Single Mom Out Loud

The joys (and desperation) of raising a boy without a man

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Modern Love and the Infinite Menu of Options 

Modern dating is difficult—at least that’s what I’m finding.
These days it compares more closely to ordering fast food. It’s all too simplified.
We tend to polish ourselves up to look great online (“the menu”), but what about the quality of self (“the food”) we are presenting to a potential mate?

I put myself out there and when it seems as though I’ve possibly connected with someone, it turns out my “milkshake” isn’t sustaining enough. He could have been having a candlelight dinner with me, drinking wine while Sinatra plays in the background—instead he decides he wants fries.
We all need something deeper than what is on the surface to make a connection. So why do we leave out the not-so-desirable? I want to be brave and tell someone about my scars. Show them my imperfections.

What makes us perfectly imperfect? The parts we keep disguised may very well be what makes someone fall in love with us. I long to find someone worth removing the mask for, but every time I think I can he reminds me I shouldn’t. 

We have also somehow forgotten the art of cooking a delicious homemade meal, how healthy and wholesome self-care can be. We must make the effort to care for and love ourselves before we can allow someone close enough to love and accept us as we are.
We fill our voids (both romantically and emotionally) with greasy, senseless and hard to digest pseudo-romance via online/social media interaction. This kind of “dating” isn’t built to last because it has no solid foundation.

These days it’s easier to swipe right or left, send a wink, like a photo or send an instant message than to have a real, in-depth conversation with a potential mate. Remember the kind of stimulating conversation where you actually listen without distraction and look into someone’s eyes?

The problem is: we have a full menu at our fingertips anytime we feel the slightest hint of a “hunger pang.”

But I think it goes much deeper than that. Times have changed and with that change came the evolution of dating. It’s a dying art. We have forgotten the rules of courting developed by the men and women who came before us.

We’ve forgotten the art of gentle pauses, intelligent conversation and engaging interaction. We don’t even know what courting looks like anymore. Take note the next time you go out to dine and see how many couples are looking at their phones instead of each other.

We’ve also forgotten the anticipation of that anxiously awaited phone call. Instead we usually opt-out and send a generic text. But why?

Because it’s become easier to disconnect if we’re not totally feeling it. We are constantly looking for something better instead of building on what we already potentially have within our grasp.

Hell no we won’t pick the phone to call each other anymore. And if we aren’t immediately available when a potential love interest texts us? No worries, all they need to do is take a quick peek at social media to see who else is available on “the menu.”

This is fast food dating after all.

I never imagined at nearly 30 years old that I would be in the middle of this dating shuffle again. But here I am.
And I’ve realized that I just want to find something more sustaining than a greasy burger and fries. I don’t want fast food. I need something wholesome and real that won’t be so difficult for my heart to digest. 


Why I Love Broken Men 

He looks at me with those eyes that have seen so much, although he doesn’t see me. But I feel held. I feel safe.

Not physically, necessarily, nor even financially. At this stage, I can pretty much look after myself. I don’t need a father figure, a knight on a horse or even reciprocated feelings—although from time to time I wonder if he will eventually like me too.

What I want is to feel held at that moment. What I want is to feel wanted. I need to be seen for who I am and appreciated for the journey I’ve had and will continue to have. I appreciate what I’ve come through and who I have become as a result—and I appreciate others who can see the value in that.

I’m in my late twenties and at some stage in the last few years I realized I was no longer all that attracted to “perfect” men. By perfect I mean men whose credentials is everything your mom ever dreamed for you: Masters holder, Successful career, mortgage, money, stable family.

It wasn’t that I didn’t find them physically attractive; I have met my share of gorgeous perfect men in the last year.  But I have learned that I am more attracted to flaws and imperfections and the beauty that involves a life of struggles and pain and losses and victories.

After the birth of my son my values seem to have shifted. I began to feel as if I had travelled a long journey. I had a child and a troubled relationship and I was digging deep into my own stuff, finding out who I was, what I really valued and needed, and what I wanted from life.

And as I looked around, I found myself meeting the eyes of broken men, seeing a reflection of their own journeys and what they had become as a result.

By broken I don’t mean damaged or troubled, but rather strengthened. Men who have BEEN broken by life but somehow managed to put themselves back together.

They are what I call Kintsukuroi men. 

Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer.  It understands that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken and it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

That’s how I see men.

I am attracted by the depth I see, the understanding and ability to accept life with all its ups and downs. I feel an understanding from them that was missing in so many of those perfect on paper men.

Not all broken men attract me, of course.
Some had closed down and retreated in response to the hurt they’ve had. Some just weren’t interested in looking inward. But my radar was set for those men who had lived a bit, explored life and their own inner world and who had come to a deeper understanding of themselves and what they valued about life.

It’s not that this depth can’t exist in a “perfect” man, but there is a wisdom that can come with years (what a cliché) of experiences and struggles, which can’t be faked. Depth and character are a result of how much of a fight you have put out in life. People who have never struggled, who have never been forced to move, who haven’t lost a job, or a family member or who haven’t had tiny pieces of their hearts handed to them in a platter, lack the light I am looking for.

The light of warriors, who have gone through war and survived. That light, those struggles, is what makes me want to rip their clothes and make love to them in the most intense way possible.

Broken men have been road tested. In the same way I’ve been road-tested—and I’m sure some of those who were involved in the road test would consider me to have failed miserably at times. So I like being able to compare battle scars with a man. How many have you got? How did you get them? How have they healed?

There’s no pretense at being perfect.There is an understanding, though, that we’ve both learned from our journeys and have a deeper awareness of, and compassion for, ourselves and others as a result.

It can be fun too, laughing over the highs and lows of previous relationships. Nothing is more sexy than two people who laugh out loud together. A friendship between two lovers is more than the cherry on top of the cake. Two friends laughing after a night of mind blowing sex is the cherry on top of a lava cake on top of a scoop of ice cream.

We might like different things but if he makes me laugh, I will fall for him, hoping that maybe, just maybe, he will fall for me too.

As a woman who has cried, laughed, loved, given birth, dreamed, works her ass off, soared and flunked through a whole decade, how could I feel fully held and seen by someone who hasn’t experienced how fast and hard life can kick you down?

Perhaps it’s possible, and if the odd time ever comes when I get disenchanted by the complexities of broken men I will entertain the idea of a more perfect one.

But not anytime soon.

For now, I see their emotional wounds. I admire their drive to succeed and I love the fact that they don’t  know where they are going.

Just like me.