Are My Kids Keeping Me From Finding Love?

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Evan,
I fall into the majority of divorced women with a degree who are looking on line, but with children. Dating with children changes the rules of the game entirely. For both men and women. As a single person without children you are open to possibilities, open to long distance relationships even, but when the kids are around then we have to change our mindset to realizing that we are Teflon until the kids are out of the house, that the Brady Bunch was just a fantasy TV sitcom, and that living a life of dating without the kids makes us live two lives, one with kids and one without. Soon enough you’re going to resent one of them, if not both, and the idea of bringing your children along for dates is not really something acceptable.

So you can talk about what your dating life as a single man was like –you wanted a woman who you could have children with, so you probably didn’t date women with children and if you did you soon found out that they needed to be thrown back. That’s how I feel, that every man I meet will never really date me for a serious relationship because I have children, and especially if he has his too, then it’s like he can understand but he also doesn’t want to pick up someone else’s slack. Perhaps you can recommend a different resource…or you can explain how your comments apply when it comes to dating with children.

Try it with your wife…pretend the kids were not yours, and you were dating her…how would that change everything? —Joy

Joy,

Thanks for your email, as it reveals both some truths and blind spots.

Truth: it’s a lot easier to date if you don’t have kids.

People without children don’t have much of a concept of what it’s like to be tethered to home for feeding, napping, school, and extracurricular activities. Your life isn’t entirely your own.

The thing is: this isn’t news to anybody.

If you are confident, self-aware, have a high emotional IQ, a low tolerance for being mistreated and understand the opposite sex, you’re going to do well in relationships.

This just reveals your blind spot — you keep on choosing men without kids. And because you keep choosing men without kids, you’ve come to the conclusion that the Brady Bunch life is a fantasy. Hate to tell you, sweetie, but the reason that the Brady Bunch is NOT a fantasy is because both Mike and Carol HAD kids.

To be fair, you almost figure this out by the end of your email: “If he has (kids) too, then it’s like he can understand but he doesn’t want to pick up someone else’s slack.”

Pick up someone else’s slack?

He has his kids to raise. You have your kids to raise. He doesn’t have to pick up your slack. He has to understand that, as a parent, you need a little slack, because you don’t control your own schedule.

The tone of your email suggests that because I am a single guy who found love with a childless woman that my advice is invalid to you. That’s not remotely true.

Everyone likes to think her situation is particularly unique. It’s not.

Once people hit their mid-40s, tons of guys become available because that’s when the married-with-kids guys who got married in their 20s are divorcing, so suddenly you can date your peers again.

Advice for women over 50 is almost identical to advice for women under 50.

Advice for women who want kids is almost identical to advice for women who don’t.

If you are confident, self-aware, have a high emotional IQ, a low tolerance for being mistreated and understand the opposite sex, you’re going to do well in relationships.

That has nothing to do with kids or age or anything. If you understand 40-year-old men, you pretty much understand 60-year-old men. Men don’t change. But circumstances do. Which brings me to something that I’ve been sitting on for a few months and wanted to share here with you. It’s an update from my friend, Lori Gottlieb, author of “Marry Him,” my favorite relationship book. Writes Lori:

I’ve been dating someone for about six months. I guess I should change my Facebook “status” to “in a relationship” at some point, so I can stop being considered a “toxic maximizer” every time some guy asks me out. You should write a column about how once people hit their mid-40s, tons of guys become available because that’s when the married-with-kids guys who got married in their 20s are divorcing, so suddenly you can date your peers again. In my late 30s, I didn’t want divorced with kids, but once I had a kid and reached my mid-40s, divorced with kids was exactly what I wanted. So he’s 47 with 14-year-old twin girls. And then, of course, in the past year, all of these opportunities came about due to the demographic shift of an influx of 40-something men with kids getting divorced and not wanting to date women in their 30s who don’t have — but want — kids. They don’t want to go back to diapers at that age. And then there’s the financial investment of starting a second family. For all those reasons (not to mention, of course, my “charm”… ahem), I’m what these divorced-with-kids 40-something guys seem to be looking for. Fodder for your blog, perhaps?

Yes, Lori, it is fodder for my blog.

And it’s also my answer to your question, Joy.

Choose men with kids who “get” what you’re going through and you’ll be that much closer to developing a Brady Bunch family of your own.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Rose

    Frimmel 17
    “Chance in #13— “Men can get very cautious with women that want them to quickly accept their children as their own because they fear that these women see them as nothing more than a financial resource.   Many men don’t like to be financially objectified, just like many women do not like to be sexually objectified. ”
    I have not ever met a woman who wants men who they are just dating and getting to know to accept their child en of their own. It’s a date not an instant relationship, I don’t take my children out to meet random strangers on dates. And don’t know any women who do. What I would want not expect is for them to realise is I have children so if they want to move forward to relationship from dating they come as a package. Isn’t that what dating is for to see if you are both compatible and both want to move forward and be in a relationship with each other?
    I don’t expect any man to pay for anything they don’t lead or offer. However I do not expect to go dutch on a date. That does not feel like a romantic date that feels like two friends to me. And I don’t want to make the plans and be the leader, that feels masculine to me and I want to be the girl.
    Personally was always more than happy to go on free dates in the getting to know each other stage if money is an issue. Bike   rides, walks, art galleries etc.
    Up to the man or men to decide where he they wants to offer to take me on dates in the getting to know each other stage If he offers a walk to get to know each other I am happy to walk. If he offers to take me for coffee, then I go for coffee. If he offers dinner, I go for dinner. Simple really, he leads I follow. If he ain’t leading ain’t got anything to follow.I don’t want to lead in romance,or be a buddy or buddy with benefits. So I do not put myself in those situations.   Dating for me is for getting to know each other, fun seeing if you have an inner core and value match. romancing, seeing if the ingredients are their to fall in love, and desire from each other to move forward. If I want romance, it doesn’t feel good to me to behave like his buddy and hang out like two buddies or buddy with benifits and hook up for physical only instant gratification sex with someone I am just dating and don’t even really know who the rel them on the inside is yet. And if they want to and are capable of leading a realtionship. If I date it is to find that out and then I choose the best leader for me who has proven he is able and wants the same. Which would be love romance and marriage. So until that man came along I would just be dating and following his lead.
      
      
      

  2. 22
    Goldie

    A few more comments from the trenches…
      
    @ John #9: WTH is big boring underwear and why would a single mom have to wear it? I’ve only been on my own for 3 years and must’ve missed that memo.
      
    @ John #11: if one person (man or woman) has to ask another what they’re bringing to the table, maybe those two shouldn’t be dating. When I decide to date someone, it’s because I like their company and want to spend more time together, not because there’s an even exchange of goods going on. I can break even just as well by staying home and not spending any time or money, if that’s what I’m after.
      
    @ Chance #13, you make it sound like our kids can’t wait to move in with the guy we’re dating and start calling him Dad. Not even close. It took my younger son over a year to warm up to my bf, to the point where the two of them would actually talk. Before that, on a rare occasion they met, my son would just say hi and disappear into his room. I think you worry too much about things that aren’t terribly likely to happen.
      
    @ Mimi #14, yes I did find that most guys I’ve talked to were looking for a woman that has kids in the same age group as theirs. In one case, a man I was seeing was actually kind of disappointed because my kids were too old to play with his. From what I understand, many men in their 40s have children that are same age as yours, so there’s hope. Unfortunately this does limit our choices, but what can we do. Personally I kind of see where they’re coming from. I have kids in high school and college myself, and would probably find it too much of a hassle if I had to date a guy whose life still revolves around playdates, little league games and so on. Not to mention he’d probably be scared and confused any time I’d tell him what my teenagers have been up to — things that teenagers say and do can be frightening to a parent who hasn’t been there yet! But if we were a really good match otherwise, I’m sure we would’ve found a way for things to work even then.
      
    @ Kim #16, I’m in total agreement with you on the financial side of things. I used to pay half (or more) of all family expenses when I was married, and would love to pay half of everything now, but currently I’m just not there financially yet. My both children will have to be out of college before I can even think about paying half of all dating-related expenses. I do as much as I can, and really appreciate it that my bf understands. One of the men I dated before him was in an even worse position financially than I was (we both had decent incomes, but insanely high expenses — he was a single dad of 3 and paid alimony on top of that), so we just really scaled down on things we did together. We once had a doggy date at a dogpark, followed by a snack at my house (for both humans and dogs), because none of us had the cash to do anything else that weekend, etc. So to John, if you’re worried about paying more than your single-mom date, here’s another solution — do things on your dates that don’t cost anybody anything, problem solved.

  3. 23
    John

    Julia @18
    Frimmel hits the head on the nail for John’s post. He feels like single mothers somehow have to pay their way as compared to women without children.
      
    Julia, stop making assumptions. Women without kids should contribute to dating expenses the same way women with kids should. There aren’t different standards based on whether the woman is a parent or not. I agree the guy should pick up the first few. After that when you start to spend more time together, the girl should start reciprocating regardless if they are parents or not. How the heck you felt that my  comment implied 2 different standards is beyond me. The  topic is dating a girl who has kids. Not comparing whether a guy should treat each one differently.
      
    You may not realize this, because you aren’t dating single Moms, but there are many single Moms who say that they shouldn’t have to pay because they are single Moms. That’s their free pass in their mind. Those are the ones I avoid. Since this is a blog to understand how men think and the topic is how can a woman find love when she has kids, I gave my opinion. And if a guy feels that the girl will never pick up a check and she uses the excuse she is a single Mom, then she is undercutting her chances.
      
      
      

  4. 24
    JB

    I’m just going to throw this out there as a basic fact. Whether or not we men (like myself, John and any single guy 35-60) like it or not if you’re searching online and or dating single women in that bracket the percentage of them that are “single moms” probably comes in at well over 85%. So unless you want to disqualify that many women and have  a lot of  other options you have to be at least open to giving them a chance like I’ve always done.
    There’s many variables in the “single mom” world…….kids ages, how many, and the most important “total  nights available to date per month” so all “single moms” are NOT equal.
    To answer the question “are the kids keeping any single mom from finding love?” All I would say is when I see women online that are 42, divorced, and have 4 kids under the age of 18 she’s going have a harder time finding love than a single mom of one 12 yr. old for the most part just because she has less time to put into searching and dating. There’s only so much time & energy in a week!
    I know online I get disqualified everyday by  single moms  because I DON’T have kids although they never tell me that.

  5. 25
    Rose

    “For example, I have plans in June to go away with my guy friends for a weekend. In July I am going  to an out of town wedding. Those plans are set. Lets say I meet you or another single Mom in May. Lets say those weekends coincide with your available weekend. You mean to say that I will need to somehow make it up to you as if I did something wrong? Meanwhile, all the other days of the week and other Saturdays that you couldn’t make it  is perfectly fine and you don’t have to make anything up to me? That’s serious entitlement and that’s exactly the point of my posting.”
    What I do not get is If someone isjust at the casual dating stage and getting to know each other and and not in a real realtionship yet. Why would anyone be leaving any days open exclusively   for someone who just wanted to casually date them on the off chance that they might ask them out on a date that day,   and was not wanting or offering to move from dating to the next stage? Waiting around for someone who just wanted to casually date you, closing options off to others who did want what you want. And why would anyone   be bothered by someone who was casually dating going away for a weekend with his mates or a wedding?
      The only scenario I can think off where a woman would be bothered by this is if she had decided to sleep with a man who was was only casually dating so believing it was more than that, that they were actually in a real moving forward   relationship.
    If all he is offering is casual dating, that is what you are accepting. I feel happy to go on casual dates to see if we are compatible. You want to date me to do this then either pay or take me somewhere free if money is an issue.
    So it feels best to me to listen to what he is offering before I accept or not.
    Is he offering me a   casual date based on romance where we are getting to know each other? I am happy to accept this.
    Is he offering me to hang out together going dutch so is really wanting friendship? No thanks. I am not interested.
    Is he offering me a one night stand? No thanks I am not interested.
    Is he offering me to meet up for casual sex? No thanks I am not interested.
    Is he offering me to hang out together casually like buddies with the benefits for him of also getting casual sex? No thanks I am not interested.
      The question is What is he wanting and offering and   is it compatible to what I want. If it is we move forward if it isn’t we don’t simple.

  6. 26
    Joe

    @ Kim: Sure, scheduling flexibility is important.   But why should the flexibility go only one way?   And financial generosity is not something that can be required.   If it is, then it is not generosity.
      
    @ Julia: Um,  people want to be treated well by people on dates.

  7. 27
    Frimmel

    No, I think all women have to pay their way. I’m especially not interested in single mothers that don’t feel they have to contribute to the costs of our activities together. I’m also in total agreement with John in #20. I do not find the ‘entitlement princess mentality’ attractive.
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      

  8. 28
    Karmic Equation

    @Rose
      
    It sounds to me as if you’re expecting the guy to act and behave like a BF on the first date. That’s an unrealistic expectation.
      
    Until the guy is your boyfriend, by definition you ARE dating “casually.” Sex or no sex.
      
    No matter how awesome your cupcakeness, after the first date, you should offer to pay. Anything less and you are guilty of treating the guy like a “financial object”.
      
    If you can’t afford to pay for your half, then you should let the guy know when he’s arranging for the date and OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE (walk in the park, go to a museum, etc). Then he can either say “Ok, no problem I’ll pay.” or he can take you up on your suggestion.

  9. 29
    John

    Goldie @22
    @ John #9: WTH is big boring underwear and why would a single mom have to wear it? I’ve only been on my own for 3 years and must’ve missed that memo
      
    You misread. The single Moms SHOULD NOT be wearing the boring stuff. You are commenting as if I said they should. I dated a single Mom and after a few dates when we were sleeping together, I asked her if she would wear some sexy underwear instead of the big boring ones (don’t play dumb you know exactly what those are Goldie). Her reply to me was “Moms don’t wear thongs”. Major turn off to me.  

  10. 30
    Goldie

    @ John #29, I didn’t misread. I read it from your comment that you assume that women who have children all wear big boring underwear (whatever that is), unless you’re around to tell them not to. I will admit, that was a strange reply from your date — Moms wear whatever they like, including thongs — then again I don’t know what I’d say to my date if he criticized my lingerie after a few dates, and told me to spend my money on another kind that he likes better. I assume you were wearing sexy underwear yourself on those dates.

  11. 31
    Frimmel

    John in #23: “You may not realize this, because you aren’t dating single Moms, but there are many single Moms who say that they shouldn’t have to pay because they are single Moms. That’s their free pass in their mind. Those are the ones I avoid. Since this is a blog to understand how men think and the topic is how can a woman find love when she has kids, I gave my opinion. And if a guy feels that the girl will never pick up a check and she uses the excuse she is a single Mom, then she is undercutting her chances.”
      
    Again, I’m in total agreement in a been there had that conversation as well way.  
      
    And there is lots of underwear between ‘big and boring’ and thongs. Even a single mom should have a pair or two of lacy maybe you’ll get lucky undies.
      
    With the single mothers I’ve dated you had to go pretty far down the list of ways they put me off before you got to the having kids part as the last straw. Be careful of using kids as an excuse not to do the other things you need to do to attract men.

  12. 32
    JustMe

    I actually agreed with John’s post (#9).    
      
    Frimmel (#27).   As a single mom, it is not that i don’t want to  contribute, it is just that I might have to do less expensive things.   I am completely comfortable doing things that don’t cost (watching movies, museums, etc) regardless of who is paying.   Also, I don’t mind picking up the tab when it is something more expensive.   I like it to be more equal.     My point is it may not be that the single moms are trying to get out of paying but explaining they might not be able to afford to treat to the nice things frequently.  
      
    As far as the big boring underwear I can only say one thing: Victoria Secret just had a great sale on panties; I stocked up!  

  13. 33
    Morris

    I think children are just another variable in making a decision about the person you end up with.   Does it reduce your dating pool?   Probably.   Although there may be people out there that want a person with children, there are probably more that don’t.   But that’s true for a lot of things.   Age, looks, smarts etc.   If you’re average looking does it reduce your dating pool?   Probably.   Some like the plain look but more like good looks etc.
      
    But once you start thinking you deserve special treatment because of your situation things might not turn out so well.   I’m guessing we all want to be with a decent person.   Well my experience is a decent person has options.   So if you need more  flexibility.   Or you want the other person to take on a bit more financially(on dates) because you have children.   I get it.   But wouldn’t you need to overcompensate in other areas?   I’m not saying you have to actually DO something.   But you should be more successful/prettier/funnier/better cook/better listener… something better than the other people he/she may be dating right?   Otherwise why would they pick you over someone that brings just as much to the table without children?

    1. 33.1
      lisa

      Morris#33.. yes absolutely you would be willing to spend more and not think about being “objectified financially” for the girl that got your attention more than others. Case in point why Rose and other ladies know that a man thinking that her cupcakes are worth it will not find it necessary to negotiate paying the bill on a 3rd date. a man who is interested in finding more than casual will act at the very least like a gentleman from the beginning..and will want to protect and provide the best way he can for the “object” of real affection. We also know it doesn’t take men 20 dates to figure out if you are interested in more than casual dating. That’s not entitlement ..that makes ladies who discriminate act this way ..it’s just common sense or experience. I get that in the process of finding what men want they get sick of paying ..but women pay too..and usually with broken hearts… feminism got us to a place where for some reason we should provide for our children all while staying feminine and doing laundry in a thong ..and I guess feeling lucky according to “john” that we found a man to entertain us with his company. Just cause I am a single mother( successful and in a thong as we speak) doesn’t mean I want just any man. If i wanted to settle i would still be married. I still want a man I admire look up to in more ways than one and who if necessary will protect and provide for me and my children..otherwise I can have a revolving door of “johns” who bring percisely what to my life that I can’t find elsewhere? And if you are not wanting to at least pay for dinner..then its clear you are not that into me. If you think that we should accept less than what we deserve from you because we have children..who is really acting entitled? My children have nothing to do with how any man should want to treat me if he is interested in me…if a man is interested in every way.. paying for dinner will be a pleasure..learning to make my children a part of a life together will be an adventure. It just takes chemistry between people ..perhaps some faith that single with kids or without doesnt mean that every woman is materialistic and or wanting a man slave or that every man only wants casual will make us all agree at some point. People want to find someone to share their life with…wish so many of us didn’t become cynical bitter and guarded with life’s disappointments ..:) but inevitable I suppose.

  14. 34
    Kim

    John #20
    I’m with you on the plans set in stone well in advance, before weekend schedules were discussed,, or even when they were. That is totally OK, and doesn’t require a “make-up” date. However, if we were dating and you knew that this Saturday was my week to not have my kids, but you went ahead and made plans with your buddies anyway, and said “I had to make this commitment to my friends because of the game, the show, the whatever,” and didn’t also say, “but hey, I’ve got Friday night free, wanna see a movie?” or “let’s go have brunch on Sunday and take a walk in the park,” then that would be a cause for a red flag for me because it says I’d rather hang with my peeps this weekend than be with you.   And it means that if a single mom, as I do, has her kids every other weekend, then it will be 2 more weeks before there will be a chance for another date. I don’t know about you, but if I only had 1 date every 4 weeks with a guy, I’d say he just wasn’t that into me, and would get busy finding someone who was. Now is that the kind of message you intend to send?

  15. 35
    Frimmel

    re#32 Justme: ” As a single mom, it is not that i don’t want to  contribute, it is just that I might have to do less expensive things. ”
      
    And that is perfectly acceptable and preferred from mothers and non-mothers. My objection is to the attitude John outlined in #23.

  16. 36
    Karmic Equation

    Kim# 34 wrote
    “I don’t know about you, but if I only had 1 date every 4 weeks with a guy,…”
      
    Dating only two nights a month seems difficult to sustain a relationship, even a casual one, and I would imaging that most moms don’t really want to date casually. Is that typical of single parents? I’m just curious.

  17. 37
    Rose

    karmis

    “@Rose
      
    It sounds to me as if you’re expecting the guy to act and behave like a BF on the first date. That’s an unrealistic expectation.”
    I expect nothing those are your projections.
    If someone tales the leads and asks me for a romantic date because they want to take me out and get to know me better and I want to go and get to know them better I go. If they do not ask or I do not want to go, simple I do not go, no expectation.

      
    “Until the guy is your boyfriend, by definition you ARE dating “casually.” Sex or no sex.”
    Agreed. Or until we are engaged married whatever and have had the talk to see if what we want is compatible.

      
    “No matter how awesome your cupcakeness, after the first date, you should offer to pay. Anything less and you are guilty of treating the guy like a “financial object”.|
    That is arguing with my reality and again your projections. I don’t go on dates just because of how much someone wants to spend on me. I am happy to do free things on dates.Starting to feel bored repeating that now and don’t like feeling bored so is the last time I will repeat that.

      
    “If you can’t afford to pay for your half, then you should let the guy know when he’s arranging for the date and OFFER AN ALTERNATIVE (walk in the park, go to a museum, etc). Then he can either say “Ok, no problem I’ll pay.” or he can take you up on your suggestion.”
    If and when this that gets brought up I do. He leads I follow. Simple.

  18. 38
    JustMe

    Karmic Equation: #36
      
    Is that typical of single parents? I’m just curious.
      
    It really depends.   My kids are older; so I can pretty much date whenever I want but even with them older, I still like family time.     I will go out on Friday or Saturday nights and I’m open to going out on a weeknight, but I would not go out every night.   However, if in a relationship, I think the evenings would blend more in that we don’t go out but he comes over for dinner and stays for awhile.  
      
    I think those with younger kids have a lot less free time.   And, for single moms, they are often at the mercy of the dads.  

  19. 39
    Goldie

    I’ll answer Karmic’s question too. I could go out anytime, including overnight. But I could only bring people home when my ex had the kids. He takes them Sat afternoon every other week and brings them back Sun afternoon. This complicated things a bit after I met my bf, because he lives pretty far away. Sometimes we’d want to go to a late concert or party in my area, and couldn’t, because he’d then have to drive back home. Recently my kids finally got to the point where they’re comfortable with him crashing at my place after a late-night event. Other than that, my dating schedule has been pretty flexible. Things are probably a lot more complicated for people with younger kids that cannot be left home alone unsupervised.
      
    I will actually probably have to review my dating schedule after the kids move out, because then it’ll just be myself and my dog, so I won’t be able to go out or stay at bf’s place overnight as much as I do right now. Currently my kids take care of the dog when I’m gone.

  20. 40
    Chance

    @Rose and Goldie

    I was giving honest advice from a male perspective.   I made no blanket generalizations about what women do/don’t do and said nothing to what the children may feel about the matter.

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