I’m in my 30s. Really in them.

It’s my birthday, a couple days past. Yep. I’m another year older. Hello 34. Do me right.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other night. Thanks Kels. And, we were talking about dating in our 30s. It’s different. It’s definitely different…for us.

Our priorities have changed. We bend, but we don’t break. We make sacrifices and honor our loved ones. We do the hard stuff now. The game changed.

I was a different person in my 20s. I was very self serving. I was focused on me. I thought I knew what I wanted, had trouble figuring out how to get it, but I thought I knew. I didn’t.

I had some unattainable dreams and goals. Thought the world was going to make a place for me. No more. I’m figuring it out, but I’ve stopped the dreaming and started the work.

You can’t date me haphazardly. You can’t just see what comes. You need to be intentional and honest. You need to do the work.

Let’s cut to the chase. I’m dating to marry. I’m dating for a family and longevity. I want to know where this is ultimately going. I’m not laying it all on the table at the first meeting, but it’s the route I’m going. What are your intentions? What’s your plan, pal?

In my 20s, I would fake a lot interest for feelings sake. I laughed at dumb jokes, and pretended to be interested in things I could care less about. Not anymore. You must earn my interest. Let’s discuss real topics, debate a little, and even agree to disagree.

I’ve said this all before, I’m sure, but I haven’t done well about living it. But in my 30s, I’d rather be upset and disappointed for a few days than live in it with anyone for a lifetime.

There’s no more wishes and big plans. I am who I am. I’m not selling who I hope to be one day. There aren’t any conversations about what I plan to be when I grow up or who I want to be. I am her. I’m fine tuning her, but my personality and views are pretty well established.

I’m demanding. I’m demanding you to say what you need to say and do what you need to do 100% of the time. I am practicing that, even when it seems impossible. You need to do the same.

Show up. Speak your mind. And know, that tomorrow is not promised. I’m not promised. In my 30s, I’m not leaving my choices up to hopefulness. Do the work.

Someone needed to hear this. I hope you figure it out. But if you don’t, I hope you are comfortable in the bed you made.

Mom v. Man

Separate your family and relationship if needed.

The last man I dated that I introduced to my mother was my son’s father. My son will be 8 this September.

Tisk. Tisk? Nah.

My mother and I don’t have a sharing sort of relationship. Who I’m dating isn’t something I’m willing to share with her. I don’t need validation from her on my relationship. If it grows to a point that I need to introduce them I will. I’m not afraid. I’m cautious. I don’t trust sharing that with her until I’m ready. And, do I want him to see the toxicity we often bring out in each other as his future? Nope. I want him to be locked in and meet her separate of my relationship with her.

What prompted this?

Most of my close girlfriends also have mom issues. I think it’s how much we rely on them in our adult lives. Most of us are single moms who co-parent with our parents. That blurs the lines already. It’s hard for our mothers to see us as adults when they are maintaining a parental role in our lives. Okay. I get it. But, I don’t need you parenting me.

I was talking to a close friend whose mom invaded her relationship, again. This time her inability to diffuse and separate her relationship from her mom’s overreacting caused a major rift with her guy. He’s pretty mad.

He doesn’t back down. He doesn’t roll over and take whatever her mom dishes out. And, my friend is trapped between two people she loves disrespecting each other.

What do you do?

Separate them in the moment.

Separate them in the future.

When they start going at it, separate them. Take one out of the situation. Hear them out. Calm them down. Then go to the other and do the same. (Be prepared to explain the order in which you supported them. Why them first? Why them second?) If they can’t get back together and talk out the situation, then separate them in the future too. They don’t need to be together until they can interact like the adults they are supposed to be. Or, until one can refrain from being abusive to the other.

You aren’t choosing one over the other. You are choosing peace.

But, what’s next?

Eventually you may have to choose. You can’t keep them separated forever. And if they aren’t willing to interact, are you going to be okay having separate relationships with them? Or, kicking one person out of your life completely? You have to decide that.

Additional information: We have all watched the chaos and crisis of Kandi Burris’ relationships play out on reality television. We all pretend to be shocked, but everyone knows someone dealing with a similar situation.

Whether your mother doesn’t support your relationship because she doesn’t see him as a good choice for you or because of her own insecurities, it’s worth a moment of pause. People can see things differently from the outside, more clarity or more obstruction. Her reservations deserve to be heard. In that conversation you may be able to get to the root of the problem and fix it. And if she’s afraid of losing you, she may just need to hear you say otherwise. No avoidance. Go try!

In your relationship, give his feelings validity, but don’t speak against your mother. He needs to know you’re looking for a resolution not an opportunity to bash. Keep talking to him throughout your process. Show him your intent and ask that he participate in fixing the relationship where he can.

“You can do it!” -Waterboy

Kandi and Todd got married. IJS

The LIST

It occurred to me that I have referenced “The LIST” a number of times, without giving much direction on how to create one.

Here we go. Pencils ready?

1. List the qualities and attributes you want in a partner.

2. Define what you mean. Be brief.

3. Organize them between wants and needs.

4. Commit to your list.

5. Keep your list available. Keep it relevant. They are subject to change.

I started my list of the qualities I’m looking for. Wait, I’m not supposed to be looking. Qualities I’m praying for.

1. Compassion. I’m a tough chick. Not too many things can get me down. Nothing breaks me, and I seldom bend. But if I do bend slightly, I want you to be the one I go to. I want you to have a compassionate hear and a shoulder if I need to cry.

2. Confidant. I have friends. I have this blog. I have multiple means to get things off my chest, but I rather run to you. I want my man to be my best friend.

3. Provider. I can take care of my son. I can provide financial and emotional support to him, but I find it’s far more difficult to emotionally support myself. And although I don’t need your funds to pay the bills, it would be nice to build more leisure for us all with some help.

4. Willing to sacrifice. Can you consider my feelings, wants, and needs even when they aren’t in line with yours? Will you choose us, or me, over you when it matters most?

5. Cleans up well. I’m a casual girl. Most of my clothing comes from one of the Gap, Inc. brands. I don’t need a man in 3 piece suit from day to day. But, I expect you to be dressed well most of the time, and clean up impeccably.

6. Conversationalist. We have to be able to talk. And, our conversations need to be in a vast array of topics. You need to initiate an equal amount of those conversations.

7. Attractive. Attractive to me. I like oddity and character. Your uniqueness is attractive, but I also want a face I adore and a body I desire.

8. Superhero. Sounds crazy, but that’s it. It’s my best description. I want to feel like there’s nothing you can’t do. You are strong and a force to be reckoned with. You protect us. You care for us. You have an “S” on your chest, too. I want you to be everything I envision a superhero to be.

9. Integrity. You MUST be a man of integrity. I will not settle for dishonesty or poor principle. Your integrity ensures you being a family man and all that entails. It guarantees your commitment to our relationship, our family, and our future.

These are all requirements. I left my petty wants off this list, but stuff like being taller than me is still on my master list. These were some of the top things I’ve highlighted on my long list. These are my deal breakers. If you can cover all this, we might be able to be the same height.

Disclaimer: I’ve been making and revising my list for more than a decade. Life changes. Your needs and expectations change, too. The list is supposed to be a guide to avoid settling for less than what you need in a relationship. It’s not meant to be a vain blueprint for a man that doesn’t exist. Be realistic.

Disclaimer 2: Remember he may expect you to live up to the same traits you require of him. And, he probably has his own list. This isn’t a meat market. It’s about finding your perfect connection.

And, it is always with me as a resource and reminder.

The LIST was referenced before in blog posts The LIST: brainstorming and Is a bad man better than no man?

Online Dating

Online dating, ummm…it’s not really my thing. Well, I’m not good at it. Feels like a meat market. And, I find myself questioning why the guys I don’t even want to interact with don’t get past the viewing stage. Over active ego, yep that’s me. Maybe we both knew that the nudge, wink, flirt, etc would have been lost on me anyway. And, I respond to EVERYONE. As a southerner, I find it rude to not speak back, but in the online dating world that’s equal to false hope. Ugh! Where is the handbook? Oh, there’s no beginners guide? SMH

I’ve dated a couple guys. I thought that getting to know them through other means would give me different results. Not so much.

In theory, online dating should be great for the single mother. We are busy multi-taskers that need options. We need as many things on our own terms as possible. So having the freedom to review possible suitors while doing laundry, dishes, or cooking dinner is perfect. Or, at least it should be. But, there’s a level of commitment that isn’t always being reciprocated online. Some men talk a good game, but they’re only looking to hook up. You have to be careful of that.

Is it worth it? I don’t know. If you are recently getting back into the dating world for whatever reason, or in a new area, this could be a good option to meet new people and/or have some casual, practice, dates. It can even be a way to make new friends. (I made a great friendship from an online dating disaster.)

Online Dating DON’TS:

Do NOT meet in a private place. Much like a new man you meet at a bar or elsewhere, you don’t really know each other. There’s no reason for him to know something as personal as where you live, and vice versa. Don’t meet anywhere you are uncomfortable. Only have meetings in well-lit, public, areas.

Do NOT feel obligated to have sex. If that’s what you went into this arrangement expecting, ok. But if you’ve been hooked into thinking it’s a traditional date, you can keep it that way.

Do NOT be afraid to ask him what he is looking for. Unless you are dating for sport, this is a valid question.

Do NOT be afraid to say no, or say nothing. Speaking is free. Agreed. But, in the online dating world it can also be misleading. And, no one can make you share any personal information with them.

Do NOT misrepresent yourself. Be who you are! Again, BE WHO YOU ARE! Don’t hid from your truth, but put your best most current foot out there.

Be wise. Be strong. Be smart.

Disclaimer: There’s sometimes a stigma attached to online dating. It’s for the lonely, desperate, or those looking to “hook up,” right? Not necessarily, no more than the assortment of people trolling bars and hot spots. Sometimes it’s just an option when the other options haven’t worked.