Hahaha … I happened upon this old post, written early on in both my blogging career and single-mom dating career. Needless to say, this guy really pissed me off. I still think he is a chauvinistic moron.
But reading it now, a four years later, I have a new appreciation for the nuances and difficulties of dating, especially in a time of such unclear gender roles, in particular when children are involved. On one hand, I can really handle my business. Kids, work, taking care of the house and general practicalities of life? Got it covered. But I am a human woman, and crave romantic companionship. But how does a guy fit into that if I don't need him, and my kids are cared for and have a father already? Take a step back for a broader view, of women and men and family in an era when women really can do it all without a dude: Earn her own money, raise children, run businesses and nations. Add to it an economy in which male-dominated industries are disappearing, while the pay gap closes and women increasingly take on leadership roles in business, the public sphere and at home (40 percent of breadwinners are women, hey!).
This is not just a concern because you and I are raising boys, who we want to grow up to be men in a world where they are valued and thrive. This is an issue because women's rights are gender rights are human rights. If you and I want equality in our paychecks, we need equality at home. This requires equality in who cares for kids, how much time everyone has with said kids when marriages end, and who makes decisions for those children both in Washington and in families. And this requires everyone have value, men and women.
Lots of questions, and right now I don't have a whole lot of answers for you. But I do think this guy is a schmuck. Well meaning, confused and maybe desperate. But made for a funny story, for which, dude, I say thanks:
How not to court a single mom
Background: I met this guy on OKCupid and went on one date a few months ago. He seemed really nice, a good guy. Never married, no kids, 39 and very interested in settling down and starting a family, stat. He'd never dated a single mom. He was interested. I wasn't. We've been Facebook friends and he occasionally invites me to professional events. He is German (English not his first language), and he is an educated professional with advanced degrees.
We had this Facebook chat last week:
Him: Too bad that you couldn't make it to the event. She was outstanding.
Me: I bet! Good turnout?
Him: Yes!!! What a woman. Two kids actually. How are things with your ex these days? Good communication?
Me: Oh we're fine – maybe better than normal. Funny question! Why do you ask?
Him: I am just curious how it is if the ex husband lives around the corner.
Me: It is better to have him close by for lots of reasons — it makes visits with the kids easier.
Him: How is dating treating you these days?
Me: I've been having fun dating different people. Meeting so many interesting men – a good time for me at the moment!
This blog has kinda taken over my life in a really good way. It is so scary for me to write so personally, but also thrilling. At the same time, I am dating for the first time in 10 years — all while writing about dating. So it is strange and full of surprises.
How about yourself?
Him: Same here!! I am dating a lot of different people as well. Your blog is sort of revolutionary. I follow it a lot and learn. It's an amazing blog.
Me: I'm curious about your point of view –
Your view as a man.
Someone I've gone out with.
Someone who is dating.
Him: You've found a niche and and you'll have to continue to work on this blog even if you find a guy who will spend the rest of your life with you.
Me: So you get the impression that I'm searching for some guy for the rest of my life?
Him: No … you don't give the reader the impression that you are looking for a guy for the rest of your life but I can imagine that you are.
Me: Honestly I'm not sure that is my path. I'm just not sold that lifelong monogamy with one person is right for most people — myself included. Though I do believe most people — myself included — want and need romantic partnership, often monogamous.
Him: But I think Helena and Lucas need a male at your side every day.
Me: Wow. Them's fighting words! Explain.
Him: It's just my feeling that they would love to hang out with a male on a permanent basis besides the fact that they see their dad from time to time. It's hard to explain for me as someone who wants to have a family so much but I think it makes a difference if a male takes over the “good night story” to a 4 and 2 year-old from time to time.
Me: Yes, and they get that with their dad. And if I have a long-term boyfriend, he may play that role. But I'm not sure I'm ready for a fulltime live-in partner any time soon. And I'm not sure that I my kids are missing out by not having that.
Him: A boyfriend should not only play a role.
Me: Hmm. I'm hearing that you have very finite ideas about how a family should be. And as someone who has had all kinds of different family situations (in my own upbringing, and later as a wife, ex-wife, married mother, single mother, etc.) I can say that there is not one formula that works for every family.
Him: I agree, but a role is not enough, Emma.
Me: OK, so tell me what my children need.
Him: Your kids need a best male friend who is also you your committed lover.
Me: According to whom? (aside form you, obviously)
Him: The best lover to you, emotionally and physically as well as the most available emotional friend and sort of a second dad to Helena and Lucas. He must fall in love with you and both of them.
Me: But you're suggesting that our lives are incomplete without that. And that any other arrangement will be shortchanging the kids — and me. And I don't necessarily agree with that.
Him: No, I just think that they need a father in their in their life who is truly available EVERY DAY. And not on a weekend basis.
Me: “Need” is a very strong word.
Me: That is ideal. If it is the perfect father. And the perfect mother. And two people who can create a perfect life. But those situations are very, very, VERY few and far between.
And instead, living in reality, we make the best with what we have, and yet can build really incredible lives for ourselves and our kids.
Him: Emma: the fact is that you are outstanding. You are practically doing everything by yourself and you are damn proud of that, but you have a private life as well. Going out, communicating, drinking, having fun, dancing …. you deserve someone who will appreciate you and help you care for Helena and Lucas.
Me: I appreciate the compliments. I do. But I also feel very judged.
Him: That was not my intention.
Me: Also, it seems you are again placing a singular idea of family upon, well, everyone — including my family. And I wonder — yourself?
I'm compelled to defend myself, but honestly, I don't owe you that.
Him: I don't have a singular idea how a family works. I am single. I just think that Helena and Lucas would love to explore 4th person in the Johnson's household. ;) ASAP. haha … I simply love children.
Me: OK … so … are you flirting with me here? Or lecturing me? Or trying to piss me off? Or all of the above?
Him: Perhaps all of the above ;) and that's good.
Him: The whole package is crucial. You need that again: Love, discussion, compromises, laughing, crying, it's all part of the “big picture” …
Me: Can I ask you something?
Him: Of course :)
Me: Do you have some kind of fantasy that you're going to save my kids and me? Somehow make our lives “whole”? Just wondering …Because it kinda sounds like you do …
Him: I think that basically you don't need someone to make you and your kid's life whole. You are doing an amazing job in respect to that every single day but I have to admit that I think that a cool and spiritual guy would have a tremendous influence on you and Helena and Lucas.
Me: OK, I won't make you answer the question. But I may have to post this conversation on my blog. No names or identifying details, of course. You're gonna piss off a whole lot of people. Just warning you.
Him: Why would I piss off a lot of people?? Because I would love to have such two gorgeous kids like you have in my life including the beautiful and highly intelligent mother?
Me: Oh boy. Well, 1) Thank you, and 2) No thank you and 3) This convo sounds like it's taking place in 1952. Which is surprising coming from an educated professional man from perhaps the most developed country in the world.
Him: ?? I am confused … 1952? I think you got me wrong …
Me: Maybe. But all these ideas of how I should be settled down with the right guy are just really antiquated. Granted, most people probably agree with you, but they really offended me, truth be told.
Unless you're just hitting on me and I just didn't get it. But then, now that I'm thinking about it, that would be even more wrong …
Him: I have no clue what I said wrong … I admire everything that you are doing every day. You are a very adorable and intelligent woman with two amazing and beautiful kids that every single guy should date right away. I thought that we were friends.
Me: We're good. We are. But all the lecturing about what my kids need … well … just an unsolicited tip: If you date women with kids, don't tell them what their kids need. And if you date women, don't tell them what they need. You'll thank me later.
Him: I am so confused …
UPDATE! A few days after this was first posted, this guy and I have this IM exchange:
Him: I saw the post. It was very well done.
Me: Thank you. I was worried you might be offended so I really appreciate that.
Him: No absolutely not. You are a committed journalist and you had to put it out. I hope we have the chance to meet for coffee soon. I enjoy our dialogue.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.