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So a bit of background, we met on a dating site 3 months ago - although we had been "say hi to" acquaintances years previously. We're both in our early 40s and live about an hours drive away. We have WhatsApp'd each other a lot every day since meeting , sharing a lot of thoughts, dreams and gotten pretty deep. Having said that we have only met up 3 times, she struggles to find time with her 9 year old girl and (I think) takes too much looking after friend's children - often she gets exasperated at having little free time to herself. The kid's father has spoked the wheel a few times by cancelling the daughter staying with him at last minute (he has form in that area going back years) . Anyway it came to a bit of a head last weekend when he did that again and she said she just doesn't know if she can find time for a relationship and that I should "keep my options open".

 

I replied that I felt a little hurt by the last comment but totally understand it was said with good intentions. I also said that I'd found it difficult to process as a week previously she'd opened up a fair bit (something she had been pretty guarded about previously) about future plans with me - and so I'd felt safe to open up myself with possibilities too.

 

She replied with that she did wonder if her message sounded glib and was really sorry to have hurt my feelings, but appreciated the honesty and was consistent with the way we communicated.

 

She also said she was taking a step back because her life feels somewhat out of balance and actively seeking to address it and that she does feel ashamed that she hasn't achieved more and it does get in the way of her overall sense of well-being.

 

She also commented that her fear was, *qu, ote* "(genuinely unbeknownst to me before starting dating again)" with the little time she has, how can she find time to pursue the things she's neglected, AND to find the time and space needed to be with somebody...and while this is a question it doesn't feel fair to pursue anything.

 

I really haven't pushed her to meet up, have been very understanding previously with last minute cancellations (which has been acknowledged) and we're both v independent people and have both said we like the fact we live it different cities. Am more happy to give her some headspace for a few weeks and contact again, but, for me own wellbeing just don't know if she really likes me but is struggling to find time or a more cynical voice that she's just not interested in taking it further but is afraid to say it - she does come accross as a bit of a people pleaser.

 

Am feeling a bit gutted to be honest as I've felt a real connection and emotional investment.

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Her daughter comes first, so keep that in mind. You have only been dating for 3 months. You have met up only 3 times. She is feeling overwhelmed (and rightly so).

 

IMHO, she needs to meet a single dad who lives close by in order to be able to even entertain the thought of a relationship! She's being honest with you.

 

I would probably move on from this situation.

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Ok not all dating situations pan out. This has too many miles too many life constraints and too many incompatibilities to take it past Whatsapp chitchat buddies. If you want to go on dates with women, date locally and realistically. You can't really build anything through texting. Let this one fade.

We're both in our early 40s and live about an hours drive away.

She also said she was taking a step back because her life feels somewhat out of balance and actively seeking to address it and that she does feel ashamed that she hasn't achieved more and it does get in the way of her overall sense of well-being.

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Ok not all dating situations pan out. This has too many miles too many life constraints and too many incompatibilities to take it past Whatsapp chitchat buddies. If you want to go on dates with women, date locally and realistically. You can't really build anything through texting. Let this one fade.

 

Thanks for the reply though, what incompatibilities were you thinking of?

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Her life, her kids, her husband, their conflict etc. are all red flags and incompatibilities. Believe her. She's not ready to date.

she said she just doesn't know if she can find time for a relationship and that I should "keep my options open". She also said she was taking a step back because her life feels somewhat out of balance and actively seeking to address it
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Am more happy to give her some headspace for a few weeks and contact again, but, for me own wellbeing just don't know if she really likes me but is struggling to find time or a more cynical voice that she's just not interested in taking it further but is afraid to say it - she does come accross as a bit of a people pleaser.

 

She has been clear I think with her actions and her words... you have only seen each other 3 times in 3 months, she has told you that she wants to focus on pursuing the activities she enjoys when she has free time, and she has let you off the hook by telling you she is okay with you pursuing other offers.

 

She may be okay with a situation where you go on a date once in awhile and it doesn't progress from there but is that something you are okay with?

 

If you really aren't sure of her interest and want to know if she is interested or not, give her space and let her be the one to reach out to you.

 

The cities are next to each other, it's a 40 min drive....

 

ETA: When I was dating, I crossed people off my dance card that lived more than 30 min away... given that my commute is anywhere from 30 mins to an hour each way, the last thing I want is to drive an hour on a regular basis to spend time with someone.

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The cities are next to each other, it's a 40 min drive....

 

You said an hour. Forty minutes is still a long drive.

This is all you need to know "with the little time she has, how can she find time to pursue the things she's neglected, AND to find the time and space needed to be with somebody."

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Remove the "single mom" part of things and what do you have? You have a typical story: matched with a compelling woman, met up for three dates, and now she's telling you, in no uncertain language, that she isn't sure she's "ready." This is something that happens in dating. The seemingly available dude turns out to be a stunted manchild, the seemingly secure woman turns out to be flighty and insecure, and the single parent turns out to be too frazzled to date, or at least date you.

 

Always a bummer. But most often the subtext to these moments is lack of compatibility. Most often the wise thing to do is listen to what a person is telling you, see what they are offering you, and decide if it's genuinely enough for you to feel excited about exploring rather than edgy and anxious.

 

If you are someone who, after just three dates, forms a strong attachment and needs answers to big questions, this is not the person for you. If you are someone who takes rescheduling personally, a single mother, or at least this one, is likely not for you. If you are someone who is "hurt" by a near stranger expressing very human concerns, who sees a slap in the face where others may feel a slight bruise, this is likely not the person for you.

 

Point being, it's not really about "dating a single mom." It's about dating, which is about exploring a connection and seeing if the glue is sticky enough to keep exploring. It sounds like (a) you want more than she can give and (b) she's either feeling that energy from you or feeling her own emotional limitations, probably some combo.

 

So, what to do? I'd say you should either take a step back yourself, or, if you have it in you, stand still why she takes a step back. Use this time to ask if you think this can really work for you, regardless of her state of being. It certainly sounds risky, and not because she is a "single mom." It sounds risky because she's a bit fickle emotionally, still a touch wobbly on the business of living, and you sound like someone who wants someone to be very into you, very quickly, in order to not be anxious about things.

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People pleaser is a no no. I'd be wary and take this as a gentle nudge towards a more rude awakening. She's expressed some strong comments there and telling you to keep your options open just tells me she's frustrated in general and feels helpless about her situation. She's not learned how to navigate her new reality as a single mum and working on the bare necessities and her priorities related to her kid yet. She needs a bit more time for that. I'm very sorry she ever came across as ready for anything however on a dating website. Yes, please be more realistic about commutes and dating someone locally as well.

 

I'd really caution you with the people pleaser type of personality. This is a major red flag for me whenever I sense this in others. It's a form of insincerity.

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I think you got too emotionally deep with a woman you have only seen twice. If someone is busy and long distance - you go on a date, and plan the next date if there is enough there to warrant the fact that there is distance. Sharing hopes/dreams/being the hourly whatsapp buddy has raised your expectations unreasonably. If you went out with her, dated others, then saw if a second date panned out, it would not have been so much pressure for her.

 

I think you should move on. Date women closer to you and don't get so emotionally invested on women you hardly see

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She's a mother of a young child who has top priority in her life. She doesn't have time, energy nor brain space for you. It's best for you to accept the reality of this situation and diplomatically part ways. End on good, mature, respectful terms.

 

She's at a different stage in life compared to yours. This is the dilemma of dating those with children. I'm not saying it can't be done but there are challenges which are not for everyone.

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This is the dilemma of dating those with children.

 

I really don't see it like that. This is just the dilemma that is dating. Some 22-year-old is in the exact version of his shoes right now, just with different variables. He matched with someone on an app, got way too invested over texting and a few dates, then learned that she's "not ready" because "school is crazy," or because she realized she "was still hung up" on an ex, or whatever. Said 22-year-old shakes it off, meets another woman who is at a point in her life where she can go to school and date, and isn't hung up on her ex. And maybe that works out, in part, because he didn't get too caught up in all the texting during those early dates.

 

We don't have a portal into her mind. She may have plenty of time, energy, and brain space for dating, just not with him.

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I really don't see it like that. This is just the dilemma that is dating. Some 22-year-old is in the exact version of his shoes right now, just with different variables. He matched with someone on an app, got way too invested over texting and a few dates, then learned that she's "not ready" because "school is crazy," or because she realized she "was still hung up" on an ex, or whatever. Said 22-year-old shakes it off, meets another woman who is at a point in her life where she can go to school and date, and isn't hung up on her ex. And maybe that works out, in part, because he didn't get too caught up in all the texting during those early dates.

 

We don't have a portal into her mind. She may have plenty of time, energy, and brain space for dating, just not with him.

 

Anytime there are kids in the picture, relationships become complicated because suddenly, dating or marriage is not about two people anymore. Now you have to deal with juggling schedules because there are more parental demands on your time and money. There are kids to take care of until at least age 18, you have to deal with exes and whatever little leftover time there is for the couple is limited if they're not already taxed!

 

I'm not denying it can't be done. All I'm saying is with kids in the picture, relationships are more complex as opposed to a couple who can only focus and concentrate on ONLY themselves and no one else which stands to reason. I'm not sugar coating the reality of dating or marriage with kids from previous relationships. It's high maintenance despite happy stories just like 'The Brady Bunch' sitcom.

 

All parents are frazzled from raising a family and its required frenetic pace for 18+ years. Then when you add squeezing in dating and marriage with previous children in tow, it is definitely challenging and every partner needs to be prepared for less prioritizing. Kids come first. They're not plants. They require lots of time, effort, endless energy and money.

 

The partner needs to be extremely patient and accommodating otherwise it won't work. This is the harsh reality check.

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I hear you, Cherylyn, and don't quite disagree.

 

But being of an age and in a dating pool I think you've avoided in your own life journey, I'll say this: I know more than a handful of people who have found the arrangement to be way more chill than other romantic dynamics. One of the things about those who have divorced amicably and/or created a well-oiled co-parenting relationship is that they aren't on the frenetic clock 24/7 in the way a fully "single parent" is or the way a married couple with kids are.

 

In this case, I don't think being a mom is really the issue. She's a woman not quite ready to date, or at least a woman who is finding dating this man anxiety-inducing. That comes in all shades.

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I think the bottom line is you have to determine if what she can offer is enough. Three dates in three months is not enough, and the distance poses a real problem. The burden will be on you for a lot of the driving, as she will need to be close to home for emergencies or to pick up the kid from the babysitter or take the babysitter home or be home on time for the babysitter. Sleepovers and extending the evening may not be possible. If the child's father is unreliable and flakes, and the money isn't there for a sitter, it's going to be about invitations to slumber parties, and those are rare, and who knows if the child is comfortable sleeping away from home. A 9-year-old is about 4th grade. The thing is, when the child is with her dad or maybe a sleepover or with a relative, this is about the only time mom has all to herself where she doesn't have to take care of anyone else, and she might just prefer to bask in the silence, catch up on some chores, and watch TV in her grubbies, unwashed, and enjoying a tub of ice cream for dinner followed by some wine.

 

This is exactly where I landed when I tried to date with young children. Dating started feeling like a job, and dropped off the grid because I just didn't have it in me to devote whatever free time I got catering to and cultivating a relationship with another human being (possibly children) that I had to take care of. It's not like I was cooking and cleaning for the guy, but relationships take work and time, and I was just tired. Maybe this is what's going on with her. After three months of texting, you're not even really sure if she's watching someone else's kids or not, and watching someone else's kids can be a burden. Sure, you may be happy to help out and might earn a little extra money, but you're homebound. You may not be able to plop all the charglings in the car to get some errands done after school, so you have to do these things at other times, and who knows if this child is involved in activities and requires taxi duties...gymnastics, dance, sports, Girl Scouts, church activities, karate, after school tutoring, etc.

 

I'm going to agree with everyone, if you're okay with this sporadic situation and maybe later...maybe...fine, stick around, and see what happens. Maybe things will improve, maybe not. I don't know if she'll come around anytime soon, if at all. She seems to enjoy the support and texting, but actually DOING the "dating part" is not easily forthcoming. In other words, she likes the IDEA of dating and relationship, but actually DOING it is problematic. The question is, how long are you willing to wait it out? When will things get better? When will time open up? Will it ever?

 

I do think you need to pursue other women, and hopefully someone in your area. I think 40 minutes to an hour is too far. I don't even want to deal with 30 minutes, but that's about where I top off on distance and time (and gas money). I can imagine the anxiety trying to travel out to see you, and the time it takes to drive in either direction, worried about being home on time to release the babysitter, possibly including transporting the babysitter home, not wanting to drive tired, so cutting the night short, a disappointment, and then getting up in the morning bright and early to get started on mommy duties and chores and responsibilities. It's a lot, and definitely harder than if there was a coparenting situation happening, and in this case, the father has been less than reliable.

 

Decide what you want to do and how long you're willing to wait. Continue pursuing others. At least this woman has been somewhat up front with you on her limitations. Pay attention to those.

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I hear you, Cherylyn, and don't quite disagree.

 

But being of an age and in a dating pool I think you've avoided in your own life journey, I'll say this: I know more than a handful of people who have found the arrangement to be way more chill than other romantic dynamics. One of the things about those who have divorced amicably and/or created a well-oiled co-parenting relationship is that they aren't on the frenetic clock 24/7 in the way a fully "single parent" is or the way a married couple with kids are.

 

In this case, I don't think being a mom is really the issue. She's a woman not quite ready to date, or at least a woman who is finding dating this man anxiety-inducing. That comes in all shades.

 

I hear you, too, bluecastle and don't quite disagree either.

 

I speak from my mother's experience as a single parent. She was indeed frenetically paced between holding down her day job, taking care of kids, extracurricular activities, errands, chores and wearing a lot of hats in order to keep her household humming. It's very taxing to actually live with children or a child compared to two parents in one household sharing all parental responsibilities. Two separate households and shuttling children back 'n forth is a never ending hassle as well. I know because I've been there and as the eldest daughter, it was my responsibility to pick up the slack for my mother because I lived under the same roof.

 

Being a mother is an issue compared to being a carefree, young single woman where all she has to worry about is herself. There are other issues, too such as an hour's drive to see one another, she struggles to find time for her daughter, looks after her friend's children and has little time for herself. There's only so much of her to go around. On top of that, her ex cancels plans at the last minute. Hence, she has to deal with her ex and this affects the woman's and their daughter's lives so again, it's not only about her, she's a package deal. Also referred as baggage.

 

This woman is not willing to give OP what he wants which is her devoted attention. There is only so much of her to go around and she simply doesn't have the time, brain space nor energy for the OP, Dean5575. It's so much easier and convenient for him to date a local, childless woman. This is the reality of the situation if comparing lives between a childless woman with zero responsibilities for another life or lives vs. a single mother who has the weight of the world on her shoulders.

 

If the dating pool is small and limited due to the 40s age bracket, Dean5575 needs to remain patient, realistic and accommodating toward a single mother. There is no other way except dissolving the relationship if it's intolerable.

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She co-parents a 9 year old with an unreliable father--possibly all the more unreliable since she's trying to date. This is not a situation that will get better within a reasonable timeframe, and she feels the burn.

 

This woman knows how to reach you should her situation change, so I'd skip the pursuit and start setting up a bunch of quick meets for coffee with other potential dates.

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