You weren’t sure if you would make it back to the dating scene, but you did. Hooray for you, Solo Mom! You have spent a lot of your time focused on your child(ren), but choosing to date again means that you are making the need for companionship a priority.
You went through the process of wondering if you should tell your children or if you knew anyone in a similar situation who was happy dating after divorce. You are taking on the highs and lows of online dating sites as well, and the truth of the matter is that companionship is an important human need that is necessary for growth and development.
Psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary wrote in their article “The Need to Belong: Desire for Interpersonal Attachments as a Fundamental Human Motivation” (Psychological Bulletin, 1995) that consistent, positive contact with the same individuals as well as that sense of belonging are essential to one’s health and well-being. Therefore, dating and the search for meaningful connection can be considered necessary medicine. There is no need to hold on to antiquated stigmas of being divorced and on the dating scene. There are more benefits to dating now that you’ve already been married.
First and foremost, you have a better sense of who you are. You have been constantly unfolding and learning new things about yourself. You’ve already been judged and have judged, so you are more resilient and able to handle rejection and/or let someone go who is not suited for you.
You are more considerate of yourself and others. You’ve had to be in order to handle the rigors of Solo Mom life. You understand what it means to be busy and manage your time. You are not perfect and have learned enough in life to have given up on perfection a long time ago. You are being the best you and are looking for that in another person.
You have no time for games and bullshit. You’d like the person to call, but you will not be waiting by the phone. You already have a full life without the other person, and the choice to spend time dating is predicated on desire. This desire is not frivolous and is attached to the maturity of having a realistic outlook on life.
The choice to be in a relationship is no longer wedded to a biological ticking clock.
You are not racing toward a finish line of marriage, which is not to say that you wouldn’t get married or even have more children if you found a suitable companion. But you’ve been there, done that. No need to check that box on your to-do list. It is already checked.
You know how to take your time. You have more patience to get to know the person for who he or she is and not for what this person can do and/or buy for you. You can take care of yourself. You are looking for a partner with whom to move through the next phase in your life—not a sidekick to ride alongside you, but someone to learn and grow with you. You are not interested in someone who is immature; you have your children to raise.
You understand failure. You have learned that all is not lost when love fails and that even with the best intentions, sometimes things just don’t work out. The advantage of being divorced is that you’ve mastered a particular kind of disappointment and have lived to try again.
You understand that love is a verb and that it requires action beyond platitudes, but you are not necessarily looking for love right away. You have your child(ren), family, friends, and other Solo Moms to validate and support you. Fun, levity, and respite are the main goals. You are not worried about the love you can give, and you know you will give as “good” as you get.
There is no denying that dating can feel like a full-time job—but you are worth it. Don’t forget to bookmark this article so that you can refer to it for a reminder of how amazing and resilient you are.
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Tanisha Christie is an interdisciplinary performing artist and filmmaker. After years of working at the nexus of arts, media, social justice, and healing, she is currently finishing her master of social work (clinical specialization) at Hunter College in New York City. A child of a Solo Mom, she loves to ride her bike to the beach.
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