Dating, by Steve Safran

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 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.

Oh, God.

An entire post could be made of Venn diagrams...

A math image seemed apropos. Drawing my own to illustrate divorced dating logistics did not.

5 responses

  1. Please don’t do what one of my first post-divorce dates did.Law prof from B.C. who asked me to lunch in a mall nearby.He wanted me to pay my half of lunch which came to 22.00 for both.I paid and never had another one with him.Second date from dating service($1,000 for ten (introductions which meant one of the couple calls the other)) wanted me to fly in his self built plane.He had applied to Fed.Gov for permission to put machine guns on the wings of said plane.I practically threw up in advance,although 18yrs latter met my present husband who owned a two engine Barron with a friend as a co-pilot.I went up with him 3 or 4 times and then persuaded him to sale the same.Rather expensive adventures.For medical reasons he could no longer qualify to keep his flying so at least I wasn’t blamed for the ending of HIS flying.Suggestion: look for a pretty face-forget the body-like yours it will look very different in 20 years for 90% of people.Look instead for kindness. Remember you may be in good physical shape now but what happens after 60 or 70.If she’s kind when you have a sickness,she will stay with you and help you through the bad times,hopefully becoming your final nurse-caretaker and will be continuously nice or at least civil to your children.No common interests needed-nice but really not essential-each do they own thing as time passes.The desire to be together at the end of the day will be enough of sharing.Please give us details in dating so we can recall our own past fiascoes with small chuckles and pray nothing dire will happen to our long awaited second spouses.Lower YOUR expectations with the ladies!!!!!! See you are getting it.Keep moving.REMEMBER: the kids will eventually grow up and away from you.They will have their lives and if you get them on Skype once a week you’ll be indeed fortunate.They won’t need you(except in financial crisis) and by the time you hit 70 you will have a bittersweet feeling about the kids really leaving the nest-so what is ahead for you-a companion who will veg with you or climb a mountain or play bridge or encourage you to go visit her and your kids.——–just thoughts and feelings——-

  2. Upon reflection, what this article is missing is this: that it’s all worth it. That despite the challenges and frustrations, the good certainly outweighs the difficulties. It’s a fallback position of mine in writing to be a little kvetchy. But it’s important to note that I left out probably the most meaningful point — the payoff. And, when done correctly, the payoff is multiples higher than the work required to get there.

    • As your editor, I’ve failed you. I could have tied this up with a happy, Britt-like bow, having seen you recently all relaxed and handsome. But I was distracted by the recurrent (and brutal) theme of Are the Kids Alright? Carol is telling us they’re going to be fine, and I hope that message keeps getting repeated, and that it helps, and that it’s true.

  3. And significant other needs replacing. Even though we aren’t toting Trapper Keepers, I still think girlfriend/boyfriend is sweet. “Partner” has always sounded very Batman and Robin to me… possibly badass and fun, but not romantic. “Friend” is too ambiguous. “My lady friend” has a nice ring to my ears, because it sort of suggests she is wearing daring undergarments and knows which fork to use.

  4. I quite favor “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” but believe fully that there could be a middle ground word that indicated the sweet, but still distinguished between a 15- and 45-year-old. If English were German, we could just make up the word by stringing together a bunch of adjectives with a noun. (“Hier ist mein adultmaleromantickissyfriend.”) On the other hand, when you think of “levels of nuance to describe love,” German doesn’t pop into your head.

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