In answering your question, I’m going to take a moment and ask everyone to get on board with me here—men, women, and gender-nonconforming alike, listen up. I have a very important public service announcement for you. Ready?
The needs of minor children take first priority. Over everything. Full stop. The end. Not even willing to entertain a tiny little “but what if?” Nope. Shush. The kids come first, y’all.
If your dates don’t get that, they don’t get to date you. Because you (now) only date those with a high enough level of emotional intelligence and compassion to handle the family package you are.
Now, does this mean there won’t ever be a time when someone’s going to be frustrated or disappointed by this? Of course not. We all get frustrated and disappointed from time to time. But we grownups live through the minor setbacks and disappointments and live to date another day. Remind yourself of this when the going gets tough—the guys that are worth working things out with are going to understand this, too.
Being a mom and dating a guy who’s anxious, needy, controlling, and basically, a big macho mess doesn’t go hand in hand unless you’re asking to take care of another (man)child. When you’re out there picking the next one, look for a guy who’s a partner, not another dependent.
And as an aside, please be careful with the use of the word “soulmate.” I know it’s used widely these days, but it creates a pattern of scarcity in your thoughts and in your actions. “Soulmates” implies that you’ve only got one shot to find that Goldilocks person in a sea of over seven billion people, and if you don’t find him, you’re screwed. After going on 121 first dates I could see 121 different futures—some good, some worth passing on. There people out there who click with our souls in beautiful ways, and luckily for all of us, there’s a whole lot more than just one.