Observe: the existential dating crisis of the single momma

Posted By on Jan 9, 2013 | 4 comments


That quote had me chuckling this morning as I lifted it from a friend’s Facebook page (thanks, Cyndylou Who).

On one hand, I was all F*CK, YES! about that sentiment.

Then my sensible side (believe it or not, I do have one) kicked in and went … Hmm. I guess it all depends on how you define mad and passionate. I’m down with mad and passionate. Mad and passionate is intoxicating. But can you have that while also making sure the bills get paid and someone takes out the trash and the munchkins get raised in a stable, loving home ?

So far, it’s been a one-or-the-other prospect for me. It’s either impractical passion or (the illusion of) stability with a big, fat dollop of hum-drum.

This is possibly one of the most enduring struggles of my life.

Opposing forces

I get a horoscope in my email every morning. I don’t know much about astrology and I don’t take it too seriously, but I read it every day. Today it said this:

Instead of denying that you want more stability in your life, acknowledge that your desire for security is as important as your need for freedom. You might not be able to resolve these opposite forces now, but talking about them reduces your stress.

So today I will listen to my super-personalized horoscope. I am acknowledging it: My desire for security is as important as my need for freedom.

(Happy now, astrology guy?)

Peeps, this is something I’ve never quite been able to figure out in the context of a relationship.

I can figure it out for myself. When it’s just me, sans relationship, I can walk this line pretty well. I pay my bills. I make sure my munchkins are clean and cared for and nurtured. I write. I meditate (sometimes). When the kids go away, I go out and have my little adventures. It’s a nice balance between stability and experiencing all the things that bring me joy.

Pretty straightforward.

But it all falls apart when I try to do that in the context of a relationship. You know, with a man.

Sweeping generalizations

Excuse me for a moment while I indulge in some stereotypes …

In my dating life, here’s what I’ve seen:

The guys who are intellectually stimulating to me tend to be childless by choice. Even if they like me, they view my children as baggage so they’re only going to get so close. Often, anything that smacks of domesticity or child-rearing sparks a reaction as if I’d just served them up a steaming shit sandwich.

The guys who are dads often want to Brady Bunch it up. I am not opposed to someone else’s children — indeed, I felt very protective of the Irishman’s kids when we were together and I still think about them — but wallowing in so-called domestic bliss 24/7 isn’t enough for me.

I don’t mean to sound fussy or judgmental of anyone who is happy with suburban family life. If you are happy, I am happy for you. I just know that it’s not enough to make me feel content in life. (Again, no judgment here. I’m just acknowledging that we all need different things.)

Maybe I have more of an extreme personality than most people, but I’m not satisfied if life runs along a static baseline. I’m just not. I guess ultimately what I’m looking for is a stable life that still allows room for growth and exploration. I don’t need to hurl myself out of a plane, but man, if life becomes an endless series of trips to Target punctuated by Red Box movie rentals, I go nuts. Not that there’s anything wrong with renting a movie or going to Target — I certainly do both of those things — I just need to ensure that those activities are interspersed with other things that excite my brain and my senses.

One is the loneliest number …

So far, I haven’t found anyone who shares my life vision.

So what now? What do I do?

I haven’t figured it out.

God help me, I don’t want to make a life commitment to the wrong person again. But dating, honestly, I think is starting to wear on me. However, I’m not quite ready to give up on love yet, either.

Do I face the potential fact that I may never find what I’m looking for?

Do I live my life independently and then take a series of lovers on the weekends? You know what? Been there, done that. While it sounds exciting, the casual thing isn’t anything that I do particularly well. The fact is, I crave a deeper connection with someone.

Do I just go it alone and stop looking? I could. It’s tempting. Every few months I resign myself to doing just that. But you know what? Since I keep dusting myself off and throwing myself back there in the dating world, I guess I have to admit that I really do want a partner.

Do I find someone “close enough” and go from there? I can’t. I so just … can’t. I don’t expect perfection. I assume that anyone is going to have some habits that make me nuts — and vice versa — because that’s always the way it is with people. But I can’t be with someone whose value system differs from mine, who blows off anything artistic as too hoity toity to bother with, who may be lovely and kind and passionate … and also very, very drunk very, very often. I can’t be with someone who acts like any sort of life responsibilities are a big, poopy drag and that I’m boring for suggesting that we clean or maintain our home. I just cannot have any of that.

So mad passion? Yeah, that would be good. Sign me up. But is it too much to also ask for some shared interests, great conversation and someone who is grownup enough to share the adult responsibilities of life? Oh yeah, and who is also loyal and honorable?

Is my list starting to get too long? Am I asking for too much if all of that is my baseline before I’ll even consider committing to anyone?

On one hand, I think I’m kidding myself.

On the other hand, I know that I cannot settle for anything less.

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4 Comments

  1. Holy CRAP!!! It’s as if you had read every word and desire and complaint, etc etc in MY MIND!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself, and in fact, have VERBATIM, said ever single word and phrase in this edition of your blog, like, a HUNDRED times!!! No shit!! You hit the nail on the head; THAT’S EXACTLY IT !!! I have basicly been single and dating for eight years. Now at 40, I think I may potentially have given up. One is a very lonely number though. I long for a meaningful relationship. I guess I’m officially lazy in looking for that right combo of passion and responsibility that you speak of. Being an artist, I tend to gravitate to other artists. But we are a flakey bunch, seemingly noncommittal, and easily bored. So my child coming first makes spontaneity somewhat impossible. But bringing in any old chump, or even potential heartthrob isn’t conducive to my stable consistant home life for my daughter. I CANNOT and will not do the causal thing either, because I fall in love so easily. So I’m stuck, and lonely, and committed to my kid 24/7. I can’t find that happy medium either. I do so long for intense conversation, spirituality similar to mine, and an understanding of the comings and goings of life, with a happy-go-lucky active but not muscle-head organic eating earth loving artist-like goal oriented some-what attractive 40 something dude. Too much to ask. SO…. Why don’t you and I just get martied then, Patty-Poo?!! LOL

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    • I’ve only been waiting for you to ask me since 8th grade English class…

      I think we should both wear white.

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  2. Wow! What a perfect post. I could relate to every single word. I’ve tried to settle; can’t do it. Like you, I can’t deal w/ the arrogant artist who sees my kids as a burden. I haven’t run into the Brady Bunch problem so much as the issue of most men age 40 whose kids are graduating high school (obviously married young & divorced) while mine are still little. It’s just not a good match either. Then if their kids are small, there’s the custody problem they have, etc. to find an unmarried guy w/ no kids who is late 30s or 40 isn’t possible unless there’s something really off about them, usually! I want a relationship too, just not the dating that goes before it!

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    • As if dating wasn’t hard enough when just TWO people are involved … you throw some kids in and WHOA. Can be a total clusterfuck!
      I used to actually enjoy the dating part of the whole thing. Now I think I’m officially fatigued. Yeah, fatigue is a good word.
      Good luck, my sista!

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