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The Ideal Relationship for a single mom?

September 11, 2009

 Ok, I’ve really been struggling with this…and I think I’ve figured out how to to blog about it. I don’t know if I will lose friends or fellow bloggers over this, but I’m just going to throw it out there.

I keep trying to make sense of this sexual situation I’m in. My friends don’t really understand what I’m doing. They keep telling me I’m going to get hurt. Even I don’t understand what I’m doing. But I like it. I’m satisfied. I’m happy. I feel like I’m in control. I’m acting in a safe, responsible manner, in a way I feel like I can protect my daughter, and also spend as much time as possible with her.

I think I’ve said before that I don’t want a boyfriend. I’ve been evaluating the word “normal” for some time now. I like being alone. I am a stronger, smarter, better person when I am alone, and until I figure out how to be that person AND be a good full-time partner, I think its in my and my daughter’s best interest to remain alone.

But I don’t like being lonely. I miss men. I miss physical, emotional and mental intimacy, and I crave that at times. I have two Scorpios who give that to me when I need it, and are satisfied with being secondary to my single mom lifestyle. They too have their other lives, and I think its great.

My three closest friends are married. Two are married to men, one is married to her small business. They are totally dedicated to their significant other and love them in a n honorable and faithful manner.

People around me seem eager to usher me into a serious relationship, trying to seek out the men who will “be ok” with me having a kid, and partner me with a dependable, reliable man ASAP.

 At the same time, I am surrounded by single moms finding love. Ms. Single Mama is in a wonderful, serious relationship. Both Mommypie and Littlemansmom are getting married. Modern Married Mama took her vows a few months ago.  Mama Cum Laude is deeply involved with her Yooper man.

I am incredibly happy for them :)

I also don’t think marriage is in my future.

 My first night with Scorpio #1, I had a minor freak-out after he left and didn’t know who to call. I had been with Scorpio #2 less than a week before. I couldn’t deal with the  self-hating feelings I was experiencing, so I tried to think of the most non-traditional person I could find to give me some advice.

I called my sister. She’s been with her girlfriend for more than a year now. She’s about the most calm, down-to-earth person I know, and I respect her completely. She talked me through my “Woe as me, I’m such a slut” ranting, and gave me some good advice:

You really should listen to Dan Savage’s podcasts. He’s helped me figure out a lot of things when it comes to relationships.”

My sister is a genius. She knew exactly what would fix my funk. I listened non-stop for 2 hours and felt amazingly better afterwards. I started to research online, trying to figure out if there was any definition for what I was doing other than “dysfunctional single mom whore who can’t commit to a normal relationship and should have her kid taken away because of it.”

Then I found this article written by a counselor on open relationships.

 MULTIPLE NON-PRIMARY RELATIONSHIPS

While the first two models stress commitment and primary relationships, some people prefer to remain essentially single but participate in more than one relationship. They are not looking for a committed relationship. For them, non-monogamy offers the intimacy, love, and sexual satisfaction of involvement in relationships without the constraints of a primary relationship. This model works best for people who have a serious, all-consuming commitment to something other than relationships; people who are very busy with their work, their art, raising children alone, or political involvements.

 Usually they prefer relationships with people who, like themselves, want less commitment, or people who already have a primary relationship and are looking for a “secondary” relationship. People involved in this model usually don’t make a lot of rules about their relationships, and retain a very high degree of personal freedom and autonomy. They usually live alone and make relationships a relatively low priority in their lives.

An example:

Jessica is a single motherwith three kids and a full time job. She doesn’t have time for a primary relationship, and has two long-term but casual sexual relationships with Jacob and Anthony. Jacob is a business executive who travels a lot for his job, so he is only free to see Jessica about once a week. Anthony is married to a nurse, but sees Jessica one evening a week when his wife works till 11:00 PM at the hospital.

Pros and Cons on Non-Primary Model

For this model to be successful, it is crucial to carefully choose partners who will be satisfied with a less committed relationship, and to communicate that clearly to potential partners. This model often works great as long as all parties are too busy or too committed elsewhere to want a primary relationship. However, conflict can arise when circumstances change and one person has more time or develop a desire for a primary relationship. For instance, when Maria finishes her Ph.D., or when Jacob gets a promotion and no longer has to travel for his job, or a married lover gets divorced–they may suddenly demand more time and commitment or even demand a monogamous relationship. Such a change often proves fatal to the existing relationship. However, sometimes people see such a challenge as an opportunity for growth and are able to change their relationship to accommodate everyone’s needs.

I was floored. They even used a single mother as their example! It was like this person was writing out my exact situation. I had to share it. I’ve been feeling so shitty and confused about my relationship with the Scorpios, when honestly, what the hell is wrong with it?

Things may change for me in the future, but that’s where I stand right now. And I’m ok with it. I don’t have to have a boyfriend or a husband to be in a relationship that I enjoy and is good for me.

 I can define my own happiness.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. incalculable permalink
    September 11, 2009 5:33 pm

    Another resource you might want to check out is a book called “The Ethical Slut.” It’s a great book with lots of smart advice for all kinds of relationships. Sounds to me like you are doing just fine, though, and I can relate very much to where you are at with your relationship needs. I have a primary relationship now, but for many years when my two children were young and I was a student, casual non-monogomous (and often short term) relationships worked better for me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as you keep focused on having healthy boundaries, appropriate communication, and of course, safe sex!

  2. September 11, 2009 6:08 pm

    I am currently going through a separation after having been with the man for 10 years. As painful as it is for everybody involved, I can say without a doubt that I feel most like myself when I am single. I still care very much for my husband, but marriage was difficult for me. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I can see where you are coming from. Hang in there :)

  3. September 11, 2009 6:11 pm

    Yeah! Rock on for you sister. I am a single mom who practices polyamory too. I have one lover who I’ve been with for over a year now, but we both also date other people. I blog about it a bit, and sometimes I am ecstatic, and sometimes (like my most recent post) I am struggling.

    I really found this book helpful too: Opening Up: Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino.

    Happy you are doing your own thang.

  4. September 11, 2009 8:56 pm

    First of all let me just say that I absolutely and 100% don’t think you’re a slut, I’ve been where you are now before and sometimes it just happens that way. Second of all I think you were incredibly brave to blog about this because not everyone would be. Also I wanted to say that I think that when I am ready to date again I could definitely see myself having a non-primary relationship because realistically how would I find time for one? Like you, I am a single mother, right now my primary relationship is with my son…

  5. September 11, 2009 11:04 pm

    I would be extremely leery of following too closely the advice of someone who portrays having sex with a married man as something healthy for her. I “get” the idea of not wanting a committed relationship and all that, but I believe that anyone who willingly becomes sexually intimate with a married man (or woman) is doing something very, very harmful. I also believe that using the example of a single mom doing this is doing a grave disservice to those of us who try SO hard to overcome and fight against the stereotypes applied to us as a rule. I don’t believe that any single mother should have to deny her sexuality or be chaste; good god, no-but I just think this kind of stuff perpetuates the idea that we are all simply out to snag the next person who fulfills our needs, regardless of whether or not they are actually in a place to engage in that kind of relationship.

    For me, and again this is just my opinion, I don’t think it is right to be sexually intimate with more than one person at a time. Dating several different men at a time is one thing, but sleeping with several different men just strikes me wrong. I would be really reluctant to be with a man who would be okay with that, too, because in my mind that would mean I was just another piece of ass.

    Last, and again this for me, I have seen in the last month a marriage-a supposedly good, strong marriage where they openly and jointly made the decision to have sex with other couples-fall apart, no, SHATTER as the result of this kind of stuff. And they tried to keep their lifestyle choices from their kids, but it didnt work. An entire family torn to shreds. I would not want this for myself, I would not want this for my daughter, and I don’t want this for YOU. I love you, care about you, but think you deserve a lot better than what you are giving yourself.

    There. It’s out there, and that said, I need not say any more. You are a strong, smart woman, and you will ultimately make what decisions that are best for you, period. and I am not going to feel or think any differently about you for whatever choices YOU make, because if it works for you and makes you happy, then that is ALL that matters. Just be safe, which I know you are. :)

    • September 12, 2009 12:44 am

      Wow I really thought you and April would be the most on board with this idea of “being single and liking it” versus this wave of single mom getting hitched. I’ve been struggling with this whole “being a peice of ass” thing too. I’ve felt like one for sure, but I think the fact I’m involved with two guys I know well and trust as friends instead of some drunk dude I met at the bar makes a little bit of a difference. I would hope they both think of me as more than some girl to hook up with.

      I know you care about me and I ALWAYS appreciate your opinion Kori. I’m being careful. I’m also trying to figure out what I want my future to look like and exploring my options.

    • mark lee permalink
      April 7, 2012 11:09 am

      mark lee what a relationship with a single mother

  6. September 12, 2009 3:34 am

    “I can define my own happiness.” — Yes! Those are definitely some words to live by. You know what you’re doing, and you know how to keep all of this at a happy, safe level.

    Even my primary/monogamous relationship with The Yooper is sort of like this — I think the only reason the relationship was able to work out is because we’re both so busy with our own lives.

  7. September 12, 2009 9:30 am

    Well,I actually don’t see anything AT ALL wrong with being single and liking it; there is no rule that we have to do the picture book fairy tale meet-the-guy-fall-in-love-thing (because honestly, that hasn’t worked so well for us in the past, has it?). No, that isn’t it. I am not “upset” (that isn’t the right word either, but I think you know what I mean) about that bit of it; we each have our own lives to live as we see fit, no matter what that looks like to anyone else. No, I object to the use of a single mom as an example, I object to the implication that sleeping with a married man is okay (because regardless of personal moral/ethical beliefs about marriage, the fact is that I can almost guarantee that the women in that situation would be surprised, hurt, shattered, betrayed to find out that their husbands were sleeping with someone else. By it’s very nature, marriage is or should be about a commitment to not sleep with other people!), and on a PERSONAL level I object to the idea that we women-especially we single moms!-have worked so hard to overcome the stereotypes and yet would willingly put ourselves in a position to embody everything that we are fighting against. It doesn’t change the way I feel about YOU, because hey, it’s your life and your happiness is the most important thing; I truly mean that. The whole idea for ME just goes against how I feel about relationships and sex in general. If Steve came home and said hey baby, I am going to have sex with this girl because she isn’t in a place to make a commitment and I am in this relationship with you so I don’t have the time and energy to do anything with her besides sleep with her, and boy, is SHE happy, well, obviously that would say something about MY relationship with Steve, but it would also say a lot about the girl with whom he was sleeping, and none of it would be good.

    Sigh, I am afraid to say anything else because I feel so strongly about it that it could be construed as attacking, and I am not attacking you; the IDEA, perhaps, but not you. I think that where you are (and we all hit this place at different times, I believe, where we start to pick apart our past relationships, evaluate our current circumstances, and make decisions about what we want our lives to look like down the road) is a good place to be; confusion and struggling sucks, but I believe it is necessary to go through this so you can get to a place where you truly can make the decisions that will lead you to YOUR life, your future. Whatever that ultimately looks like. So, you might go through this part and find out that it really is what you want, how you want to live, and that it simply works for you. You might go through the period where you aren’t with anyone and don’t EVER want to be. You might decide that what you want IS the marriage or serious relationship thing, who knows. But the important, crucial, VITAL part of it all is that you will find out who you are, and you will be okay with whatever choices you make. And what more can anyone hope for a friend?

    • September 12, 2009 12:25 pm

      Hey Kori, I know you and I have different ideas about how a relationship should function, and I totally agree with you about something like this hurting a marriage/monogamous relationship. Obviously you would be hurt if Steve said that because he would be going against everything you agreed on when you got together. Had the rules been different from the start, then it wouldn’t be as hurtful (though, you probably wouldnt be with Steve if he wanted to open the relationship up at all).

      I think if people start off with a monogamous relationship then decide they want to change the rules, yeah people get HURT. If you get into a relationship with your options open, and both people understand that, then what’s the issue? Just be honest.

      I don’t think you’re attacking me. I heart you Kori. I know you are concerned about me because you care about me, and I thank you for that :)

  8. September 12, 2009 9:30 am

    Three things: From reading your previous comments, I wouldn’t define what you’re doing as “polyamory”. I have acquaintences who are polyamorous, and as far as I can tell, their entire lives revolve around their relationships: maintaining them, honing them, etc… rather than letting the relationships being peripheral to their lives. So… in my own world, your situation is not polyamory.

    Two, there is a lot of potential for getting hurt in what you’re doing, but it sounds like there’s a lot of joy too. Just keep your eye on your own feelings and the feelings of your Scorpios, and make sure you’re never in denial. If you feel your feelings are developing, make sure to always analyze it. And if you feel that it’s developing into something good, don’t panic and hide from it. =)

    Three, did you know that Dan Savage does Savage Love, a weekly column? I’m totally hooked and read every single week. Here’s the link: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?archives=all

    • September 12, 2009 12:26 pm

      Yeah, my sister pointed me towards his column. He makes me laugh so hard! I wish I were as brave as Dan Savage.

  9. September 12, 2009 10:11 am

    I think what you’re doing is called “empowerment”. Seriously, screw the idea that having sex with multiple partners (that are respectful to you) is shameful or slutty. (Does anyone ever complain that men that sleep with multiple partners are slutty?)

    But I don’t think that’s the primary point of this post. I think what you’re saying is that you’re happy with something other than the primary-monogamous-relationship that is the Be-All-End-All of old-fashioned conservative values. And that is perfectly fine. You ARE making your own happiness, and you find fulfillment and contentment in what you have. As long as that remains the case, then I think it’s fantastic arrangement. Rock on.

  10. September 13, 2009 4:48 am

    I think this is what is ultimately important: “But I like it. I’m satisfied. I’m happy. I feel like I’m in control. I’m acting in a safe, responsible manner, in a way I feel like I can protect my daughter, and also spend as much time as possible with her.”

    I’ve been there girl, not exactly where you are in regards to who you are with but I have been there in regards to have a couple of guys that I was in a sexual relationship with. For a time I was happy with it and I grew and I flourished. Then it stopped being a good spot for me so I stopped. At that point I grew or changed and I wanted something different and I went for the different thing.

    This is your life, these are your decisions and as long as what I quoted from you is true and stays true well then… there is nothing to worry about and there is no reason that others should squack at you.

  11. September 13, 2009 5:17 am

    I TOTALLY get this! I did it for nearly 3 years! It was what I needed to do but few people understood it!

  12. September 13, 2009 1:21 pm

    Bravo to you, for choosing the unconventionality of a relationship that works for you. It’s so great to read about this, especially because I myself have had some unusual epsiodes with men…esp. with my Stranger Ex (my daughter’s father).

    Hope to read more insightful posts from you. Hope you pass by mine too!

  13. September 13, 2009 1:53 pm

    Do what you do, Hannah. As long as you’re being safe and having fun I see nothing wrong with it. I’ve had FB relationships before and they were great at that time. I’m past that stage in my life right now, but I see nothing wrong with people who are into it.

    Honestly, I like the contrast of your blog compared to many single mom blogs that are going on right now. It’s nice to see someone say “Oh I’m happy being single and having fun right now” instead of the “Where is my prince charming? I hate being single!” or the constant “OMG! I’M IN THE MOST FABULOUS RELATIONSHIP EVER WITH THE BESTEST MAN IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE I’M SO INLOVE LOVE LOVE!!!” mushy gushy posts.

  14. September 13, 2009 8:43 pm

    I can understand you thinking that a relationship isn’t the thing for you right now, because I’m there also. My life is pretty good without a man in it, and honestly, I’m way too busy for a relationship and the drama that they can bring. Friends with benefits doesn’t work for me. So in my case, I’ll just be completely single. I hope you figure out what works for you. :)

  15. September 14, 2009 8:30 am

    You definitely sound more confident about this. I say my opinion, as you know, not to preach to anyone but also with the recognition that someone out there might feel validated to hear their own thoughts from someone else.
    I’ve been reading Singled Out by Bella DePaulo, and she voices how our society is certainly more comfortable for the coupled than the singled. Even if we’re okay with it, we get questioned so often about it, it’s hard not to question if something is wrong with us for not wanting it.
    It IS okay not to want a relationship. It IS okay to be happy alone. I also think that there is joy in sex. And sex alone. And yes, being careful and cautious, that is okay, too!

  16. September 14, 2009 2:10 pm

    I was thinking of Krista when I read this. I’m happy that she commented too. And I love Tristan Taormino’s books.

    Yeah girl, only YOU can define your normal. I’m happy that you’re happy. That’s all that you need to worry about: YOUR happiness.

    Everybody’s “normal” is different.

  17. Bad Mummy permalink
    September 14, 2009 9:08 pm

    This makes total sense to me. I spend a lot of time contemplating whether I even really want a partner, since a long-term relationship would affect the relationship I have with The Mook and our own awesome dynamic.

    I don’t think I’ll know what’s right for me until it hits me on the head.

  18. icktapuss permalink
    September 15, 2009 2:45 pm

    I know we have discussed this in our own personal convos. But I would like to say again that although I don’t have children I understand NOT wanting marriage anytime soon. I don’t think that I’m a “freak” for focussing on my own life and not wanting a full time relationship, in fact I too feel that I’m better alone..stronger and determined.
    I luv ya, we both have come along way. :)

  19. Tesa permalink
    October 1, 2009 9:24 am

    Yeah for you for finding happiness & going for it! OF COURSE you want to focus on LB, she’s the most important thing in your life – you don’t want to get involved with someone who’ll leave her or come between you later on…

    Good for you for finding your own happiness, and unlike the example u found online you aren’t hurting anyone (marriage) by finding your own happiness, so what harm is in it? It is to give you what you can’t get from your relationship with LB, your other needs.

  20. March 27, 2011 1:52 pm

    Wow I just felt like I was reading something I wrote… That’s creepy but cool at the same time!

  21. mark lee permalink
    April 7, 2012 11:18 am

    mark lee what to have a relationship single mother jenn

  22. April 19, 2013 4:51 am

    You are so awesome! I don’t think I’ve truly read a single thing
    like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with unique thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is
    needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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