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.
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.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.