that you’re dating, you have to ask them to speak up because you’re at a happy hour or a Doobie Brothers concert. “Again?” they say, with just a touch of jealousy.
Even though our kids may be grown-ups now, count on them to still react when you start behaving like a teenager again. Here’s some of what you can expect:
They get protective
They don’t want you to get hurt, so they want to make sure you’re only getting involved with a person who will love the crap out of you forever. They hate hearing when a burgeoning romance suddenly ends.
To spare them going through the ups and downs of dating with you, it’s often better to develop some kind of vague answer when they ask you if there’s someone special. One line I like to use is, “There are a couple of guys I’m seeing, but nothing serious.”
They want to make sure you’re safe from scammers and other bad people. My own daughter was appalled when she called once and I was on my way to a man’s house for dinner. “Mom, you gotta drop a pin!” I had no idea what that meant, but apparently it has something to do with apps and maps and other people being able to find you.
Safety issues are especially important for women. I always make sure a friend or someone I trust knows where I am and I text them when I’m home safely. And I never go to a man’s house (or have him to mine) until I’m as sure as I can be that he’s a good guy.
This usually involves Googling, Facebooking and checking him out on LinkedIn, meeting a few of his friends, and going on a couple of dates.
As far as other types of scammers, never ever give money to someone you met online. The latest scam is one where, instead of asking for a loan, the scammer “offers” to invest money for you.
They don’t want to meet your new “friend,” or they have a less than enthusiastic response when they do meet him or her. This doesn’t always mean they don’t approve; sometimes they worry about being replaced, or losing attention from you (yes, just like when they were little!)
If you get a negative response, try to find out what your adult child is feeling. Sometimes, they just don’t want to meet anyone until you’re pretty darned sure they’re “the one.” Other times, you may need to carve out special time for your family relationships, so they don’t feel abandoned.
They still don’t want to think their parent might be having sex.
Kids have always gotten queasy at the idea of their parents having a sex life, much less now that you’re single (and old!) and you might be doing it with someone they don’t know.
Be prepared for weird looks when you imply in any way that you spent the night together, are going away together, or that you might be feeling anything even vaguely resembling passion.
When I got divorced, my daughter couldn’t imagine romance, much less sex, at my age. She tried to convince me, with something like desperation in her eyes, that all I was looking for was “companionship.”
Probably best not to take your kids’ calls when you’re in your new love’s bed and downplay the romance a little when you’re talking to your kids about your new relationship. They want you to be happy, but not that happy.
They give you the third degree
Who are you seeing?
What’s his/her name?
Where do they live?
What do they do?
Do they have kids?
How long have you been seeing him/her?
Are you exclusive?
Sound at all like your parents when you were a teenager? If your kid(s) are like this, you have to create your own boundaries for how much and how soon you’re ready to talk about your dating life.
And here’s a secret: even though they may roll their eyes or give you the third degree, they’re usually proud that you’re out there and having fun. I may not be available to babysit my granddaughter as much as I used to be, but my daughter and son-in-law tell me they think I’m a rock star role model for older people.
Karen Haddigan is the author of Secrets of Dating After Fifty: An Insider’s Guide to Finding Love Again.