I’ve never been shy about saying online dating is horrible and unnatural and that I hate it more than cabbage which is subpar raw, and shitty and indefensible when cooked. I simply look for someone I feel drawn to, which tends to begin with physical attraction, after which interest grows or recedes relative to all of our conscious and subconscious filters and biases: But dating after divorce got scarier still when I realized the never-married/no-kids crowd wasn’t the option I thought it was. The largest percentage of single people fall into that category, so when you take them off the board, things start to feel even more bleak.

Her children are her highest priority (as kids are with most parents), and in the end, the math worked against us.

That experience taught me two things: I was afraid it would be hard to find people willing to date a divorced father.

And it’s not because they’re busy or judgy or shallow or selfish.

In some cases, it’s because they respect us enough to not mess with our hearts and minds, and they’re thoughtful enough to not subject our children who we love above all things to any more loss or potential feelings of abandonment by that partner.

It’s probably as easy for me to imagine loving another’s kids as it would be for anyone. I can’t imagine how hard that might have been and how much worse my life might have gotten had that been my experience.

And maybe now they’re going to trust their instincts and do all they can to give themselves the best chance for a life of happiness and contentment. But then I read something that challenged my assumptions and made me grow up a little more.

And that might sound like a long time to regular, non-divorced people, but I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you it took two years to stop feeling super-fragile and waking up in the morning without feeling like the universe had just spent the night brain-raping me. She had also lost her parents, making her the grand prize winner of the Least-Supported Mother I’ve Ever Met contest.

She was throwing a birthday party for her kindergarten-aged son and I attended because my little guy was friends and classmates with the birthday boy. Even though she only lives a few blocks away, we were lucky to get together once a week for a few hours.

When you view dating through that prism, your children become the ultimate filter, with the parent asking: Am I willing to take on a stepparent role to this person’s children and love them as my own? But in the context of the dating pool (of the non-cheap-sex variety)? But I like my chances of ranking in the top half, making me “better” than For the same reason most thirtysomething divorced parents feel that way. Fast forward 5-15 years to being divorced with children.

Can I be unselfish enough to respect the existing parent-child relationship as well as understand that I can never replace the children’s biological father (or mother)? Last time we were all single, we were high school or college-aged, and for the most part, we were almost exclusively surrounded by A. Now, we live somewhere else, or most of our friends have either married or moved out of town.

That would be akin to getting two job offers from different companies to perform the same job, only to learn that one of the jobs has a 90-minute-longer commute, more stressful hours, more complex problems, a crappy vacation policy and 30-percent less pay, and then choosing it over the other.