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When I was a single parent, I introduced my new partner and kid quickly. I'd do it more slowly if I were single again.

Man, woman, and little boy playing in a field at sunset.
Stephanie Kaloi (not pictured) introduced her son to her partner shortly after they started dating.
  • A few months after my ex-husband and I separated, I joined a dating app.
  • I was surprised when I quickly met someone I was excited about. 
  • I introduced him to my son fairly quickly, and if I was single again, I might do it differently. 

I officially separated from my ex-husband in March 2020 and took full advantage of that confusing time period to take the time to really get to know myself. I'd gotten married at 23 years old with next to no dating experience prior to that and suddenly found myself 35 and curious about who I was.

No one was more surprised than I was when I met someone that September. I had jumped on a dating app at the encouragement of friends, who were sure that I'd meet someone — just as sure as I was that the experience would be a waste of time. I'd give it two hours, I told them, and so I set a timer and began sending screenshot after screenshot of messages from men who wanted to meet up that night, who told me I would have to give up my home and move into theirs, and one memorable fellow who said I would have to quit horseback riding lessons because he was allergic (spoiler: I did not).

I met my partner shortly after joining a dating app

With about 10 minutes to go in my experiment, I connected with a basketball coach and philanthropist that I was actually into, and nearly four years later, we are still together. He was headed out of the country for two months the next day, which gave us the time to get to know each other through phone calls and texts without any pressure of a date. At the time, this was ideal — I had no idea just how much of a novice I was when it came to relationships.

Once he got back into town that November, we met up in person and began to spend several days a week together, and by January, he was staying over more often than not. We usually saw each other on the days my son was at his dad's house, but my excitement at having found someone who felt so right for me and my life quickly spilled over to excitement about introducing my then-11-year-old son to him, too.

In retrospect, I can admit that I rushed things in a way that I don't know if I would do again if we met now. I've only understood this as other friends have begun dating and held off on introducing their children to their new partners for six months, a year, or even longer.

I had no way of knowing what it would feel like to believe someone was so meant for me — and no way of knowing that I would be so eager for my son to get to know this great person, too. In a lot of ways, I even admire the Pollyanna-esque spirit with which I could still approach the world and relationships at that time, and can find sweetness at the core of my intention. If you're in love and you have a kid you love, naturally, you want both of your loves to love each other, right?

But as an older, wiser, and somewhat more experienced mom and woman, I can understand why some parents wait. I had spent over a decade married to one person, and was very much still in a marriage mindset when I met my partner. Instead of wanting to go out and drink until 2 a.m. or get dressed up for dates at chic restaurants, I wanted to take family outings and watch our favorite shows in our pajamas.

I wasn't trying to replace my son's father — who is very involved in his life — in any capacity, but was actively, anxiously, and excitedly trying to introduce a new adult my son could trust into his life, sometimes I worry before he was really ready, because I love how family feels at its core and wanted to have that with the two of them.

I might have introduced my partner and son more slowly if I could do it again

A lot of experts advise waiting six months to a year into a new relationship before introducing partners and children. Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Brad Falchuk didn't live together until they had been married for a year because of their kids, something that I don't think I could ever do, but years down the road, I can see the wisdom in something like that.

If there is one change I might have made if I could, I would have gone a lot slower with both my child and my partner, introducing them to one another first over a longer period of time first by talking about them to each other, then with a meet-up at a park or anime store, then maybe family dinners that eventually lead to everyone in the same house together all the time.

Of course, in the end, the path I walked was the right one for us, and I wouldn't change what happened at all. I am a big believer in the idea that what we live is what we are meant to, and the relationship my partner and son have is one that I really appreciate (and am entertained by). While I do think taking things slower in this one aspect would have probably saved my son and me a few emotional conversations, ultimately, we all ended up exactly where (and with whom) we were supposed to be.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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