News flash: If we don't get out there and look, how will anyone find us?
Whenever I comment on how difficult dating after divorce is, married person after married person says to me, "You'll find the right one when you're not looking."
Here's a reality check for those folks: as a single parent who works round the clock, works with women, is friends with a bunch of married people, lives in suburbia with a child, and is close to forty, if I stop getting out there and dating, I won't meet anyone ... EVER.
There aren't a plethora of dudes in their thirties and forties just hanging out in Target near the grocery items waiting to get to know me. There aren't a zillion men hanging around my cubicle dying to catch my first name. There aren't a bunch of friends' friends and neighbors' cousins to go around for a woman in her late thirties with a kid who's looking for a dude who isn't a total wreck.
When I was in my twenties there was a minefield of dudes waiting to talk to me — and I had the time to talk to them. When I hit thirty and didn't have a child and was on the dating scene, there were men in all corners of my world. Friends knew people. Work knew people. Bars had people. Dudes were abundant. The soil was rich with XY folk ready to come my way.
Now? That's not the case.
I don't feel bad for myself. I know I'm a good catch and a great mother. I know my life isn't over, but still, if I stopped online dating or going out and decided to stay home to watch Netflix every night (or instead, hoped to god that a sexy man will magically fly into my office to take me out to dinner), pigs would be flying before I meet someone.
The reality of a single parent at most ages is that we must go out there and try the new way of dating — online dating — if we want to meet someone. It means hanging out with a hell of a lot of b*tches and frogs, but that's the way it is.
Sure, we should be happy with ourselves before we look for the love of our lives, but if we simply wait for Romeo or Juliet to fall into our life paths in Barnes and Nobles, we may never meet the one.
It's easy when you're happily married to dispense love advice, because you've forgotten how hard it is to be out there as a single person who wants to date ... and also because nine times out of ten, happily married folks have never been a single parent looking for love.
They don't know what it's like to try to "attempt" to arrange one date around you and your child's life. They don't understand what it's like to essentially date "for two" — dating someone and not only trying to decide if this person is good for you, but also if he or she will fit into your child's life in a positive manner.
Plus, many married folks in their late thirties haven't experienced dating today. The ghosting, Tinder life; the swipe left and swipe right mentality of online dating is beyond them. This is OK. Be grateful for your friends who won't have to experience this.
But at the same time, it's very hard for someone to understand that, even if you're mildly looking or out there to mingle, it's a jungle and only the strongest shall survive.
So please, don't tell me I'll find someone when I'm not looking. I'll find someone when he pops up and suits my life, but if I don't get out there and do a little searching, he'll never know who I am. He's not Santa Claus: he's not privy to where I live, nor as he been notified by some good or bad list that I, Laura, his soul mate, is waiting for him.
The message has good intentions: lovely happily married people want me and other single parents to know you can't force the right one to exist, nor will desperation land you the love you are looking for, but the facts are clear.
If you're a single parent and would like to have romance in your life, you've got to get out there and show the world what you've got because honey, there aren't many good single men/women hanging out on the corner waiting to get to know you. You've got to get mingling for the magic to happen.
And remember this: as a single parent, you're an amazing catch. Whether you're a single dad or single mom, you're an independent being out there in the world taking care of your kid and your business. There's nothing sexier than someone who gets the job done and does it with pride.
Go out there and get the love you deserve. It's waiting for us all. There's an ass for every seat.