I’ve jumped into the dating pool a time or two in the past few years, but then I always remember that scene from Jaws and I quickly escape before I lose a limb. I’ve been on my own with my kids for five years now. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs. There have been times when I thought I’d really (I mean, really) like to get remarried just so I’d have a second pair of hands to help me out. It would be great to have two incomes for one set of bills. I’d like to enjoy some “adult time” with someone I love. Then again, there have been times when I have insisted that I don’t need a man; I can take care of everything on my own thankyouverymuch. I don’t need to share a bathroom with a man who leaves the seat up. I don’t want to have to pretend to like my in-laws again.
I have gone back and forth on my desire to date and eventually get remarried so many times. It would be great to have someone to go out to dinner with — but I don’t want to have to compromise on what restaurant to go to. It would be great to have someone help around the house — but I don’t want to give up control and let someone else vacuum, dust, and load the dishwasher “the wrong way.” (Clearly, I have so many issues that there’s probably not even anyone out there willing to date me so this whole thing is moot.)
But I think I have finally arrived at a point where the good points about dating and new relationships outweigh the negatives. This is what I have learned about dating as a middle-aged mom:
There are men out there looking to commit.
Most of us older moms have generally been in long-term, monogamous relationships. We know how to make a partnership work. And there are men our age who also know how to make a relationship work and are searching for the long-term. Not every guy is looking for a quick hook-up. Not every guy out there has commitment issues.
There are gentlemen out there.
There are men out there who know how to behave like a gentleman. They open doors, pick up checks, help you over icy patches of sidewalk, and don’t make unwelcome advances. Yes, there are men who are not gentlemen, but the thing about being older and wiser is that we are able to discern the difference between the two more easily.
There are men who will love your kids.
I was certain that I’d never find anyone who would be interested in a woman with six kids. In fact, a line in my online dating profile stated, “I have six kids. No, that’s not a typo. I have six kids. I’m sure that probably cleared out about 99% of you.” Believe it or not, there are men out there who will love your kids and who will treat them as well as he treats you, and his own kids if he has them. Don’t settle for less. It’s okay if having kids clears out 99% of available men. You only need one good man who loves kids.
Your kids can handle you dating.
For a long time, I assumed that my kids would be angry and resentful if I started dating. It wasn’t until I actually talked to them about it that I learned I was very wrong. My kids encouraged me to date. They want me to be happy. They even admitted they’d like a stepdad in the future. Don’t automatically assume your kids will be mad if you start dating. Their reactions might surprise you.
You can balance a new relationship with your family commitments.
There are men out there who understand your time constraints and your responsibility to your family, and are okay with it. Don’t think that you must spend every spare moment with your new love. If he’s worthy of you and your family, he will understand and accept the fact that you can’t always drop everything to go out with him. If he’s in it for the long-term, he will start joining you at your kids’ band concerts and football games, etc. (And he’ll welcome you to join in on his kids’ activities if he has young ones at home.)
Not every guy is like your ex.
When I first created an online dating profile, I thought to myself, “What if my ex is out here dating? What if every guy is someone’s ex for a reason? What if they’re all lying liarpants with addiction problems?” Well, I’m happy to announce that not every guy out there is like your ex. Sure, many of them are. But there are also some good guys to be found if you’re willing to weed through the deadbeats to find the gems.
The longer you wait, the harder it is to let someone in.
And finally, you might not want to wait too long to jump into that dating pool. I am learning this the hard way. I’m not saying it’s a good idea to start looking before your divorce is even final, but when you wait five years, you get set in your ways and you might discover that you don’t need a man to survive which can make it a little more challenging to let someone in your life.