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.
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.