That is the question.
It’s a question that I have so far been answering with a resounding “no.” The thought of going online and putting myself forward to be scrutinised by strangers, and not making the grade. The thought of having to sit opposite someone and make small talk, thinking all the while about how they are appraising your appearance, skills, and entire personality as though it was a job interview, but for the Very Important Position of girlfriend, a position that in twenty years of dating, I have found myself in a mere handful of times, and only for very short periods.
I am clearly just not up to the job.
Career, I can do. Motherhood, I can do. I am an adult woman with a variety of skills. I can write, I can cook, I can put together a great outfit. I can do anything I put my mind to. Anything.
Except form a functional romantic relationship with another human being.
Even the word “romantic” makes me cringe a little bit.
People tell me that I am brave, that I am fearless, and strong. They tell me that they couldn’t do what I have done. They couldn’t have a baby on their own. But they have all invariably done something I have never been able to do. They have married, or formed functional relationships with actual human beings for a period of more than a couple of weeks. Often they have been in relationships, romantic relationships, for years. YEARS! My question to them is how. How have they managed to do THAT? I tell you, having a baby on your own is easy compared to ten years of internet dating with nothing to show for it except a selection of bad dates that could fill an encyclopaedia. The Encyclopaedia of Bad Dates. We all have them, unless we were lucky enough to meet someone completely perfect at eighteen and stay with them forever and ever, but even for those of us who had to work for it, who had to put ourselves through the circles of Hell that are Match.com and Plenty of Fish, usually, somewhere along the line there’s a happy ending, a cheerful picture at the end with the husband and children. The One that finally came when you learned to love yourself and stopped looking.
Except that there still is no happy ending. And what is an ending anyway, if not simply a point in the linear perception of the story of your life where you feel moderately contented, and decide to pop the happy ever after in, and ignore the bit that comes afterwards; the bit where Cinderella gets fed up with the Prince and files for divorce; the bit where Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet argue over who gets to use the good carriage for that afternoon’s engagements, and who has to use the one with the elderly horses and squiffy footman.
My romantic history reads like a comedy of errors. And my self confidence when it comes to dating is through the floor. It is literally sitting there, in the actual basement. It’s underneath the basement. It’s trapped inside a limestone cave hundreds of metres beneath the surface. It’s INSIDE THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH, the bit with the enormous iron filings.*
So it is of endless surprise to me that some other single parents manage to actually date. How? How do they do this? I can’t even bring myself to ask my mother if she would babysit Piglet for me so I could dare to do such a thing. She would give me the Don’t You Dare Glare. The one that she reserves for special moments such as when Piglet won’t eat his Shreddies, and when I fail to admonish him for standing too close to the television or trying to “help” with the washing up by climbing onto a stool and then dipping his hands in the water and covering himself with bubbles. It would be the look of “Don’t you dare. You are past it. You made your bed and you lie in it. I am off to lie in my bed, on my own, and not be bothered by your child for five minutes.”
And then there is the fact that I am now just that little bit older, that little bit fatter and that little bit more fragile about the state of my appearance than I was last time I tried dating. I used to be trendy. I own several boxes of FABULOUS shoes that are kept in storage and I can probably never walk in again without being crippled. I used to not have entire sections of my head that are riddled with greys. My stomach used to be REASONABLY TONED.
So what do I do? Do I just give up, and accept my fate as the Spinster of the Parish, learn to knit and start cultivating a collection of cats? Do I leap once more unto the fray, and immerse myself in a world of online dating that now seems to be even more cut throat and ruthless than the one I exited three years ago? Or do I continue living my life, contented and happy with my lot, focusing on parenthood, work and writing, and hope that maybe one day someone will just pop up, presumably in Tesco on a day when I’m not looking completely rough, or the park, or soft play, or somewhere else equally unlikely to be the hideout of an eligible bachelor who just happens to be looking for the perfect thirtysomething single mother to settle down with and pop out a few kids before she becomes entirely barren.
What would you do?
*Apparently that’s what’s at the Earth’s core. Trust me, I saw a documentary on it once. It’s giant iron filings, that are like, HUGE, and they point in the direction of the magnetic field or something. Something like that. I’m not a physicist so if you are, please feel free to come at me with the technicals. I am intrigued at the Giant Bits of Iron in Centre of Earth phenomenon, and would like to know more. For example, one question I may be googling later is HOW DOES ANYONE EVEN KNOW WHAT’S DOWN THERE?
25 Comments Add yours
I’ve braved the dating for a couple of years now and although it is interspersed with smatterings of fun it has also been quite crushing at times. During those couple of years I have only ever managed to get to 2/3 date. Why, I’m not quite sure…I’m thinking of sending out feedback forms but in the meantime. I’m trying not to take it so seriously, staying away from the obvious bad boys which I’m drawn to it would seem and build a protective cage around my heart which I seem to wear on my sleeve. At the very least I have had quite a few good evenings full of food, wine and good conversation with an actual adult. That’s progress at any rate!! Good luck! (Feel free to read about my experiences at http://www.theperfectjuggler.com) xx
Thanks-I will take a look. That was always my experience with internet dating too. Two or three dates, getting hopes up and then having them dashed. I know what you mean by feedback forms. I’ve definitely thought about that too!
I’ve been trying for about a year and a half now. I rarely actually go on a real live dates though, just flick through dodgy looking blokes on sites and occasionally muster up the strength to go on a speed date. Its been a resounding non-success so far but I’m still trying with the small amount of energy I can muster up.
For what it’s worth thoug, if you want to meet someone I do think it’s probably worth it. I would love to meet someone in real life but the likelihood that could ever happen is slim to none. Just cause you chose to be a single mum doesn’t mean you chose to be single for ever, I don’t think it’s fair to say you made your bed. Single parents get into new relationships all the time. And even if it all fails it’s still some fun blogging material 😉 x
That’s very true. I guess when I chose to have a baby, I made a sort of mental shift away from looking for a relationship, and a decision to focus on parenthood instead, and to be honest I was very happy to step away from the whole dating scene as I was quite jaded by it. I agree that the likelihood of meeting someone in real life is slim to none given my lifestyle, which is basically work and kids stuff, so it would have to be online. Thanks for commenting. It’s always good to hear the experiences of others in a similar situation.
I know about 3 British couples that have meet via online dating. Now happily married and have a kid together. Actually, if I am single – I would have gone online dating too. There seem to be some genuine good people out there who want the same thing was you do. Good Luck and enjoy dating! 🙂
Thank you for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost
Thanks-I’ll keep you posted!
I think you have to look on it like this; you may well meet the man of your dreams who’ll sweep you off your feet and romance you and give you everything you ever wanted, but if you don’t, at the very least you’ll get a few good blog posts about it. #KCACOLS
Well true, although I don’t want to say too much about my love life on my blog to be honest!
My best friend from school recently married a lovely guy she met online – there is soneone out there for everyone, it will come. You’re intelligent and funny – what more can a good bloke want!? #KCACOLS
Well quite. I’m a catch! Thanks for commenting.
I’m one of those who met their now husband when we were young (19) so the thought of dating absolutely terrifies me. But, I think the important thing is if you want to share your life with someone then you’ll probably need to go through a few bad dates but if you don’t (or you’re not that bothered) then why push yourself. I don’t believe in the whole soulmates things or people being destined for each other. I believe that realtionships work when two people meet, want the same thing and are prepared to go for that ‘thing’ together. Not very romantic but more achievable! #KCACOLS
I agree with your sentiments entirely. I think you need to be in the same place (both literally and figuratively). Hopefully I will meet someone at some point but if not, well, it’s no big deal.
Oh love the bit about ‘what is an ending anyway ..’ . Great writing . It’s all ongoing isn’t it .. Whether you be single or coupled , none of us know what our outcome will be . #kcacols
Absolutely. The happy ending is a myth.
Min , this is bloody amazing! It made me chuckle when she mentioned the “mum glare” as that’s what I get from my mum if me and The Hub heaven forbid ever want to go out on a rare date night. I know a million others have said it, but your Mr Right is out there somewhere. He may be just in front of you or you are yet to have met him but he is here somewhere. keep going. Get out there! And find him! #KCACOLS
Thank you! Hopefully he is out there. My worst fear is that I’ve already met him, years ago, and I fobbed him off. There must be someone out there!
I really enjoy your blog, I’m happily married but I think you’re very inspiring and you’re setting a wonderful example to your child. Great post, I’m sure someone is out there for you, and probably waiting untill you least expect him to appear. #kcacols
Thanks! By the law of statistics, there’s bound to be someone, but it’s just finding him that’s the problem!
I’m rather jaded too and found online dating ludicrous. Having said that I know others who have met and married. For me I would not be dragged back to that smoke and mirrors game in a million years. I LOVE being single and doing what suits me and little one without a single gnarly look. (Well maybe I have a quiet fling every now and then but that’s different from someone entering your life). Do you LOVE being single? Do you want sex? Do you want a relationship with a human being who will have their own demands on time and sympathy in the worst competing for piglets affections – you can see what side I am on. My choice is perfect for me. Just be honest with yourself, have pride in who you are and what you do and you can’t go wrong. Too often singles feel sad and sorry – I’m loving it, and maybe you are too? Of course life is a journey not concrete- who knows what will happen?
I don’t mind being single. I’m pretty happy with my life and consider myself to be pretty lucky. I guess it’s that nagging feeling that maybe I’ve missed my chance or somehow screwed up when it comes to relationships that is the only issue, but it is a minor issue!
I cannot confess to being in a similar situation but I wouldn’t put yourself under any unnecessary pressure nor would I let your mum’s initial concerns lead to you to a forced conclusion. If you dread internet dating then don’t do it but find something you enjoy for you and you may find someone there who agrees with you (just don’t make it a women’s only gym -unless you are looking for a woman? Then it might be perfect!) Anyhoo, good luck. You are fab. Find someone who recognises that. Don’t settle for less.
Thank you! I completely agree, especially with your last point. I don’t want to settle and would much rather be single than with be with someone who wasn’t right.
i have been a single mum for a month and tomorrow i am going on my first date ( my aunt is babysitting). I just feel it´s a bit of time for myself, event it doesn´t lead to anything.Like going to the gymor having a pedicure. Why not? Cheers!
Wow a month is quick! Best of luck. x