Even before I was engaged, I started to see ads on the side of my Facebook feed about engagement rings and wedding planning. I even received a phone call from a Bridal company saying someone entered me into a raffle; I had won free tickets to a Bridal Show. I wasn’t even thinking about getting married. Ironically, now that I am a divorced single mom, the ads have changed. I now log in and see ads indicating which dating app is the best for single mothers. How do “they” even know all of this information about me? It’s kind of creepy.
Here is the truth: dating as a divorced, single mom is difficult. And if I could think of another word that supersedes difficult I would use it. That’s how complicated it is. Just like marriage, motherhood and even divorce, there is no manual on dating after divorce. That means there isn’t a chapter written on dating after divorce, with a small kid. Yes, I am sure there are thousands of think pieces and even some self-help books written on the matter, but in my opinion the subject is far too complex to lean on a how-to-guide. Everyone’s experience is unique.
When it became evident that my ex and I were done for good, dating was not even on my radar. I honestly had no time to even think about anyone else. I was just adapting to becoming a single mom and I knew I did not have the capacity to adhere to yet another human being. I was barely holding on to my sanity. I would have been doing all parties involved a disservice if I had given dating a chance that soon. Any time anyone would even bring up the word, my head would start to swirl and I would become nauseous. It was that nerve-wracking for me.
As time passed, I grew accustomed to being alone. That’s an adjustment in itself. I allowed myself to learn about me more. I focused on rediscovering Minah. People would ask me what do I like to do for fun and I couldn’t even answer the question. I had no idea. None. I figured, if I couldn’t answer that question, there were more than likely going to be more answers I needed to find. I needed to learn more about me before I required another person to learn of me.
Once I felt like I had a pretty good idea of who I was and who I had become I took a deep breath and did something I said I would never do…ONLINE DATING. *dun-dun-dunnnnnn* That was the scariest yet hilarious thing I had done in a while. The fact that my picture and profile were all out on the world wide web made me feel like my privacy was being invaded every day. There was always some guy in prison lurking my pages. How could I tell they were in prison? Oh, I know what concrete walls and a sink next to a bunk bed means. Decline. Not interested. Then there were the grandpas, those over 50 trying their very best to get my attention. NEXT. There were some good looking gentlemen, but it seemed like none of them were interested in me. I gave a couple of guys a chance and after a few of conversations and dates, things just dissipated and probably for the best.
Dating these days is already hard. You gotta sift through the opportunist; those who really have no intention on doing nothing more than waste your time for a few weeks. The f^&* boy population has seemingly tripled since the last time I dated. Dating with a kid adds complexity. When you find someone, will they be willing to put up with a not so consistent schedule or the lack of spontaneity? I am a planner by nature. I don’t do well with a spur of the moment “hey, are you busy, let’s hang” calls. As a single mom, I can’t be spontaneous if I wanted to be. I usually need a day or two to secure a sitter and even then, it’s not guaranteed that I can just get up and go. There are times I tell myself, “no guy is going to want to deal with this part of it”. It can get pretty discouraging. There have been times I told myself I would just become a nun. I am not even Catholic but that just sometimes seems easier than dating.
Everyone has their own opinions and advice:
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Don’t let him meet the kid too soon.
Take it slow, go out more.
Not him. Not here. Not there.
Yes, him. Maybe this or maybe that.
And while those around you may have your best interest at heart, you are probably the only one that can gage your dating situation for yourself. It took some time after my divorce but I am getting to a point to where I can trust myself again. I am not always going to make the decision everyone around me wants me to make. I am also not always going to make the same mistakes I made in my previous relationship and I think that’s what some may fear. I’m learning to go at my own pace. Contrary to what others may think and say, I have to do what I think is the best for my child and me. Sometimes that is the only way we learn.
Dating is a risk, kids, or no kids. There is a greater risk when there is a child involved but as a parent, as long as the priority is constantly what’s best for you and the child I think dating is a risk worth taking. Let’s hope it is.