They stand everywhere, ready and willing to get back into the dating world. They are the single parents with too little time to control the often difficult circumstances in their home lives. They are drowning, and they would love the lifeline of a romantic relationship.
Opposite them is an array of single people (usually men) who are clueless as to how to approach a single parent and establish enduring ties that will serve the couple, and the children, well.
Dr. Duana Welch is here with timely and scientific assistance. The Eugene-based doctor (Ph.D. in psychology) is the author of Love Factually, 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do (2015), and in January of this year, Love Factually for Single Parents (& Those Dating Them). To me, they are must-reads for single people as well as for single parents.
To get Welch’s assistance, however, she will ask you to do one thing: To understand that for all the cultural and technological advances in society today, dating rituals still are rooted in the Stone Age.
She’s not kidding.
Welch has studied the topic in her books (and forthcoming e-books) her entire adult life, starting when she was 25 years old and teaching at the University of Florida. The science-based data is condensed into bite-size, easy-to-read bullet points. Think of them as the “do’s and don’ts” of dating single parents.
Welch and I met at Espresso Roma near the University of Oregon, and I was immediately drawn to chapter six of her latest book (“Watch Out, It’s A Trap! Men, Women, and Games People Play”).
I had my ideas about the chapter’s topic, but Welch cautions to not look at “games” in the negative sense, as with personal online ads. Rather, think of it as the single parent (especially the single mother) conducting an interview, and time is the greatest enemy. Research, Welch points out, shows that single mothers who work actually have less time for their children.
“You ask her directly and make your intentions clear,” Welch says. “It saves her time.”
A deep dive into chapter six examines the pitfalls men and women fall for when they play the dating “games” that are rooted in our ancient cave-culture past and are mixed with today’s generally more enlightened thought and advanced technology.
Should women, with more disposable income and freedom than ever before, make the first move? How significant is take-home income today now that women work in positions of greater authority? Is “instant chemistry” real and to be trusted? How are beauty and fertility related? Do emojis and text messages actually say anything? How can you get that first date? When and how do you meet the children?
Some of this may seem simple but for the man or woman who is recently divorced after years of marriage, the dating waters can be murky, with unknown sharks everywhere. The waters are murky, Welch writes in her latest book, because for all that has changed around us, human mating rituals haven’t.
“The human mating ritual is based on a genetic legacy handed down from ancestral humans, not modern culture,” she writes. “This is terribly inconvenient, because our genetic change is glacial, but our culture can turn on a dime. It’s left us with caveman-and-woman psychologies when it comes to mating — even when it makes no sense.”
Welch is culturally and politically progressive, and she plants her flag on science. So I ask her if there is any hope for us single adults, with or without children.
She points to the patrons at Espresso Roma, most of them college students. At their age, it’s possible they may stumble into love and long-lasting relationships.
“For the rest of us,” she says, “it’s work. Being single is hard work. Marriage is easy.”
Welch notes, however, that with increasing education and awareness, there is good news for all. If single men and women with children do the work at the front end of dating — and be up front with each other — the relationships that blossom is healthy for all, especially the children.
“This is what gives me hope,” she says.
Love Factually for Single Parents (& Those Dating Them) is available at Black Sun Books (2467 Hilyard Street). Welch’s e-books, starting on Valentine’s Day, will come out monthly and will take on individual topics covered in her two books. For more information on the e-books, go to lovefactually.co.