The Dad Gap

April is drawing to a close and my season of change shows no signs of slowing down. Priorities have shifted, I’ve picked up some seriously heavy weights (literally) for the first time in years and yes, I decided to dive back into dating again. Its been a almost a year since my last ‘date’ and while I loathe the structure and pretense of the thing.. it seems to be an unavoidable hurdle I need to power through to find… well.. whatever is on the other side.

So fast forward to the date. Jewish doctor, late 40s, seems to have some personality and doesn’t look like he’s been hit with a 2 x 4. Winner. He has kids – but at this point, the only ones who don’t in the dating world seem to come with more than a kid sized pile of baggage, so… awesome.

He calls, tells me I’m pretty, checks all the right boxes regarding dinner reservations and calling, plus seems really sweet and if he does mention Boca Raton a few too many times… well, I that can overlook. Its not like he lives there yet.

He’s waiting for me outside the restaurant and I was immediately grateful that his photo wasn’t a)15 yrs old (it’s happened), b) taken before he started eating his feelings (it’s happened) and c) he’s grinning like a kid with an ice-cream. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated? Conversation is easy and there’s non of that MD reserve I expected, or ‘Patch Adams’ ridiculousness that I feared (no balloon blowing or sock puppets – phew!). And he’s nice.

I could spear this guys heart with chopsticks by accident.

But I’m trying something new so I forget about edginess, passion, drive or that distantness that drives me nuts. Those guys who don’t really like me, the ones who enjoy playing with my feelings and leave me standing in the wreckage..this time I’m trying vanilla. Maybe I’ll like it.

Except I can’t get excited.

We don’t have that much in common – he’s not terribly active and he doesn’t camp or hike or really ride – but he seems like he’s game for anything. He inquires about my tattoo and doesn’t seem squicked out by the idea that I have more. And he says that he likes to travel and be spontaneous.. though the evidence is a little lacking. He laughs at himself and he doesn’t seem to take things too seriously, but its still… I can’t put my finger on it…

Then it hits me.

Its the Dad Gap. As a full time parent of a kid, his priorities are work and taking care of his tween. Anything left over is post 9pm and never. He actually doesn’t prioritize himself at all. Free time .. well it doesn’t exist for him as a parent – and for me, free time rich singleton, the gap between our worlds seems a mile wide. Quick weekends away? Nope. Spur of the moment dates? Nope. Shared weekend activities like hiking or biking or even wandering around an art gallery. Nope.
3 years divorced and he’s not had a weekend to himself since the decree nisei. I ask him about hobbies, about what he does for fun and its all about the kid. Which is great and cool and damn I wish my dad had taken vacations with just me.. but doesn’t give me much to hang onto as a date.  

I can’t wrap my head around ‘no time off’ and ‘no time alone’. Not just for me or any potential ‘us’.. but for him. I have friends with kids.. they still run, and ride (hell, one races), and workout and have a life… but there are two of them. And presumably they’ve worked it out. This guy.. not so much. He doesn’t do anything for himself. Nothing. His job is doctor and dad.. and that’s it.his personality is ‘dad’ or ‘Dr’.

Now I’ve dated doctors before and even doctors with kids, but I don’t recall them lacking in the activities department. They had kids, they were ‘dad’ but they still found time for shows and trips and weekends… but then there were two parents. And they were younger.

Maybe its the single parent thing that blows my mind. The all encompassing nature of the responsibility. The idea that you, as a person, don’t matter because you just don’t have time, or energy or desire, to do things for yourself. I’m not a parent, I don’t know how it works.. but  that ‘Dad gap’.. it appears bigger than any personality flaw I’ve encountered. How do you even consider dating someone who’s just ‘Dad’ and only ‘Dad’?

Does this mean I can’t date people with kids? Or is it just this guy?

Either way, the sweet morning after text kind of makes me sad. This.. I don’t have any answers for.

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