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Neely Steinberg Headshot

Act Like a Single, Think Like a Single Mom

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It occurred to me the other night while watching The Bachelorette that single moms are forced to make the kinds of smart dating decisions that single, childless women might want to emulate when it comes to their own love lives. Watching Emily Maynard, the petite, Barbie-dollesque star of ABC's hit show eliminate the kinds of guys who would probably have been kept around by women without kids has been refreshing and inspiring. While Maynard often appears a bit bland on camera, the gal's got conviction and strength. She doesn't allow herself to be wooed by the physically strongest, most dashing and more alluring men on the show. Maybe she learned her lesson from her failed relationship with the rakish Brad Womack.

Monday night, Emily eliminated Ryan, the preternaturally handsome pro sports trainer. He's the type of guy that most ladies drool over -- mysterious, confident, Alpha (albeit a little quirky). Despite their apparent chemistry -- which she correctly acknowledged is not the sole determining factor of a successful relationship -- she told Ryan she didn't trust herself around him; his demeanor made her feel insecure.

This was the type of guy I chased for years, the man who was masterful at stirring desire and continually keeping me on edge, leaving me with little time to ascertain if we were compatible, if I was even happy. Instead, Emily kept around and awarded a trophy to the guy who appeared to be the most mild-mannered and least athletic, the guy who came in last in the ridiculous Scottish gladiatorial competition. She also saved (during the rose ceremony) two of the more humble men in the bunch who hadn't yet had a chance to shine but who both seem down-to-earth and honorable. To the man whom she gave both a trophy and a rose, she said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- "You're one of the kindest, handsomest men I've ever met." Granted, he's a good-looking dude, so it's not like she'd be settling for a leper, but how many of us have turned away great-looking guys simply because they didn't have much edge to them, guys who were, well, just plain-old nice?

A single mom is compelled, because of the love she has for her kid(s), to make smarter decisions when it comes to matters of the heart. Single ladies without kids: Why not emulate this mindset and direct that love a mother has for her child inward? Ask yourself this: Why wouldn't the qualities that a single mom must consider in a mate be at the top of your list simply because you don't have a child? Couldn't we learn a thing or two from the way single mothers determine what's important?

So here's the deal, ladies: act like a single, think like a single mom. By this I mean go out there, date around, make mistakes and figure out who you are, but when it comes time to settle down, think like a single mom. Choose your mate based on qualities that a single mom would likely consider for the sake of her child, for these are the qualities that really sustain a relationship. Pretend you are a mom; pretend you have a kid to look after. Maybe that kid, metaphorically speaking, is you. When thinking about getting into a relationship with someone, ask yourself: "Would I want this person in my kid's life?" Is he kind, good-hearted, stable, compassionate, reliable and trustworthy? That notion alone should guide you well when wading through a sea of men.

Indeed, Emily knows she needs to be responsible with her heart and her head because of her daughter, Ricky. She knows she needs to choose men who would not only be a good match for her but who will also be a stabilizing presence in her daughter's life. This means she has to be selective about the qualities she wants in her suitors. More than just being selective, though, she's discriminating about the qualities that matter. These are the qualities that women should be guided by more often.