When I started writing stories about being a single father, new to the dating scene, new to parenting on my own, still wrestling with the ebb and flow of emotions around my divorce, I didn’t really think anyone would read them. I wrote them because I needed to process what was happening, and because I thought they might be good to repurpose down the road someday — a TV pilot, or a novel, or a collection of fiction. I definitely didn’t think that I’d still be writing them, to larger and larger audiences, a dozen years later.
And when I was assigned the moniker “The Dating Dad” by an editor at SheKnows.com a short time later, I had no idea how a handle like that would come to define so many of my interactions, would have a serious effect on relationships’ beginnings and endings, would open up doors for creative pursuits, or how it would cause misconceptions and misgivings.
I never imagined I’d spend a decade writing monthly Dating Dad blog posts — long-form stories that seem to resonate beyond divorced parents — or that many of the readers who were there from the beginning would still be following my progress 10 years later.
Honestly, I didn’t think I’d still be single by now.
I’ve said many times that the me of 2003 wouldn’t even recognize the me of 2015. Even in my rare, optimistic moments, I didn’t imagine that I’d live in a cool modern brownstone in the best neighborhood in Denver (hell, it was one of the worst neighborhoods at the time), running my own company and writing books on the side, deeply involved with the Jewish community (locally and nationally). Or that I’d be so richly blessed with friendship and family-of-choice. I knew that Simone and I would be okay, but I didn’t dream of the adventures we’d go on together.
Being “The Dating Dad” has not always been a positive experience. Between the blog and my Twitter handle, the fact that I’m pretty open about what’s going on in my life, and my public persona, I’ve experienced serious consequences for my choice to write honestly month after month, and to share my feelings online the way I do. On balance, I believe my decisions have been largely for the better. But I also know that I’ve sacrificed (wittingly or unknowingly) some real chances for longterm relationships. The ache from that knowledge may never go away.
But here we are. A dozen years post-divorce, a decade into The Dating Dad. I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve made terrible mistakes and I’ve striven for redemption. I’ve become a better person, but I still have a long way to go. And, in a very real way, writing these stories every month has become an integral part of my journey to become a better man. Not only has it been a powerful way for me to process my experiences and sort through my emotions, but I’ve been held accountable for the things I’ve written here.
I want to celebrate my 10-year chronicle this fall, but I don’t want to do it alone. I know that I haven’t been on this journey by myself, and that dedicated readers who’ve cheered for me, scolded me, or cried real tears for me are just as responsible for the longevity of this blog as I am. I want you to be part of the celebration.
One thing I know for sure is that I’d like to compile another e-book of favorite columns. The first one was a project that a colleague took on, when he wanted to demonstrate the value of his startup’s blog-to-book engine. I gathered up some favorite posts from the first five years, and he turned it into something you could buy on Amazon.
This time, I want YOU to tell me your favorite columns of the last ten years, and then I’ll put together a collection of the most-popular stories. I’ve created a little survey for you to use.
But I want to do something special for my dedicated readers, too. I’ve vetted this idea with friends and family, and they approve, even though it does carry some minor risks.
Here’s my idea. This fall, I will take one reader and a friend to dinner in his or her home city. I’ll travel (if necessary), meet up with you and your spouse/pal/BFF, and we’ll go eat something really tasty together.
We’ll keep this simple. Respond to the survey, submit your contact info, and we’ll pick someone to visit. Then we’ll schedule the dinner for a convenient time. This isn’t a random drawing — I’m going to have my family help me decide, based on your answers, location, and timing.
I am grateful for the affection and attention and tough love my readers have sent my way over the years. Your feedback and advice have kept me going through difficult times. I’m so honored that you spend a few minutes each month with me.