Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Dating Double Standard

I stumbled across this article the other day and I was shocked when I realized that I could almost have written in myself.

I've been pretty open here about my limited dating journey. As a single mom who has her children 95% of the time, there has never been much free time to date and the babysitting budget has always been slim.  As such, when I spent the money on a sitter, I wanted to be sure I was doing something I was going to enjoy and that meant a night out with my girlfriends, NOT an awkward dinner or coffee with someone I didn't know that well.

When I did finally start dating in the Spring of 2011, I met the guy while my children were away with their father. When I realized it was something we both wanted to pursue, I was able to cash in on all of those "if you ever need anything" offers so that once a month or so, my children were completely out of the house when I made time for him. When it came time to introduce them, as I shared here, I agonized over it!

When that ended and I met someone new this past Spring, again I kept the children out of it as much as possible.  It was different, because we met as friends first, but unless we were getting together in a big group, it was awhile before the children saw us together.  As things progressed, it was natural for us to start getting together just ourselves and it was a little easier this time, because I knew I'd handled it without scars last time, but I was still cautious. Now, my children are attached. Even though if he sleeps over, he sleeps on the couch, even though they still think we are just friends, and even though it looks and feels like we are in this for the long haul, I'm scared because if it doesn't work it, my children WILL get hurt. 

All this is to say that like the author of this article, I DO judge woman that I think move too fast.  I try not to, but I can't help myself.  I know that I made a gargantuan effort to keep things stable for my children and thus far, it seems I've succeeded. I know it's not easy.  I know it means that many of my own wants, needs, and desires go unmet, but it's the sacrifice I'm willing to make for my children and maybe sometimes I think less of others that don't, especially if that woman shares custody with her ex and has time without her children. Why expose the children when you have time alone in which you can date, even if it is "only" every other weekend?

I also think there is a double standard for men. I was taken aback with the ease with which the two men I've dated seriously were willing to introduce me to their children... by what I perceived as their lack of caution.

As a teacher, I've seen directly the effect a "revolving door" of men has on children, especially young girls and I have one.  I've seen that it lowers their self worth.  I also value the sanctity of marriage, even though mine did not work out.  Yes, I am an adult who is not currently waiting until I'm married, my children do not need to see that. For me, personally, being able to handle an adult relationship in my 30's after a failed marriage is different than when I was a girl of 16 or even 20.  I'm better prepared for and able to handle the emotions that come with a physical relationship... I know the difference between love and lust.  As such, while I don't expect that in this day and age my own daughter will wait until marriage ~heck, I already admitted I didn't~ I don't want her to make choices at 16 or 20 because she saw me do it at 30 and I want my son to know that woman are to be respected, because his mamma respected herself.

Yes, there is a double standard and yes, as a single mom, I help perpetuate it and yet, as cautious as I feel I've been, there are people who would still judge me and think I'm not careful enough.  I didn't plan on being a single parent. I planned on raising my children with my husband, their father.  That's not the hand I was dealt, but it isn't their fault and I feel like it is my duty as their mother not to make them pay for any more of my mistakes.

19 comments:

Leigh Powell Hines said...

Such great thoughts. It has to be tough,m but I think you have found the right path.

Angelwithatwist said...

I have a grandson who was born out of a dangerous relationship my son was in. The girl thought by getting pregnant she would keep my son under her thumb. She is dating and having other guys around this baby, falling in love every other week. Doug dates and has had no one around the baby and she blows a gasket at the thought. I handle her for the most part because I don't put up with her bullcrap and lies. It is hard to explain to someone that allowing men in and out of the baby's life is as hard on him as it is on her. I could just choke her some days.. grrr...

Shell said...

You put so much thought into all of this- I know that you are being as careful with your kids as you can be. xo

The Dose of Reality said...

What a fantastic and thoughtful post. You are doing all you can to protect your children from hurt. I know it can't always be easy putting your own needs on the back burner. You're an awesome mom.

Ilene, The Fierce Diva Guide to Life said...

I am so glad I found you and I listen to everything you say with much attentiveness. What you talk about here is my future, and hopefully, I can navigate dating and all that as gracefully as you.

Heather said...

I think you do such and amazing job balancing your single/dating life with your mommy/family life. I can't even imagine. My hubby and I can't even figure out a way to go on a date and we live in the same house - I can't imagine how complicated it is when you are balancing two families of children!

And I totally agree that the evidence is out there to support the fact that breezing through relationships in front of your children is not a good thing.

Keep on doing what you are doing Momma!

NJ @ A Cookie Before Dinner said...

You are very wise to keep things moving at a safe pace. My mother divorced and remarried several times while I was growing up. A revolving door of dudes isn't great for a kiddo who just wants stability!

Emmy said...

It sounds like you are working very hard to do what is the best for your kids but also remembering that you are person too -- which is exactly as how it should be. As moms we so often give our all for our kids and in a lot of ways we should but mama is a person too and that is good.

So yes there will always be people that judge but what matters is that you know you are doing what is best for your family now.

Cyndy Newsome said...

I have always admired the way you handled dating as a single mom. I freely admit that I lack your strength and have not been as cautious as you. I could write a whole blog post as to why...maybe some day?
It's tough and you've done a beautiful job! And I am happy for your happiness.

dinoheromommy.com said...

great post, I can only imagine how difficult it is, but you are doing a wonderful job as their mom. You are showing them what a responsible parent does, great job.

Happy Saturday Sharefest

Katie Eure said...

That has to be so difficult. It sounds like you have really thought it all out - and like you're a great mom!

Stopping by from SITS :)

GraciesDream said...

Really enjoyed this post! I struggled with the same stuff when I got divorced. My boys were 3 & 18mos. I was so protective of them and who I brought around them. My ex, on the other hand, brought every other female "friend" around them without a thought. It drove me crazy, but I couldn't control it. Now my boys are 13 & 15 and those old rules don't apply anymore but I think it is important that we put our kids first. I have no regrets in doing so. Looking back, I'm glad I was so protective of them, they are mature enough to recognize the difference in the two choices made.

Thank you SO much for sharing. I completely related!!

jamie @ [kreyv] said...

I think you're a good mama for ALWAYS putting your children first. What's the rush of introducing new people into their lives. I agree with you! Visiting from SITS.

Stephanie said...

I think the number one rule is to always put your children first... and you're clearly doing that. You sound like a great mom, and unfortunately, that comes with certain timidity to open up to men. My mother went through the same thing and never really dated after her divorce because of me and my two brothers. In retrospect and especially as we got older, I wish she'd have made more of an effort to be social and meet people. So keep that in mind! Your kids want you to be happy, too :) Stopping by from SITS. Have a fabulous weekend!

xo,
Stephanie
Diary of a Debutante
www.stephanieziajka.blogspot.com

TabbyAnn said...

That has to be tough but at least you seem to know what is going on and putting your children first. Tabby@shoppingwives (SITS)

Crystal Green said...

I have been in your shoes before, and like you I shielded my child from seeing any men in my life in a romantic light. I didn't want to confuse her or have her get attached to anyone unnecessarily.

I'm glad to know I wasn't alone in my thoughts and theories concerning that.

Yes, it definitely does seem like a double standard. Many men get to date far easier than "the single moms" do because they don't have their kids with them that often.

Mimi B said...

I have my boys 100% of the time. I have no options of going out on a date on my "off" weekend. So, they know that I'm dating Fred. They didn't know about another guy I dated for a few months a year ago. He and I have spent limited time with our kids as a group. We held hands in front of them and for the first time did a quick peck in front of them yesterday.

And yes, he does have it "easier" because he has the kid every other weekend and we can get together on his "off" weekends.

When we do get together I make sure I come home every night, even if it has me driving 2 hours at midnight. It's important for me to set an example to my boys that I'm not spending the night with him. Unfortunately, we'll be doing that very thing in a couple of weeks when we go to a concert up in PA next month. I'll talk to my boys ahead of time, but I'm not sure what I'm going to say. =/

Babes Mami said...

There really is a double standard but I feel like I would be just as cautious if it were me in the situation!

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