Alright, alright I give in: it would be quite nice to have a man.
It was fine when I was 25 and not really bothered and just having fun, then I blinked a couple of times and now I am nearly 30.
Working in a job where you never meet anyone new, partying less and writing more mean there’s only one place to meet one: THE INTERNET. The scary, horrible internet.
I’ve been petrified of doing online dating for a long time. It feels a lot like you’re putting your head on an emotional parapet. After all, no one would walk around with a sandwich board on saying “HELP! I really want a boyfriend!” And I don’t know if I even want a boyfriend (is there a better word than that? I also dislike ‘partner’ – reminds me of the old stationery shops and sounds like it should be prefixed by “howdy”.) Life is too busy and the house too untidy for sharing. But where’s the harm in going for a couple of drinks with someone new? (If I had a quid for every time I’d heard someone say that…)
My friend came round and we went on a dating website and decided which of the men on it looked OK. I thought about it while I was in Wales and when I got back, I signed up.
In I logged, ready for anything. I’d start by looking for the men my friend and I had found.
But all of them had vanished. Just like that: gone.
They did seem lovely, but I couldn’t believe every one of them had been snapped up over the Bank Holiday weekend.
I logged out of the website, searched again and they all magically reappeared.
I copied the link to one of the profiles I liked, logged back in and pasted it in the address bar.
There he was! But a big fat cross told me he was not a match for me because I’ve got a child. I think I actually heard this noise in my head.
He and hundreds like him are hiding from the single mums.
Of course the festival-going, globe-trotting creative with the cute smile doesn’t want to go out with someone who has kids, of course he doesn’t.
I got a bit upset, if I’m honest. Mainly because given the choice, I probably would have ticked the ‘no kids’ box too. If only people knew that going out with a single parent didn’t have to be complicated.
Coincidentally, Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 was running a single parenting feature all last week. On Friday, they did a single parent dating phone in. A bloke called in and said he wanted to talk about things from his perspective as the boyfriend / partner / man of a single Mum.
What a goodun, I thought, nice bit of press for Team Single Mum.
Then he said his girlfriend’s child has too much energy, which, he claimed, ‘is not always directed in a positive manner’ and that her ex comes round to see his son and he ends up feeling like he wants to disappear.
So I toyed, not for the first time, with the notion of making a profile where I didn’t mention the child. It would be an experiment, of sorts – but also a way to get to know people who would otherwise be hidden from view. I mean, in real life, you get talking to people long before you tell them you have a child.
But at what point, if things went well, would you tell them?
I needed a male opinion. I texted my friend, who recently became a dad and isn’t known for his tact. He wrote back:
Depends if you just want a shag then lie but you want more so dont lie
In the end, I couldn’t do it. I know I mustn’t go on dates and start talking aboutTom’s certificates and the tooth fairy, but it would be a real effort to not mention him at all, especially four drinks in. It would add even more of an edge to an already frankly terrifying experience.
I can’t lie about my son’s existence, I just can’t. He’s a much a part of me as my blue eyes, love of music and my MA – all the kind of credentials you list on a dating site.
So, I think I’m going to try again.
The links in this post are sponsored, but I was going to write about this anyway and I mean everything I have said.