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Dating as a Single Mom- How to Avoid Losing Your Identity

Dating as a Single Mom- How to Avoid Losing Your Identity 5.00/5 4 votes

For a single mom like myself, it feels like beginning to date again is a hopeless cause. All the odds seem to be against you because more than ever, you are looking out for yourself and your happiness. I began dating my current boyfriend over a year ago, and I could honestly say that I have never been happier.

One of the hardest parts about dating is staying true to you. People get so caught up in making their partner happy that they forget to take care of themselves.

the beach at lastOne of the biggest reasons why I hesitated to begin dating was that I did not want to lose my independence, and most importantly my identity. I wanted to be the best mother to my one-year-old daughter, and I did not want anyone to get in the way of that, especially a man.

When I finally decided to give dating a chance I was afraid to do what I did in my previous relationship, which was let myself get lost living the life that my partner wanted me to live. But so far I am happy to tell you that that story has not repeated itself.

Instead of building a wall to protect my feelings and myself, I decided to do what was right and give love another chance. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. No walls, no fear, or bad attitude.

I have been doing what feels right in MY heart. If something feels wrong, or if I have a bad feeling about something, I have learned to speak up. One of my biggest mistakes my whole life is expecting for others to know how I am feeling. Boy was I wrong!

Woman Reading a DiaryCommunication is key in any aspect of life. And that is what has allowed me to keep my identity in my relationship. I standup for what I believe in, and I speak up when I don’t agree with something. Don’t be afraid to do it. If you don’t feel comfortable to speak up to your partner, you are probably with the wrong person.

Intimidation and fear can be the biggest causes of the loss of independence and identity, and the first step to fixing that is to get rid of the negativity.

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give anybody is to do what makes you happy. Yes I am a fulltime student, employee and head of household, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t find the time to do something for myself.

It doesn’t have to be anything drastic. Anything from a mani or pedi, to going to buy yourself a new pair of jeans, to simply reading that book series you’ve been wanting to catch up on.

You need to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else. It is definitely not easy. I am a giver by nature and would rather take care of my whole family before looking after myself. But sometimes it is essential in order to live a happy life.

For the first time in my life I feel that I am capable of being in a relationship while staying true to myself. If I can do it, trust me, so can you.

Dating as a Single Mom

Dating as a Single Mom 4.75/5 4 votes

Dating is one of the touchiest subjects for a single mom to talk about. It’s hard to go through the dating phase as it is, let alone share that information with your peers. Well I am here to tell you that there is nothing you should be scared of. Let go of the fear of rejection and criticism, and step out of your comfort zone.

MarcoElizabeth-One of the hardest reasons why it is hard to start dating as a single mom is that you have to set new standards for what you want. There are a lot of single moms that think that they need to lower their standards because they have a child, but I couldn’t disagree more.

A child is a beautiful blessing, and that blessing should only make you higher your standards. Realize that your date could potentially be in your life for a long time. Would you approve of that person being a parent to your child? That should be one question every woman should ask herself when she starts dating.

It took me months to start dating after I had my daughter. I couldn’t think of anyone who would be a good candidate to be the man not only in my life, but in my daughter’s as well.

I met Marco in my second year of college. By no means did I feel ready to date. I was concentrated on my education and most of all, my daughter. I guess it’s true when they say that when you stop looking for something you find it, because love definitely found me when I was least expecting it.

familypictureMarco and I had been dating for a couple of month before he met my daughter. I had to learn to build trust with him; I am very protective of my child, as a lot of women are. Don’t feel obligated to bring your date around your child if you’re not ready. Take your time. Your instinct will tell you when the time comes for your date to meet the other part of you.

Dating is what you make it. You can let it be a miserable experience, or fun and beautiful one. I was blessed to have met such an amazing man that accepts not only me, but my daughter as well. We have been dating for a year now, and he adores my daughter as much as she looks up to him.

So if you’re wondering why I don’t consider myself a single mom anymore, well that’s because I feel that I found the part of me that was missing. Now, he is considered part of the family, and I know that I am no longer alone. I don’t consider myself a single mom anymore, but I still think I am a savvy one.

Mom Getaway Minus the Guilt

Mom Getaway Minus the Guilt 4.67/5 3 votes

With my week-long spring break coming to an end, I reminisced on what I had accomplished during those couple of days. I had done everything from organizing my daughter’s birthday pay, to doing the usual “spring cleaning”, and of course, dedicate a lot more time to my child.

UnivStudiosOne thing I noticed however is that I hadn’t done anything for myself. As moms we tend to put our wants and needs to the end. Catering to everyone else’s needs becomes our main priorities. So I decided to have a mini getaway to enjoy the last days of my break.

With the help of my boyfriend, I was able to organize a weekend getaway to Hollywood California.

Of course, one of the biggest problems when organizing a getaway is the guilt you feel when leaving you kid(s) behind. One of the first things you need to do is make sure that you child is in good hands. My mother was gracious enough to watch over my daughter for the weekend, so that was a great relief.

We decided to take the six-hour drive down to Los Angeles. While taking a flight would be faster and more convenient, we knew that the drive would allow us to bond and get to know each other better.

Because we knew that we were only staying for the weekend, we went straight to checking things off our to do list.SantaMonicaBeach

The first thing on the list was to take a stroll at Universal City Walk. This is a great place to go while on a budget because you get to enjoy great entertainment while spending your whole paycheck.

Some other great places we decided to visit were Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica Beach to enjoy the sunset, and Wokano Restaurant for a late night dinner.

You don’t need to be gone for a week to have some you time, anything as short as a day or two can work wonders for a busy mom. You don’t have to have a huge budget either. The point of the trip is to relax, so by simply having a comfy room to unwind, you can consider it a getaway.

Remember that in order to be a good parent you have to be good with yourself first. Make sure to give yourself the time and attention you need. Trust me, you will thank yourself later.

Love Me… Love Me Not

Love Me… Love Me Not 5.00/5 3 votes

Remember playing the game “He loves me, he loves me not” while picking one petal off the daisy for each phrase to validate the affection of another?  Valentines Day gives us a special day for the whimsical fun of LOVE with sugar hearts carrying secrets messages.

This designated day dedicated to the celebration and expression of LOVE provides us with a time to reflect on our love for others and especially love for ourselves.

love200Some might consider loving yourself, “love me”, selfish.  The word “selfish” suffers from a bad rap.  But I would challenge you to think otherwise.  Be selfish with your time, your energy and your concern.  Learn to love yourself first, and then you will have something special to share with others.

As I was growing up the “golden rule” of treating others the way that I would like to be treated entrenched in my mind.  “Love your neighbor as yourself” served as the basis for most of my decisions. Always, others first.   In reality, I didn’t have too many decisions to be made, but when I did get a chance to make a choice, taking care of others motivated my options.

Not wanting be considered selfish, I put my own personal wants and sometimes needs, on the back burner.  My decision making process was stifled with others’ wishes, others’ happiness, and others’ needs topping my “to do list”.

I now ask myself, as Dr. Phil would pry:  “Now how’s that working for you?”   Admittedly, it did not work for this “guilt sponge”.  I missed the ”everything in moderation” class in school taking the idea of caring for others as a mark of “loving your neighbor” to the expense of losing myself.

Now I would ascribe to a reverse in the old adage.  I think that we should all love ourselves as well as we love our neighbor.  Be greedy with your time – limit the energy spent on email, texts, and phone calls.  Take care of yourself, not just an occasional message, but carve out daily time for exercise, meditation, or whatever feeds your physical and emotional health. Know you have choices and do not have to rationalize them to others- only you are responsible for yourself.  Keep an eye on your circle of “friends”.  Certain relationships can drain the energy right out your very being.  Clean out the psychic “junk drawer”.

lovepattyRemember the flight attendants admonition:  If the aircraft loses altitude the oxygen masks will come down:  PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON FIRST AND THEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN!

Remember you DO have a choice…Love me or love me not.

So when the game of life asks love me or love me not…don’t be fearful of choosing “Love me”.

February Challenge:  Do something each day just for yourself.  Learn the art of self-love.

Follow my daily inspiration at PattyKogutek.com for the “Cure Your Anxiety with a Guilt-Free Tip”.  http://pattykogutek.com/cure-your-anxiety-with-guilt-free-tips/

Reruns: Better Left For Movies and TV Shows

Reruns: Better Left For Movies and TV Shows 3.67/5 3 votes

Amy-Bridges_SmartFem profile-2_90“Love is what we are all seeking either openly or privately. Why then, is it so hard to find?” Amy Bridges is a contributing writer at SmartFem with her new column aimed to help readers on Bridging the gap to love and dating. She is passionate about guiding individuals on the right path when dating. Amy is thrilled to assist SmartFem readers with obstacles they might have in their quest for love.

“How many times have you started dating someone and are hopeful that it will work out, only to find out that it doesn’t for whatever reason?” So you break up, stop seeing them, and then all of a sudden, they are back!

Somehow, one or both of you foolishly decides that it may be a great idea to try it again. There is a name for this in the dating world that I like to call a “rerun.”

A “rerun” occurs when your significant other contacts you, or you contact them, and says, “Hey, we should go to dinner sometime to catch up.” You both agree, go on your rerun date and then the night is over.

The following day, if not sooner, your start to think to yourself “Hmmm, this is familiar.” It is often at this point in the thinking process that you are reminded of why you stopped dating them in the first place.

Yes, I know you get lonely, they know you well, it’s familiar…blah, blah, blah. However, odds are pretty high that if it didn’t work out the first time, it’s not going to happen the second time.

Why, one may ask? Because they are who they are and you are who you are. Most people, unless in their late teens or let’s say under 21, are quite set in their ways. Who they are going to become is already decided.

get_ex_girlfriend_backThe best indicator of your future with someone is the past you have had with them.  Not to say that you aren’t both awesome people but what works for one person may not work for another in a relationship.

How many times have you seen in your friends or family a couple who simply didn’t work, yet down the road they have an amazing relationship with someone else. Sometimes people’s values, interests and character are simply not in alignment with certain others.

So, I say start fresh to find someone you are compatible with and let your favorite movie or TV show be the only rerun in your life.

Parts Before Hearts?

Parts Before Hearts? 4.40/5 5 votes

Amy-Bridges_SmartFem profile-2_90“Love is what we are all seeking either openly or privately. Why then, is it so hard to find?” Amy Bridges is a contributing writer at SmartFem with her new column aimed to help readers on Bridging the gap to love and dating. She is passionate about guiding individuals on the right path when dating. Amy is thrilled to assist SmartFem readers with obstacles they might have in their quest for love.

In my years of experience in dating, there seems to be quite a personal trend occurring.  One of which I don’t stand alone in my notice of the change in times.  I have heard and experienced first hand this situation. You meet someone; you start emails, then text, then BAM! There it is, in all its glory, the naked text photo. Yes, I am talking about “the parts.” It’s not just the men, as they have shared, some women are guilty as well.

Business woman standing outside in front of office building, using mobile phoneI just don’t seem to understand why we are sending our private photos, of our “parts” before we even get to know the person’s heart.  I am telling you, sending your private part photos are setting you up for complete failure.

Though our technology is much more advanced than it was when my parents or even grandparents were dating, there are basic fundamentals that DO NOT change between men and woman connections and the basic laws of dating and courting.  Now, I will say I know couples that share these types of photos by choice to keep their relationship hot. Key word I said is relationship, meaning they are either exclusive or are at least dating to where they have already met. At that point whatever floats your boat or your…well I am just gonna leave it at.

Men and women please listen up, STOP sending your parts pictures before you have even met the person your interested in. Leaving something to the imagination is not only a bigger turn on, it is the respectful thing to do for both parties. Let someone get to know you and your heart before you decide to flash them a photo of your parts. Trust me on this one!

The Magic in First Dates

The Magic in First Dates 4.25/5 4 votes

Amy-Bridges_SmartFem profile-2_90“Love is what we are all seeking either openly or privately. Why then, is it so hard to find?” Amy Bridges is a contributing writer at SmartFem with her new column aimed to help readers on Bridging the gap to love and dating. She is passionate about guiding individuals on the right path when dating. Amy is thrilled to assist SmartFem readers with obstacles they might have in their quest for love.

All of us, married or single have been on a first date. First dates can be fun and somewhat nerve-wracking. The first date with a prospective partner is an important one as it is the first time you are meeting and making your first impression with your potential love. It is discovery time to see if there is chemistry. The human emotion of excitement, joy and hopefulness of what surprise may lie ahead is the same chemical reaction and feeling of “being nervous”.

So, how do you make the first date a success? Here are a few pointers for both men and women to tee up the first date to be all that it was intended to be:Attractive couple portrait.

1.)   Be on time- being late shows a lack of respect and importance of the value of the date.

2.)   Be classy – in your appearance and in your sharing. Not the time to discuss your sexual fantasies.

3.)   Two drink limit is suggested. You’re making a FIRST impression, remember you’re not out with your best friend who knows who you really are.

4.)   Listen – be sure you’re not doing all the talking.

5.)   BE YOURSELF, why not, if you continue to see this person they are going to find out and experience that you are anyway. Keep it real, honest and, keep it light.

Most importantly have fun! You’ll both agree or not if you want to have another date. There is plenty of time later to have deeper conversations about your past, previous relationships, etc. The first date is simply a time to take, to explore the basics and get to know your date. There lies the unspoken magic that can occur in a first date if you do it right. Happy Dating!

Don’t Stop Believing… And Breathing

Don’t Stop Believing… And Breathing 5.00/5 3 votes

I developed an obsessive compulsive ritual at a very young age. I started checking to see if my family was breathing while they slept. In the middle of the night was when I felt we were at our most vulnerable. I’d creep into my parent’s bedroom and stare over them until I heard a sigh, snore or could see their chests moving up and down. I don’t exactly know why I became obsessed with making sure my loved ones were still breathing throughout their slumber, but I think it could have something to do with my dad’s incessant fear that one day a gas leak would kill everyone in our home. This was his biggest fear. His fear manifested in the form of me regularly waking up to make sure that our gas stovetop was turned off. My nose led me throughout the house hoping and praying that I didn’t pick up the slightest scent of our toxic nemesis.

My brother was a sleepwalker, which made it easier for me to tell if he was breathing. We’d regularly wake up to find him sleeping near the backdoor of our home. And sometimes what he thought was the toilet was actually the doorway to my parent’s bedroom. There he stood taking a leak on the horrific green shag carpeting. Carpet so ugly that the piss made it more attractive. And because of that and the fact that I knew for certain he was breathing, I am forever grateful for sleepwalking.

2010In 2010, my boyfriend moved into my Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. Everything was going great. We were happy and enjoying doing that thing that couples do when they first move in with one another, nesting. And soon after we realized that we had the exact opposite taste in home decor. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t a fan of the “Dream A Little Dream” movie poster I hung in our dining area. Did he not know that this 1989 classic was the BEST movie the Corey’s had ever starred in together? For those of you who may be unaware, the two Corey’s consisted of the late, great Corey Haim and the still rocking in this free world, Corey Feldman. I adored them. Especially Corey Haim. And this movie defined my childhood. Everything I learned about being a teenager in high school, I learned from this movie. In my obsessive compulsive nature, I memorized every line in the movie and acted out each scene in my bedroom hoping no one would walk in on me and expose my passion for living in cinema.

My childhood bedroom was an alternate reality where I was a famous singer/actress/tap dancer. I spent most of my time singing and reciting monologues to the large collage of pictures of teen heart throbs, actors, bands and pop singers that I cut out of magazines and taped upon my walls. I’d sing Mariah Carey to a picture of Mariah Carey, and let me tell you, she loved it. My rendition of, “Make it Happen” always made her smile. Granted she was always smiling, but I had this feeling that when I left the room her smile turned upside down. In my bedroom I was safe to be as delusional as I wanted to be. It was where I concocted the story that Corey Haim and I were married in a previous life. It was loosely based on the Beetlejuice death scene.

Basically, we were happily married and then one day, BAM, we ran our car off a beautiful country road and into a pound where we drowned together. Romantic, I know. Then we were reincarnated. Me as an aspiring attention-whore living in St. Paul, Minnesota and Corey as a successful, yet tormented child star turned teen heartthrob turned drug addict. Unfortunately, I was the only one who remembered our previous life. I wrote countless letters to his fan club hoping it would remind him of the love we once shared, but sadly I received no response. After a year of writing letters, the fan club did send me a wallet-size autographed picture of him, which I took as a sign that he remembered. After spending many years in my pocket and fanny packs and then taking a couple of trips in the washing machine, the picture wore so thin that all of the color faded from it. His once crooked grin and head full of mouse was now just an unrecognizable white blob, which coincidentally is what I often resemble when someone takes a picture of me while I’m on stage. More proof of our love or as Mariah Carey would say, “we belong together.”

Soon after moving in with my boyfriend, I began waking up numerous times a night in order to make sure that he was still breathing. Sometimes I would put my finger under his nose and other times I would just stare at him until I could see his chest move. And on occasion, just to be sure, I’d put the tip of my finger inside one of his nostrils until he swatted his hand against his face. For the first couple of months, he had no idea that I was checking his breathing while he slept. I was in the clear. I could maintain my image as a somewhat sane girlfriend, but then it happened. He caught me.

madThere I was face to face with him. My eyes were perched wide open staring intensely at him waiting for that sign of life. Then as if out of a horror film, his eyes popped open. He appeared startled. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Oh nothing,” I replied hoping he’d believe this was a dream and fall back asleep. “Why are you staring at me like that?” I paused and then replied, “I just can’t stop looking at you.” At the time, I thought this was a better answer than, “Oh, nothing. Just making sure you’re not dead.” It wasn’t. It made me seem very creepy. “How often do watch me while I’m sleeping?” I didn’t know how to answer that, but before my brain could string together a good answer I said, “Four to six times a night.” I then spent the next hour trying to convince him that I wasn’t planning to murder him.

The next day I decided to come clean. I explained that I wasn’t watching him sleep because I was obsessed with him, but rather I was obsessed with my fear of waking up next to a lifeless boyfriend. Surprisingly, he seemed relieved. That following week I asked my psychiatrist to increase the dosage of my anxiety medication. It helped. Sometimes I do still watch him, but please don’t tell him that.

Cleanliness is Next to Sexiness

Cleanliness is Next to Sexiness 5.00/5 3 votes

Amy-Bridges_SmartFem profile-2_90“Love is what we are all seeking either openly or privately. Why then, is it so hard to find?” Amy Bridges is a contributing writer at SmartFem with her new column aimed to help readers on Bridging the gap to love and dating. She is passionate about guiding individuals on the right path when dating. Amy is thrilled to assist SmartFem readers with obstacles they might have in their quest for love.

I know that it is stated that Cleanliness is next to Godliness. However, for this column’s sake where we are talking about love and dating, I am going to say that Cleanliness is next to sexiness. It may be an awkward topic, but it is one that needs to be discussed.

I have met with and interviewed many dating single men and woman about this topic. Consistently, both men and women agreed that this is an important part of dating since they lead to potential relationships.

Unmade BedOver the years of my experience of love and dating, I have met some amazing and great guys. Though they were wonderful and I was interested, I just could not get past one thing… their lack of cleanliness.

My first experience with this issue was years ago, when I went on a date with a guy that my friend set me up with.  We had our first date at what was then Eddie Matney’s restaurant on 24th street and Camelback. It was the perfect date. He even asked me out on a second date, where he wanted to cook for me. I accepted.

I went to Mr. Perfect’s home and was instantly turned off. The cat was walking all over the counter while he was cooking. There was so much dog hair on the floors that it collected in piles along the baseboards. It was painfully apparent that home cleanliness was not important. So my thought was instantly… What else isn’t clean? (If you catch my drift).

I couldn’t eat the dinner he made; even the dishes had food stuck on them.  It was a great disappointment to say the least. Bottom-line, if your intimate house isn’t clean, how clean are the rest of your intimate areas? Like I always say… Love is in the details.

Look for Amy Bridges’s next column every two weeks.

Bridge to Love – “Seeking Love”

Bridge to Love – “Seeking Love” 4.43/5 7 votes

Amy-Bridges_SmartFem profile-2_90“Love is what we are all seeking either openly or privately. Why then, is it so hard to find?” Amy Bridges is a contributing writer at SmartFem with her new column aimed to help readers on Bridging the gap to love and dating. She is passionate about guiding individuals on the right path when dating. Amy is thrilled to assist SmartFem readers with obstacles they might have in their quest for love.

So if everyone is looking for love, why is it so hard to find? That is the winning question and the answer will have infinite possibilities. Why is it there are so many amazing people open to love or would love to be in love and have a relationship, yet at the end of the day, so many of them are still single? So if everyone is looking for love, why is it so hard to find?

Man giving woman gift.Is it that there are not “plenty of fish in the sea,” as they say? Are we not putting ourselves in the right places or finding the right opportunities to meet the right person? Have we become too focused on other goals in our lives that we forget about the one thing we, as human beings, all desire at our core… to love and to be loved?

Are we just too picky? I often hear many singles say, “I just don’t have the time to date.” Time goes by… sometimes years… and then it seems we suddenly but quietly panic.  Often as a result, we subconsciously become desperate, and desperation is never a desirable character quality for successful dating.

How many times have you met someone who had appeared perfect on paper, and yet you knew just wasn’t “the one?” In my experience I have often found that I loved certain qualities in the different people I dated and that if I could just take those qualities from each and combine them into one person… therein lies my perfect mate.

Despite all the differences, men and woman do share one thing in common. Having interviewed hundreds of singles, I’ve found ultimately both sexes agree… finding love and that special person would be a personal success of greater value than any amount of money or any plaque of accomplishment on a wall. Love is what we are all seeking either openly or privately. Why then, is it so hard to find?

Look for Amy Bridges’s next column every two weeks.

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