I have had terrible luck with men. I don’t feel that I am ever going to find the perfect man. I have 3 children and don’t want to expose them to any more men. If I start dating again, how should I handle the relationship? Should I keep him from meeting my kids? And how do I go about asking him questions about himself (like an interview) without offending him?
Here is the general recommendation for a single parent who is dating. Do not introduce a new person to the children until you are reasonably certain that this is a stable relationship that has a high degree of probability of turning into a longterm partnership. This probably means don’t introduce them until at least six months — after the “honeymoon” period is over and you get a chance to see if you are dealing with a guy who has lasting partnership potential.
The fact that this last relationship was “off and on” as you put it, was an indication that there was no stability there. In that case, it would probably not have been a good idea to get the children involved with him at all.
The main reason for this recommendation about when to meet the children is for the benefit of the children — to save them from the pain and confusion of first getting attached to a new “father figure” and then suddenly finding the guy is gone.
As to your other question — finding the “perfect” man. That is a complex topic. My take on it is that after decades of personal research, and centuries of historical data on relationships, one amazing fact has been revealed: there is no such thing as a “perfect” partner. That is a myth and fantasy that we would all like to believe. But this does not make it real. If it were true, you would see lots and lots of couples around you who were exclaiming that they were with their “perfect” partner — and they would keep saying that even 5 or 10 years into the relationship — not just in the honeymoon phase of love where it feels so good that the guy must be perfect.
Absolutely all relationships bring up challenges. The real question is not finding a “perfect” partner who does not bring up challenges. No such person exists. The real question is finding a person who is willing to take each challenge and work with it. And make personal improvements and learn new strategies and skills to make the relationship work better. That actually requires not only that the guy be willing to do this, but that you are too. It takes two.
Given that you are using the fantasy language of finding a “perfect” guy, I am going to have to assume that perhaps you are not as aware as you could be about the strategies and tools required to make relationships work in the real world. I am sure that you know alot about how relationships can fall apart. So I suggest you study for awhile, in this next phase of your life of being single. Learn as much as you can about the realistic and achievable enterprise of making love work. You can make love work. But you need to have the right tools and strategies. And you need to be able to more quickly evaluate whether you are with someone who demonstrates good potential for longterm relationship success.