Category 2: Those who think they are always right
Dating Tip: Do not ever be pushed into doing something your gut tells you not to do.
Dating the second time around is not for the weak of heart. There are so many factors in play that sometimes it doesn't seem worth it. You have to be over your divorce. You have to find a date. You have to figure out how to schedule around your kids. And then you have to figure out if you like this person enough to go out again. It's a job. If you have great planning skills, emotional stability and keen observation skills, you may be ready to embark. The Pushy Guy's story can help you identify a very common, but often subtle Big Red Flag.
I met this guy online. He seemed normal. He had a job, had a kid and was on decent terms with his ex-wife (or so he said...this is always a gray area until you witness these "good terms"). We moved from email to texting to phone calls pretty quickly. When we talked, he was light hearted and fun and talked about his son a lot. When you have kids, a man who is devoted to his own is a definite must.
We set up a coffee date during the lunch hour one day, and it was good. He was very pleasant to be around. He asked me questions about my life, and he talked about everything from his job to his parents and was very obviously involved with his second grade son. Yea! A good date! Good dates had been few and far between the previous couple of months, you know, with the Married Guy and The Criminal, so I was feeling optimistic for the next date.
Scheduling the next date was a bit difficult because we were on opposite kid weekends and I was teaching ballet in the evenings. He decided that it would be fun to meet up during the day at the park with my two younger sons who were not yet in school. They were 3 and 5 at the time. I put him off because I had a policy of not introducing men to my kids unless there was a good reason. For me, a good reason would be the evolution of a long-term relationship. I was big on avoiding the revolving door syndrome.
At first he took my position in stride, but over the next few conversations he became more and more insistent.
"It'll be fine," he said. "Just introduce me as your friend."
I don't know about his son, but this little comment grossly underestimated the perception of my kids. I knew they wouldn't buy that for a minute. I continued to put him off and he continued to insist.
"It's no big deal. It'll be fine. I won't even give you a hug to say hello."
Finally, against my better judgment, I agreed. And I knew I was not comfortable even at that moment. It is one of those experiences where you look back at yourself from your older and wiser perch and wonder why the heck you let someone influence you away from your conviction.
"Well, okay." I said. "As long as you do not hug me or act like this is a date in front of them."
"Of course!" he said.
Big Red Flag
I loaded up the kids to go to the park. His son was in school which was a bummer, because having him there would have felt more like a play date. I got to the park, and saw him by the monkey bars. As we approached, my younger son ran to play in the sand. He walked up to my other son and me and lo and behold, he hugged me. And he hugged me for more than the split second, friendly hug. It was like he was making a point. A point I did not appreciate.
When sat down on a bench I sat at the far end from him feeling very put off and feeling a bit betrayed by his pointed hug. I directed the older son to go play. He did for a minute, and then was back in a flash. He sat between us and began a soliloquy.
"My dad likes to come to this park. He's at work now, but he brings us here all the time. We like to bring a football and play catch. And my brother can catch pretty good, but I'm good, too. My dad also likes Legos. We play Legos a lot and Rescue Heroes. He's always the fireman and I and the policeman."
It went on and on. I just watched my son talk and when I looked up at the guy, he seemed to finally believe me when I told him that the kids were smarter than he thought. I sent Mr. Chatterbox off to play again.
"Okay. I get it. I see what you mean," he said.
"You should have listened to me," I said. "I know my kids."
I ended the date not long after that. I went home angry. I was not just angry with him for being pushy and not respecting my feelings about it (which is an indication of a controlling personality), but I was angry with myself for buckling. I did not want him to meet my kids, and I folded. I think most parents beat themselves up when they make mistakes with parenting, and I was no exception. I was learning how to date after a ten-year marriage, and I was learning how to date with kids. And this was a good lesson to learn early - stick to your guns and heed the Big Red Flags. They are there for a reason.
Stay tuned for more of my crazy online dating stories on HuffPost Divorce. And be on the lookout for my book, "Sweeten the Deal: How to Spot and Avoid the Big Red Flags in Online Dating," to be released April 1, 2015!