When I started dating again in my 40s after being with the same man for a very long time, it was a whole different playing field, to say the least. I had kids, there were more dating apps than I could count, and word on the street was to “not ask for too much.”
I had friends who were divorced and dating who didn’t even list they had kids on their profile, because they figured men didn’t like that and they wanted to get to know them before breaking that news. PSA: Being a mother is a huge part of who you are, and it’s not baggage. It’s a part of you.
I talked to women who would do all the leg work and say things like, “He travels a lot for work, so I always go see him.”
I also know a woman who’s been with a man for years and has said many times, “I really want to spend time with our kids together, but he doesn’t want to do that.”
And it kills me every time one of my best friends I’ve known since high school (who’s been with the same man for over six years) says, “We never fight.”
Well, that’s because she’s not speaking up and telling him that she really does want to move in together and get married, because she knows he doesn’t want that with her.
She does backbends for him while he does, well, nothing but enjoy the fact he has everything done for him while he puts in zero effort. Her reasoning? She doesn’t want to be “too high maintenance.”
If I sound irritated, it’s because I am.
For almost four years now, I’ve watched single mothers make excuses as to why they are putting some dude’s needs before theirs and saying they are fine with it.
Um, they really aren’t fine with it. I can read their tone and the tears that are running down their face. Their mascara that’s streaked on their cheeks practically spells out “I WANT MORE.”
No. Fuck no.
I am an independent woman who can take care of myself. I don’t need anyone, but when I’m in a relationship, I have needs and expectations just like my partner does. That’s normal, secure, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.
I’ve seen too many successful, kind women shrink themselves and not ask for anything from their man for fear of seeming too needy. I’ve fallen victim to it myself, and I’ve never been more miserable.
Then, I wake up and smell the sex that we had last night and realize that if I am letting a man into my bed and my life, I am allowed to have a voice in what the fuck is going on between us. He can stay or leave, his choice; it’s beautiful how that works.
From someone who has dated a lot these past years and is in a loving relationship now, this is what I’ve experienced through myself and my single friends: You can sit, stew, and not ask for what you want for fear of being too high-maintenance and a diva.
You can keep living a fake life with your invisible needs and not say a damn thing while your man caters only to his own needs, wanting you to always bend and weave and fit into his life until you literally can’t take it anymore and you explode. And then get called “high-maintenance” and “a diva.”
Or, you can be very clear about what your needs are from the beginning and ask for what you need — whether it’s for your partner to please stop watching football during your date nights once in a while or to tell them that sexual position they seem to love actually hurts you — and to realize this is what makes you who you are. And no, it’s not too much.
This is how relationships work, right? We speak up, we talk it out, we compromise. It’s funny how many women I’ve watched sit for hours and suffer through something they don’t want to do to please their new romantic partner (myself included) simply because this isn’t their first rodeo, and they are now dating moms. Like, why does this make people think they should lower the bar? I say raise it.
Moms need to feel comfortable enough to say, “Hey, actually we are going to watch a Golden Girls marathon while you give me oral tonight, honey,” or “Hey, I’d really like it if we just stayed in with the kids tonight,” or whatever it is they need.
I’ve learned so much these past few years when it comes to dating as a single mom. One, this is the hardest shit, ever.
But two, you are not too much for asking for what you want. You are just enough. And if you are clear about that from the start and state your expectations as they come up, the right person will meet you where you are and listen to what you need without writing you off as a “diva,” because God forbid you’d like it if they’d start cleaning up after themselves when they come over.
In tolerating things and behaviors that don’t feel right, and putting someone else’s needs before yours because you are afraid they might leave if you say something (remember, no one can read your mind, you have to do the talking), all you are doing is feeding yourself something you don’t actually want to consume.
So, if you are a single mom who’s dating right now and you feel like you’re holding back in asking for what you want, stop that shit right now. No one is going to get you what you deserve except for you, and that only happens by expecting it — so start practicing that right now.
It gets easier, I promise.