Six Tips For Dating When You Have Children

When you have children and you find yourself single again, dating can be very complicated.  Not only do you have the challenge of finding someone worthy of dating, but you have more constraints on your time, potential childcare issues, and then the complex issue of what your children should know and who they should meet.  The following are some general tips that I have acquired through my own experience and the experience of clients.

First and most importantly, children (especially those under 18) must always come first.  While you are entitled to a love life, your children’s well being should always be your top priority and should never take a back seat to your loneliness or desire to find a partner.  Having said this though, you have every right to date and your children should never be an obstacle or reason that holds you back when you are ready to meet someone.

Second, your love life is not your children’s business.  This means that they don’t need to know everything about your dating life, and some questions should be off limits.  While I don’t think it is generally advisable to lie to your children about anything, having boundaries around what they are allowed to ask or know is healthy.  Young children will likely have completely different questions than teens.  What you share should be dependent on the age of your children as well as your own relationship with them.

Third, balancing a dating life with children is tricky.  If you share custody of your children and they are only with you a limited amount of time, during the time that they are with you, they should be the priority.  If you are regularly out dating during the 50 percent or less of the time that your children are with you, this will likely cause problems in your relationship with your children as it may create a perception in their minds that they are less important.  If you have your children fulltime, it is a different story and you will have to find a way to balance this.

Fourth, while your children are the priority. if you frequently cancel on your date, spend time on the phone with your children throughout the date, or have no contact at all even via text with someone you are dating on the days that you have your children with you, it is likely that you aren’t ready for a relationship because no healthy love relationship can be built with this foundation.  If you want to develop a relationship with someone, you owe them the respect of giving them some of your time and focus too, and it is also healthy for your children to see this and learn that sometimes they don’t command 100 percent of your attention.

Fifth, when to introduce your children to someone you are dating is a tricky issue.  My advice is that your children really only need to meet someone with whom you are in a serious relationship.  There is no need for your children to meet someone new or that you are casually dating.  I have found that as my children entered their teens, it isn’t as big a deal for them to casually meet someone I am dating because they are mature enough to understand what dating means.  When they were younger they had a lot of discomfort with the idea of mommy dating, whereas as teens they frequently tell me that they want me to date and that I deserve to meet someone nice.

Last, but not least is the issue of intimacy, dating and children.  This is the most complicated subject of all.  My advice is that parents should tread carefully on this issue and always respect their children. Sharing a bed with someone while your children are in the home is significant and it is healthiest for your children if this is only done with a partner that you are serious about and with whom your children have already developed a relationship.

All of these tips are general guidelines.  You know your children best and are best suited to make the healthiest choice for your family.  Always remember that your children’s well being should come first, but that you also have a right to a love life whether your children support it or not.

Why I No Longer Date Tire Kickers & Why You Shouldn’t Either

If you have ever worked in a sales job, then you are most likely very familiar with the “Tire Kickers”.  A “tire kicker” is someone who appears to be interested in buying something, asks a lot of questions, uses up a lot of your time, but then does not buy anything.  There are lots of them around and if you try to sell something on the internet, it can be even worse. Sadly, the “Tire Kickers” have expanded from not only wasting people’s time in the world of sales, they are now a force to be reckoned with in the dating world of 2018.

Online dating and dating through social media is full of lots of people who want to have some sort of virtual relationship with you, but they never want to actually meet you in person.  They will message you frequently, possibly every day.  They will show an interest in your life.  They will tell you that you are beautiful, smart, sexy and they will feed your ego, but despite their feigned interest and the accolades they throw your way, they will not meet you in person.

Why won’t they meet you in person?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Maybe their dating profile, or Facebook page really isn’t them so they don’t want to be discovered.  Maybe they look or act nothing like their online persona and don’t want you to know.  Maybe they are married.  Maybe they are afraid you will reject them if you meet in person so they would rather stay within the safety of a cyber pen-pal relationship.  Maybe they are shy or reclusive and afraid to go on an actual real date.  Maybe something else.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter why they don’t want to meet you in person.  None of these are good reasons, and none of these are people that you should want to meet or waste time chatting with. Countless times I have come across people on dating sites who want to message for weeks or even months.  They don’t even want to talk on the phone, they just want to write back and forth.  I had one prospective date email me for over a year. Finally, he asked me on a date and I went, out of mere curiosity at this point.  We had a nice dinner, but never contacted each other again by mutual decision.    The moral of the story:  you can’t really get to know someone unless you meet in person.  Emailing, texting, and messaging someone is not really connecting with them.  We all have busy lives, and if you are anything like me, you don’t have time to be a pen-pal.

My approach now is that if someone has not asked me on an actual real life date after a couple of weeks of messaging, then I am no longer interested in meeting them unless there has been a good reason for this such as illness, work or family commitments, or some other reasonable excuse.  We all deserve to be with someone who is excited to meet us and spend time with us.  If someone is regularly showing no interest in meeting in person, or they are constantly making excuses for why they can’t meet you in person, they are not interested enough in you that you should be wasting your time or energy interacting with this person.  We all have busy lives, but we all know how to fit something or someone into our schedule when it is important enough to us.  If someone isn’t doing this, they are sending you a message loud and clear, and it is only the beginning of the relationship.  If this is what the honeymoon period looks like, I don’t think you want to see what follows.

After wasting too much time on endless messaging, I have finally adopted my “No Tire Kickers” dating philosophy.  Maybe I will miss out on my Prince Charming by doing this, or maybe I will have more free time to find my Prince Charming since I am no longer wasting time messaging someone who isn’t interested enough to actually set up a date. Have you come across “Tire Kickers” in your dating life?  If so, how do you deal with them?  Comment below and let me know.

Do People Even Go On Real Dates Anymore?

In this world of “coffee meets”, “hanging out”, and “Netflix and chill”, do people even go on real dates anymore?  As someone who longs for some of the old style courtship, I am starting to think that “real dates” are becoming an endangered species.  While I have certainly met some wonderful gentlemen who know how to properly court a woman and take her out for a wonderful evening, for every man like that, there are dozens who just want to hang out.  I am sure that there are many men finding the same thing about women, so my comments in this blog are aimed at both genders.

Most dates these days start with the “coffee meet”.  It isn’t a date.  It’s a casual meeting at a coffee shop where you evaluate whether the other person is “worthy” of getting to know better.  If you pass the test you may actually progress to what I might consider a “real date”.  A dinner out, a concert, lunch at a bistro….these are all possible venues for the real date.  My advice is to enjoy this date as it may be the last one you have.

From the “real date” it seems that things progress to the “hanging out” and “Netflix and chill” stage and once you are here, you may never get out.  After you have had the one date, it seems that everything is about being casual and comfortable. Why would you want to dress to impress as that requires making an effort?  Comfort is the priority of the day these days and the days of dressing up are becoming more and more obsolete. Why wear a suit when shorts and a t-shirt are more comfortable? Why wear heels, when Crocs are easier on the feet?

It seems to be that a key component of the “hanging out stage” is also being physically intimate.  Notice that I said physically as nowadays daters are much quicker to know each others bodies than they are their minds, life story, opinions, likes, dislikes and other personal details.   Courtship is becoming more a thing of the past and daters rush from the coffee meet, to one date, to sex before they even know the other person’s middle name (and maybe even their last name).

The duration of the “hanging out” phase varies and may depend on two things.  If one of the parties begins to develop feelings for the other and the resulting expectations for exclusivity, the relationship may end.  Alternatively, if one of the parties starts to become negative or express a mood other than happiness, the “good vibes only” aspect of the relationship comes to an end, and now there may be “drama” so the relationship will also end.

Maybe I should have been single in another era.  I long for courtship, real dates, getting to know each other’s minds, bodies and souls. Alternatively, maybe more people feel the way that I do than I realize, and we all just need to speak up, change the way dating is done in 2018, and find a way to adopt the best things about dating from generations ago to the best things about modern dating.  I am willing to try.  Will you join me?

Can You Be Single So Long That You Become Undateable?

A friend of mine gave me a piece of dating advice a few years ago.  She said, “You need to meet a man when he is newly separated because once he has been single for too long, he will enjoy single life and not want to commit.” At the time I thought that this was interesting advice, and I wasn’t sure whether it was true or not.  Now, as I enter yet another year of single life, I am beginning to wonder if this statement is not just true of men, but of women also.  Is it possible that if we are single for too long we start to enjoy the independence, lack of drama and accompanying freedom so much, that with each passing year we become more reluctant to give it up, and thereby become almost undateable?

Over the years of my single life I am finding that I am becoming increasingly selective.  What I tolerated years ago, I will not tolerate now.  When I first started dating after my divorce, I put up with a lot of inconsiderate and bad behaviour.  I can remember driving long distances to meet a date near his home for a coffee and I don’t even like coffee, or coffee shops for that matter.  I can remember agreeing to meet someone who I had no interest in at all, but I kept telling myself that I needed to keep an open mind and do things differently because my past taste in men had been so bad for me.  Now, I generally won’t venture out of the 416 area code, and if I do, it certainly isn’t for just a coffee.  There has to be something more that is worth my time.  I also won’t agree to meet someone out of guilt or because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

I sometimes wonder though, has my increased selectiveness made me so picky that no man can possibly measure up? I say I want to keep an open mind, but the reality is that I lead a happy life and if I am going to bring someone into it, they are going to have to be someone pretty special.  I enjoy spending my time as I want, seeing friends whose company I enjoy, working long hours building a business that excites me, and devoting my main focus to my children.  For me to compromise on any of this, someone is going to have to really excite me and make my heart go pitter patter.  Ironically, when I was younger, arguably more attractive and definitely had less “baggage” I wasn’t as picky with who I would date.  I was picky about who I would marry, but I was open to dating lots of people who in reality were not bringing a whole lot to the table.  Now that my time is so precious to me, I am extremely choosy about who I am going to spend it with.  Casual dating isn’t particularly appealing to me because I would rather spend a Saturday night with my kids, friends, or even alone at home eating ice cream and watching Netflix in a night of “me time”, then go out and meet a new guy who is just looking for a friend for fun times.

Everyone says you need to heal from your past relationships, work on yourself, find happiness within yourself, and Mr. Wonderful will magically enter your life at that time.  The reality is that I have done a lot of personal growth, healing, and lead a happy life, and the more I do these things, the less a relationship seems to be a priority to me.  Maybe this means that I just haven’t met the one for me, or maybe it means something else.  I genuinely believe that if my version of Prince Charming were to come along, I would be excited and make room for him in my life.  Despite my independence and self-sufficiency, I do believe in fairy tales, so let’s see what the universe has in store for me.  I don’t think being single this long has truly made me undateable.  It has just made me strong enough to know though that I don’t need to settle for someone in order for my life to be complete and happy.

The Problem Is You Found Her, But You Kept Looking

 

I recently posted a meme with the title of this blog on my social media and was very surprised at the response, mostly from men, who seemed to take exception to the content of the meme.  The point of my post wasn’t to attack men, it was to highlight this modern day problem that has arisen amongst both men AND women.  Everyone is so busy searching for “the one”, they overlook the very special person who may be right in front of them.

Modern dating has become a constant chase of that elusive partner who is going to make our world complete.  Daters keep moving onto the next person, while suffering  “FOMO” syndrome (fear of missing out), and feeling like Bono singing, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” With so much choice so readily available, why are so many people having such a hard time finding “the one”?

My guess is that the sense of fulfillment and happiness that people are searching for isn’t going to be found on the dating scene, it comes from within.  Only when we are truly happy with ourselves, can we really enter into a healthy relationship.  Too many people are searching for someone to make them happy or to complete them.  This isn’t the function of a date or a partner.  If you aren’t happy before your met Cinderella or Prince Charming, you aren’t going to be afterwards either.  We need to stop looking for someone else to make us feel better about our own life.

We also need to stop treating everyone as if they are disposable. If you meet someone who is kind and genuinely interested in you, don’t be so quick to dismiss this person. Modern daters are so busy looking to their next date that they don’t value the person right in front of them.  The relationships formed are often so superficial that no one really gets to know someone anyway.

The dating world is currently full of people who want to date 3, 4 or 5 people all at the same time.  Daters are encouraged by friends and our culture to keep their options open, not limit themselves to just one person, and to play the field.  The problem with this approach is that someone absolutely amazing might be right in front of you, but you lose the opportunity to really connect, because you devalue that person by dating others at the same time.  Why would anyone of high quality want to be one of many being dated by the same person after a few dates?

Dating someone new has become like chasing a high.  Endless dating has become like an addiction.  It can never be satisfied. There’s always that hope for the better high.  At the end of the day, all of us daters need to take a long hard look at ourselves.  We need to ask ourselves if we are happy with who we are, and if we aren’t, we need to do the work on ourselves to change this.  Your next date is not going to make you feel like you are enough, only you can do that.

 

 

Good Vibes Only. That’s Ridiculous!!

All too often in social media and other places I see people posting about how they want “good vibes only” and how they have a “no negativity” zone.  At the risk of emitting “negative vibes”, I have to say that I find these mantras to be ridiculous.  I will even go further and say that not only are they ridiculous, they are harmful to people, our relationships and our ability to connect with one another.

I am the first to value the importance of having a positive outlook and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people.  The problem is that life isn’t always positive.  In fact, sometimes it can outright suck and pretending that everything is great, when it isn’t, is not healthy.  As humans, we are blessed with a full range of emotions including anger, sadness, fear, joy, disgust and surprise.  We are meant to feel all of these emotions, not just the positive ones.  If we suppress the negative ones, to put on our happy face, it is harmful to our overall well being.  We can’t process emotions if we don’t allow ourselves to feel them.  If we suppress our emotions they end up affecting us in other ways or we resort to self-medicating to numb them.  Numbing emotions through alcohol, food or drugs is never a good thing, and our “good vibes only” culture may very well be contributing to the increasing rate of substance abuse.

A “good vibes only” mantra is also undermining our relationships with friends and partners. The current dating world is full of countless people looking for fun and a good time, with no strings attached, no responsibility and no commitment.  If we express dissatisfaction to our date about anything, we are viewed as too negative, and if we are upset about something they did, we are seen as being critical, demanding or some other negative quality.  No one wants to date “negative Nellie” or “Debbie Downer”, they just want a good time because life is too short.  Our relationships are expected to be only fun, and if they become work, it’s time to move on.  How are we supposed to develop meaningful connections with anybody, if all we can talk about are positive experiences and feelings?  True bonding occurs over being vulnerable, and being vulnerable involves expressing feelings of sadness, disgust, and fear.

Our “good vibes only” culture causes people to feel isolated because they can’t share any negative feelings or emotions without fear of others wanting to avoid being around them.  It creates a fake reality where we are made to feel ashamed or like we are doing something wrong if we feel sad, angry or upset.  Obviously, a positive attitude is important, but we can have a positive attitude while still acknowledging that we are going through a difficult time and feeling scared, sad or overwhelmed.  By projecting only positivity, we make ourselves unapproachable to those who are suffering because we aren’t being relatable or genuinely expressing our truth as nobody’s truth is always positive.  “Good vibes only” seems superficial or insincere.

So at the risk of being labelled “Debbie Downer”, I am calling on others to drop the superficial “good vibes only” mantra and adopt a mantra of “be real”, “be authentic” or “be you” in all your glorious range of emotions. Be positive, be supportive, be encouraging, but be real.  Most importantly, if you are struggling, be honest with someone about your emotions, and if you have no one to talk to, contact me, and I will help you find the right resources.

 

 

As The Seasons Change, So Do Our Relationships: How To Weatherproof Your Relationship

Just like with the seasons, change is inevitable.  For any relationship to last long-term, partners need to be adaptable and committed to adjusting to life’s changing seasons.  With the holidays coming next month, and the increased opportunity for family time, November is a great time to reflect on our relationships, and make sure we are adjusting with the times to weather the future together as a team.

Here are some tips on weatherproofing your relationship with your partner:

  1. Communication:  This is the number one thing that partners need to do well in order to have a healthy relationship.  We need to communicate our needs so that our partner understands what we need from the relationship.  No one is a mind reader.  Uncommunicated needs lead to resentments which undermine healthy relationships.
  2. Quality and Quantity of Time:  It goes almost without saying that spending quality time together is important.  Date nights and intimacy are very important to a healthy relationship. Quantity of time matters though too.  Absence doesn’t really make the heart grow fonder, it makes it grow more distant.  Just spending time in the same room, even if one of you is reading and one of you is doing a hobby, can still help strengthen your connection. The best relationships are ones where partners know they can just be together and they don’t have to be talking, as the silence isn’t uncomfortable.
  3. Reciprocity:  Both partners need to be committed to working on the relationship and helping it grow with the times.  If only one person is putting in the effort, it won’t work.
  4. Agreement on key issues including money, parenting and sex:  If a couple has very divergent viewpoints on these three issues, there are going to be significant problems in the relationship.  There needs to be lots of communication on these topics and a commitment to always keeping the communication channels open as changes in life affect these three areas.
  5. Respect:  If there is mutual respect in a relationship, it has a much better chance of weathering the storms.

We can’t stop change from happening, but with a little time and commitment, we can weatherproof our lives from the changing seasons.

5 Ways To Make Online Dating Work For You

Online dating has permanently changed how we find love in the modern world.  It has given rise to a buffet of potential matches, and all we have to do is keep returning to the buffet and sampling other dishes.  It has given rise to multi-dating, polyamorous love, and an ever increasing hook-up culture.  Some say it has destroyed romance,  and long-term relationships, and in many ways it has devalued all of the participants who are often viewed as nothing special and easily replaceable.   With all of these challenges it can be easy to become jaded and discouraged, however, with the right outlook and approach online dating can be a fantastic way to meet new people and potentially find exactly what you are looking for.

Here are 5 ways to make online dating work for you:

  1. Be open minded:  The best approach to online dating is to have little or no expectations.  Maybe you will make a new friend, maybe you will find true love, or maybe you will just have a funny story to laugh about with your friends.  Just be open to the idea of meeting new and interesting people, and you won’t feel disappointed if you didn’t make a love connection.
  2. Don’t take anything personally: Like anywhere, the online dating world has its share of rude, ill-mannered and weird people.  Don’t take it personally if someone from online is rude or insulting to you.  It is a reflection on them, not you, and in no way should you let someone else’s rude behaviour cause you to feel bad about yourself.  You need to have a thick skin to successfully online date as the process itself devalues us all.
  3. Be positive:  Rather than assuming the worst about potential online suitors, assume the best.  Assume that they are genuine, sincere and interested in you and you will give off a positive energy that will attract positive people.
  4. Listen to your instincts:  If your gut is telling you that something doesn’t seem right about someone, listen to it.  While I recommend viewing people positively, you also need to use common sense and be smart about who you meet, and where or how you meet them.  Being positive doesn’t mean that you take risks with your safety or waste your time with someone who your instincts tell you is being less than honest.
  5. Be open to the idea that your Prince or Princess Charming may come in a package that looks different than the one you envisioned:  One of the biggest shortcomings of online dating is that you can’t tell from a photo or profile whether you will feel any chemistry with someone.  Sometimes the person who seems less than stellar on paper or a computer screen, can be charismatic and have an outstanding personality that attracts you when you meet in person.  Don’t be so rigid with your checklist of qualities your prospective date must have that you miss out on the opportunity to meet someone fantastic.

Online dating is here to stay so if you are single you might as well use it to your advantage. This simple approach will ensure that you have fun with it whether you meet the love of your life or not.

Can You Truly Be Friends With Someone You Have Never Met In Person?

In our world of social media, insta-stories, snapchat and all of the other mediums available, it is easy to connect with people all over the world.  This means that we can develop relationships with people who we have never met in person.  We can directly message them, follow their lives on social media, and possibly even take it to the next level and talk to them on Skype or FaceTime.  Yet if we never actually meet in person, can we really consider these people our friends?

In my personal experience, I have been fortunate to have developed a group of followers on social media who I interact with regularly.  In some cases I look forward to their posts, they tell me they look forward to mine, we comment on each other’s musings, and we feel like we have some sense of each other’s daily lives.  I feel like I relate to them because of the things they post, and I feel like we have some sort of connection.  Often they inspire me to do better, cheer me up,  and remind me of what truly matters.

On my own social media, I often post about what is going on in my private life which recently included a broken finger. surgery, flooding and a new office location.  My followers congratulated me on the positive, cheered me up over the negative and sometimes even made me laugh.  They reminded me that they cared, even if we have never met in person, and I felt some sense of support reading their empathetic comments.  In contrast, I have friends who I have known for years, who are not on social media, and who I haven’t had much contact with in the last couple of months, who know of none of these significant developments in my life.  They didn’t have an opportunity to offer support or encouragement because they were unaware of the events going on in my life.  Ironically, the latter group are people I definitely consider friends, whereas the former group, I question what category to put them into since I have never met them in person.  Is one group more my friends than the other?

Ultimately what I think it comes down to is how one defines a friend.  For me, a friend is anyone who I feel a connection with who brings something positive to my life, and with whom I enjoy having contact.  The form of contact doesn’t matter.  It can be online, or in person, however, I must confess that I can only feel a really strong connection with someone who I have met in person.  There is something deeper when you can look someone in the eye, feel their energy, observe their body language, hear the tone in their voice and sense their aura.  The only form of contact where this type of connection can be made is in person.

This brings me to one of the dangers of online connections.  In my view they aren’t enough.  If someone isolates themselves from connecting with people offline and only has virtual connections, they will be missing something in their lives. Virtual friendships can compliment real life friendships, but they cannot replace them. So, can you truly be friends with someone you have never met in person?  My answer is yes, but a virtual friendship is different than a friendship in the real world.

 

Is The Long-Term Monogamous Relationship Dead?

With high divorce rates, less people marrying and the easy access people have to meet others through the internet, one must wonder whether marriage and long-term monogamous relationships are becoming extinct. I sometimes wonder if by the time my children are 30 whether marrying or finding a life long partner will even be something that is considered important.

Let’s look at the reasons why people married historically. The biggest reason in the past was to create a family unit. Marriage meant a commitment which is something most people value in choosing someone with whom to have children. In 2017, however, many people don’t view marriage as necessary to show a commitment and the common law union has become more widespread. In addition, a small number of people believe that a commitment isn’t even necessary for the purposes of having children with someone. The high divorce rate, and the number of single parent households has also shown that a married couple is not necessary to raise happy, healthy children. Research has shown that children of divorce fare just fine if it is handled properly. For all of these reasons, marriage is no longer viewed as something necessary for the creation of a family unit.

Another reason for marriage in the past was for economic stability. In 2017, however, many two income households are struggling and marriage does not provide the same security it once did. Long-term marriages that break-up can be especially costly where spouses see their net worth cut in half after years of hard work and saving. More and more, people do not want to expose themselves to this risk so they don’t want to marry or re-marry in midlife. Some couples do stay together for financial reasons, often leading miserable lives, co-existing in the same home, but essentially leading separate lives.

Now let’s look at the modern day phenomena that work against marriage or a long-term monogamous relationships. With the invention of the internet and online dating, people have fast, discreet and easy access to a wide range of others looking for everything from marriage to a one night hook-up. Cheating has never been easier. Being a player, a serial dater, polyamorous or just simply content with casual relationships has also never been easier. It is easy to feel like you can always do better and are settling by just picking one person to spend the rest of your life with.

In 2017 we also live in a society that wants instant gratification. There isn’t value placed on working hard, paying dues, and putting others first in the me generation of today. Any long-term relationship is going to have its ups and downs. It will require some level of work to stand the test of time. People today want “good vibes only” and don’t want any negativity. They view relationships as something that should be easy and fun, and if this changes, they see it as time to move on. Commitment to someone isn’t valued the way that it once was.

Another factor working against long-term relationships is the rise of women in the workplace, earning their own money and not being financially dependent on a man. Many divorces these days are initiated by women who are unhappy in the marriage and know that they have the means to stand on their own feet. They don’t need to tolerate a bad marriage the way prior generations of women did because they are not financially dependent on their spouses.

There is no doubt that the decline of marriage and long-term unions has created problems and a cultural change. It isn’t all bad news though. In prior generations, many people led miserable lives feeling stuck in a marriage that brought them down and did not meet any of their needs. People also stayed in abusive or neglectful relationships too. Nowadays, most people realize they have options and choices to do what is best for them. Ultimately, we all deserve happiness, and there has never been a time of more options and choices. We must be careful though, as Margaret Atwood, put it, “We are a society dying…..of too much choice.”