I’ve always found the concept of dating a little strange. You talk with a couple of different people, telling similar intro stories, sometimes you meet, and more often than not, it doesn’t work out. Unless you keep dating and you end up finding a person that you just click with. It might be the way they tell jokes, it might be their confidence, it might be their values, but usually it’s something in the beginning that really resonates with you that feels different from anybody else. Dating can be kind of fun, kind of exciting, kind of nerve wracking, and kind of exhausting. Now, being a single mom to a one-year-old, and just having re-entered the dating world, there’s an extra layer added into dating. Since we’re technically still in a pandemic, it’s not like I can just go to a bar for a drink and find someone to strike up a conversation with. Naturally, I’ve joined a dating app. Among the things you can reveal about yourself, like age, height, and location, you can also say whether or not you have children. I choose to be upfront about the fact that I have a daughter. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and I’d rather not get to know someone and then find out that he doesn’t really like kids. It’s a funny position to be in. Part of me wants to have the experience of dating all to myself, to just be Janel, and not also my daughter’s mama. But the truth is: my daughter, and my experience with her is a major part of my life and who I have come to be as a human. So being a mom does affect my decision on who I choose to spend my energy talking with or meeting. I have limited time without my daughter, so I try to be conscious about how I spend it. So I don’t go on dates unless I feel some sort of initial connection, and after much conversation.
It’s almost like I’m dating for two. I obviously am looking for someone I’m compatible with but also, whomever I choose to date long term needs to be someone my daughter is compatible with. And furthermore, the person needs to be someone that is compatible with my coparenting relationship with my daughter’s father.
I don’t want to put pressure on any new guy that I meet, that he has to be able to move into the step-father role right away, but I am trying to be clear that if a dude decides to date me, he’s getting a packaged deal. (Check out this post on how Kamala Harris' experience has given me some hope)
There are a lot of things to consider when dating as a single parent. At what point do you share photos or videos of your child? How often or how seldomly should you talk about your child? Is there a timeline in which you should introduce your child to someone new? When do you tell your ex? (assuming they’re in the picture)
*disclaimer, I’m not a child psychologist, nor am I a family court lawyer, these are just my thoughts based on my experience and intuition*
To me it’s all about how it feels. Sometimes in early dating, it can feel so exciting that it’s easy to overlook things here and there, but I’ve felt a heightened sense of awareness about myself and the people I’m spending time talking with. (Part of this is also a testament to my own growth- yay therapy) I’m more selective, and my expectations are higher, because I’m worth it and more importantly, my daughter is worth it. So to those questions, for me the answers are, I will introduce a guy to my daughter when it feels good. When I feel good about myself in the relationship, when I feel good about the new guy, and when he feels good about the relationship, and when he feels ready to meet my daughter, that’s when it’ll happen. There’s no pressure or rush or timeline, and that feels good.