As a divorced woman, what can I do about my young child’s resistance to my efforts to develop relationships with men and to have a social life outside the home? My son simply doesn’t like to "share" me with anyone else. How can I best explain to him my reasons for desiring adult male companionship? He disliked my last boyfriend so much that I was forced to end the relationship.
Complete resolution may not be possible, but you can make things a little easier if you can look at the situation from your child’s point of view. It’s only natural that he wouldn’t want you to become involved with another man. No one can replace his dad, and to his mind that’s exactly what you’re trying to do.

In speaking with single parents about dating, we usually suggest that they don’t involve their children in the process until the relationship is well established and the couple is seriously considering marriage. Otherwise, what often happens is that the child gets accustomed to his parent’s dating partner, begins to form an attachment, and then the relationship ends, resulting in yet another experience of significant loss in the child’s life.

Here’s what we would advise

The next time you become involved in a romantic relationship, don’t push your son to get to know your boyfriend until the two of you are sure that you’re moving toward engagement and marriage. At that point, you’ll need to have a heart-to-heart talk with your boy. Assure him of your love and commitment to him, and tell him that you realise no one could ever replace his dad. Explain that you don’t expect your boyfriend to be his father, but that because you love him very much, you want him to have a place in the family as well.

Take it slow

Introduce your child to the new relationship gradually. Don’t expect instant bonding, and don’t pressure your son and your boyfriend to become instant buddies. You might start by including your boyfriend in some activities that your son enjoys, such as hiking, bike-riding, or going to a ball game.

Above all, you should carefully consider whether the man you’re dating has what it takes to become a positive influence in your child’s life. Your son is your primary responsibility, and it’s critical that you determine whether your romantic interest has the depth of character to become a good step-parent. You mentioned that your son didn’t care for your former boyfriend. It’s important to ask yourself exactly why this was the case. Was it due simply to jealousy or fear of someone replacing his father? Or is it possible that your former boyfriend treated him badly or displayed negative character traits? The answers to these questions could be more valuable than you suspect in helping you to make wiser decisions about dating relationships in the future.

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