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There are valid reasons why dating a Dude Without Kids (DWK) is the most awesome thing ever. But before you start shacking up with a DWK of your own, you might want to check out these words of wisdom.
Sometimes dating a DWK is more frustrating than trying to quell a tantrum in the middle of Trader Joe's. In many ways it can feel like dating outside of the species. (Although my former dogs and I made great partners. Then again they were chicks, so it could just be something about men in general. More on my hopes to be gay in my next piece.)
For now, the DWK can profess to "totally getting it" when they pop over unannounced and you're in sweat pants and a face mask, screaming, "I'm this close to tossing dishes off the balcony just to watch them smash into pieces like the broken dreams of my life!" They are probably just thinking you are bat shit crazy—which you may be. But if they had kids, they might fully understand how valid your desire to annihilate everything in your field of vision really is.
Here's why dating a non-parent can be a disaster for a single mom.
1. The DWK has no clue what's really going on with you during your non-together hours.
The DWK may take it personally because they have exorbitant amounts of free time with nothing to do but to overthink.
And this can cause all sorts of irrational jealousy and suspicion on his part. DWK will misinterpret your unavailability as potentially focusing your attention on another dude. If only he knew that your non-liking his Facebook post about endangered egrets of the Yucatan, or hearting his selfies in front of a freshly scrubbed car have nothing to do with your waning interest in him, but rather the depletion of your Red Bull stash.
What the DWK doesn't know is that when you are not responding to yet another "if you were an emoji, what would you be" text, you're deep down the single parent black hole of concierge work that is your life. This includes but is not limited to duties such as washing urine-soaked bedding at 2 a.m., removing glass from son's foot because you were too lazy to put shoes on him, un-gluing a hand from a spatula, pulling a fire truck out of the toilet, reading a 10th goodnight book or quietly conspiring best practices to murder the family fish.
The DWK is not fully aware of this being the stuff that comprises your every spare waking moment when you are not taking a shit, working or seeing said DWK. The DWK does not understand that in your non-texting, non-hanging, non-fucking hours you are on a full-time, unpaid internship as an indentured servant. This internship lasts 18 years with no vacation time and will not help you get into an Ivy League. In fact, when it matures to full-term, you are the one to cough up 100k for your employer to go to college. It's all very confusing.
Nevertheless, the DWK may take it personally because they have exorbitant amounts of free time with nothing to do but to overthink. Overthinking is a luxury you dream about having the time for. And for this reason alone you will want to kill the DWK and all his decadent "free time." But you won't because you can't. First of all, you don't have the time. Second of all, you're too tired. Enter Reason 2.
2. A DWK has no idea how much you would rather be sleeping than doing just about anything.
When your DWK complains he's "so exhausted," rage starts bubbling from every pore of your body.
There is nothing more alluring than the thought of your head on a fluffy pillow for a night of undisturbed sleep of more than five hours, which you have not had in 10 years. Preferably this sleep is in a gorgeous king size bed with 400-plus thread count and most importantly, alone. Going out to a nice dinner, traveling or having sex? Just the thought of it is exhausting.
When your DWK complains he's "so exhausted," rage starts bubbling from every pore of your body. Even the new parent brag about how little sleep they function on meets its match in the single mom lack of sleep scenario. For the single parent, the days of solid night's rest are over. My sleep is a staccato symphony of 15-minute cat naps. I sleep with one eye and both ears open, and I hear everything—a "mommyyyy!" here from one kid who wet their bed, a "moooommmm!!!" there from another one asking for water for the fifth time.
And when they are in my bed, I sleep covered with sweaty limbs, around eight of them, only to hop up a few hours later for the breakfast-making, lunch-packing, tooth brushing-wrangling hustle to get to school on time. I just want to sleep. For a week. Maybe two. So please don't tell me about how little sleep you had, DWS, because you were "at a party in the hills" or the "dog woke you up."
3. No one you date will ever be number one or close to it and you both know it.
No matter how deep a love grows, the boyfriend will never transcend to the upper ranks.
My kids will always come first, second, third and fourth. Heck they take all positions. Any DWK I date may understand he's a cast-off, shirked to the ranks of last position at all times, but might not fully get it on a cellular level because he has not recreated his DNA into flesh and blood. He has not adopted or raised a human being from a pre-verbal ball of clay. There is no small human calling him Daddy. There is no room in the first class carriage of my heart for someone who was not pulled out of my vagina. They get a slot, but it's more like the emergency row, where the seats are a tad roomier, but if this plane goes down, you still have to let everyone go ahead of you.
This can be hard for a DWK. If he had kids though, he would get it. It wouldn't suck for either of us because I would be in the same shitty emergency row. No matter how deep a love grows (and I believe our hearts are forever expandable like the pants I'm wearing), the boyfriend will never transcend to the upper ranks because that position is forever allotted to our kids.
4. The DWK's input on your parenting will enrage you.
We needed major advice on how to metabolize my parenting vs. his perception of parenting.
This is the hardest part of dating a DWK. It's enough to be married to someone and diverge on parenting styles, let alone date someone with kids and disagree on parenting styles.
My ex-husband was a DWK when I married him as a single mom with a 2.5-year-old. Our biggest issue that sent us deep in couple's therapy within six months of meeting was navigating his role with my kid. We needed major advice on how to metabolize my parenting vs. his perception of parenting, which he bestowed intolerably upon me daily. I call it "perception" because he was not my daughter's parent and had no kids of his own.
You are literally not allowed to talk to me about parenting if you're childless, unless you're translating the work of Alfie Kohn to Japanese. The DWK has amassed zero parenting knowledge on the real life trench lines and therefore can have no say in anything. And no, hazy recollections of the way you were unsuccessfully parented by your antiquated, spiritually depraved parents in the '70s does not fly for my children in 2015. If a DWK starts a sentence with a gentle "from my observation" tome of parenting advice, run for the hills now.
5. You will feel guilty all the time. (See Reasons 1 to 4)
It's a vicious cycle that may have you wondering if it's worth it.
You often feel like shit, because you are usually, like it or not, making the DWK feel shitty. How can the DWK feel good when they know they are in last place? How can they stay excited about you when they give you their all and you're offering a shabby 2 percent? How can you not feel bad when they offer to treat you to Sugarfish but you're so bone tired, all you want to do is crawl in bed, eat ice cream from the pint and watch "Married" on your laptop, unfettered? These are things the DWK might understand intellectually because you have beat it into his head, heart and soul, but he will never fully feel in his bones. And it makes you feel like shit. It's a vicious cycle that may have you wondering if it's worth it. Or it just makes you more tired.
The good news is the DWK has loads of energy. Thankfully, this means no #dadbod (sorry, dads) and an eagerness for lots of sex. The good sex can miraculously wipe out Reasons #1-5 and take you right back to 5 Reasons It's Great to Date a Non Parent.