Steve is dating: a process brimming with the potential for family flare-ups, justified teenager defiance, logistical scheduling difficulties, and the unmistakable solicitation of help from a Higher Power.
Oh God, dating.
Yes, the subject causes me to invoke the name of Britt’s beloved deity.
This is not another a Dating Is Hard essay. We all know that, so stop with the complaining. Dating should be hard. If dating were easy, we’d never go to work. We’d be too busy making reservations. No– dating should be difficult. You’re looking for a match, and that’s tough to find. Post-divorce dating carries the added struggle of comparing the new girl to the ex, which although unavoidable, is unfair.
I won’t whine about the difficulties of meeting single women, either. Thanks to the web, it is insanely easy to meet women. (Or men, or your same gender, or whatever inspires a 6pm shave and the good cologne.) Where was this wonderful tool when I was 20? It remains difficult as ever to find a match, but at least there’s a digital icebreaker now. Although I will say the questionnaire is a bitch, and my humor translates poorly to a Match.com profile. (Example: What are you looking for in a mate? “Someone with exceedingly low expectations.”)
Instead, this dating discussion is about the kids. When I date someone now, I date her kids; she dates mine. It’s Brady Bunch Dating. It’s speed-relationship-ing. (“The kids are at a dance. I have one hour now. Bring some popcorn and a very short film.”) If you have x kids and your date has x ± 1 kids, you have a geometric relationship with multiple variables and exponential difficulties. (Something like that. It’s a metaphor, so calm down, math majors.)
In baseball, if you can hit the ball four times out of ten, you’re a God. In the more than 125 years of professional baseball, it’s only been done once over an entire season. But even if you’re the Ted Williams of relationships, at least two of the kids are going to hate each other. Or everyone (especially if they’re teens). Or you. Probably you.
So you and the significant other (will someone please come up with a better term?) have an automatic handicap. It’s a given that some fraction of the kids is going to be displeased with the situation. That’s OK. You expected this shifting Venn diagram illustrating the get-along-ness of your brood with hers. So what do you do? Occasionally you think it might be easier to forego adult company for the next decade. But that seems lonely, if more affordable. You can live with the kids’ protestations, knowing The Divorce was bound to have repercussions past the logistics of who sleeps where. So you proceed with good intentions, encourage your mate to do the same, and hope you don’t cause more problems for the kids than you already have.
Which, of course… you will. I don’t know.