Single momma dating dilemma: Can you have passion and stability at the same time?

4 years ago

A friend of mine posted this quote on her Facebook page:

Unless it's mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it's a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn't be one of them. (Quoted from Dreams for an Insomniac)

I read that and started chuckling. 

On one hand, I thought F*CK, YES! 

Then my sensible side (believe it or not, I do have one) kicked in and went ... Hmm. I guess it all depends on how you define mad and passionate. I'm down with mad and passionate. Mad and passionate is intoxicating. But can you have that while also making sure the bills get paid and someone takes out the trash and the munchkins get raised in a stable, loving home ?

So far, it's been a one-or-the-other prospect for me. It's either impractical passion or (the illusion of) stability with a big, fat dollop of hum-drum.

This is possibly one of the most enduring struggles of my life.

Opposing forces

I get a horoscope in my email every morning. I don't know much about astrology and I don't take it too seriously, but I read it every day. Today it said this:

Instead of denying that you want more stability in your life, acknowledge that your desire for security is as important as your need for freedom. You might not be able to resolve these opposite forces now, but talking about them reduces your stress.

So today I will listen to my super-personalized horoscope. I am acknowledging it: My desire for security is as important as my need for freedom.

(Happy now, astrology guy?)

Peeps, this is something I've never quite been able to figure out in the context of a relationship.

I can figure it out for myself. When it's just me, sans relationship, I can walk this line pretty well. I pay my bills. I make sure my munchkins are clean and cared for and nurtured. I write. I meditate (sometimes). When the kids go away, I go out and have my little adventures. It's a nice balance between stability and experiencing all the things that bring me joy.

Pretty straightforward.

But it all falls apart when I try to do that in the context of a relationship. You know, with a man.

Sweeping generalizations


Excuse me for a moment while I indulge in some stereotypes ...

In my dating life, here's what I've seen:

The guys who are intellectually stimulating to me tend to be childless by choice. Even if they like me, they view my children as baggage so they're only going to get so close. Often, anything that smacks of domesticity or child-rearing sparks a reaction as if I'd just served them up a steaming shit sandwich.

The guys who are dads often want to Brady Bunch it up. I am not opposed to someone else's children in any way, but wallowing in so-called domestic bliss 24/7 isn't enough for me.

I don't mean to sound fussy or judgmental of anyone who is happy with suburban family life. If you are happy, I am happy for you. I just know that it's not enough to make me feel content in life. (Again, no judgment here. I'm just acknowledging that we all need different things.)

Maybe I have more of an extreme personality than most people, but I'm not satisfied if life runs along a static baseline. I'm just not. I guess ultimately what I'm looking for is a stable life that still allows room for growth and exploration. I don't need to hurl myself out of a plane, but man, if life becomes an endless series of trips to Target punctuated by Red Box movie rentals, I go nuts. Not that there's anything wrong with renting a movie or going to Target -- I certainly do both of those things -- I just need to ensure that those activities are interspersed with other things that excite my brain and my senses.


One is the loneliest number ... boo farking hoo


So far, I haven't found anyone who shares my life vision.

So what now? What do I do?

I haven't figured it out.

God help me, I don't want to make a life commitment to the wrong person again. But dating, honestly, I think is starting to wear on me. However, I'm not quite ready to give up on love yet, either.

Do I face the potential fact that I may never find what I'm looking for?

Do I live my life independently and then take a series of lovers on the weekends? You know what? Been there, done that. While it sounds exciting, the casual thing isn't anything that I do particularly well. The fact is, I crave a deeper connection with someone.

Do I just go it alone and stop looking? I could. It's tempting. Every few months I resign myself to doing just that. But you know what? Since I keep dusting myself off and throwing myself back there in the dating world, I guess I have to admit that I really do want a partner.

Do I find someone "close enough" and go from there? I can't. I so just ... can't. I don't expect perfection. I assume that anyone is going to have some habits that make me nuts -- and vice versa -- because that's always the way it is with people. But I can't be with someone whose value system differs from mine, who blows off anything artistic as too hoity toity to bother with, who may be lovely and kind and passionate ... and also very, very drunk very, very often. I can't be with someone who acts like any sort of life responsibilities are a big, poopy drag and that I'm boring for suggesting that we clean or maintain our home. I just cannot have any of that.

So mad passion? Yeah, that would be good. Sign me up. But is it too much to also ask for some shared interests, great conversation and someone who is grownup enough to share the adult responsibilities of life? Oh yeah, and is also loyal and honorable?

Is my list starting to get too long? Am I asking for too much if all of that is my baseline before I'll even consider committing to anyone?

On one hand, I think I'm kidding myself.

On the other hand, I know that I cannot settle for anything less.


Trish Sammer Johnston


This is an article written by one of the incredible members of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.