Monday, August 31, 2009

Picky. Protective. And Still Single. by Jamie Levine

Before I had Jayda, I was a serial dater. I went out with men from JDate, had “training dates” with other members of my gym, was set up with friends of friends of friends, and even had drinks with a couple of gutsy guys who chatted me up on the subway. I once went speed dating with a friend for kicks, and actually posted an ad on Craigslist at one point (and met a short-term boyfriend that way). I certainly know how to date…or at least I used to. Friends often asked me why I was still single, and, if maybe, I was “being too picky?” I always responded “No…not at all. I just don’t want to settle.” And I really wasn’t being too selective—I gave plenty of guys a fair chance. However, most of them never made it to full-fledged boyfriend status…either due to their commitment-issues or our lack of chemistry, or a host of other reasons. But I wasn’t single because I was too picky. Hardly.

NOW, I’m picky.

Though I ultimately “chose” to have Jayda on my own, I’ve always pictured myself with a husband. But, unlike the pre-Jayda dating-fanatic I once was, I no longer feel I need a man in my life…I simply want one. The right one. And he has to be right for me and Jayda. Yikes. Just how does someone find a man who is high-caliber husband and father material—for two strong-minded, used-to-being-on-their-own gals? Especially when the woman looking has much less time to test-drive a bunch of suitors than she ever had before! It’s definitely a challenge.

Of course I’ve dated a bit in the past 27 months that Jayda has been alive…but mostly just for fun—for a much-needed break from being a mommy all the time. And while I always tell people that “I’d love to meet someone special…” I rarely put my energy into looking for him. Who has the time? Or even, on some days, the desire? Having an extra hour or two to read a book, or go to bed early, is often vastly more appealing to me than going on a blind date.

In the past, I could drop everything on a whim and meet someone for a drink. If the guy was engaging enough, a Thursday afternoon introductory phone call could lead to a Thursday night rendezvous at my local bar. Why not? These days, in order to have a night out, I need to find a babysitter (and potentially invest quite a bit of money), as well as sacrifice precious time with my daughter (or, the aforementioned extra sleep!). Sure, the right guy is definitely worth it…but who wants to invest time and money on the “wrong” guy? Thus, I’m less apt to take a risk these days—especially since I’m protecting more than just my own heart now.

With her affectionate nature and outgoing personality, Jayda is so easy to love…but it’s just as easy to break her heart. When a good friend leaves us to go home after spending a day with me and Jayda, my daughter often asks for that person over and over again, every day for weeks! What would she do if I dated a man—whom Jayda got to know and love—and then we broke up? Yes, I know she’d recover, but still, the thought of my daughter suffering for my dating mistakes pains me. And so I hesitate. I question whether I’m really ready for a serious relationship. I certainly don’t bring my dates home to meet Jayda. And I continually wonder if the timing will ever be right for meeting “our” Mr. Right.

Choosing to be a single mom definitely alleviated the pressure I used to put on myself to search for a husband. And, overall, it’s made me a much happier, more confident person. But sometimes I wonder if the pressures single motherhood has added to my dating life will ultimately make my search impossible. I suppose only time will tell…

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