I’m going to try something different here on Danoah Unleashed this month. I’m going to focus the entire month’s posts (4 total) all on the same topic. This month: different aspects of single parenting.
Is Meaningful Dating as a Single Parent Really Doable?
Sometimes I don’t know how other single parents do it. How do they find the time to meaningfully date?
I say meaningfully because I seem to always have time for a date here or a date there. What I haven’t figured out how to do is to find time to date someone consistently, often enough, or invested enough to have it go anywhere really solid.
The following two scenarios are what I seem to run into time and time again as a single parent.
1) I don’t date at all because other parts of my life are starting to seriously slip. Sometimes I start feeling lonely or I start missing having someone there every night, and I put more emphasis into meaningful dating. I become the romantic, the wooer, the charmer. When I do this, it doesn’t take long at all for me to start feeling like a slacker either in work or with my child, and so I pull back, or completely out, and I write off dating altogether until I can figure out how to do it in a more balanced way.
2) I date half-heartedly. This is where I find myself most of the time, and I don’t think it’s fair to the women I date. Because I only have so much time for my child, work, and dating, and because I only usually have enough time for two out of three of those, I often find myself dating in such a way that I won’t ever get too far with anyone. I think deep down I often feel that if I let myself go there, I will fail in other parts of my life.
And as I write that out, I have to wonder, am I simply thinking about it all wrong and doing it all wrong? After all, I have seen lots of other single parents fit meaningful dating into their lives, and they seem to do it without letting other areas of their lives slip (at least too much).
Which makes me have to ponder, is the reason I don’t have time for all three because I’m not properly balanced as a single parent? Am I spending too much time working? Am I smothering my kid?
Or maybe it’s not any of that. Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations of what meaningful dating is as a single parent. This is my therapist’s theory.
And the theory goes that I am still attempting to define dating and relationships by the standards and timelines I had when I didn’t yet have a child. The relationship should move at x speed, the second, third, fourth, and fifth date should happen at x intervals. Commitment, the L-word, and other such things should happen before x amount of time passes.
Yes, I still think this way.
But in reality, dating as a single parent is different, isn’t it? And it’s going to be different for each single parent out there.
Dating timelines more or less have to fly out the window. Expectations do, too. As a single parent, I need to learn how to let go and be okay with a relationship taking months (or maybe even years) to fully develop and mature. I need to be okay with the fact that there are more issues at stake (including my child’s well being) that will make finding love a more rational and contemplative process than it once could be.
And that’s what I’m trying to do right now. I’m trying to follow the advice of my therapist and be okay with the slow speed that things have to go for this to work for me, my work, and my child. I’m trying to believe that any woman I date will also be okay with the slow speed. I’m trying to hold onto a belief that meaningful dating is possible as a single parent and that I’m not destined for a life of quick romance but never anything more.
Is meaningful dating really doable as a single parent? Is it feasible?
I honestly don’t know. But I sure hope I can figure it out.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. What do you think?
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More of me on Danoah Unleashed:
My Kid’s Booger Problem Just Got Personal
When Mommy & Daddy Believe Very Different Things
I Bit My Kid’s Head Off For No Real Reason Today
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