Online Dating Insider: Single Mom Seeking Romance

The world of dating it always seemed too complicated for me. How do you keep things casual when it’s time to move things forward? In my case, the romantic mishaps have been messy ones. After my divorce, I wanted to break new ground, not so easy for a single mom of two. It is complicated to return to the dating world after a heartbreak. I’m never sure whether I’m rushing or if I’ve taken too long to start dating again. Having children plays a large part. Making the big introduction, it’s a tricky situation; I have to be certain how the new man might interact with my children after we have discussed exclusivity. I learned this the hard way.

In a moment of self-discovery, I traveled to Spain. The trip paid off. I felt rejuvenated after years of abuse and depression. Spain is a different world; a lucid dream with beautiful surroundings. I fell ridiculously in love with a Spaniard, who had the sexiest accent I’d ever heard.

The spell broke after two years of dating. The Spaniard and I made the decision of conscious uncoupling. (It does sound better than saying we broke up.) Traveling to Spain excited only to return later to the States in a sea of tears wasn’t ideal. My desire to have a serious relationship had evaporated and rightly so. He didn’t want to move to the U.S., and, for me, moving to Spain was out of the question. Adiós amor mío.

In the end, I was left with trust issues, low self-esteem, and deep scars of hurt and loneliness. It would take another failed relationship for me to understand the aftermath abuse brings. Experts suggest the primary influence is the father. How a woman was treated by her father and how that father treated her mother has a massive impact. We often disconnect these memories from the conscious mind, a kind of amnesia. But even though the mind erases some memories, the body doesn’t. The ego mind associates these experiences as familiar and safe. It is not the case of a woman or man attracting abusive partners; the ego mind doesn’t realize the early wounds. Since it’s familiar territory, an abused woman gradually becomes more accepting of abuse. This is not another story of abuse, but it’s important to know the foundations of a woman’s romantic life.

When it comes to love, I have been its worst candidate. My older sister, on the other hand, made it look so easy. Everyone loved her at school; she had long hair a tiny waist and killer legs. In our neighborhood, she was quite a sensation. Her friends were the most popular. During those times, I was too busy learning how to ride a bike. I didn’t care about boys at all, so when my first love letter arrived, I immediately went to my 6th-grade teacher announcing my misfortune. How dare this boy send a love letter to me! It never occurred to me that I would later regret my reaction as love letters didn’t come as often when I was a teenager.

The mysteries of dating still taunt me.

Books, podcasts, and blogs are dedicated to this particular topic. I’ve experimented with every stage of the dating cycle, from anticipation to ultimate confusion and desolation.

I realized it was time for me to look inside and ask some hard questions, a time to reflect and maybe travel to Istanbul, buy jewelry, live a bohemian lifestyle and smoke some pot while reminiscing over Billy Hayes, feeling closer to the universe. Instead, I became a workaholic organizing potlucks and the annual cubicle Christmas contest at work.

The next phase was clear: Time for introspection, therapy, and maturity. I needed time to think and let love come without looking so hard—to exercise self-care and awareness. Instead, I joined the dating website After carefully creating a profile with my best pictures and lying about what an excellent tennis player I was, the winks and private messages poured in. The next week I met with a handsome Slovakian, who at first seemed very interesting—the excitement of hanging around downtown D.C., taking the metro and stopping in Chinatown for a late dinner. He was funny and witty. He didn’t mind that I was a single mom, and this is why: As handsome he was, he had been married two times and had four children. By the time, I went to his place I found out he was cheating on his third wife. With me. Great. Do videnia hlúpy

Then there was Ahmed, a quiet, shy guy from Algeria. Upon meeting him, I realized I have a thing for foreign men. (Spain, Slovakia, Bolivia, U.S., Algeria, etc…) Ahmed was a true gentleman. He took me to the nicest coffee houses around the D.C. area. We shared a passion for indie movies and books. Ahmed had this Woody Allen look—glasses, thin frame and a dry sense of humor. I could see myself dressing like Annie Hall and repeating oh well … la-de-da every time we ordered greasy Chinese food. You now guess how bad this ended; no one is going to start a sentence with “he was a true gentleman and eventually we got married.” After a few weeks, Ahmed stated he wanted to date different people, and maybe I could join a dating website for single parents. Ouch. Wada’an Ahmed!

On the night of my birthday, sitting alone eating dim sum and beer, I was extremely vulnerable after my last date decided not to show after all. At that moment, I realized I needed to cancel my subscription to, along with my dating subscription and make the best of my special day. I had a few drinks with the bartender and other friends I met spending most of the night complaining about men and life. I didn’t know the rules of dating; I still don’t know them. Maybe there are no rules. I felt guilty thinking I should stay at home with my kids instead of getting my heart broken over and over again. I was dwelling on this while waiting for the metro. A group of guys approached me. One of the guys showed interest. I politely declined his advances, although he gave me his phone number. My lack of interest seemed to have an effect on guys that night. While inside the train, this fellow from Germany (here we go again, is the accent) asked a couple questions regarding the train system in D.C. after a quick explanation how metro sucks in D.C. He invited me to hang out with him in his basement. Again, I declined his offer and headed back home to find comfort and ice cream. I was ready to watch a “Forensic Files” marathon on TV.

As women, do we try too hard to find love? Do we give ourselves too easily because we can’t stand the idea of being alone?

There is a part of me who will always be in love with love. Old fashioned love that sparks inside the soul and the body with all our imperfections and failures. But first, you must love yourself and stop feeling guilty in your search for love. To all single moms, this is a reminder that you are doing great, and you deserve a little fun. All we need is love, right? Oh well … la-de-da.

Photo Credit: Alex Mueller’s Street Photography via Compfight cc

Stephanie Ortez

Stephanie is a highly caffeinated mother of two wonderful boys. She is hopelessly addicted to non-fiction books and literature that moves her to tears. She is an admissions advisor for George Washington University online where she assists homeschooled students internationally. Stephanie lives with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She is a passionate mental health advocate, member of Stigma Fighters. Her writing has been featured on The Elephant Journal, The Mighty, The Organic Coffee Haphazardly and Feminine Collective.

  1. Renee DeMont

    I just love your writing Stephanie. I agree, we must love ourselves first, and stop feeling guilty in our search for love. You are doing a great job!! xoxo!

  2. Avatar

    Dating has rules? Now they tell me. No, I don’t know them either, never did, and the few I did manage to decode were mostly not how I wanted to be. Hang in there Stephanie and thanks for this article and being real. Working on a piece for another blog, I came acros this, maybe it will help:

    “I choose to love this time for once
    with all my intelligence”

    -from “Splittings”
    ― Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language

  3. Rachel Thompson

    You’re a trooper, my friend! I think you could write a book on dating at this point. It’s difficult to find humor in it all, but there’s also such beautiful vulnerability there. Someday, a man who deserves you will honor that.


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