I had a moment and felt like a single mom loser in the dating pecking order

Pretty-in-Pink-molly-ringwald

OMG, she was so totally better than him!

I write here all the time about the importance and joys of dating as a single mom. In case you missed it, I recommend you check out my 5-part series busting through all your excuses for not dating — yes, there are plenty of awesome, available men out there, yes, a man will find you attractive, stretch marks and saggy boobs included. And yes, there are countless men who are enthusiastic about being part of a family with children.

I write this, and I really truly believe it. I fully accept that some guy simply do not want to date women with kids, and I appreciate that they know that about themselves. But I’m also human and last week I had my feelings smacked around when I was reminded that in the hierarchy of male-female mating, women with kids tend to rank low. And I’m a little pissed with myself because I let it get me down.

Quick summary of events:

Went out with a guy I met online, and despite his dry wit, perfectly fine conversation and stunning physical attributes — think a young a Paul Newman — the evening was a drag as it centered on his need to share all about the fact he has little luck with women, owning to his insecurity. “I have the hardest time making decisions,” he said without a hint of shame. “Today I got so overwhelmed shopping for shirts that I had to call my mom.”

In the following days we continued to communicate by text and I let him know that I wasn’t interested in dating, but I found him a curious specimen and thought I could help him with women. After all, he was such an ostensible catch: a really fantastic-looking banker, smart, player of guitar, ready to marry  – all the makings of a New York City hot commodity. Clearly operating in friend territory with me, and he shared about his recent heart break from a woman he “thought was a nice, conservative girl from an established family, but turned out to be a whore” and his primary goal being to date women who rank 7 or 8. That’s right. This 40-year-old man is still operating on the frat-boy rating scale of women’s fuckability. On one hand, I found that admission to be stunning in its superficiality and arrogance. Yet on the other – don’t we all have our own, unspoken 10-point scales? Be honest — you do, and so do I. Mine happens to weigh heavily emotional intelligence, generosity and not giving a crap what other people think.

So our friendship continues, and I am fascinated by this glimpse into this weird Wall Street frat-boy world where this guy is completely stumped by why his friend cannot get laid — after all, he said, bemused — this guy is a lawyer and a CPA! These are strange and compelling species, these Wall Street men, operating in a grossly exaggerated paradigm in which a man’s financial prowess is directly correlated to his entitlement to hot women. Case in point: my new friend texted me a pic snagged from an online dating site of a very pretty, wholesome looking blonde, probably in her late 20s with whom he was communicating. “She is almost too pretty,” he wrote me. “I’d have to spend $150 to $200 on each of the first few dates for her to be interested.”

Cue needle scratching record.

On our singular date he asked me to meet him at a sports bar where we drank beers and shared a platter of wings while reminiscing about the 90s as Weezer and Nirvana blared.

So how could I not be devastated by his subsequent requests to go out? Even after I told him I was not available for casual hookups? In the comfort of a platonic friendship he told me clearly what he wanted in a woman: a nice, conservative 7 or 8. Someone he could be proud to show off to his Wall Street buddies. I clearly fall outside of that. Maybe even way, waaayyy outside of that.

I’m ashamed by how much my feelings got hurt. I mean, there is a reason I hang out with the people I hang out with, and date the guys I tend to date — I feel like I fit in, I never worry about what my “number” is (honestly – am I a 6? 4? 7? What if I have pretty eyes but fat thighs? Do cooking ability and parenting skills factor in?), and I mostly feel very proud about who I am and the life I’ve created for myself and my children. I feel good about myself because I judge myself by a scale of my own device.

But here I found myself face-to-face with the dominate scale of our time: A certain beauty standard reigns, and young women with little baggage are the prize. I know that. So do you. The messages are everywhere: media, the snide remarks your neighbor made about how hard it will be to meet men now that you’re divorced with kids. And while I refuse to allow those ideas hold me back in life, I suddenly found myself scrutinized under that very lens — right in my face. I didn’t add up. I ranked low — chicken-wing low. And it hurt like hell.

I told this guy as much. “I think you got your ego hurt because a 6 single mom rejected you,” I told him. “I don’t think you’d ever date me seriously. You’d be embarrassed by me.”

He didn’t understand what I was saying. He knew he’d had a good time last weekend. “I think you’d break my heart,” he said. And who knows? Maybe I would. 

46 thoughts on “I had a moment and felt like a single mom loser in the dating pecking order

  1. I think this guy should not be the representation of general ratings as a whole. This is one guy’s perspective. I will say that I too am a single mom of 2, and I have found fulfillment and happiness with another single dad. Its working out fantastically, because we have so much in common and we are on the same page. Never change how wonderful you are, just find the person who fits you best, being a wonderful single mom and all…

    1. Hi Rhonda – could not agree more, and am so glad to hear about your dating success. I guess this post is sort of like the occasional time I’ll be at a fancy event with fashion people and while I normally feel fine about my appearance, all of the sudden I feel like everything is all wrong about me – until I leave and return to the rest of my normal life.

  2. I wouldn’t put too much stock in what this guy has to say as he so obviously has very little emotional intelligence and feels entitled- as many high finance types (unfortunately) do.

  3. There isn’t any single scale that we’re measured by. Or if there is, none of us will ever figure it out because are (and should be) busy thinking about what really matters: what is our personal scale? If a woman thinks my life is too complicated and she would rather chase after someone with no responsibilities who is free to get drunk every night, that saves me from wasting time! The right relationships will develop on their own.

  4. @Zabeth and Richard – of course and agreed. But let’s get real, every once in a blue moon, don’t you find yourself being hurt / angry / frustrated because you’re being judged? That is what this one post is about for me: a single slice in time.

    1. Because, of course, the end of any relationship is the woman’s fault.

      What about when the father suffers a brain injury, becomes completely unstable, leaves her pregnant with a child? Is it still her fault? Is it even his? I argue to both: NO.

      And Dalrock’s post has nothing to do with your chauvinistic comment.

      1. I consider ‘chauvinist’ a compliment, when coming from a feminist. More, please!

        You don’t understand Dalrock’s article. It contains useful information that may help you.

      2. Of course in the scenario you described it’s not her fault.

        But let’s think of some of the single moms I’ve encountered (or even dated):

        - Dated a guy who her family/friends warned her was cold/abusive; got pregnant 3 months after marriage; he disappeared without warning 4 years later. He’s now in prison.

        - Is at age 39, divorced, and lost her nursing licence due to helping her ex-husband steal drugs from the hospital phamarcy. He’s in prison now and they are since divorced.

        - Got pregnant out of wedlock with a boyfriend who insisted on not using condoms and she complied for fear of losing him.

        None of those are good reasons to be single moms. (And the single dads are completely undateable too.) They exhibit poor judgment, but if I want to date any of them, I have to deal with all that baggage.

        There are some good single moms out there that way by no fault of their own, but they are truly rare. A good tip is not to get pregnant with a guy you are not positive will be an excellent dad and partner beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  5. Perhaps next time you speak with this man, you could take the opportunity to be less defensive when something you don’t like is presented. There is a reason why men like “the girl next door”. I’ve SEEN couples where the man goes for a less attractive woman because she offers the personality traits he prefers.

    In case you missed it, this man was showing his dissatisfaction with his date with the beautiful woman because of how demanding she was.

    Let’s say you cost your dates $40 a date, and get a large amount of dates from a variety of men. You find one really great guy in the mix, marry him and live happily ever after. Total cost for people to date you is $20,000. Miss pretty decides she wants only the best courtship experience, so it costs men $200 dollars a date. She’s pretty, though so many wealthy men are lining up to show her the time of her life. All said and done, her boyfriends spend $40,000 on her. At the end of that, the few men that spark her interest decide to pick someone else.

    At this point, who should be jealous? What is the point of dating?

    1. All excellent points. I’ll leave the finer details of this particular scenario aside. And I like your breakdown of the economics of dating. It was your last question that got me thinking: What is the point of dating?

      Well, it many cases, yes, it is to find a spouse. But not always — and increasingly, not so. Yes, I would like to remarry. But I have found so many things ASIDE from husband-hunting while dating over the past couple of years: self discovery/growth, fun, adventure, sex, companionship, learning about new people/things/arts ….

  6. I am a professional in my 40s with a good career. I date single moms here and there, but almost universally, there comes kid drama, ex husband drama. or just the normal hassle and problems children bring.

    The single moms then bring this into my life, and of course I have to listen to the problem, even though I can’t usually do much to help. Lots of times, it is like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Dates have been ruined by kids calling up and freaking out about something or other,

    I have had single moms show up for an evening together in a very bad mood because of something their ex said earlier that day, so I now have to deal with her anger and sadness, even though it is not my fault, and even though she is not trying to take it out on me, I still pay the price.

    Here is the really awful part – these are very nice women, and I wish the best for them, but I am all too aware that these are the same women who spent the best of their youth and beauty chasing men out of their league, in many cases, and I am the nice safe guy they want to “settle for” now that they have gone through the “wild oats” phase.

    In the end, I feel used.

    Additionally, I will occasionally get an opportunity to briefly date women much younger than me, and the narcotic effect of femininity in full bloom cannot be discounted. The power of a young feminine woman in her 20s is indescribable.

    It is a shame that so many young women let that period of their life pass by without using that power to get a man to commit to them. Instead, it gets spent carelessly on good times.

    Don’t like feeling judged about your dating value? Welcome to the human race. As a man of 5’6″, I am immediately off the radar of an enormous number of women. I still have my other attributes, in that I am usually the smartest and most verbally gifted person in the room, my social fearlessness, and success in my career. But I have had plenty of women 4-5″ shorter than me tell me that I am not tall enough. That’s the breaks.

    Probably you have some filters you are applying to men that you think are reasonable, and you would probably be shocked to learn that you have most likely created as much pain and heartache in others as you are now experiencing.

    Most people are blind to their own prejudices.

    1. Jack- such good observations. We all have our shit!

      Re: young beautiful women not fully using their power. Yes, so true, but is the fallacy of youth. As a wiser person said: Beauty is wasted on the young.

      You are the perfect person to comment on this post and point- short men get a bum rap, and I — at 5’6″ — am certainly guilty of that very prejudice.

  7. Seems this fellow was very open and honest about his feelings and what he’s looking for.

    And, let’s face it, we’re all shallow. Men don’t want to date unattractive women. Women don’t want to date unattractive men.

  8. Was going to post but Jack hit the nail pretty much on the head. After my divorce, I learned very early to avoid women with kids like the plague. Even my ‘divorced with kids’ buddies tend to prefer women without kids, for all the reasons Jack listed.

    Statistics show that it’s women who are driving the divorce rate. If you’re a woman in your mid to late 30′s (or older), married with kids, I’d think long and hard before walking out the door. If you do manage to find someone, it’s likely to be a man who is 10 years your senior and someone you’d never have considered dating when you were younger…

    1. Statistics may support this – but it may also be that these older women prefer to be alone, or date but not remarry, etc. I personally have had a much different experience dating in my 30s – much more interesting and successful men, great guys. Also – while stats are interesting and useful in some situations, I suggest NOT dwelling on them. What’s the point?

  9. Next time you talk to him, tell him his behavior with the blonde virtually guarantees failure. The vast majority of research (backed by experience), is that treating “10s” like “6s” (that is, as if you see them as normal women) will get the same reactions you’d get from a “6″ (ie they’ll give you a normal reaction).

    Tell him also, his standards are ridiculous. He can get any type of woman of any age he wants. It’s a matter of attitude and confidence. Also, while his desire to please his peer won’t necessarily get in the way of getting whatever he wants, it will lead to a very empty life. If he wants a 20 year old blonde, have at it, just don’t do it to please your friends. And wherever you take her, for the love of God, don’t spend more than 20 dollars on the date unless it’s doing something YOU enjoy.

    1. First, the $20 limit doesn’t really work in New York. But you make great points. Gaming chicks sounds so complicated. I mean, just take care of yourself, be a nice guy and make her laugh. Not that difficult.

      1. “Be a nice guy”

        I’m sorry, are you trying to make this guy fail? Being “nice” and buying dinners does not work in the modern times. These women will simply use the guy for his income and it will only set him up for inevitable heartbreak. Don’t be nice, be real and upfront.

        If you really like a person, what does it matter if he chose to get wings at a sports bar? He’s not here to buy your affection with expensive dinners and gifts. From my experience, a woman will sleep with a guy she likes without anything in return. He needs to learn some game because it will help with his confidence and make conversations flow easier.

  10. I can’t believe the cunt who wrote this. Going on about the guy’s “stunning physical attributes” and then being horrified at the fact he also notices other people’s looks.

    There’s nothing worse than a shallow cunt. Except a hypocritical shallow cunt.

    Fuck you lady. You’ve got a hideous fucking horse face yourself.

    Now you know how it feels to be judged, asshole.

  11. I’ve dated single moms before and have not been against a relationship with them, but by god the time struggle to get a date and stories of the ex and the children all the time are just turning the focus away from whatever chemistry you can develop between you and the girl. Don’t get me wrong, single moms can be incredibly hot and awesome girls with lots of potential for relationships.

    At some point you wonder though if this does develop where do I factor in this? Where do I factor between the kids dramas and the ex dramas? Also, I can’t help but always feeling like I will be put in 2nd place to your kids. Honestly I see this as a shitty position to be in with a potential relationship – and I know that cant be avoided, you have to take care of your kids after all. But Ive always been of the philosophy that I wouldn’t be against a relationship with a fantastic single mom that gave time for me.

    But generally in a date, I don’t want to hear about the ex and the kids, I want to hear more about you.

    That’s where the problem lies though.

    Single moms define themselves as single moms. What the fuck is so exciting about that?

    Start defining yourself as yourself and men will see that.

    Maybe stop defining yourself as wealthy single mommy (there’s a wall of insecurity in that name) and start defining yourself as beautiful funny girl or something similar.

    You don’t need to stop being a mom, or to lie about it, or hide it away – but just try to focus on yourself more. I have found the single moms that I have dated that did this, were way more attractive and “chase-able” for me.

    Try it.

    1. Thanks for this – you’re preaching to the choir — if you read my posts you will see that I advocate for women to be, well, women before being moms (or anything else for that matter). This posts was about my own anomalous experience of feeling inferior because I’m a mom — but again, the rarity of that feeling is the point of the essay.

      It’s tough- kids demand so much of a mom, emotionally, financially, physically – it can be hard to turn that off and feel like a desirable, sexy date. Which is why blended families can be so challenging – each party has prioritized the kids, and now must prioritize the relationship/partner.

      Thanks for your sharing your experience.

  12. What makes you think I’m available?

    You think no woman would want me because I find shallow cunts disgusting?

    Fuck you, cunt. I hope you outlive your children.

  13. So you fault a guy for dating a women he’s attracted to. And you post an attractive picture of Molly Ringwald with some hot guy. And you entitle a blog post with “baby daddy” and call your daughter “beautiful”. On those grounds, I think you have to think twice about judging others actions. Cause I just judged you as being a normal human being who thinks about superficial things and likes what he or she wants. Nothing wrong with that..its biological/human.

  14. @Raine – yep I’m very human, struggling to make sense of all these gender rules and practices. Have any answers? Cuz I certainly don’t … Thanks for reading/commenting

    Emma

  15. WOW! Did what I think happen just happen? Did this blogger take “JamesMaine’s” hidden email and put it out there for all to see? Don’t get me wrong, the guy spewed vitriol and that is unacceptable. But putting this guys email out there? First and foremost, how do you know its a real email and not a fake email he used? Second, why would you do something like that? Very disturbing.

    1. She did it to show you how powerful and unafraid she is to do things like that without even considering the legal ramifications.

    2. She’s as childish as the people she rails against, that’s how. I could see how her air of self superiority could make her actions appear confusing to some.

  16. “This 40-year-old man is still operating on the frat-boy rating scale of women’s fuckability. On one hand, I found that admission to be stunning in its superficiality and arrogance.”

    You just don’t seem to know men very well. It might have something to do with the fact that when one decides to be honest with you, you write a column about him and compare him to some dumb drunk college kid.

    Ideas of beauty can bend with the times and with culture, but there is always a scale as long as there is an obvious 1 and an obvious 10 out there. We know who they are. To pretend that they’re not there is just silly.

    Obviously their level of attractiveness isn’t the only factor in whether or not most men want to sustain a relationship with a person. The man had JUST told you that the “8″ he had WASN’T ideal for the fact that she was a “whore”.

    I’ve got news for you: THE FRAT BOY STEREOTYPE THAT YOU’RE ASSIGNING THIS GUY? THEY *LOVE* WHORES.

    You complain about superficiality and in the next breath you basically summarize a guy as a polo-shirted, beer swilling dunderhead upon learning the SINGLE fact that he prioritizes looks to a certain degree, as most men do? That’s hypocritical.

  17. Let me get this straight, you rejected some guy despite openly acknowledging that he is a great catch, then you are taken aback when he goes after younger, better looking women? Wow. You really have your shit together lady.

  18. Why the nastiness? I wasn’t interested in this guy for a whole bunch of reasons – he is a great catch for someone, just not me. I don’t jump on every guy who comes along!

    FWIW, I’m still very friendly with this man – he texts me every few weeks and LOVED being in this post.

  19. I can help you with the point system. Here is mine.

    First, rate the woman’s attractiveness on a scale of 1 – 10. Each man has his own likes/dislikes in a woman’s appearance, so I can’t provide you the blow by blow here.

    Once you have that score, you start doing the minuses.

    -2 for being about the same age as me (+/- 4 years)
    -1 for being 5 years older than me (additive)
    -2 for being 10 years older than me (additive)
    -1 for every 10% above “normal” body weight she is, cumulative.
    -1 for every 5 men she’s slept with past the first 5, cumulative.
    -1 for every $25,000 / year income under mine (max: -2)
    -2 for owning horses (I don’t know why, but women and horses just mix funny….)
    -3 for having kids (any number)
    -4 for not being feminine (wearing dresses/makeup/etc)
    -5 for claiming to be a feminist
    -10 for being below average intelligence
    -10 for carrying consumer debt
    -10 for sexual frigidity

    So, as an example, if by physical standards alone you are a 10, but you are the same age as me and have two kids, you would score a 5 (10-2-3). A woman 5 years younger than me would be up to a 7(10-3), a woman 5 years older with kids would drop to a 4 (10-2-1-3) and a woman 10 years older with kids would drop to a 2 (10-2-1-2-3).

    This system worked very well for me when I was single. I dated within the 6-10 range, and finally married a woman who is 8 years younger than me, earns a good living, doesn’t have kids and had one prior partner to me. She wasn’t very feminine when I met her but I encouraged her to improve her skills and now she looks great and loves all things girly. She was a solid 8 when I met her (I pro rated her femininity score based on early conversations we had where she revealed a desire to be more feminine) and she’s a solid 8 now. We’ve been together 12 years and are both very happy.

    When I’ve shared my list with other men, by and large, they agree with it. Not all of them managed to live up to it, but that was an advantage I had by waiting until my 30′s to get serious about dating…

  20. I am not, nor have ever been, hot. I am a chubby brunette with an attractive face pretty eyes and hair, fat nose, round face, whose adult grown up pants size has fluctuated between a 10 and a 14. When I became a single mom at age 31 with a 6 year old child, I said I would never, ever remarry unless I found a man who exceeded my first husband in every way–but especially, educationally and in emotional intelligence and resilience. And…honestly…I didn’t even look. When I first became a single mom–my marriage broke down quite quickly and husband left me for another woman I lost about 40 pounds due to the stress. I looked fantastic, but found I was repeatedly hit on my married men or men who were looking for an “easy target” not a relationship. Seriously, I had married men give me their calling cards in the grocery store. It happened several times a week. When the stress tapered off, the weight crept back on, and so did all the extramarital offers. What a relief. I live in a northern city in flyover land, one of those cities that is known for being a healthy place to raise children. I did feel a particular stigma of being a single mom, and especially in church and the workplace, despite being a home owner and college grad. I decided, and you can mock me, that if God meant for me to have another husband, he would have to send one to my door. So I didn’t look. I became immersed in my own hobbies and interests and raising my son, who had some anxiety from his dad suddenly leaving and moving in within weeks with a recently separated woman with three children. He had learning disabilities and social disabilities too. I had my hands full already. I did not want to deal with all the anxiety and stress of navigating a newly-single life and subjecting my son to further stress.

    One of the interests and hobbies I took up was genealogy and learning my family’s ancestral tongue, which was Finnish. I found an online board and asked if anyone could translate a family letter written in Finnish. A man from Sweden, who also had roots in Finland from the same county as me, replied back to me with a translation because he was familiar with that old dialect. We corresponded by email and eventually through messenger. He told me that he was going to have a holiday in America, near me. We could meet up, perhaps, for dinner. I ended up getting him from the airport and much, much more. It turns out meeting me was the main objective for his trip, which I did not understand at first. So long story, short, ladies, if me–a woman who would probably not scale past a “5″ by most standards, could meet a handsome, well educated (two master’s) man, fluent in 4 languages, well anyone can. Be interesting, not desperate. I did not go to a single club. I had one blind date that was miserable. Husband and I have now been together a decade and live in our suburban house in my flyover city. I was resigned to being a divorced single mom for the rest of my LIFE, really, unless I found someone who would honor both me and my child. I have a bonus child, a lovely Swedish stepson and a great stepbrother to my son. I have an interesting, international life.

    1. Jennifer – I so love this story. THANK YOU for sharing. It is so true about being yourself, being interesting and authentic and not buying into all the stereotypes about what men want. Because of course lots of men do want all that STUFF, but not the one who is right for you.

  21. “I have the hardest time making decisions,” he said without a hint of shame.

    Why should he feel shame? It’s okay for women to have insecurity and anxiety but not men? The standards set for men are too high and unrealistic. 80% of men don’t make the cut, according to many dating site surveys. But what does that say about women?

    1. “Why should he feel shame?”

      Because an adult should be able to shop without calling his or her mother. I would feel the same about a woman.

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