Carolyn Hax_ Single mother’s boyfriend is (too) okay with how busy she is

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Expensive Carolyn: My ex and I divorced once we had a toddler and an toddler (don’t suggest). I started relationship “Ben” about 5 years later, and we’ve got been collectively now for nearly three years. After all of the horror tales I heard about what it might be prefer to attempt to discover love as a single mother, I assumed I had REALLY lucked out with Ben. He has by no means been aggressive for my time. He understands how busy I’m as a mother and has at all times been nice with the truth that our high quality time collectively has to occur as soon as every week when the children are with their dad. He’s good to the children however has by no means tried to step on our toes as dad and mom. I assumed all of that was the dream.

So this 12 months, I introduced up the thought of transferring in collectively and/or getting engaged. I additionally introduced up that I would really like for him to spend extra targeted time with me and the children as a household.


That is after I realized that, in Ben’s phrases, the great thing about our relationship is that I’ve a lot else happening and he is ready to have time for himself. He doesn’t see himself as a stepparent and has no intention of being one. He did say he would love to maneuver in collectively as soon as I’ve an empty nest … however that’s 11 years away (at soonest).

I don’t know what to do. I like this man. However I’ve mainly simply been advised that what he loves about me is that I don’t have time to demand an excessive amount of from him and that he doesn’t have room in his life for my kids. Is it potential for a single mother to have a stable, critical relationship that doesn’t compete with motherhood, but additionally has room to develop?

— Bubble, Burst

Bubble, Burst: That’s not the query I anticipated.

The reply to the query you requested is, after all it’s “potential.” There are 8-ish billion folks on earth and thus far you have got dated (and step-paternally struck out) with solely one in every of them.


The query I anticipated was extra of a what-do-I-do-about-Ben? factor. As a result of that’s an enchanting one, and never apparent from any angle I can see.

Until you couldn’t settle for his phrases and already broke up with out regrets. That might be sort of apparent.

In any other case, from my place of protected detachment, I’m not as alarmed by what Ben stated, and even see some magnificence in it. Peeking out from the wreckage.

The obtrusive concern is that you simply two had been in a position to be collectively romantically whereas conceptually thus far aside for thus lengthy. Who wasn’t speaking to whom? Who wasn’t listening? Who was wishfully pondering the toughest? Was anybody misled on objective?

These will not be small considerations. If you happen to’re nonetheless with Ben by the point I’ve obtained, learn, mulled, responded to, filed and printed this, then I hope you have got already spent a few of your high quality time sorting by and fixing your miscommunication.


So long as you’ll be able to work that out, although, and nobody was mendacity to anybody, there could also be a deceptively good relationship in it for each you and Ben.

The explanation for that’s the relationship itself, as-is, or what it was all alongside and as much as the purpose of Ben’s bomb-drop. You had been each actually proud of it. Such loving compatibility is a little bit of pretty-greatness that I concern you’re not giving due credit score. Give it some thought: You’re upset you and Ben don’t share the identical imaginative and prescient of what your togetherness could possibly be. Which implies, by definition, your disagreement is over one thing that wasn’t but and should by no means have turn out to be actual. Not less than discover out whether or not altering your envisioned future modifications what you have got within the current.

Plans do have an effect on how we really feel about now. However the place to begin is the extension of what we’ve got — basing retirement financial savings on present spending, for instance. So possibly each of you, in one another, can look ahead to a companion who retains assembly your emotional wants — and retains leaving you adequate room for your self.


Who’s to say: 1. That gained’t maintain true when your children are grown, in evolving kind? 2. That he’s the one one who advantages out of your ethereal association?

And who’s to say, on the negative-projection aspect, that you simply’ll nonetheless like Ben as a lot in the event you don’t give one another this area?

Imagine it or not, I tucked into this reply with ideas of alt-romance. You and Ben got here throughout to me as a pair who chanced on a nontraditional association that elevates you each. Then I wrote my method right into a treatise on embracing cynicism as your matchmaker.

Plus, I don’t have room to what-if the potential of grownup boomerang children in your sometime shared residence with Ben.

However even when Ben’s not the man, I nonetheless assume there’s a extremely good query right here: Is transferring in and co-raising kids the one measure of “stable, critical” progress potential there may be?

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