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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Singled Out, The Parenting Edition

Dating when you're a parent can be really difficult. Not only do you have to like the other person, so do your kids. And they have to like your kids, too. It becomes very muddy, very fast, so what do you do? (And that's even if you have time or luck to meet anyone).

Accidentally Mommy has some advice:

Back in 2010, I wrote a post on Accidentally Mommy, lamenting my struggles as a single mom trying to date. It was an audience participation post, and the couple of responses I received were encouraging the very options I was shying away from: Old flames and internet dating, both of which I had unsuccessfully tried.

Still though, as time went by, I found that my options otherwise truly were limited. So, back to OKCupid and some old boyfriends I went.

The old boyfriends thing, never again. NEVER AGAIN WITH THE OLD BOYFRIENDS TIMES. They are not boyfriends any longer for good reason. Unfortunately, it took a year of our lives and three very broken hearts to realize that. But realize it I did, and we’re all far better off, having had the time since he’s left us bring us the clear understanding that we deserve better.

This post is less about the where’s of dating as a single parent, though. Sure, where plays a part. I’ve done my time on OKCupid, and met some truly awesome people there. None of them have been meet-the-kids types, though. They’re the scratch my back types, if you understand what I mean.

Ironically, the one person I’ve met that is the meet the kids type is someone I…wait for it…work with.

Yep. Dipping my pen in the company ink, folks.

Now, he and I have an understanding right now that we’re not  looking for a relationship, since we both have some extenuating circumstances that we both need to sort out, but for all intents and purposes, we certainly treat our burgeoning friendship like a burgeoning relationship, right down to the awkward text conversations at 2am, and the ebb and flow of attention that comes with not quite knowing what’s going on with the other person’s wants and needs when it comes to the reciprocity of interpersonal interactions.

This man has potential for me, though, which is perhaps why I treat him a bit differently. And I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve broken my cardinal rule. I let him meet the kids.


Let that one sink in for a moment.

All the dating sites for all the single parents in all the world scream from the minarets that you should never, ever, ever introduce your children to a potential love interest, whether you’re in that zone or in the friend zone. You don’t get them attached. You don’t get them involved.

Well, I did the unthinkable.

I needed to.

It’s damn hard, you see, to gauge someone’s worth to you, their place in your world, when you can’t see how they’re going to interact and treat the most vulnerable and fragile pieces of your life. I needed to know from the start how he, as a friend, would treat them, so that I could gauge how he, should he ever become more than a friend, would consider them from that point on. It went smashingly well.

He took Bug’s hand without flinching, and paid him all the attention Bug asked for. He engaged Dancing Queen in conversation and made her laugh without trying, piquing her interest with obscure tidbits of history. He made their afternoon even more fun and interesting by pointing out things they otherwise would have missed or just not paid attention to. And when the day was over, he made sure not just to say goodbye to me, but to them, as well. He included them.

Since then, he and I have continued to build our friendship.

Sure, to some of you, this may not be dating. I beg to differ. I am learning, slowly, that this is exactly what dating is. My preconceived notion was that dating involved sex on the first or second date, and getting to know each other from there. This is teaching me that I’ve had it backwards all along. This is teaching me patience, this is teaching me how to know someone. This is teaching me that even if we’re not meant to work out as more, even though we’ve said for now we’re not, that the ride to finding that out is a beautiful, exciting thing.

We’ve had our bumps – times when I can’t gauge what he’s thinking, and I’m too awkward and afraid to ask, because for all I know it could be nothing more than he’s just tired from a long day. Or days where I’m afraid to ask, because I feel like pushing the matter may cross our mutual “not going there right now and not maybe ever” line.

But my gut? My gut says we’re getting there, and that this is how we do it. So maybe use this as your own template, single mom or dad. Find someone. Make them your friend. And then maybe, just maybe, make them more.


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