Dr. Romance answers the questions from a single mother.
Dear Dr. Romance:
I'm a 23 year old single mother and believe me when I say my life has been crazy and very rough. I have no relationship with the father of my child. He's pretty much abandoned our four yearl old son after his 1st birthday. He doesn't help out, and blames everything on me, so I don't even speak with him anymore.
During my pregnancy I was very lucky to find the love of my life. We were so in love and he accepted my son as his own, but he turned into a real jerk 6 months after my son was born. We tried to stick it out, but I couldn't trust him and after several attempts he used my flaws as an excuse to break my heart after all the hard work and counseling I had been through to keep us together.
I do not regret my son and I love him very much. I try my best to do everything to make him happy and keep him healthy. I also don't like to date much because I don't have much of a sitter and I don't like bringing men I don't know around my son.
I keep finding crappy men that seem great until a few months down the road you find out they're liars, cheaters, users, or all of the above. Last year I lost my job and have headed back to finish my college degree and in the past 2 years have been working on making myself happy and not others.
Last year I met a very wonderful and sweet guy. He was slightly younger, and very immature at times. He referred to his own child as the "bastard child" jokingly, but I didn't think it was funny. We live about 80 miles apart.
A few months after casually dating I realized I was bitter and he may actually be a decent guy. I told him I wanted to take a break and a vow of completely celibacy for myself. He agreed and told me he supported me and still wanted to see me. I explained that seeing him could make it hard for me and that I'd appreciate if he could just give me some time to clear my mind and figure out what I really wanted, but he took this as a sort of rejection, and we got into an argument. He really hurt my feelings and I hurt his, but we continued to talk almost daily after a week or so of silence.
After about 6 months of talking via phone/internet and I felt more of a connection, I realized I had feelings for him and wanted to start having sex again and I told him I wanted to be with him and not anyone else he was resistant and defensive, but I realized I had hurt him.I tried to help him understand I wasn't playing games and I was genuinely interested.
We were finally able to get together after more than a year. I got pregnant on one night with him, but neither of us is interested in having more children. It was extremely stressing and emotional, but we made our decision and he helped me go through with it. This caused another rift between us, and I thought it was over, but we got back together.
I feel that all we have is a casual relationship, with great sex which we didn't really have in the beginning. I like to think that perhaps because my feelings have grown that's why the sex is better. I don't feel a spark and there isn't much romance. He's not very affectionate and I want to start up some affectionate foreplay, but I don't do it. I don't understand myself, or him at this point.
He tells me that he cares about me and "has love" for me, and wouldn't drive all this way just to have sex, but that's how it feels. I made a comment to him last time he was here about not kissing or touching me much, and he made an effort, but it was temporary.
I don't know what we're doing here. I'm so confused. I know I care for him, I just don't know to what extent. I want to just talk it all out, but sometimes he gets very emotional and upset and I feel like I'm hurting him. Other times he acts like everything I say is stupid and he blocks it out. Frankly, I feel as if I am already past the prime of my life.
You're very young to have all this responsibility. You probably made a good decision about your son's father. Some day, your son will have a lot of questions about him, and it's important that you tell your son the truth and then let him contact his father if he wants to. He will have to learn for himself that his dad is not reliable.
It's very good that you are cautious about bringing men around your son. He should not really know about your dating and sex life. "Dating Guidelines for Single Parents" will help you keep him safe.
As to men, It does take a few months to find out a person's character. If you want a healthy relationship, you need to be somewhat suspicious of your feelings, and use your head and "You Be the Judge" will show you how to do that. Going to school and working on yourself are very good goals. Stick to them. Taking a break to clear your mind was a good idea. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help you with the healing you still need to do.
Sex often grows better over time as you get to know each other and relax. Sex is a very small (although important) part of a relationship, and it's common for "the spark" to be gone as soon as you feel comfortable. That's OK, you can still enjoy sex, and being close to each other. If you worry less about this relationship, and just enjoy it, it may grow into what you want.
"Couples Can Cooperate for Success" will help both of you learn to work together to build a lasting relationship. Discuss the points in "Stupid Cupid" to create functional communication between you. can be. Keep this relationship limited to just dating until you get to see what's really going on. Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences will give you a more balanced picture of what relationships are about.