Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Dating Tips for Young and Old

DEAR NATALIE: Being a 39-year-old single mom with an autistic toddler is hard, especially because I am at the point where I am ready to date and open to a relationship. I get asked out a lot, and have given a few guys a chance. But after telling them my situation, they get scared off or just lose interest. I am an open person who believes in being honest. So, my question is: In the future should I wait to tell my date? My life is busy with several therapy hours during the week and meetings; therefore, dates are limited to weekends. If I don't say anything I may appear unavailable or not interested. Advice or suggestions are welcome. -- READY AND WAITING 

DEAR READY AND WAITING: Relationships in and of themselves can be challenging, but when you add in an element, such as a child with special needs, dating can seem almost hopeless. But fear not. It sounds like you take dating very seriously, and want your potential partner to know everything immediately. This intensity can scare people away. Take things more slowly. You can mention that you have a son with autism, but don't make the entire conversation about that. Dating should be fun. So, keep that in mind when sitting across from someone at dinner. (It's not a therapy session.) The more lighthearted your approach, the more relaxed you and your potential partner will be. Nobody wants to jump headfirst into a delicate situation. (And have fun. You're not only a loving mother, but also a woman who deserves to live and laugh, too!) 

DEAR NATALIE: I am dating two men at the moment and have been married several times and widowed twice. Here are a few real questions about geriatric dating (and I would love a younger person's perspective!): At the top of the list, of course, do you tell him when his fly is open? Others: Do you tell him why he is getting dirty looks and horns honking is because his right-hand signal has been on for the last 20 blocks? Do you wake him up when he falls sound asleep during a performance? Do you tell him he has dripped soup all over his tie? Wipe crumbs off his vest? -- BLUE HAIR DATING BLUES

DEAR BLUE HAIR DATING BLUES: No matter what his age, tell him his fly is open, and maybe even crack a joke about it, too. When he's cruising down the road with his blinker on for several blocks, mention it politely (like you just noticed it!) so he doesn't feel embarrassed. And feel free to glare back at those drivers for putting you on the spot. When he's sleeping at the theater, don't wake him unless he starts to snore. Or drool. Or both. And remember the words of Ivana Trump when it came to dating: "I'd rather be a baby sitter than a nurse!" (So "no" to wiping crumbs off of his shirt. Nobody wants to date their mom!) 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Expand your social network. It can be easy to get into a networking rut and always attend events with the same groups of people. Get out of your comfort zone and explore events with people in fields unrelated to your own, enriching your network and life experience! 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)