How to React when Parents start Dating Again?


How to React when Parents start Dating Again?


Some situations will always be awkward no matter how mature you have become. Having your own parent asking you for dating advice would be on top of almost anyone's list. And that's exactly what I found myself doing last Christmas when I went home. The worst part was, that I couldn't even complain because I had volunteered for it.

After my parents' divorce, I fought the idea of my parents being with anyone but each other. But watching my father being alone and lonely was even worse, and after 12 years of separating from my mother, it was time for him to move on. He was ready to meet women but didn't know where to start. So I offered to help him make an online profile.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was not long before my father was asking me for tips on where to meet women, how should he present himself, and what to wear. I suddenly felt like the roles were reversed that I was the father and he was the son.

This situation is more common today. The divorce rate is very high and now we live longer and fitter until much later in life. Viagra alone has completely changed the sex life for older men, the upshot to this is that adults in their 20s and 30s will often have a parent who is dating as they themselves might be settling down.

So how should you talk to your parent who has begun dating again? How to deal with the awkwardness and discomfort you'll certainly feel?

It's natural to feel queasy when parents talk about dating. Don't feel wary about drawing a line between the subjects you want to hear about and those you do not want.

You should get over your embarrassment and put your happiness first. You have to accept that they are living, breathing human beings who are looking for love in their lives. It’s a good idea if you say to your parent that I don't want you to be lonely. You deserve love and happiness, and I wish you to have a well-balanced life and someone to share that life with. The point here is to permit your parents to start dating again.

In my case, by helping my father set up his profile, I'd stepped up to the idea. After all, dating again is a big, frightening step for many people, and supporting was the least I could do.

He asked me the next day, do you think we have to be funny. Women want a funny guy, right?

I said to him, that he is a handsome, intelligent man and physically fit, you're basically at the top of your game in your field. Any woman would be lucky to go on a date with you. As hard as this was for me to say, it gave him the confidence he needed, which reminded him what a great guy he is. It's traumatizing to get divorced no matter how old your kids are. They may not feel great about themselves anymore, forget about their best qualities, and feel like a failure. Being older and not looking the way they used to may hinder them from getting back to dating.

Point out any positive qualities you can. Remind your parents of the successes they've had, and that there are lots of people with the same interests who might find them interesting.

But he was nervous. He paced back and forth while I sat on the bed, with his laptop on my lap, typing. He was embarrassed about posting a personal ad online. I assured him with the fact that I had done it, most of my single friends had done it, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. As awkward as this conversation was for me, I knew it was equally tough for him, too.

Keep in mind that the role reversal will be strange to your parent as well. But they still need your help, just as you needed theirs when you first started to date.

We posted the profile, and I told him what to expect. Women online are constantly barraged with messages, so send detailed messages. I told him to respond specifically to things in their profiles. And he should avoid "winking," a feature that indicates the interest without even writing a message.

Nonetheless, the next day he had "winked" at five women, also sending a message that said "So-and-so has expressed interest in you!" with nothing else. He was still feeling hesitant to commit fully to the process. I told him not to expect an immediate response. But it turned out, that all five responded. One of them was a political activist and writer, who responded, I read your profile and appreciated your sense of humor, accomplishments, and interests.

I felt a momentary pride, then quickly got down to business, telling my father how to respond, whether he should talk on the phone, and when to set up a date. He listened, however, the next day he told me he'd deleted his profile. He wasn't ready, he said.

But someday soon, he will be ready to date. Meanwhile, writing the profile made me feel closer to him and express the things that I don't feel comfortable telling him otherwise, how highly I think of him, what good qualities he has, and how much I really care about him. Helping my father set his profile turned out to be a reward.

Put your parent's happiness ahead of your own uneasiness. Tell your parents that you want them to be fulfilled in every way, also romantically, and tell them it is ok to go out and pursue that. But it's OK to have reasonable boundaries. Nobody should have to hear details about their parent's sex life, so if they ventures into territory you feel uncomfortable with, say so. Supporting your parent's dating life is a chance for you to show your love and support for your parent in a difficult time.

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