Dating at any age can be a daunting and sometimes frustrating thing, particularly in a major metropolitan city like Los Angeles or New York. However, for a 40-something single mom, the stakes can be even higher as there’s a third party involved: your child.
No one understands this like 41-year-old Tamika Davis. With a young daughter in tow, the Los Angeles-based single mother is well aware that she is a package deal. Suffice to say finding the right partner requires more than a just a right swipe, and she is completely fine with taking her sweet time. “Honestly, I haven’t dated in years — I haven’t even gone for a cup of coffee,” says Davis, who works as a service experience manager for Nordstrom. “Before baby, I could go out when I wanted to and was open to anything. Now it’s so different.”
For starters, the baby is not a baby anymore. Davis’ daughter, Farrah, is eight years old and fairly aware of how love and relationships work. “She’s very smart and we’ve already had conversations [about my relationship status],” Davis explains. “I told her I’d like to get married one day, and she said, ‘Well, you have to date them first.’” Farrah’s perceptiveness has made Davis plenty wary when it comes to finding a partner. “I tried a dating site and stayed on there for a couple days,” she says. “Honestly, I don’t want anyone to recognize or approach me when I’m out with my daughter. I don’t want to be that face.”
And while bringing someone home to meet the parents used to be a nerve-racking milestone, for Davis, introducing a man to her daughter is the major rite of passage, and not one she takes lightly. With parents you risk judgement and disapproval, but with children (particularly little ones) you risk quick attachment, which can have devastating implications should the relationship not work out. This is not lost on the retail guru. “Farrah has not met anyone,” she explains. “If I were to date someone, she will not meet them until I’m about to get engaged or something. It has to be very serious.”
To make matters slightly more complicated, Farrah’s openness to a potential marriage for her mother has changed in recent months. These days, the third-grader has been very vocal about her contentment with it being “just the two of us.” And she’s not the only one. As appealing as the thought of being wined and dined is, Davis prefers her current party of two. The single mom explains that her home is a peaceful one, which hasn’t always been the case.
For years, Davis struggled with a tumultuous relationship with Farrah’s father, whom she met while living in Atlanta in her 30s. “I think that relationship broke me all the way down,” she explains. “He took layer after layer until I had nothing left. I had to put those layers of myself back up, and it took years.” Yes, a move back to her hometown of LA in 2013 and substantial distance between her and her ex proved to be the perfect remedy. Davis shifted all of her focus and energy to creating a healthy and safe environment for Farrah, and, after some time, she found herself with a renewed strength and confidence. “It took years,” she explains. “I was so broken. Now things are peaceful and it feels so good. I’m doing my own thing and in control of my circumstances.”
With a new lease on life and an ironclad bond with her daughter, Davis is understandably rigid when it comes to her requirements for her next relationship, which is a far cry from the laid-back approach she had just 10 years ago. “Before Farrah, I only claimed to want a relationship type, but it really didn’t matter,” she says. “If something became a relationship it was fine by me, but if it didn’t that was fine, too.”
Oh, how times have changed. Now in addition to being “tall, dark and handsome,” and marriage-material (no exceptions!), Davis’ list includes a man who, of course, loves children and also has a stable job. “He doesn’t have to be wealthy, but he has to be doing well for himself,” she says. “I just want a mature, grown man.” Another interesting new requirement includes friendships. “He has to have friends,” adds the single mother. “I don’t want to date a loner — I feel a certain way about that.”
The individual also has to be a natural inclusion in Davis’ current life with Farrah, which at this point is pretty ideal. And while loneliness can be an occasional companion in any single woman’s life, the 41-year-old says she hasn’t had a visit in years. “I really don’t get lonely,” she says, explaining that — considering her last relationship — she has a new gratitude for even the simplest life moments. “I love getting up on a Sunday morning and hearing the sound of cartoons in the next room.”
It seems even Farrah has seen her mother’s evolution (which might account for her request to keeps their current situation in tact). “She wrote a letter to me recently that said, ‘I love the way you’re always so happy and smiling,’” says Davis. “I was like, where is my tissue?”