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Twenty-five minutes after I first logged on, a message came up: “You used to live across the hall from me freshman year at NYU.” And so my first date was set up.I remembered him, and while I knew this wasn’t going to lead to romance, it felt like reconnecting with an old friend. Together we dished on all things Tinder—why did so many men (and women) insist on posting photos of themselves with their kids, for instance?As a child psychiatrist, I have treated a large number of children who were harmed by the poor choices their parents made while dating.I also saw parents do quite a few disturbing things while I was recently single and dating, but you don’t have to give up on dating with children; and you don’t have to be a spinster to protect your children if you are smart about it.
Just a month before, I had been on the receiving end of this special kind of assistance myself.The first thing she would say was, “My main concern is getting you laid.”That, as it happens, was also the main concern of another well-meaning single mom at another PTA fundraiser (who knew the PTA was a gold mine of dating advice? She had been single 11 months, she told me, until she met someone on Tinder. Earlier that year, I had, in fact, tried Bumble, but after it netted a single three-hour, no-escape dinner date, I instantly deleted it from my phone. There were the cliché shirtless and headless bathroom shots, guys surfing on remarkably tiny waves, and, of course, lots of men posing while holding dead fish.Within seconds, though, I got plenty of matches myself.The first year after I filed for divorce, I was living an ode to Marianne Moore’s quote, “The cure for loneliness is solitude.” I was in my how-to-be-single phase, using power tools, and I wasn’t completely alone. All too soon, though, one year turned into two and it was patently clear I no longer knew how to meet men in real life. One friend gently suggested that perhaps I was making things weird.A college friend began to check in on me the way people call on their elderly relatives. My first clumsy swipes resulted in a bunch of blue “super like” stars whether I liked the guy or not.