Yes – I know this is headlined to be about a situation where you’re a mom and he’s asking questions (and it is) – but the principles I talk about here hold for ALL situations where you feel you’re being asked stuff you don’t want to talk about, where you have judgments about the men who ask those questions – so you can get a new perspective all around…
“Rori, I have learned some pretty significant lessons on what not to say to a man-date. It is difficult because I have adopted kids with my ex and I have no child support and he has no access to them by court order. Men can not understand this. And they find out because they ask or make “dumb” remarks that I can’t let go of. It tends to go like this:
Man: “So, you are divorced now how long?”
me: 7 years
Man: “so you have 2 kids, young adults, on their own I presume?”
Me: No, they are with me
Man: so, how old? boy? girl?
me: boy 12, girl 14
me: I came late to parenthood by adoption
Man: oh, so are you one week on one week off?
Me: No – unfortunately he has no access by his choice.
Man: !!! #$#^& ^&*%$@ @@$#%^
Me: well, it is by his choice. And we are doing quite fine, my kids are well adjusted – I spent a great deal of effort making sure all was well, and that is why I have only just started dating…
Like these convos are so incredibly awkward. That is why I just came up with the following line and it seems to be working much more effectively:
‘I am a solo mom, with 2 really terrific teens – I happen to really like teens much more than children – the father has chosen not to be a part of their lives and that seems to work just fine for all of us. It has been quite the ride for sure (I put this in because men know to have gotten here, I would have most likely gone through hell so just to make sure I am not out in lala land it is here) and we have worked through a lot of stuff and all is well.’
When they ask for more – I just say ‘naturally there are character building stories there and maybe one day I will share, right now I feel the present is way more important – it is all about how I feel and right now I am feeling the joy of being with you.’
That seems to stop all further questions, and it lets them off the hook with their own stories. Now I say, just the facts man: years married; number and age of kids; dating long? They love it when I say “just the facts man” as if I was a pretend cop. Thanks, Liz”
Here’s my answer:
Liz – first thing I notice is – in your written dialogue, “Man” is capitalized, and “me” is not! What’s that about?
1. Your dialogue is completely unnecessary.
It should start like this: He asks, “Do you have kids?”
Then you smile, you feel how much you love them, and you say “I feel so lucky, yes, to have these 2 great kids…they’re teenagers, they feel fabulous to have around…”
And every other sentence is a Feeling Message!!
You are so not unusual.
You have two teenagers – so?
All you need is a man who likes you enough to get to know them, and then will like them…simple…if YOU can be happy – THEY’LL be happy.
Stop trying to EXPLAIN things, or EXPLAIN the circumstances.
Just share your feelings, not your history…
Now – how does this work if the situation isn’t about kids – but instead about your net worth, your job, your home, your choice of hair color or dress…anything?
Do you instinctively want to EXPLAIN yourself?
Do you instinctively want to tell a man the WHY of his question, the WHY of your choice?
Then just go back to my original instruction:
1. Catch yourself explaining yourself and STOP.
3. Feel your body. Become aware of the tension in your muscles, bones, cells, and relax them one by one.
4. Now have a PREPARED speech and script for anything that might come up – questions about your work, anything – in FEELING MESSAGES.
“I feel so lucky to be helping people…ohhh, I’m a social worker…” (or a nurse, or a teacher….just add more happy detail to how you feel about your work.
“I’m feeling overwhelmed these days being in transition with my work…so many decisions need to be made and I feel a bit…confused…”
Then you let him ask MORE questions, and you answer the same way.
Just “throw away” as an afterthought, or just as a matter of “context” what it is your job is actually, logistically “called” – so he knows what you’re talking about – and stick with the feelings.
Let me know how all this works for you…Oh – I’m working on a new program now that’s going to be all “Scripting” – so I’ll include this about “context” and “throw away.” It’s pretty basic to help you practice focusing on feelings and sensations and yet give enough fact so you both can follow the conversation on a “literal” level, too.
I realize I brought up another big issue here – about talking about your “history” with a man. This deserves a whole new post, so I’ll get working on it. For now – forget history. Where you want to be is RIGHT NOW, this minute, this moment, this tiny bit of time that is the present. Go there!