Hint: There is no perfect time.
When is the best time to introduce someone you are dating to your children? If you judge by my experience, the answer is never.
But since that isn’t practical, let’s look at the two sides of the arguments about when. The most popular method, if you go by all the standard advice from the experts, is after you are sure that the relationship is serious. Whatever the heck serious is these days.
Most of my friends chose that method. I initially chose the opposite, for what seemed like excellent logic at the time.
When I was a single Mom raising my son, I decided to introduce him to people I dated early on. The reasoning was, what if I waited until it was serious, and then he didn’t like them? His happiness was always at the forefront of my mind, and it seemed cruel to bring someone in when it was too late or very dificult for me to back out, and then find out my son hated the hapless fellow.
This started early. The hating part, I mean. When he was still in diapers, but able to toddle, perhaps at around 18 months, I brought a guy around that I liked a lot and could imagine a future with. My son went over to him, pulled down his diaper and peed on him. Talk about marking territory. That instinct must be inherent in the male of the species.
The guy reacted with shock. We did continue to see each other for a short while until he moved away, but it was never the same. As it turned out, my son’s wordless protest was accurate. The guy did deserve to be peed on, and not in a good way.
When he was two and a half, I met someone I fell deeply for. Having learned my lesson, I didn’t bring him around until after three months of dating, when it seemed that a future was likely. They bonded at once. Blake was at a difficult stage of development, i.e. he was two and a half. “No” was his favorite word, and he was adept at ignoring me. He wasn’t a temper tantrum thrower, thank goodness for small favors, but he did have a temper. Stephon was able to talk with him very quietly to calm him down or get his cooperation. It was miraculous. I’ve since read studies that babies and toddlers respond more to male voices.
Perhaps I should have waited longer than three months.
As it turns out though, there was no waiting period that was long enough. Three years in, I discovered the other women. One in particular, a former flame, had his baby a couple of months after he moved in with us. Eight months after moving in, he moved back out. Not even to be with the baby mama, but with yet another woman.
In Blake’s mind, Stephon left us both, which he certainly did. When he moved in, Blake told my mother, “We are going to have a Daddy in the house.” After a a few short months of visitation, contact ended. After that, I was pretty much done dating “seriously,” and mostly dated for fun. The guys Blake met after that were friends before and after we dated. Friends to both Blake and me. While I had a dream or fantasy over one of them being long-term, I didn’t let myself get hurt again. Blake, on the other hand, while not getting hurt by bonding and rejection, did develop issues about his mother having sex, and was always at least a little jealous of the attention I gave to a guy when Blake was present.
However, because of the dating friends approach, when I told my 26 year old son recently that I was dating someone he knew from my past, he was cool about it. It may help that he is the one I had a fantasy of a long-term relationship with, and that we have remained friends for the seventeen years we have known each other.
Or maybe my son has given up on trying to protect me from hurt by employing either actual or metaphorical peeing.