Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dating, parents, and priorities

I'm going to preface this post by saying that you should always take what I say with a grain of salt. Sometimes - you should take it with a whole shaker.*

A lot of my single friends are parents. For the most part, they prefer to date other parents. "Non-parents just don't get it," they say to me. I think sometimes they forget that I am a non-parent.

It's cool, though. I'm not a parent by choice. It's not like it offends me or hurts my feelings to be reminded. They're right, too - I don't "get it." I mean, I'm not a moron - I understand that parents have to deal with issues that I don't. But I'm not in a position to really relate to how those issues affect their other relationships.

But that lack of understanding goes both ways. I think parents sometimes forget what it was like before they had kids.

The fact that I don't have kids does not mean I don't have a life. It does mean that, aside from my (9-5, M-F) job, there isn't a lot in my life that is an obligation. Most of what I do is a choice, and stuff I enjoy, leaving me free to reprioritize as I see fit.

Parents can't - and in many cases, don't want to, which is great. I am not being sarcastic when I say that - I have nothing but admiration for people who put their kids first, even before their own wants or needs. My dad did that for me, and I am tremendously grateful to him. I believe it made me a better person.

(It's worth noting that while my dad was doing that for me as a kid...he also didn't date.)

Relationships only work when everyone is on a level playing ground. That's true of any relationship, not just dating. Think about it - you probably know at least one person who doesn't put in as much effort to keep your friendship going. You feel like you do all the work; you're always the one reaching out, the one suggesting plans, and the one working your schedule around hers.

That wears thin after a while. No one likes to feel as though they are being given less priority than they are giving. No one likes to feel that their schedule and life is less important than another person's. Eventually, that relationship will whither.

It works the same when you're dating. Parents tend to expect that the other person will adjust her schedule, because it doesn't include kids. As a non-parent, I will tell you - 9 out of 10 times, I'm on board. I know it is easier for me to adjust my schedule, and am happy to do so.

But I still need to feel like I'm on level playing ground with you. If we just started dating, the relationship is as new for me as it is for you. If I feel like I'm making all the effort, and I am not as much of a priority for you as you are for me - that's going to be a problem.

When you agree to start dating, and especially when you agree to pursue a long-term relationship, you have to give as much as you're looking to get. Being a parent may be the most important thing in your life, and that's fine. You still signed up for this, and now you owe a little something to that other person.

I'm not saying parents should forget their kids, and I'm also not saying that non-parents shouldn't try to be a little flexible.

I'm just saying that if I'm not the most important thing in your life, don't expect that you'll be the most important thing in mine.

*In other words, I assume I'll probably p*** some people off with this post. Sorry if you're one of them.

1 comment:

  1. Klay is a non-parent where as I am a parent.

    It was weird for... well.... a week? a month?
    We had known eachother on a friendly level previously...

    He knew I had a kid.
    He knew that if we ever got serious that my kid was and always would be a factor.

    And honestly... HE GOT IT.

    I think the right person, parent or non-parent, will get you right off the bat.

    If someone doesn't get your environment... it's not meant to be, or even to work on.

    I liked this post.
    I like your honesty.