When a guy asks me out on a date, he thinks he’s just asking me. He’s not. When I was 26, he would have been just asking me. But since the birth of my daughter, and then later my son, when you date me – you are dating the consideration of these two people as well.
One of the sexiest things I can think of is seeing a guy be a great dad (or uncle or otherwise good with kids). It would be a lie to say that when I’m dating someone, I don’t think about how he will interact with my children.
The biggest dating mistake I’ve made was letting someone become close with my kids when I knew I didn’t want to be with him. As a mom, this is a big regret, because my kids were sad when I broke up with him to be happy. It was a short-lived relationship, and they got over it pretty quickly, but occasionally it still crops up.
In some ways I’m glad they spent time with him, because he was truly wonderful to them. It enriched their lives to have a buddy like that, even for a short time. I would have liked to spare them the pain of loss, though. I guess we always want to spare our kids the pain of loss.
It’s a tricky thing, dating and kids. You don’t want to introduce the parties too soon. You don’t want to wait too long. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, if he isn’t good with them, he won’t be good with you for too much longer. There are clear lines in the sand as to where the loyalty lies – and that’s firmly in the kids’ best interest.
I really think if I met Prince Charming, if he was perfect for me and I was head over heels for him, and he wasn’t a fit with my kids, that would be the end of it. My kids deserve to see me in a relationship I would want them to emulate. My kids deserve a male they can look up to. It’s a lot to ask for a guy to be everything I need AND everything I need for them. But that’s exactly what I’m asking for.
And he’s out there. I see these guys every day. The ones playing with their kids at the park and laughing with their wife playfully and still looking at her like she hung the moon. She kind of did. She gave you those kids you’re playing with. If she is also giving you love and affection, looking at you with starry eyes, and picking up some Publix chicken on the way home – Congratulations! You’ve made it.
I told a therapist a while ago that I recognize that I am a woman who is going to take longer to pair up than most. First of all, I’ve been in CRAZY love before and I really know myself. When you’ve had someone make you feel like your best self and then when you’ve subsequently discovered your best self on your own, you’re not settling for a lesser feeling.
Second, I’m self-sufficient and smart and accomplished and funny. Finding someone who matches the sheer work I’ve put into arriving at this place is a challenge. I don’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. But I’m not afraid of facing the serious stuff in myself. Some people are paralyzed by the thought of facing their demons. I’m sad every day watching people who hide behind any number of vices or distractions or falsities to avoid what their hearts already know.
Third, I know what I want and I’m not going to compromise much. I’m sorry, but the person I am is the person you get. And the person you are is the person I want. Don’t change for me. Don’t ask me to change for you. If you are mine, we’re fine as is.
And one of the things that you are is good with my kids. The reasons I like you are the reasons they like you, too. Because you’re funny and irreverent and engaged and playful and thoughtful and you care about all of us. You, like me, are thinking about how to make the kids and our own lives better.
A friend of mine posted a happy birthday to her step-dad the other day. She talked about him in terms of being a “bonus dad” in her life. The joy he’d brought her, the things he’d taught her, how wholeheartedly delighted she was that he’d come into her life and been there for a couple decades.
I want that for my kids. I want them to see me absolutely in love with someone, showing them how love should look. And I want them to be in love, too. I want them to look at the person I’m with like “man, we sure did luck out.” Perhaps, if my guy comes with kids, I’ll get to be someone who enriches his kids’ lives, too.
It’s scary as hell to date with intention. To know that the person you choose has to be willing to integrate into your greater ecosystem and not just your individual life. It’s a tall order.
Chryssy Moor is a Tallahassee resident and a board member for two privately held autism companies and founder of one of them. Contact her at www.facebook.com/chryssy or email email@example.com.