A Single Mother’s Perspective on Dating, Love and Marriage

For starters, I am a single mother. (If it is not clear, by now)

I got divorced more than 10 years ago.

People laugh at me or gasp in disbelief when I share that I have not dated for over 10 years.

It is only recently that I’ve come out of my “cold storage” to re-join the dating world, so-to-speak.

It was not for the lack of offers that I did not date for a decade or so.

It was not for the lack of trying either. I just didn’t find the dating scene to be remotely inspiring.

To be honest, I found many people to be quite fake and they put on their best “performances” at the dates. No different from presenting their well crafted resumes for a job interview. All their flaws and weaknesses are carefully disguised as other “strengths”. No one comes clean.

Some were just downright “slimey” and gross, while others were only interested in FWB (Friends With Benefits), casual sex and flings. Prior to this, I did not even know what FWB meant.

The worst were those who liked to play “games”. Be it mind games, emotional games or the money games. I really cannot bring myself to participate at all.

Honestly, I cannot imagine any woman (single mothers or just single women) would want to date any of the above.

The question I keep asking myself is this – What happened to the real people on this planet? Did they get shipped to Mars or something? Or may be they are all happily married – in which case, lucky them! They do not need to come out into this cess-pool of dating ever, I pray.

Of course, I do realise that just because I have not had a pleasant experience with dating (or marriage), it doesn’t mean it is all that bad for everyone else out there.  Hence, let’s set the record straight. Yes, this is from my personal perspective and yes, it does not represent every single mother out there. It only represents single mothers like me. Now, that is out of the way, let’s dispel the myths.

Single mom dating

1) THE MYTH THAT SINGLE MOTHERS SEEK FINANCIAL BACKERS

No, we will not date guys who just throw money at us and think that we can be bought like everything else he has acquired in his life. Guys who use money to get a girl should fully expect that the girl will demand that he pays for everything “ever after”. He should not be surprised when it happens, because he has sealed his fate by his own actions. All self-respecting independent single mothers celebrate the fact that they are no longer dependent on a man for anything – especially, money. Because many women have been controlled by their wealthy ex-husbands in this very “monetary” manner, so they will never ever venture down this path again. No free bird would deliberately put herself back into a cage, no matter how gilded and bling-out that cage may be. So, NO, not all single able mothers would be desperately looking for a man to financially support her and her child/children. She has been doing fine on her own in all this time. She would rather turn in her grave than have her wings clipped, stuffed and hung like a trophy over some fire-place.

 

2) THE MYTH THAT SINGLE MOTHERS ARE CLINGY

As independent single mothers have been doing it on their own for so long, the last thing they would do is become clingy. She would not even know how clingy looks like if it slapped her in the face. I’ll tell you what single mothers would not need – it’s another clingy man-child who expects her to do all the work, bring home the bacon and cook it as well. No sane single mother would want to bring home another “child” to look after. That is the last thing she needs or wants. My marriage broke down because I had to do almost everything on my own. I worked, I kept the house, I cooked and cleaned. I even took care of our chid and him, while he supposedly went on a “sabbatical”. In a way, he “trained” me to do everything on my own. When I became more self-reliant, he drifted further from our daily life. Eventually, he took himself out of our marriage as well by not being there with me, or for me. Hence, I was trained to be a single mother way before I got divorced. So, there is no way any single mother of sound mind would invite another “man-child” into her life or family. She has enough on her plate as it is.

 

CLARIFICATION

Here, please do not misunderstand. I am not bashing my ex-husband. He was a different person then, just as I was a different person at that time as well. I am sharing how single mothers will not ever want to repeat any of their “nightmares” in the realms of personal relationships.

However, this is how some relationships start to break down – when two people are no longer involved in each other’s lives and do not participate in the marriage. People will drift apart when they do not do anything to salvage their relationship, or what’s left of it.

Many people gripe about how marriage is a sham because they have lost faith in the concept of marriage, and the high divorce rates do not help either.

Personally, I still believe in marriage but I do not believe that marriage is the only way for two people to be together. At this day and age, there are many ways for two people to design their own relationship and marriage. It is about what works best for them, and no one can or should judge. In the same respect, people are more educated these days. They have options. They do not need to suffer a bad marriage if they can help it. It is not a sign that marriage is bad. It is merely a sign that marriage was not right for them. May be not at that time, or not with that person.

In the past, people did stay together for a mountain of reasons. Women were more dependent on men, and there were the children to consider. Even today, many women or men stay in their loveless marriage for the sake of their children. However, in the past – there were not as many distractions and the options available were not really a second chance at life. It was more like ostracized for life. Hence, divorce rates were low. Yes, I am simplifying here. But I am sure you do get the picture.

High divorce rates or low marriage rates should not imply that marriage is an outdated concept. We just need to redefine what marriage really means at this day and age. Most of all, we as a society should allow individuals to define their own terms of marriage, love and dating. One set formula may not work for all the rest. Each person, or couple are different and they have very different priorities.

 

ALL I KNOW IS THIS – 

Some people rush into marriage or relationship too soon or for all the wrong reasons. And some stay in a marriage or relationship for all the wrong reasons. Hence, everyone needs to find their own right reasons for doing what they really want. Bear in mind, these reasons could change with time.

For me, dating is like going to a buffet in a fancy restaurant. I get to sample many dishes and desserts. It is such a fanfare. However, I’d never really get to know the calibre of the chef or get deep and personal with one particular dish. Therefore, I feel dating may not really be my thing. Because I like getting to know the real person behind the mask, the eyes, and the smile. I like to know what made them the way they are today, without them feeling the need to hide. I’d want to know every breadth, width and angle to his life story. And only then can I decide if I want to be a part of his life story. I do not want to waste precious time in shallow, superficial B.S, only to later find out that he is not what I imagined him to be. And vice versa.

And yes, I would like to fall in love again. But I do not believe that love is some whimsical chemically induced euphoria that strikes a person at first glance. I believe true love takes time. And it only shows itself, and its strength in times of trouble. I remembered the day I knew in my heart that it was all over for my ex-husband and myself when we stopped being there for one another during the hard times. We only stood by, watching the other fall apart. Before too long, we stopped loving one another altogether. It showed in the way we spoke, in the way we behaved and even in our silence. If someone cannot be there for you during the tough times, that in itself is a telling sign. Deep in my heart, I know that with the right person, the world does seem brighter and extra special. However, with the wrong person – even the Heavens can become Hell. Hence, I believe that true love is one that grows with age and time because a deeper understanding is reached at every level. In this way, we just grow to love that person more each day.

At my age (and after all that I have experienced), I want something more fulfilling than casual flings, trivial dates and meaningless fucks. Because I know exactly how I would feel when I’ve opened up myself to someone and given myself to him, but he turns out to be a**hole. I know I’ll be the one crying in the shower, scrubbing myself raw to cleanse myself from every stain of him. This is what we women do, because we’d feel totally violated by our own stupid mistake. Hence, taking the time in getting to really know each other is crucial. Above all, it has to be someone who will appreciate what we have to offer. This applies to us appreciating what they have to offer as well.

Everyone loves waking up next to the person they care about, and knowing that this is the same person who would stand by them no matter.  We value the person who makes us smile when times are down, and makes us laugh when times are tense. In return, we would do our best in showering that person with our love and care as well. Truth is, all of us treasure genuine tender loving gestures. The trick is in finding the right match.

Before I go, I’d like to share one of my favourite poems from one of my fave poets – William Butler Yeats

It summarizes how I truly feel and think about love and marriage.

Brown Penny

I WHISPERED, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
‘Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.’
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon. 

 

Spread the love and peace to all!

Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

33 Comments
  • Val Fernandez
    June 19, 2013

    Despite fears, doubts and reservations, there will be a time and place when the broken pieces of one’s life can shaped into a masterpiece.

    • shirleymaya
      June 19, 2013

      Yes, Val…every person’s life is a masterpiece in the making 🙂

  • GK Adams
    June 19, 2013

    I’ve been in the same boat as you, trying hard to salvage something that wasn’t really there to begin with. After this last relationship of mine, I learned a lot about myself and what I’m willing to accept and not accept. I’m tired of the games and manipulation. Thus, I’ve chosen to remain single. No drama. No bullshit. No pain. That’s not to say that if someone walks into my life and I feel it’s meant to be that I might change my mind, but that person would have to be close to perfect…for me.

    • shirleymaya
      June 20, 2013

      That’s right, Gina…it’s about finding or meeting the perfect one for you 🙂

  • Huang Poh Lo
    June 19, 2013

    Any relationship is a bed of thorns, irrespective of who the parties are. Both are variables, each with his/her own reality world based on learned differences and of course biological differences. Perceptions will differ over time. What is revealed initially, when taking the wedding vows, is just the tip of the iceberg. Its over time that one starts to see weaknesses in one another, Yes the greater portion of the iceberg that was hidden.Over time, things can turn sour. While dating it would be” What would you like honey, coffee or tea, and how many sugars”. Ten years down the line, you ask for a cup of tea and she yells’ Get it yourself…cant you see I am busy with the kids” Walk into any major shopping complexes, and if ever they are doing shopping, watch how far apart they are, all tell tale signs.

    Basically, its a challenge, of putting up with each other’s weaknesses and virtues, some outweighing the other. The bed of thorns can only be converted to a bed of roses based on understanding, mutual respect, give and take, love and keeping the romance on going ( not easy over time).

    Definitely not easy to find the perfect life, be it being together or a single parent. Its a modern world, a material one too, people are independent of each other. It all depends on what one expects of another.What seems to be “Till DEATH do us part” now would sound as “Till DEBT, do us part”

    On the other hand, it has been proven that arranged marriages do last the test of time. Its a discipline. One learns to accept each other as a spouse, as though it is written in the heavens, one learns to love, learns to be a parent and learns to accept weaknesses. No two ways about it.

    The only way not to make the same mistake is to test the depth with one leg only.and leave all options open. Only when reasonably sure (not 100%), one should make that BOLD move and make every effort to make the relationship work.

    One guy complained” If marriage is made in heaven, then why am I going through hell!!”

    • shirleymaya
      June 20, 2013

      Real love takes work, requires real effort and time to build. Nothing is of guarantee for sure. That said, when one is young and does not understand the full meaning or value of love, how can one love that deeply? At every stage, love takes on different meanings in our lives. It grows as we grow.

  • Simon Woodward
    June 19, 2013

    I’m sorry that many women seem to have a less than enjoyable experience of dating. It seems that many men just don’t get what makes a real relationship tick; respect, kindness, transparency, humour, etc. That said, I’ve done a lot of dating since my divorce, and I found it generally a very positive experience (with only a few hiccups here and there!). I enjoyed meeting a variety of good women, increased in my personal confidence, and learned a lot about women and about myself in the process. Actually finding someone you want to be with, though, is a bit more challenging, I think it can take a lot of time, patience, and even luck. Even now, I have finally found someone I want to be with, after many many dates, but we live in different cities and have been unable to resolve the “merging two lives together” problem.

    • shirleymaya
      June 20, 2013

      I agree not all are bad. However, after finding the one you want to be with – a whole new set of challenges do arise. But hey, at least, you know who you want to be with and that you have found each other. That in itself is a great blessing denied of many people. “Merging two lives together” is not an easy process. I know of a few friends who had to manage a long distance relationship for years. They lived in different countries. Somehow they did manage and the guy eventually moved out to live with her, as she has kids and he didn’t. They are still together after 8 years and counting. If she is worth it, and you are worth it to her – you will both find the ways to be together 🙂

  • neilcbact
    June 20, 2013

    i’m happily married for 6 years, with two kids…i really don’t understand why legally married couple got divorce or separated. . maybe the reason is according to your statement, they(or you) stop loving each other. .and maybe the reason for this is only pride. .and talking about dating and courting. .for me its a life time process even if your already married. .men should not stop dating and courting his wife. .there are times that i got irritated by my wife:D . .we have differences . .my own formula for this is to “argue not to disagree but to agree”. . reproving betimes with sharpness and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him/her whom you hast reproved, lest he/she esteem thee to be his/her enemy. .sometimes when my wife is wrong i will honestly tell her she’s wrong but it doesn’t mean I hate her. because I love my wife very much. .when I’m wrong I honestly ask her for forgiveness and tell her I’m really sorry. .It is true that sometimes(or most of the time) its hard to regain the trust of a women. .men should earn it .lucky for me I earned it and still earning those trust .sort of advice. .do not marry the one you love, but love the one you marry. .I enjoy reading your article…actually I’m not the type of a novel fan guy..hehe. .I hope and pray you find the one your looking for…

    • shirleymaya
      June 20, 2013

      Thanks for sharing your personal story, Neil. It gives me a lot of joy and hope. I think in any relationship – be it married or not, as long as two people have decided to be together, they should not stop dating and courting one another. So, that is true. Glad you are one of those guys who cherish his wife, marriage and who is willing to work at making your marriage a happy one. Thanks for your kind comments 🙂

  • JC
    June 20, 2013

    Good guys finish last… or get friendzoned

    • shirleymaya
      June 20, 2013

      I don’t think so. It depends on what type of women you have been going after though 🙂
      Some women do not take hints well. Sometimes, they need to see or hear the actual words such as you really like them and want to be with them. One thing for sure, no one likes a jerk or an a**hole.

  • Kavita Joshi
    January 9, 2014

    Hi Shirley,

    First of all I salute the way you write your feelings here as not many people can do it. It’s quiet motivating to read your posts and love the way you think about life. Also the subject – ‘fearless way of living’, as I myself am living this way and choosing the things openly in life to live it up.

    Wish you a very happy new year my friend.

    Regards,
    Kavita
    http://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/

    • shirleymaya
      January 9, 2014

      Thank you for your kind words, Kavita. So lovely to meet you. I just came from your blog. Amazing travels and adventures. Would definitely go back to read more. Wishing you a year filled with wonders and happy trails. Hope to see you around “online” more often. I am your new fan 🙂 Keep living it loud and let the talking experience flow 🙂

  • kdavisfanclub
    January 15, 2014

    well written indeed! superb post. best wishes from baldy

    • shirleymaya
      January 15, 2014

      Thanks so much for coming over and checking out some of my work. I am honoured indeed 🙂

      • kdavisfanclub
        January 15, 2014

        a sincere pleasure, you write beautifully. best wishes

  • kdavisfanclub
    January 15, 2014

    additional, I amhappily married now but was a single father for 3 years prior to meeting my wife. I relate to some of this and admire your honesty.

    • shirleymaya
      January 15, 2014

      Thank you for sharing. I am so glad to learn that you are now happily married. It’s a wonderful thing to find love again. I try to maintain a sense of brutal honesty in all my writing. If I can’t be completely honest with myself, then who could I ever be honest with? I think you can appreciate that. Wishing you all the very best, By the way, is your name really Baldy? 🙂

      • kdavisfanclub
        January 15, 2014

        My name is Kieran, i’m quite bald so everyone calls me baldy. it is a nick-name that I embraced to turn an insult in to something endearing, it is now said only with affection. most people call me baldy and I like it. baldypoems is kind of a ‘brand’, people see a poem from baldy and think: baldypoems. nice to meet you, Shirley 🙂

        • shirleymaya
          January 17, 2014

          Thank you for sharing, Baldly. I applaud your positive way of living and thinking. It is a pleasure meeting you, and I shall look forward to reading more of your poetry. Have a wonderful day 🙂

  • tania
    February 6, 2014

    That sounds all too familiar. I too was trained to be a single mom well before me and my ex split up because he was not a “partner”

    • shirleymaya
      February 6, 2014

      I know what you mean, Tania! It’s like we were trained to be single parents while being married. Hope you are much happier now. Wishing you all the very best 🙂

  • maurnas
    February 18, 2014

    I have had a similar dating experience. Though I am just single, not a single mother. I have encountered those myths too. I am an independent woman. I can take care of myself and I don’t want children. Why would I want to date one? I want to be in a relationship so badly, but I am not willing to sacrifice my needs for one anymore.

    • shirleymaya
      February 19, 2014

      Thank you for sharing. I truly appreciate it. We all seek to love and be loved, but according to our own terms. That said, I do believe in being there for one another and taking care of each other. Hence, I do live in Hope and still believe in LOVE 🙂

  • Mélanie
    March 14, 2014

    1st of all: you’re very pretty… btw, my son’s gf is Taiwanese… 🙂
    2nd of all:”People laugh at me or gasp in disbelief when I share that I have not dated for over 10 years.” – let them gossip and: spam-ignore-delete them! 🙂 we have a French saying:”il vaut mieux vivre seul que mal-accompagné…” – free translatiion: it’s better/preferable to live alone than stupidly/badly-accompanied! – I totally agree! 🙂
    * * *
    have a serene day and an optimistic weekend! cheers, Mélanie

    • shirleymaya
      March 17, 2014

      Definitely it is better to be alone than to be trapped in a bad relationship. That goes without saying 🙂
      However, I personally have never felt that one’s looks has anything to do with happiness. Being pretty or not pretty does not guarantee anything in life, especially dates or relationships.
      Still, I am very grateful for everything that I do already have in life 🙂

  • Wendell A. Brown
    April 1, 2014

    Wonderful message, beautiful poem….perfect blend to begin a day!

  • Lana: Living with Post Concussion Syndrome
    April 15, 2014

    There is this saying, “when dating, you meet the persons representative, there is quite some time before you meet who they are” that being saying there are needles in haystack. Not everyone is like this, it takes a bit of time and patience, to sift through the coal if you are to discover a diamond