None of us intend to find ourselves dating again — mid-30s, this time while figuring out the balance between work and home, self and family — but this is the reality for many of us, because life happens and plans change.
What does dating look like after divorce, in your 30s, and as a parent forging together some semblance of that balance? Usually, it looks like swiping through a series of strangers’ selfies, right or left, with hope or hesitation, on a tiny little screen that fits in the palm of your hand. All in the name finding love and chemistry — even if just for the night.
Understatement of the year: dating has changed a lot since our 20s.
Tinder, Bumble, Match and OKCupid haven’t entirely replaced being set up, working together, meeting at the bar or pure blind luck, but they certainly have made sweeping changes in redefining how we meet people and the opportunities we have to do so. This is great, because living that co-parenting life frankly means that time is limited to “get out there” and meet new people.
We all deserve to love and be loved. But because we’re looking for a partner to complement not only ourselves, but our existing lifestyle as a parent, the stakes seem a little higher. The pressure to start a family by a certain time is gone, but the pressure to get our love life right this time around can feel higher than ever.
That struggle is real.
Swiping through the seemingly endless profiles of the hopeless and the bitter, poses with tiger cubs (yup, that’s a thing) or buckled into the driver’s seat (or worse, with their ex) can leave you feeling dismayed. It helps when you reach that one needle in the binary haystack, the one whose eye catches yours and whose big personality squeezed into a tiny text box makes you smile or even LOL IRL. That’s when you feel the renewed sense of possibility.
Dating online has become normalized in our ever-mobile lives, but the rush of meeting someone in person — even if it was an initial digital connection that got you there — remains one of life’s simplest pleasures. In our increasingly rapid-fire paced, screen-based lives, we are hungry for the slower speed of analog, for the delicious unfolding of a human connection rife with anticipation and sensory exploration. And that makes it all worth it.
Being single, especially when you have kids, has its fair share of challenges. But knowing that any given point in the day could be the moment that sparks the beginning of the next great love story, the one your family and friends will replay over the course of your lives? That is juicy, fluttery and keeps your wild youth and wonder alive.
All you have to do is have the courage to show up, swipe right, take a chance and say, “Hi! [smiley emoji] Hope your day was great.”