Iâ€™m not sure what my kids think about me dating women who are not their mother, but Iâ€™ve found it important thus far not to ask. Some things will be between them and their therapists. Iâ€™ve chosen to preemptively respect their doctor-patient confidentiality.
Trying to date with children is a challenge in itself, before I even begin to consider how it scars the kids. This is why I try not to date women with children of their own. Hypocritical? Sure. But who knows better what a drag it is to try to date with kids than someone in the exact same boat? If you put enough people in any one boat, it only takes one of them leaning the wrong way before everyoneâ€™s in the water. I saw â€œTitanic.â€ I know what happens to the Romantic Male Lead in that scenario.
This isnâ€™t to say I would never date a woman with kids. Although it makes the least logistical sense (good luck synching up your visitation schedules), it makes the most practical sense, certainly. Trying to meet a woman in her mid-thirties who a) doesnâ€™t already have kids, b) doesnâ€™t want to have kids of her own and c) is willing to humor a man burdened with the offspring she never sought is a tough trifecta to hit. A woman with children has already scratched the biological itches to a certain degree. Sheâ€™s also capable of understanding a â€œmovie dateâ€ as two hours in a dark, air conditioned place to just hold still and possibly nap. I know if I ask a woman to a period film with subtitles rather than something featuring fighting robots, itâ€™s less that I want to be bathed in edifying Euroculture and more that explosions in Dolby surround tend keep you out of the REM stage.
As for what I say to my children about Dadâ€™s social life, I usually try to err on the side of truth. â€œBoys,â€ I tell them, â€œif a man doesnâ€™t get a certain amount of regular sex, he can get really, really sick. Maybe even die.â€ Then I force them drink a beer and make fun of the way they throw a ball. Feelings are great and all, but Iâ€™m trying to raise up boys into men here. Not just men, American men. As far as I can tell, that only requires two things: a rudimentary understanding of auto care and maintenance and lots and lots of Axe body spray. I grew up apart from my own dad, so admittedly I get a lot of this from commercial television.
All that said, having children isnâ€™t always an impediment to dating. As long as the kids are young and adorable enough, theyâ€™re an excellent icebreaker. Sitting on a bench at the edge of a playground all alone, no wedding ring, staring wistfully as the children climb and swing is a great way to signal an opening to conversation for another single parent. Or that youâ€™re some kind of predator. But once you get over that awkward predator wall, youâ€™re golden. You can just sit and chat about daycare and school districts and Little League. Or maybe, if you get really lucky, youâ€™ll meet that one special person. The one you instantly you feel such a deep, trusting connection with, you can let your guard down enough to allow yourself the ultimate act of real, vulnerable intimacy: you can take turns keeping predator lookout as the other one gets in a quick park bench nap. Ask any single parent which theyâ€™d rather have; relationships are nice, but sleep… sleep is magic.