Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
How Can I Start Dating Again?
Q. I have been married twice. The first time, the union ended in divorce. The second time, my husband passed away. That was
20 years ago, and I have not dated since. Finally I feel ready.
But I have so many questions: How do I start? Should I ask someone out myself or wait to be asked? Should I pay, or should he? I should add that I have a grown handicapped child who lives with me. When is the right time to tell a potential beau about him? Please help!
A. I am so sorry for your loss and for the hardship of caring for a disabled child yourself. It’s no wonder that the thought of dating has you feeling uncertain. But don’t be. Just trust your own heart. If that means asking a man out yourself, go for it. Or if it means following more traditional gender etiquette and waiting to be asked, try that instead. But bear this in mind: Life is short, and if you like someone, you might want to let your feelings trump strict ideas about who should do what.
Whether he pays, you pay, or you go Dutch is a personal choice, too. My suggestion: Be honest and confess your confusion. Say, “I haven’t dated in so long that I don’t really know how to do this. Should we split the check?”
As for the question of your child, consider it neither a secret nor something you’re obligated to disclose immediately. Mention him when it feels natural and right. Above all, remember that dating is like an unchoreographed dance: You don’t know what comes next, and you can only move with the other person as gracefully as possible.
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Submit your social conundrums to Catherine at realsimple.com/modernmanners. Selected letters will be featured on the website each month.
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