Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On Being the CEO of Your Dating Life

This morning on Today, ad exec Donny Deutsch offered dating advice to a single mother. The 38-year-old never-married woman, who has a job she "loves" and a 4-year-old she "adores," is reluctant to throw her life out of balance by getting involved with a man. She says she has supportive friends and family. She seemed pretty content to me.

I'm sure Donny meant well. He suggested that this woman "test market" dating, so that "five years out," when her daughter may be tired of hanging out with her, she'll have "options." (Gotta love the corporate-speak.) Ann Curry chimed in, telling her, "People may say you're not taking care of your emotional needs" by not having a man on the scene.

If only it were that simple!

While I've never met the woman subjected to Donny's theories on dating, I do have ideas of my own on why she's hesitant to hook up with--or even meet--a man at this point in her life.

For instance:

Once she starts dating, the possibility exists that she'll fall in love. Once she falls in love, the possibility exists that she'll either move in with the guy or marry him. Once that happens, the possibility exists that she'll be stuck with a another job: Taking Care of Him (which could include doing his laundry, cooking for him, picking up his dry cleaning, shopping for his mother's birthday presents, and so on).

And if she marries him, she'll also have to face the question of changing her name. She may not want to change it, but his parents and much of society may smirk if she doesn't (yeah, she can keep her name professionally, but it's not the same).

The guy might not be satisfied being stepfather to her child, either. He could insist on having children of his own, and she may feel obligated to get pregnant. And then make arrangements for childcare. The decisions and sacrifices might never end.

So much for her emotional needs.

Today this woman is captain of her own ship. Letting a man climb aboard it could destroy her autonomy (just ask a successful woman who married and suddenly found herself signing her name beneath her husband's on a tax return).

And then again, it is entirely possible this woman could exempt herself from this nonsense. She could meet and fall in love with a man who does his own freaking laundry, who isn't threatened if she keeps her name, who is proud of her accomplishments at work and at home, and will be happy to be father of a child who didn't emerge from his gene pool.

She could, absolutely.

But when you look around and see all the women who still check their identities at church doors, it's easy to see why she spends Saturday nights watching 48 Hours.


margaret said...


Fantastic blog today. Sums up all of my ambivalence about marriage and even just dating!

I do see exceptions to the kind of prison I see so many women in. However, the kind of enlightened men you describe are few and far between, married, or dead.

Good food for thought.

I have a great life without a man. For a fantastic man, I'd be flexible; for just any Joe Blow, hell, no, I'll stay alone!

Anonymous said...

Right on Terry!

I stayed "Captain of My Ship" until I finally got me right. Once I was Ms. Perfect for me - he showed up. That 'ol Law of Attraction you keep telling us about ... it really does work, eh? Like does attract like.

Keep up the great work here - you help me stay focused on what matters most ...


Tennille Chambers said...

Amen Sister! What a great post.

Who has time for another crappy relationship? We are trying to make the most of our lives being happy, working on ourselves, and working on our own dreams and goals to be wasting our time with anyone less than the Mr Right we are attracting.

I too am raising my children on my own, and my emotional needs are being met just fine - by me. Heaven forbid the day when I need a man to meet my emotional needs. : )

I love your work Terry. You are an inspiration. Thank you for what you believe in.

Tennille Chambers

Terry said...

Thank you, Margaret, Anonymous, and Tennille. You really do make my day!