How do I tell people I live with my mother?

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Hi there, long-time reader.

I am 55, female, never-married, no children, and while I have had relationships, there have been no really long ones, and not in some years. I live in a part of the state without a lot of people my age, so it seems like online dating is the way to go. I'm sure I'm not the only person not to find that a delight, but my question is more specific. At this point, I am living with my elderly mother. It had been a temporary thing 13 years ago for job reasons, but I stayed to help with my now-late father and have since found it hard to leave my mother alone as a widow.

To put it bluntly, I don't expect her to be around forever (she is 87), but this is my life at the present. I am not able to travel the world due to that and work, and it would be hard at first to negotiate a new relationship as far as sleeping over goes once it gets to that point. I am guessing that is not a situation most men around my age are looking for. Should I just wait until "later" and not put myself out there now? And if not, how much about it should I put on my profile? They are going to find out soon enough, so should I just put it on there? I do already say I spend a lot of time helping an elderly parent and am not free to move or travel a lot right now, but not that I don't have my own living space. Anyway, just putting it out there. Thanks!

– Living With My Mother


I know a few people in their 50s who now have a parent living with them because it was safer during COVID.

That's the first thing to know: A lot of people your age have great responsibilities, some in their homes. Another 55-year-old could easily have kids who require a great deal of attention. Your peers aren't all traveling the world, reveling in their lack of commitments.

Your letter suggests you want to try to date now, so do it. If nothing happens, at least you'll have played with the apps for a bit, gotten used to them, and seen the many ways people put themselves online.

As for the profile, it's not supposed to be a list of reasons why people might not want to date you. Show who you are – your interests, your personality. You can say you prioritize family, but you don't have to put an asterisk on that. All of that stuff can come out in a first conversation. Even then, say what you know, and don't make any assumptions about another person's priorities. You can be honest and tell someone, "I’m still navigating how to make dating work while caretaking for a parent, but for the first time in a while, I'd like to try." That's the truth.

Maybe you'd do well on an app that gives you very specific question prompts. Then you can simply answer and leave the rest for later.

Remember that these dating platforms only give you space to hint at what you offer. A person might note that they're a parent, but they don't have room to disclose custody agreements, how that might limit dates and travel, etc. That's for the best. The first step is to figure out if someone's interesting. Then you can chat about how your lives work.

You're jumping ahead to the possible problems. Start by seeing how it feels to swipe.

One thing at a time.

– Meredith

Readers? How should the letter writer disclose this living arrangement? Will it be a deal-breaker for others?