When I moved to the Cayman Islands, I told my father I wanted to run a marathon. He laughed. Not because he thought I couldn’t reach such a goal, but because he knew what it would take to cross the finish line. In the past, he ran a half-marathon and clocked six or seven-minute miles during training. Once he put a marathon into perspective for someone who never ran anywhere unless you count running late, I realized I should shoot for a 5 or 10K instead. I downloaded motivational music onto my Ipod, strapped on a runner’s watch and tied up a pair of sneakers, which promised that I would burn more calories with every step than regular shoes. Along the way, I had a couple coaches cheering me on and yelling for me to not pass out in the hot sun like I claimed I would do if I didn’t stop this nonsense immediately. I never made it to the marathon–full or half–but I did improve my health, completed an 8-week session of boot camp, came in third in a workplace fitness competition and ran a mile in under 9 minutes. Ok, maybe it was 9:30. At any rate, I learned that I couldn’t wake up one day and run a marathon without the proper training.
The same is true for dating. I’ve been out of the game for four years. It was a wonderful break, but it didn’t turn into a marathon relationship or marriage. Now, I’m jumping back into the dating game–this time with a new member on my team, my little girl. I’m a little rusty. While talking to a really hot guy before going out to eat together, I mistakenly called my “ex” my “boyfriend” and then the guy asked if I was ready to date, since my daughter was only five months at the time. I wasn’t, but didn’t tell him that. When I got something from my car, I had to sift through a backseat of boxes from a mega toy sale. I don’t have to be a dating expert to know it was not a sexy look. Now, that my little girl is almost one, I decided to enlist a coach. Not just any coach, but Damon “The Champ” Young, Editor at Ebony.com, relationship guru and one half of the talented team at Very Smart Brothas. I reached out to him for blogging advice but it quickly turned into me getting free words of wisdom on the guys I’m meeting as a new mommy. It was a long talk, but it’s well worth your time!
Heather: Thank you for hanging out with us here at Black & Married With Kids. Let’s get right to it. What advice would you give a new mom concerning dating? Should she wait until her child is a certain age before she jumps back into the dating pool?
Damon: I’d advise any new mom to wait at least until her child is a year old before they start seriously dating again. Sure, there will be times before that when you can go out and have fun, but (I’m assuming) the demands of being a mom — a new mom, at that — in the first year are going to be too time/energy/spirit consuming to put forth much of an effort with dating. Also, new moms entering the dating game have to be cognizant of the fact that each man she decides to bring into her life will eventually have some type of interaction with the baby, and they need to ask themselves if the guy in question is the type of guy who could impact the baby’s life in a negative manner.
Heather: Good point. I wanted to wait a year, because I was so focused on my daughter. At the end of the day, I didn’t have enough energy in me to sustain someone else. And I was still getting over her dad, who I did love dearly at one point in time. That’s usually not the case for the child’s father. He moves on quicker than the mother. How can a woman get over her ex in order to heal and prepare for future relationships?
Damon: I believe that you only truly get over someone when you totally convince yourself that you don’t want to reconcile. If even a tiny part of you still holds on to the hope that things will eventually get back to how they were, you’ll stay stuck on the relationship, and stay checking his Facebook page and getting sore every time a woman comments on one of his picture. To heal you have to find a way to kill the hope.
Heather: Kill the hope. Well said. You also have to change your expectation and look at the guy as your child’s father not your man. Sometimes men think single moms are looking for fathers for their children when often that isn’t the case at all. How should this be communicated?
Damon: Every time you go to a club or on a date, wear a baby tee with “I’m not looking for no damn father for my children” written on it.
Heather: Funny. Are you going to start selling those shirts for $5? Moms tend to look at their children as part of the package, but sometimes men look at kids as baggage. Do you think women lose or gain points when they become a mother?
Damon: There are exceptions — some guys don’t care, and some guys do prefer dating women with children — but, generally speaking, the more children a woman has, the more “points” she loses in regards to dating and desirability. I would never call a child “baggage,” but it is a reality that most single men (and most single women) would rather date someone who didn’t have kids.
Heather: Do any other communities have a dating game with a point system? B.C. (Before Baby C), I bought into this line of thinking. Then I realized, you’re not a higher quality person because you don’t have children. That doesn’t mean you’re not having sex. It just means you happened to not get pregnant. In your last answer, are you referring to single men with or without children?
Damon: I’m referring to most single men without children and majority (a smaller majority, but still a majority) of young (under 40) single men with children. (Yes, these men would be hypocrites, but that’s another topic for another day?) Thing is, although having a kid is a deal-breaker for some men and some women, for most, it’s just one of the dozens of “things” that factor into how interested they might be in someone. A thing and not THE thing, if that makes any sense. Also, as shallow as a “point” system may be, everyone has their own way of accessing how interested in/attracted to someone they might be. The good thing about it, though, is that it’s a living and breathing scale. Things that may be looked at as negatives initially can be positives if you get to know/like a person, and vice versa.
Heather: Definitely. My aunt jokes that, “In your twenties, you date a man for his looks. In your thirties, you date someone for their personality. And in your forties and fifties, you date someone for their retirement plan! So, Damon I have a lot to learn and a lot more to ask, so I think I’ll make this a two-part interview!
Check back soon to read what “The Champ” says about bringing a man home for the first time and the positive part of dating someone with kids. Until then, you can “date” Damon online at Very Smart Brothas.
Meanwhile, what dating advice would you give me?