5/23/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

A widower asks his son for dating permission and receives an adamant “no.” Is it because the son knows that Dad once kissed this same woman when married to Mom? What should Dad do? See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

I am a 73-year-old man. My wife died three years ago. This year would have been our 50th year of marriage.

Although we had many ups and downs throughout our marriage, we loved each other and raised two wonderful children who now have children of their own. (I also have a daughter from a previous marriage.)

I have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I love and live for my family. I don’t know what I would have done without them after my wife’s death.

Over 40 years ago my wife caught me kissing “Doreen,” my friend’s wife, while we were at a party. Nothing more ever happened. My wife never really got over the betrayal, but we agreed to stay together and work on our marriage. We also stayed friends with Doreen and her husband. He died 25 years ago.

Through the years Doreen and I have stayed friends through email, Facebook, phone calls, kids’ birthday parties, etc. My children know her and have always been friendly toward her.

Doreen and I have spoken on the phone many times in the years after my wife’s death (the “kiss” has never been mentioned). I’ve become interested in dating her.

I mentioned her to my son recently and he was very adamant that he did not want me to date her. He did not give me his dating permission. He said his sister(s) agreed with him.

I don’t even know if Doreen would go out with me, but am I wrong to want her to be a part of my life? I’m afraid my kids will turn away from me. I think my wife told them about this long-ago kiss.

I was totally surprised by my son’s reaction.

What should I do?

Just Friends

Dear Friends:

When you essentially ask someone for permission to live your life within completely respectable boundaries, you take a risk that they will say, “No.”

And – reporting my own non-scientific findings and insight, I’d say that around 70 percent of adult children say a quick “no” to the prospect of their older parent dating after a loss. (They often come around later.)

sad older man after argument. photo by Fizkes Dreamstime. A widower asks his son for dating permission and receives an adamant “no.” What should Dad do? See what “Ask Amy” has to say.

Just as you don’t have the power to run your kids’ lives, you should not give them the power to run yours.

So, don’t ask for dating permission.

For now, the only asking on your part should be confined to “Doreen.” Furthermore, I hope you won’t make the mistake of believing that you need to explain or apologize for a regrettable choice you made 40 years ago, which you and your wife dealt with as well as you could.

My overall point is that your health and happiness should be the most important thing to the people who love you. Handle this new relationship discreetly and in thoughtful stages.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from dating permission to grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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