Nothing gets the gossip train rolling faster than talk about sex. I found this out the hard way recently when I asked a friend a simple question about one of our mutual friends.
“Hey, I saw Maggie is dating someone new. What’s the story there?”
All I wanted to know was a little bit about our friend’s situation, since I hadn’t heard from her in a while. What I got was rapid-fire gossip about Maggie’s sex life.
“Yeah, his name is Eric. They started hooking up after the Billie Eilish show a few months ago. I don’t think they’re anything serious though. I’m pretty sure she’s still hooking up with Ben off and on.”
I was taken aback. In seconds I knew more about this woman’s supposed sex life than I cared to. But what’s even worse, my first thought was, “I wonder if that’s weird for her kid, to have different guys over?” It was a fleeting thought and I immediately gave myself a mental kick in the ass. What a terrible conclusion to jump to. I was immensely ashamed, because I realized I was only feeding into a stigma that single parents aren’t allowed to have an active sex life.
I don’t know anything about Maggie’s dating habits or her sex life, and nor should I. It’s not my business. It’s not anyone’s business except Maggie’s!
I found myself thinking a lot about that exchange. What are people saying about me and my sex life? Do people have a negative perception of me if they see me out on a date or flirting with a woman? Do they wonder about my capacity as a parent when a woman spends the night? It’s unnerving to think about, and I found myself feeling guilty for no real reason!
There’s a real stigma surrounding single parents today—that somehow, an active sex life makes them a worse parent. If Maggie or I decide to be intimate with someone, it’s irresponsible or immature for some reason. It’s a perception we need to work on breaking.
An active sex life shouldn’t be a source of guilt for single parents. Casual sex or a fling aren’t signs of irresponsible parenting—they’re part of being an adult who has needs and wants. A single parent doesn’t always have time for a committed relationship and they might not want one after a divorce or separation. That shouldn’t mean they have to forgo sex and intimacy forever!
As a society, we’re more open about sex than we’ve ever been before. Yet there are still many stigmas and closeminded concepts we need to get past. The idea that single parents should feel guilty about having an active sex life is one of them. It has nothing to do with a person’s capacity to be a good parent and everything to do with the needs they have as an adult.
I don’t care about Maggie’s sex life and neither should you. It’s especially irrelevant in this case, because I know full well she’s a great mom.