I liken this blog to a slightly more edited version of my personal journal — it’s raw, confessional, and fiercely honest. One thing I don’t want is for it to ever veer into mommy blog territory, so while you shouldn’t be concerned that this post is a trend in that direction, I do want to write a little about dating as a parent. Specifically, I want to speak about my own experience as a 30-something divorced mom of four. Yep, you read that right. Four.
For the first month or so that I used dating apps, I didn’t mention that I had kids when I chatted with guys. I imagined it would serve as a sort of guy-repellent, causing them to run screaming in the opposite direction. When I did start getting real with matches, my delivery was typically self-deprecating.
Joe Match: Do you have kids?
Joe Match: How many?
Me: I have four kids. <sound of Joe Match fleeing the scene>
Joe Match: Haha, that’s cool.
I think acknowledging this potentially terrifying information in a humorous way helped diffuse the shock. After performing this same basic shtick dozens upon dozens of times, I noticed that matches didn’t seem as fazed by my kids as I assumed they’d be. This was curious, as I’d been sure that I’d encounter the opposite. It took me about six months to figure out why reality was so different from my expectations.
The Sad Truth
It hit me one day when I was talking with a friend. Not one of the men who seemed so nonchalant about my kids actually wanted to date me. They would Netflix and chill. They would do dinner and drinks. They would gladly have no-strings sex. But not a single one broached the topic of exclusivity, a long-term relationship, or “dating” (opting instead for the terms “seeing one another” or “talking to each other”). My conclusion: I was fuckable, but not dateable.
I had misinterpreted their failure to flee at the mention of my kids as acceptance, willingness to go down that road, when in all likelihood, they never considered me as a serious prospect. I took this realization in stride. I told The Voyeur that I’d be less scary in 10 years, when at least two of my kids would hopefully be out of my house. A 4o-something mom with two kids at home doesn’t inspire a fight-or-flight response, I reasoned. The Confidante wasn’t a fan of my outlook, and he attempted to reassure me that things weren’t so hopeless. I didn’t argue with him, but I didn’t share his perspective.
My attitude was pragmatism at its finest. Why lament what I have no power to change? I accepted my undateable status with impressive aplomb…until something changed.
A Dose of Failure
When I started seeing The Teacher, I got the feeling that he was different. He liked kids, adored his nieces, and asked me about my kids (names, ages, interests, personalities). In hindsight, this may have been the one quality that set him apart from all the others who came before. It was likely a huge factor in my decision to delete my apps, break up with The Hermit, and warn off the casual connections who checked in periodically.
When it turned out that our interest levels didn’t match up and I got the heave-ho, I started to think about what it all meant. If I was truly accepting of my undateability, why was I so quick to abandon casual dating and throw all my (proverbial) eggs into the basket of a “mythical unicorn of a man“? And for those keeping track, yes, I just linked to the same post again — there’s a lot of relevant stuff in there!
After some thought, the conclusion I came to is that despite the odds being low, I did want a real relationship. Plus, let’s face it — the prospect of another decade of casual dating is enough to turn my stomach. The Cliff’s notes version of what happened next is…
- I promptly revved up my dating apps again in search of another mythical unicorn, except, you know, one who liked me back.
- I met a mythical unicorn.
- In a subconscious attempt to sabotage my own progress, I declared my love for someone who was, to put it gently, not the best choice for me.
- I wrestled with this (and him) for the better part of January.
- I reconnected with the mythical unicorn, who was very patient throughout this process.
- I’m dating the unicorn now, and so far, no signs point to him just being a horse sporting a fake horn. Oh, and if you’re not into following hyperlinks, the unicorn=The Leo.