Dating Do’s And Don’ts From A Single Dad’s Perspective

By L.J. Burke

When my divorce kicked off, I couldn’t wait to start dating.  After years of a miserable marriage, the thought of being with somebody who actually thought of me as attractive, wanted to have sex with me on a regular basis, and actually wanted to be with me, was absolutely intoxicating.  I jumped into dating with both feet into the deep end of the pool and wound up drowning.  The woman I started dating after my ex told me she no longer wanted to be my wife, dumped me after about a six-month relationship.  It wasn’t all bad.  As a matter of fact, we had some great times together, it was just not meant to be.

I was devastated and moped around for what seemed like a very long time wallowing in self-pity.  I learned a lot about relationships and myself during that time.  While this relationship wasn’t meant to last, it did show me that another person actually wanted to be with me.   If you have been in a long relationship and you were used to your partner pretty much not showing any interest in wanting to be intimate or just close to you, it can be devastating to your feeling of self-worth.  I spent many a night tossing and turned thinking to myself, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

I was in my late 40’s and having friends ‘fix me up’ was pretty much out of the question.  Most of my friends my age were married and had kids.  They didn’t have many single friends to fix me up with.  If they were my age, never married, or had been in a long-term relationship, I couldn’t help think to myself, “How many cats does this woman come with?”  I have two dogs that would never work.  Of course, I’m joking, but I was a guy at the end of a marriage that lasted 21 years and had two kids.  I wouldn’t have anything in common with a gal that had never experienced any of that.

My divorce was lingering on much longer than what I had originally anticipated.  I was feeling very frustrated with the whole process, but was starting to feel pretty good about myself, and I thought it was time to start dating again.  I had to go forward.

I gave myself rules for dating.  First:  No woman would meet my kids for at least six months or until I was officially divorced.  Second:  I had to put my kids first and any women I dated second.  This meant I would not sacrifice any time with my kids so I could go out on dates.   I would only date on the nights that I didn’t have my kids.  I was shocked by some of the people I knew that would sacrifice time with their kids so they could be with a woman they barely knew.  Third:  if a woman didn’t like rules one or two, they weren’t worth my time.

At first, I thought I would just let it happen.  I dated a couple of acquaintances, and that turned out “OK.”  Not much in the way of substance, but, at least, I broke the proverbial ice.  It is going to feel weird to be going out on a date after you have spent so much time with somebody else.  It will be a little awkward, but that’s OK.  You need to get the first couple of dates under your belt and don’t take it so seriously.  This should be a fun time.  Try to make it that.

So I got some dating experience and thought it was time for me to try Internet dating.  There was no Internet when I was first married, so this was all new to me.  There is a cornucopia of dating sights out there.  Some are free, and some charge a nominal fee.  I decided to try one free and one paid site.  I discovered that the same women were on the free and paid sites after some time.

An important piece of advice to all of you would-be Internet daters is to be safe.  Be very careful not to get all emotionally wrapped up with somebody you don’t know.  Your emotions can certainly cloud your judgment.  Start out slow.  Odds are you haven’t been doing a whole lot of dating for some time.  I actually knew people who met someone on one of these sights and moved in with each other after a couple of months.  All of these situations ended in disaster as you can imagine.

Honesty is the best policy.  It is very tempting to embellish a wee bit when you are making a profile that a bunch of folks are going to see.  Just stick to basic facts about how old you actually are (the person you go out on a date with will find that out), and be proud of your age.  That’s lots of experience under your belt.  Own it, don’t be ashamed of it.  Regarding your physical appearance, odds are the person reading your profile doesn’t spend every waking minute in the gym either.  When you post pictures of yourself, make them recent pictures.  Nobody wants to see you in your old “glory” days.  We all change, and that’s OK. And of course, absolutely no pictures of your kids.  Why would you post that?  But I actually saw this.  It’s OK to say you have kids and their ages.  Don’t give out specifics regarding your children; remember it is very important to be safe.  Kids can be deal breakers for some folks.  That’s OK.  It just means they aren’t a good match for you.

When you’re navigating the potential minefield of Internet dating, have a sense of humor.  It doesn’t do anybody any good to take it personally when things don’t work out with your date.  Chalk these experiences up as learning tools and move on.  There will be dry spells and it’s OK to give yourself a break from Internet dating if things aren’t just working out.  It’s not going away anytime soon.  When I felt down in the dumps about not meeting the right woman I remembered what a good friend of mine said about women and dating, “Forget about the woman that just didn’t work out, women are like city buses, if you wait on the corner long enough another one will come along.”  Remember to keep that sense of humor.

I went out with a variety of women during my Internet dating stint. Most were nice gals that just weren’t a match for me.  Some of them were crazy, and some were criminals.  I learned that people are frail creatures and just want to be loved and accepted.  I was no different.  You have to keep your sense of humor when rolling the proverbial dating dice.  Remember to follow your instincts, be safe and always think what’s best for your kids.

Find L.J. Burke’s book “Kids are Forever: Wives Are Not” here