Man Shopping

by mssinglemama on May 15, 2009

When you’re a mother and dating things can get tricky.

It’s why more than ever I have been utilizing a little theory I crafted back in my single and childless days to make sure I remain in control of my dating life. There have been bumps in the road, an errant bad boy or two and a few tears, but for the most part since becoming a single mother I have done very well by sticking to the idea that dating is like shopping or as I like to call it “man shopping.”

It’s a simple theory really. If women can view dating like they do shopping they would have much happier and fulfilling experiences out in that big bad pond.

Imagine you are shopping for a pair of shoes. What do you do? You mingle, you mix and then you slip on a pair testing it for comfort and, of course, how it makes you feel.

You ask yourself a few questions. One of the most important is how does the shoe make you feel sexy, professional, hip, athletic or absolutely magnificent?

Only you know the answer because they’re your shoes.

If you listen to your friends you may wind up at home a few hours later staring at a shoe you just don’t love. If you listen to your heart you may end up biting off way more than you can chew and spending too much. But if you listen to your mind you are patient, responsible, thorough.

If the shoe doesn’t quite fit on your feet or with your budget you set the pair back down, no matter how irresistable and say, “I can wait. I’ll find a better pair at another store or on another day.”

So why is it that with men we relinquish control and often wait for them to ask us out or wait for them to choose us?

Why? When the man we choose, as every single mom knows, is one of the most important decisions a woman can make in her life. Is he a true partner, supportive, loving, and how does he make you feel?

If we dated men as if they were loafers or high heels โ€“ bear with me here – we’d probably be quicker to toss the jerks back onto the clearance rack. I think of a sweet girl in the back of a bar or a coffee shop. She is glancing around, fumbling with her shirt and looking up often to see if a man is coming her way.

What if she stood up and walked around that bar or that coffee shop and pretended like she was shopping for a pair of shoes? She would mix, she would mingle and she would perhaps try on her favorite man to see if he fits. If not she would move on.

She would be in control. Not of a man – I’m not talking about controlling men. I’m talking about controlling your own dating destiny. When I last talked to the tiger I told him we’d have to stop seeing each other because I was going to give the Bear a shot.

“I really like him and I think there’s some major potential,” I said.

The tiger awesome about it and wished me the best but then said, “I give it like a month and a half.”

“Really? Why?”

“Oh, I don’t know. That’s your style right? You go through the men so quickly.”

“No, I don’t go through them quickly, I eliminate them quickly.”

It sounds harsh but it’s true. I eliminate them quickly because I am man shopping. Only keeping them around if the shoe fits but as soon as there’s a blister I toss it off and move on.

There’s something about having been married once that keeps me from staying in a relationship or dating scenario that doesn’t feel right. Eliminate the pairs that don’t fit. And there is nothing wrong with that – in my eyes – it’s just practical.

C’mon. You know which ones I’m talking about. Don’t  you?

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

ProudCanuckMama May 16, 2009 at 12:36 am


It's so true. As single moms we don't have time to waste and we can't afford to invest too much of ourselves for a man who doesn't "fit" perfectly.

Man shopping…I love it ๐Ÿ™‚


tina May 16, 2009 at 12:52 am

nicely put, I had a question? (slightly newish single mama here.. been a year end of this month since I've been free and loving it) do you introduce your son to these potential shoes, or wait until it becomes more… of a purchase, togetherness… I am sooo protective, just wondering but, I also haven't been on a date yet.


Janet May 16, 2009 at 1:15 am

Hmm…I agree with some aspects of this post. But this sentence stood out:

"Only keeping them around if the shoe fits but as soon as there’s a blister I toss it off and move on…"

My thought is, even the nicest shoes eventually become worn.

I assume this analogy is only meant for the very beginning stages of dating? Because in relationships, both people eventually have a blister. Or two. And maybe the shoes have a flaw…something you didn't notice in the store, but now that you're home and in different lighting, there it is, clear as day. That doesn't necessarily mean you throw them out. You choose whether it's something you can live with or not.

However, when it comes to casual dating or pursuing men–I think the shoe theory makes sense!


mssinglemama May 17, 2009 at 2:21 am

Yes… definitely only meant for the beginning stages of dating. Thanks for pointing that out!! Very big difference.


2luvs4nj May 16, 2009 at 1:26 am

I couldn't agree more – my thinking is…this "shoe" is going to take time away from my children on a Friday night, well he better be worth it.

Awesome…love it….


Mississauga.S-Momma May 16, 2009 at 1:27 am

Love this analogy…you rock ๐Ÿ™‚


Irishmom May 16, 2009 at 1:39 am

Oh man, you're so right when you say we "know". Fortunately I didn't listen to my knowing very well in the past. But you are so right – being a parent actually makes a whole hell of a lot simpler. There is no room for mistakes, period. Well, at least major ones. And that is a good thing in my humble opinion. Hope you had a good trip!


Victoria May 16, 2009 at 2:00 am

I'm definitely a much choosier shopper this time around. And finding I don't mind going barefoot at all ๐Ÿ™‚

To Tina, my take is that I would wait until it was very serious, but I have pretty young ones (almost 4 and 18 months) so they're pretty clueless about dating and the like. I'd want to have swapped the L word and be at least thinking about shacking up before my girls met someone. Mine is probably a pretty extreme opinion, but I know my kids, and I know they don't need the same long ramp-up I would need – I'd rather shorten their learning curve on a guy than expose them to a string of shoes that seemed to fit in the store, but really weren't comfortable after a full day on my feet, to bastardize Alaina's analogy ๐Ÿ™‚


notasoccermom May 16, 2009 at 2:00 am

this was very well thought out and very well written.
What if I shop in the bargain bins and always but the things I dont need just because they are a bargain! Dont answer that!


Canadian Bald Guy May 16, 2009 at 2:30 am

"That’s your style right? You go through the men so quickly.”

Ouch. I think he was a bit harsh there. I think once you've gone through a marriage and divorce, that both men and women are much more selective about who they want to end up with.

I don't think there's anything wrong with making an early judgment call if it's not working for you. Hey…it's YOUR happiness, right?


abrookshire May 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

I love thinking about it from this perspective! It only makes sense!

Thanks for sharing this with us!


Amy in Sedona May 16, 2009 at 4:02 am

Yay! I absolutely LOVE this post!


alice May 16, 2009 at 4:45 am

I do, I love this. Especially since I'm scared to death about dating again. At least it's pretty far down the road for me. Thank you.


movin down the road May 16, 2009 at 11:29 am

naw, when it's right, you'll totally know it. dating shouldnt be taken too seriously until you feel serious about someone. I should talk, in the past been at my wits end with it…it does get to a point where we dont want to waste our time if we just know it isnt gonna go further than the initial stages…


Dawn May 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I'm new to the dating scene and forty five … until January I had dated four times in my life, married three men. I'm a poster child for some organization in the land of I don't know I am doing. As of now I've dated ten men. I'm not dating with a marriage destination in mind, which is a first for me. Sure, I'd like a lasting relationship with one man who can stand sixth in line in my life as I raise my children for another nine years, and meet me over the hill and grow old together. My hope is there but for now, I'm just having fun like any idealist would. There's a lot to be said for feeling desired again even if there is no 'downtown' destination in mind. I've learned about myself more deeply in the whole process.

Finding your blog last winter coaxed me out of my bunny hole with your inspiring posts about dating and I've always wanted to thank you for that. Your advice is sound.

I gave up pessimism this weekend. And I am not concerned that you'll get married and give up writing from the single mom experience. No sir, I trust that your fire will keep burning.


mssinglemama May 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm

That is a tough one to answer. Generally I error on not introducing them unless the guy has serious potential. Then maybe a quick meet up at the park or in the case of the Bear a car ride down to Athens. I typically want to see how they mesh with my child before going too deeply.

It just depends. There's a big difference between casually introducing a man to your kids and bringing him into your lives as a surrogate husband/father instantly.


Bear May 17, 2009 at 1:08 am

I like the control that the analogy implies. But I have to wonder: Have you ever actually found a perfect pair of shoes?


christine May 17, 2009 at 4:16 am

i love this. so much.


mom2threeinmd May 17, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I think the Tiger was just feeling sorry for himself when he made that comment. I dated a guy for a few dates, found that he wasn't for me, and when I was "putting him back on the rack" he suddenly said "well, I think it's going to be very hard for you to find someone who wants to be with you and those three kids all the time". Ouch, but I realized he was just being a baby and lashing out. I said to him "That's a bet I'll take". ๐Ÿ™‚


Jaden May 18, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Love this post! What a great analogy. Awesome!


Danielle May 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Boy have I had a lot of blisters. I seem to like the shoes that look good on my feet and forget about the comfort. I will shop differently next time.
Awesome post. You rock!


min May 19, 2009 at 1:47 am

Reading your blog for a few months–I don't think you go through men quickly. You seem like a bit of a romantic who jumps in with two feet, hard quality to supress–and maybe doesn't need to be, just be aware of it.. Let's face it, it isn't shoe shopping and we as single mothers probably know that better than anyone. It is hard to find the right balence. We don't have a hell of a lot of extra time to fritter away but being too darn serious off the bat doesn't help any of us. And lets face being the ultra romantic type probably led a bunch of us to where we are today (although I wouldn't give up where I am now for anything). I just know that nobody ever lost the right guy by proceeding slowly. I am not an ardent follower of The Rules but there is some wisdom to be culled there. Say no a few times even though you could say yes and it would be easier to do so.


Dawn May 19, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I like the science of 'momentum.' If you find out he's the wrong fit, does it really change anything? I think that was the point of the analogy.

Dating is like exploring a new universe. Take the serious side out and learn something new about the human before you.

Relax and have fun.


Syd May 19, 2009 at 1:53 pm

You sent a tweet a few weeks back that I'm *still* reflecting on. It was advice to another freshly-single mom. "Do you pick them or do they pick you?" Wow. I think that probably sums up a big part of my past dating issues right there, and I'll be ruminating on it for awhile. As always, I appreciate the insight. And the inspiration. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Barb Jacobucci May 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Love this! I linked to this post from my blog. Nice Shoes! and more life observations:


Nikki June 5, 2009 at 3:46 pm This is the best post ever. Really. Best. Can I copy some of it and post it on my blog with my answers? I would refer back to you.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.


Tishia Lee June 25, 2009 at 2:53 am

Awesome post! I love the whole shoe analogy. I've never thought of dating like shopping but it all makes sense now.


Helene February 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm

A friend of mine just sent me a link to this post about man-shopping, and I absolutely love the shoe analogy! I recently started documenting my own man-shopping adventures here in Paris, thanks to the launch of a great man-shopping website geared toward the female shopper and her man-product needs. You can literally put men back on the shelf when you are through with them. I just wish that real-life dating had a money-back, free-returns guarantee like zappos… In any event, congrats on finding a great pair of “shoes,” and I look forward to exploring your blog even further!


Dustie February 6, 2011 at 6:09 am

This is my first time on this sight and I love it! I have been a single mom for a while now and I have chosen some very bad shoes(bad boys) in my life! Helene I was wondering if you would mind sharing the website that you are talking about?


American Attorneys May 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I love the term MAN SHOPPING because for us, the singles mommas is so practical, and necessary because we can’t be with a man who simply don’t fit in uor live style


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