My client Judy met Alan on an online dating site. He seemed to have many of the values she was searching for in a mate; a good sense of humor, a similar religious belief system, and he was kind and a good listener. But there were some red flags. In the course of their first conversation, he revealed that he was in a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife who now had sole custody of his kids. His finances were suffering because of the divorce settlement and the high alimony and child support payments he was paying his ex monthly. And to top it all off, his mother had moved in with him. Should Judy date Alan?
She told me, “In the pool of men I have been meeting online, this guy seems to stand out. He has great values, he’s smart and nice looking, and we have a lot to talk about. BUT… there are all these outstanding issues. What should I do?”
My advice to Judy was not to date Alan right now. He might be a great guy, but he is not emotionally ready for a relationship. Once his issues are put to rest and he is more balanced, he might be more emotionally ready for a relationship.
Did Judy follow my advice? Not at first. She dated Alan a few times. By the second date, Alan’s obsession with his problems became too much for Judy to handle. He became whiny and seemed very stuck. She did not want to be his therapist or his sounding board, not if that was the major focus of their relationship.
I am not advocating for women to shut men’s problems out or not be open to discussing them. Quite the contrary. A good relationship requires trust and open communication. But when one partner becomes a victim of his/her circumstances and is mired in the issues at hand, the balance is off in the relationship. A healthy relationship is not easily forged from this imbalance.
On their third date, Judy said goodbye to Alan. Timing is everything. Yes, it is not easy to meet a potential mate, someone with whom you click, feel some chemistry, and see the possibility of a future together. But if the timing is off, the person is not yet over a past relationship, or has outstanding financial or legal battles, it is best to not get involved at all.
Have you had a relationship that began with unresolved issues? What was your experience?