Dating Dad: Shiver and Spark

By Eric S. Elkins

Being pragmatic is getting me nowhere.

Last week, I looked back at all of my thousands of Twitter updates (also known as “tweets”) from 2008 for another piece I was working on, and, though I was looking for more business-y types of highlights, I couldn’t help noticing a lot about my personal life in those 140-character missives.

Sure, I drank my share of dirty Ketel martinis and dirty chai (no, it’s not a theme), and I cooked/ate some amazing food. My Twitter stream also proved to me that Simone and I had incredible adventures together in 2008, and that I’m doing a pretty decent job, parenting-wise. I could pinpoint changes in my feelings for the Peach — especially when I felt decimated, which gave me pause.

But I also noticed that the Twitter stream didn’t express much about the magical moments in my love life from the past year. There are two reasons:

1. There weren’t very many of them.

2. I didn’t feel free to share them when they did happen.

That isn’t to say I didn’t have very enjoyable dates and rendezvous with amazing women. Because I did. I’m grateful for the very special moments I shared with some very special people this last year. Believe me, I’ll be replaying some of them in my mind in the lonely months to come (more on that in a sec).

Looking at my thousands of tweets, I could pinpoint exactly two (obscure) references to being overcome by that shiver and spark of chemistry and potential.

You know what I mean — the stomach-knotting craving for a particular person’s company; the shiny thrill when that one person’s name pops up on your phone or in your inbox; the painful, pleasant longing when you’re apart; the exhilaration spiced with doubt and fear that makes the best rollercoaster ride seem like a trip down the kiddie slide.

How many times in the last year did I make excuses for the woman across the table from me? “She’s really, really smart. And, um, she has pretty eyes — maybe I’ll come around,” or “She doesn’t have a lot of interesting things to say, but she’s gorgeous and close to my age,” or “Everyone says we’d be good together.” And then we’d go out on a second or third date, with me working hard to convince myself that it could work. And when, invariably, I needed to walk away, it left her upset and me unsatisfied and guilt-ridden. Truly, how can you explain the sentiment, “I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling it”?

Talking to my counselor, I’ve realized that, in the several months after ending things with the Peach, I’ve started to settle. Not in the usual, “Maybe this is the best I can do,” way (e.g. giving up), because, honestly, I’ve seen some truly wonderful women come and go. No, I’ve started to settle for less than what I really, really want to feel. I’ve tried to ignore the lack of fire in my belly, thinking that maybe that joy and tension isn’t as important as the other stuff.

In other words, I led myself into the trap of the not-so-young single parent. I’ve listened to those twin imps of self-doubt and fear of loneliness. “I’m tired of being alone. I’m not getting any younger. And she’s really great. Maybe that’s enough.”

But it doesn’t turn out to be enough, does it?

So, though I’m not going to ignore reality completely, and though I’m not going to wait around for some unattainable ideal partner, I am going to hold out for that one girl who makes me crazy — the woman who makes me forget the doubt — the one I can really open up to, sharing my strengths and weaknesses, my loves and my pain. That one girl who can complete our family and share in the sweetness and difficulties attendant with being close to someone as screwy as I am. The one who makes me think dinner at home and a makeout session on the couch sounds infinitely better than a dirty martini in a crowded bar on a chilly winter night (but who will also make me get off the couch and go enjoy a guys’ night out).

Because the other thing I’ve realized through my hard work is that, as much as I love my single lifestyle, I really do want to be with someone. I’ve fought with myself over the last six years, and I’ve worried about my ability to maintain a true relationship, but I know I’m hard-wired to love and cherish the right woman. In the meantime, though, I’m better off spending my non-parenting nights focused on work and friends and myself than going on another date “just in case.”

When it comes down to a real relationship, finding the right person will be as crucial as my being emotionally available to her. In fact, I finally believe that one is dependent on the other.

As a friend said just a few days ago, “When you’re done being single, you won’t be!”


You know what else I noticed about the last year? I didn’t write nearly enough funny dating stories. I’ll work on that, too.

Eric Elkins’ company ( specializes in using social media and ePR strategies to develop constellations of brand experiences, delivering focused messages to targeted segments. He’s also the author of the young adult novel, Ray,Reflected. Read more of his Dating Dad chronicles at , or tell him why he’s all wrong by emailing

Dating Dad, Divorced Dads, Featured Moms & Dads, Single FathersPermalink

One Response to Dating Dad: Shiver and Spark

  1. eileen says:

    Hi Eric,
    I absolutely loved this.

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