Dating…With Children

Dating, in this day in age, is difficult (as I’ve said in other posts, I’m sure, of which I’m also sure you’re sick of hearing, but eh). Throw some kids in the mix, and you’re just asking to be single until those little ones go off to college. Child-less people feel weird entertaining others with children, as if children were a disease of some sort.  As if children are a personality trait that can’t be ignored. Obviously, I’m not saying go against something that’s at the core of what you believe and throw caution to the wind. I AM saying though, that people have certain misconceptions about single people with children, and they write them off before they’ve even gotten to know the person. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable around kids, maybe they don’t want to feel like they’re overstepping in some way – I totally 100% get it. I see some disparities in how parents are viewed, based on the parent’s gender. Men with children don’t seem to be that big of a turn-off for women, while women with children might as well have a “C” for children scarlet letter emblazoned on their dresses. But let’s be real here: if you’re over the age of 30 and you’re looking for a serious relationship, chances are, 7 out of 10 people you meet may have children (I literally threw out an arbitrary, made-up statistic out there, so please, spot-check me and correct me, it’s cool). I’ve noticed that there are at least three common fallacies surrounding single parents, so please take heed and ensure that you’re not generalizing a diverse group of people (I know this is America and that’s what we do, but try, this one time, ‘kay?).

Baby

1. Single parents are looking to replace the “missing” parent. 

Please. Have several, several seats. Not all single mothers are looking for a “daddy” for their kids. Truth be told, that is typically the furthest thing from their minds. Companionship and partnership are important, but they are not looking for step-mommy-or-daddy-dearest to step in and save the day. For the most part, all of the single parents I know are doing fine on their own, thank-you-very-much. And lo and behold, the “missing” parent has a HUGE part in those kids’ lives, and they engage, participate, and know their children. No, the single parent is looking for someone to have a relationship with, because yes, the children are the most important part of the lives, but not the only part. Also, if the single parent is doing it right, you shouldn’t be meeting their children any time soon anyway. As parents, they want to take their time and get to know someone, to figure out if you’re even a right fit for them, much less their children. I give this phase about 8 months to a year, with that time period being spent in the serious relationship. And then maybe, maybe you can make it to meeting the kiddos.

Mother and Son

 

2. There’s nothing but constant drama with the “other” parent. 

Okay, I could see why this would be a concern, I do. No one wants to deal with someone’s crazy baby daddy or baby mama. But again, here we are making assumptions. Hopefully, you’ve met a single parent who has their head on their shoulders, who wants to do what’s best for their children, and leave the drama elsewhere. I have witnessed several successful co-parenting situations, where the parents get along, have great relationships with their children, and even with the new significant other. You will encounter situations where the other parent is no good, and I don’t blame you for wanting to steer clear of that b.s. But have faith: there are tons of mature adults out there that have come to grips with the fact that they didn’t work out, but understand that they still have to partner with each other to raise wonderful little people, and who realize they are wonderful people themselves that can move on and give their all to someone who is willing to understand their situation.

Man

3. They may still be carrying a torch for the “other” parent, also known as the ex.

Another valid concern, I suppose. I mean, it’s one thing for a person to break up with someone, and you swoop in and take that number one spot, with the ex never being heard from again. But an ex that your lady/man has to talk to constantly? No, no, no. Not gonna happen. Um, but guess what? Exes are exes for a reason. It’s usually because the two people who were once in that partnership realized that they just weren’t gonna work out together. And again, they are those two awesome mature adults that understand that, but still need to communicate for the good of the people they produced. It’s a given that they will still care about each other to a degree; most of us without kids still care whether or not our exes live or die (hopefully), so of course you’re going to care about the well-being of the parent of your children, since essentially, it will affect those children. You just have to keep in mind that you’re the important one in their lives, and just like you were able to move on from your exes, so can they.

Heart in the Pocket

I know we all have our deal-breakers when we’re determining a person’s value in our lives, and I know accepting someone else’s children is a huge one. But if you meet a good person, who has it together, who makes you happy, and just happens to be an amazing parent, don’t just write them off. I happen to be a friend of people with some wonderful blended families, and I know that if they would have run the other way when the words “I’m a parent” left their lips, they would have missed out on something great. Happy dating!

 

What the Cuff…

I really hate the term “cuffing season”, just as much as I hate what it stands for. To me, it just illustrates how shallow and self-centered our generation can be, how pathetic we can appear, and how anti-social we actually are in this “social”-media heavy society we live in. We spend seven to nine months out of the year (depending on your geographic location) just partyin’ and bullsh*ttin’ to our little hearts’ content. We go through phases with supposedly potential partners, flirting via text, then super heavy texting and perhaps intense phone conversations, to exchanging a few selfies that become increasingly more risqué. We work up to doing the deed (if it wasn’t done in the first place…y’all know how us millennials are), we forget why we even started talking in the first place, and then one of the parties in the situationship falls off the face of the earth.

Handcuff

We go through the cycle throughout the “off-season”, using people left and right to entertain us, until we notice that the season has begun and everyone’s already snatching up all of the good draft picks. We start to panic and scramble back to resurrect one of those stale situations we were in during the off-season. And sadly, because at that point, there are only 2nd and 3rd picks left, we get desperate and cuff. We tolerate all of the crap that annoyed us before, we cuddle, we go out, but we both know that it’s all probably temporary. We have these awesome little surface relationships with no titles, just so we don’t have to feel lonely. And then, once spring hits, we discard each other like our winter wardrobes, and start the dance all over again. And the best part? We never had to invest our real selves into any of it!

Third Round

I have this great fear that my generation will potentially be comprised of a bunch of lonely old geezers. Everyone places so much emphasis on being independent and not needing anyone (*cough cough* bullsh*t!), that we fail to appreciate two beautiful characteristics of being human – caring about another person and authentic, real-life partnership! We are so hooked on instant gratification and false representations of perfection. We believe everything we see on social media, and the airbrushing makes us want it all (right now!), instead of putting any real effort into anything that may prove to be fruitful with a little care.

Alone

I know this isn’t all of us; some of us really hope to be a part of genuine, amazing relationships. We DO want love; we want to be understood, we want that awesome feeling of security and happiness of being loved in a positive, reciprocal relationship. However, if we keep celebrating foolish generational customs like “cuffing season”, I’m not so sure the real relationships will ever stand a chance of becoming a reality.

 

“The Art of Letting Go”

One of the hardest things in life, for most of us, is letting go. Whether it be a person, a habit, an item, a feeling – most times, we go through a great deal of stress when it comes to releasing it. Humans are, inherently, creatures of habit. We take comfort in familiarity, in repetition. We hate when something disrupts that constant, because we’re pulled out of our “safe” zone, our bubble, and we feel vulnerable and unsure. We hold on to things way past their expiration date, way after the relationship has gone sour, when the habit has become almost detrimental or nonsensical, because we seen to think that if we release it, we may risk releasing a part of ourselves. The paradox in holding on is that we start to miss out on opportunities for growth, we don’t free up the necessary space to allow other people or experiences in, and essentially, we stunt our development as human beings.

Girl Balloons

How do you know you’ve been holding on too long? When it doesn’t bring you even the slightest amount of joy. When you’re investing wholeheartedly, but you see no return. When it starts to hurt you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. When the thought of it makes you ill or angry or depressed, more so than the thought of it NOT being in your life. When you feel more empty than you do whole. It’s time to let it go.

Clock Black and White

In my very humble opinion, the entire purpose of life is to be as genuine and intense and awesome as you are, and to share that genuinely intense awesomeness with the rest of the world. Your goal should be not what you can acquire and hold on to, but what you can give and release back into the world, to improve it and the lives of others. Your uniqueness and your gifts are what sets you apart from others. Don’t be a hoarder – your home – and your soul – should be free from clutter and outdated things.

Long Hallway

Appreciate what you have and who you have had enter your life, and learn the lesson. Enjoy the experience, and let it allow you to mature and become wiser. Nothing in this world is yours forever, and, although this may be difficult to comprehend, those people you’re holding on to against their will, because you can’t see yourself letting them go, they aren’t yours either. Once you start to sense that they are rattling their cage, don’t put a sheet over it and hope they’ll go to sleep. Open the door and let them soar, because when you give them their freedom, you’ll start to have yours.

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