Dating and Single Motherhood: I Want Real Commitment, Guys
August 18, 2011
I don’t really talk about my dating life on here, which probably leads you all to believe I don’t date, but I do, sometimes. In fact, two years ago I was introduced to a single dad named *Joe. His son, 4 (at the time) lived with him full-time and Mom lived in another state. I obviously related to his situation. I was living in NJ and since he was in NYC it was hard to commit to a date, especially since I was writing a book and raising a two-year-old solo. It just so happened I had a meeting at Glamour magazine and asked Joe to meet me for drinks afterwards. He did. First impression: This guy is sexy, funny, handsome, loves his kiddo and is passionate about his career.
We went on real dates here and there (like steak and martini dates)—and he even came to NJ. I met his son and he met JD (the kiddos never met) and we weren’t affectionate or anything in front of the kids. It was like me hanging with a platonic guy friend. I liked him. I thought he liked me. I invited him to my friend’s wedding and we danced and stayed at the hotel with all of my friends. And then, I dunno, he literally fell off the map and I was a little sad, but, I had other things to worry about: JD and work. It's hard to sweat dudes when you have a kid, I think.
He recently contacted me and asked me out. I said no. He was...shocked. And then I just got really honest. I told him we tried dating. It went nowhere. I’m at a point in my life where I want to date guys who at least have the same end goal as me: Marriage and kids. He was stunned by my honesty and told me he wasn’t focused on that. He was focused on his child and work, but that has always been his line—and it’s a fine line (me too!), but I feel like time is running out. I don’t want to date someone who prefers a nanny to a wife—and this guy said, "I want a nanny so I can go to the store without my kid running around." And that is cool, but I want a husband, a dad for JD and more kids. It didn’t end there, he told me I was acting as though I was incomplete for wanting a husband. But I don’t feel incomplete. I have JD, a career, family and friends, but I don’t want to be alone anymore—I want a man in my life and wanting that doesn’t make me “incomplete”—does it? DOES IT?
It was so refreshing to admit this, but then I wondered if I was…insane to admit this out loud to a guy I really, truly once liked. So, I consulted with my friend, Amy Spencer, who is also a relationship expert and the author of Meeting Your Half-Orange (awesome book!). Now she’s my friend, so I doubt she’d call me insane, but she did say this and I think it’s fantastic advice for single moms looking for…commitment:
"It takes an incredible amount of self-awareness and maturity to figure out what you want from a relationship—and a real confidence to put it out there. So for knowing what you want: Brava! And for responding to him clearly with your wants? Encore.
The fact that you spent time dating him over two long years says you probably have a good gut feeling about his intentions. Plus, men tell you who they are, and they'll tell you what they want if you ask. A man who wants to get married and have [more] kids will SAY so if you ask him. Because, like you, a single father doesn't have time to play games in dating, either. So if you said in your email what you wanted and he also wanted that, he would have SAID he did. He would have said something like, 'That's so funny that you say that, because I've been thinking about it a lot lately, how maybe I do want to get married or have more kids...' Instead, his accusatory answer says one thing to me: Defensiveness. In order to make himself feel better about being turned down, he's turning the insult back on you. Saying that he's focused on his kid and career is probably true, but pointing it out is probably a way of saving face. And yeah, a way of fending off potential commitment he's not ready for.
As for calling you "incomplete," here's the thing: Wanting a husband is not at all the same as feeling "incomplete" without one. You've been living a full, vibrant life on your own with your son. It's not wrong to want a partner to share that full life with -- in fact, since we as humans are emotionally wired to connect with others, it's innate--it's natural to want that! So don't ever apologize for it or feel guilty about wanting it. You want love for yourself and you want a family for your son, with two parents full of love and support. That's nothing to feel bad about. It's one of the most natural wants in life. And if you're going to be spending your free time away from your son or your career dating, then by all means, it should be with someone you see a future like that with, who wants the same things you do." For more on Amy Spencer, click here.
Single moms, are you dating guys you know don't want real commitment...just to, woo-whoooo date? Do you date guys who do want to get married? Wait, do you want to get married? Share away!