Tag Archives: single dad seeks

The Unattached Male

I am a wild animal. I understand this about my brain. There are parts of it (the reptilian brain) that are still connected to instincts like “survival of the fittest” and “sex for procreation” and “sex at every opportunity.” There are parts of all of us (yes, I believe women are just as energized by sexual energy and attraction as men are) that are more like animals on the hunt for a mate than a rational human being going about their modern-day lives. We’re hooked on sex. And when our sex-is-on-fire we pay attention to what is right in front of us.

I know myself “in relationship” as a man who is satisfied and settled. I am no longer driven by the energetic part of the sex-brain that is hunting for attractive and available women. When I have a relationship to call my own, my entire body is more relaxed, more connected, and more grounded. I can see and appreciate a sexy young woman, and as a connected male, I can let it go with a “God has made another beautiful woman,” thought. I do not need to lure, to approach, or engage.

I noticed this afternoon I was fascinated by a young woman a few tables over at lunch. She was chatting with a friend and never noticed my attentions. But I noticed I was seeing things about her that might be construed as… Well, as not all that healthy.

I am not a misogynist, but I do have a hard time not making women’s bodies “objects” of affection. That’s called the objectification of women. (Not a good thing.) So I notice. Appreciate. And let go.

This is when I’m in a good place, relationship-wise, as in connected, satisfied, and satiated. Today was not one of those days. I’m alone again. I’ve been dating and meeting women, but I’m unattached, unsatiated. I’m still in my reptillian brain and desiring women in the world around me with a possesive and primal energy. I wanted this young woman, smiling, talking, and taking no notice of the dad-bod near her.

What was it about her energy, her sexuality, her youth, that fascinated me so much? And this is not strictly about youth or fitness, though those things can add or subtract from the momentum. I was attracted and pulled toward this young woman, because I do not have a primary relationship in my life. Sure, I’m exploring a few options via online dating, but I’m no longer attached to a woman.

This untethered state is something that makes me feel less than optimal as I walk the earth. I feel a bit more energetic, but in a sexual and driven way. She was a tasty mate, and that’s what I was looking for, even if the idea of “mating” for procreation is no longer part of my physical possibilities.

Today, I don’t have a greener pasture I’m looking for, I’m looking for any available, rational, Brené Brown reading, fit, and funny woman. I’m looking.  And in this seeking state, I’m more of a predator, more an old lion on a hunt.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

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Going Global with the 100%-Positive Single Parent Message

Today marks a new dawn for The Whole Parent.

Today, the online agent who found me a few weeks ago begins the process of putting The Whole Parent into the reach of millions more people than we’ve touched so far. Today, The Whole Parent has over 1 million reads of our posts. We’re pretty happy with that stat. But it’s not enough.

anne leedom - the whole parent

Anne Leedom’s Online PR is about to take the journey with us to creating a more positive divorce and single parenting experience for you and your kids. We need to let go of the divorce and anger. We need to become “whole” parents again. And with Anne beside me, I’m confident we will continue to touch lives.

Today is the beginning of something big. Welcome aboard Anne. We’re ready to do great things with you.

Thank you again for coming along on my journey.

John McElhenneyThe Whole Parent

Universe Says: FULL STOP

Let’s start with February, shall we? It’s been the most intense and transformative month of my young 55-year-old life. I felt at times like my skin was being burnt away by the velocity of the change underway. The pace of change, conflict, resolution, conflict, opportunity, and so on, was exhausting. I stopped drinking coffee because I didn’t need any stimulants. I adjusted my psyche meds to reduce activation. And I started to manage my sleep hours in a much more directed way. All to say, the month continued to burn away my old baggage and scorch my newly exposed skin. Ouch.

What I had to keep focusing on, in order to stay sane and stay on the planet, was to pause everything and focus on a few meditative breathes. Just stop. And breathe. It worked. But it wasn’t enough. The pain of transformation and re-entry into my new life continued.

March has come with a bit more gentleness but I am still being served up for a healing in every area of my life. Most recently that massive shift has happened in my relationship to money and work. I’ve always worked for a living. And in the last 8 years, since my divorce, my ex-wife (I mean, my kids) has gotten 50% of everything I’ve earned. It makes it a bit hard to maintain living quarters. It has been a challenging 8 years. And last week, something massive changed. More on that later.

The job thing has been quite interesting for me to explore emotionally. Rationally I was of the mind, I need a big full-time job to provide the child support and healthcare my family still requires, and deserves. I was applying for a lot of jobs. Some of them above my experience and most of them below my senior-level marketing role. But the universe and recruiters see through these missteps. I never got callbacks on the “manager” or “specialist” roles, it was clear from my resume that I was a director level or perhaps ready for a VP position. So the job market in this hot tech town, Austin, Texas, was rough. I was not getting any hits. Until February. And then the job offers began raining down on me, and the jobs I was applying to all started asking me to take the first interview step.

Then two weeks ago I met Daniel.

This man changed my perspective on life and my future goals. But that’s what Daniel does. He’s an executive life coach. Helping c-level (not me) executives move from their primary careers to “what’s next.” And he’s very good at what he does. 25+ years in, and he’s also an expert in the industry. Daniel and I shared 147 connections on LinkedIn. All of my “mentors” and “goto thinkers” were also 1st level connections with Daniel.

And Daniel told me his story. And we agreed to work together, we agreed that I could help Daniel’s company do a better job of marketing itself online. A relationship was formed. But something deeper was also formed, from our first meeting. We understood each other, trusted each other, in a rare and powerful way. I knew from the first meeting, that Daniel and I were going to powerfully change each other’s lives, in a great way.

Two days after our inital meeting I asked Daniel to “coach” me on a 10-minute call. I had a lot up in the air, and I wanted to get this executive coach in on a tiny piece of my story to see if my thinking was way off, or if I was heading in the right direction. So I told Daniel of my two options, as I saw them.

Option 1: Full-time gig with a tech firm, making good money and providing full-benefits and retirement support.

Option 2: Continuing with my freelance gig (Fluent Social) and wing the benefits with my 2018 Obamacare coverage.

Daniel immediately spoke up. “You’re missing the bigger picture.” He saw something I didn’t. Again, that’s what he does. That’s his mission in life to use his Christ-centered leadership to guide people to their happiness and higher purpose.

You see, I had handed Daniel a copy of my new book (Single Dad Seeks) when we first met and explained that I was in the process of working with a new agent who was going to make me and The Whole Parent into a national forum for single parenting. She’s an online content placement agent. She’s going to get my content, my story, published all over the place. And in return for that, I will get more exposure, sell a few more books, and over the long run become more of a spokesperson for single parents in the national media. (Ask me later about when the Today Show came to my house and interviewed me about this blog and my writing and my single parenting experience.)

“You don’t need to take any full-time job,” Daniel continued. “You are being served up by the universe, and this agent came into your life for a reason. And, in fact, so did I.”

There is was. Daniel was confronting my work/money fear that goes something like this, “What if I don’t take that full-time job and my book fails? What if the freelance work dries up again? What if I get depressed? How will I survive without a good job and good health insurance.”

That was last week. This week the conversation continues. And the challenges to my old fear-based beliefs have been showing up in spades. On Thursday, I had my 2nd consulting meeting with Daniel, and we had a great session. I’m excited and energized by the work with him and his team. And I left the meeting feeling more confident and happy with my “freelance” choice than ever before. I still had a few job interviews moving forward for the week, but I was considering what it would feel like to tell them “no” and not do the interview at all. I was working on my fear. I wasn’t there yet, but Daniel was helping me challenge my fear-based belief.

On Thursday, this week I had another session with Daniel, where I am helping him market his business online. At the end of this session, he and I prayed together over some of my requests to the universe, including finding a relationship. (see book, listed above) I was humbled by Daniel’s ability to give so freely of his love and his devotion to Jesus.

As I left Daniel’s office that afternoon, I was looking at my email and deleting all-new “recruiter/job offer” emails until ONE caught my eye from a recruiter named Jill. I got in my car and noticed that Jill had also left me a voicemail. Rather than delete Jill’s email, I clicked on her phone number, saying to myself, “Okay, Jill (Universe) let’s see what you’ve got right now. I’m ready to be delivered.”

I left a voicemail for Jill. I deleted her voicemail without listening to it. Let’s cut to the chase, Lord, I said to myself. About 10 minutes later an excited Jill calls and begins to unpack this exciting opportunity in Austin, Texas with a small company that thinks I might just be what they need to jumpstart their growth and take care of their lead requests that the team has been too busy to respond to. (A Great problem for a company to have until it’s starting to piss off the leads and it becomes the brand of the company that they can’t handle any more business.)

Well, digital marketing is how I’ve made my living over the last 25 years, so this job sounded perfect. Jill and I talked for an hour and a half. She sent me a few documents to sign a non-disclosure agreement clearing the way for me to have an unfiltered conversation with the business owner on Monday, the Monday that is now two days away. Next Monday.

Wow, it was a whirlwind of a WIN-WIN and I went to bed excited. I wondered how Daniel would take my change of heart, but it was twice what Daniel was offering as some future date, and this was a bird in the hand. I didn’t sleep very well, I was conflicted and anxious. I’m sure the business owner, Jill, and Daniel all slept without worrying about me.

Yesterday, Friday morning, I woke up with a spiritual hangover. I felt sick. I knew that the dream job Jill was offering was no more than a fancier, better paid, 60-hour soul-killer job. Well, not all 60-hour jobs have to be soul killers, but, as I mentioned, I have just written a book, and… well… the 60-70 weeks were behind me.

I sent an email to Daniel asking for a 10-minute conversation (PERSONAL) in a mildly crisis driven panic.  And then I paused and prayed. I asked my higher power to show me the right path. I asked for God to give me his direction. And I meditated on that. Pause. Breathe. Listen.

Daniel’s voice came through my meditation loud and clear, “You can talk to Jill if you want to. You can entertain a big corporate job and putting a Tesla in your garage, but …”

I knew what he was going to say when I spoke with him later in the day.

“The universe is speaking to you.” No, Daniel would say, “The Lord is speaking to you, and showing up for you at this moment in your life. It is your job to listen and get out of his way as he transforms your life.”

I called Jill.

By the time Daniel and I spoke that afternoon, I just needed to relate my decision to him. “I heard your voice in my head, Daniel.”

“No John,” he said. “You heard the Lord answering your question.”


Pause. Breathe. Listen.

Full Stop. 

Always Love,

John McElhenney

* If you are interested in meeting Daniel, or getting a coach in your life, please let me know.

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Coaching for Single Parents – Lifecoaching Practice Announced

The amazing people at DatingAdvice.com started courting me in October of 2017. I was having a tough holiday and I did not respond until the editor in chief connected with me on LinkedIn. She wanted to do an interview and profile of The Whole Parent.

A lot has changed since this article came out. Too much to fill in here, but over time you will learn how February 2018 was one of the most transformative months of my 50+ years on the planet. The transitions are still in motion, my life is still approaching hyperspeed of some sort, and many of my major life goals are revealing themselves to have answers that I did not expect and was not actively looking for. Yet, here we are.

Click to see the profile

Today the world changes for The Whole Parent, aka John McElhenney. As my life has been moving in recent years, my passion for helping and guiding single parents through the hardships of divorce, depression, recovery, addiction, and ultimately renewed belief in a future relationship, I am announcing today that my services as a single parenting coach/wingman/confidant/cheerleader are now official and I’ve got slots open.

What this means to you as a reader of The Whole Parent.

  1. My rate to you is 50% what it will be in April when the public announcement is made.
  2. After your first session with me (skype/facetime/in-person Austin, Texas) you will get a free copy of my new book, What a Single Dad Seeks, as well as lifetime and unlimited access to the upcoming community that is being built behind the Single Dad Seeks Community Website.
  3. Your first 30-minute session is free. Let’s just talk about your goals, what you’re looking for in a coach. What kind of help you need. If I’m not the best fit for you, I have a network of coaches I consult with.
  4. I’ll have the honor of talking to you about your life, your dreams. And you can ask me about my story, what I’ve written, what my experience as a single parent in the online dating world has been.
  5. I’ll email you my ebook, What Single Dads Want You To Know About Online Dating.

That’s the entire offer. First call, 30-minutes, is free. Let’s just connect. I’ll send you an electronic copy of the book and ebook just for connecting with me online. There’s no payment, no commitment. That’s as honest as I can get about what I do and how I can help you get back to your authentic strength and happiness.

I do Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime sessions for on a sliding scale… That’s it. Easy. Tell me what you want to pay in the opening email and describe your situation. I can help.




Speaking engagements and interview inquiries can be emailed to [email protected] or for quicker response, you can call and leave a message at 512-524-6684.

For review copies of John’s newest book, Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce, send mailing info to [email protected]

This is why I do it. I’m a dad to this wonderful 15 yo girl. She makes my life worth living every day. My 17 yo son, not pictured, is also a top priority in my parenting, earning, and dating life.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I am alone.

I don’t like being alone. I like sleeping next to someone, loving someone each morning, finding new things to love each day. I crave this connection a little too much and I know that’s a bad thing. I think I’m too susceptible right now to my own addiction. I think I might be addicted to women. In a slightly unhealthy way, that has led me to trouble in the past. So let’s slow things down a bit and look at how “the waiting” can be the best part.

At the moment I am in a perfect relationship. I wake up , go to sleep, nap, walk, play tennis, write… all that, I do all those things without considering another soul. I am in love with myself. Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but I’m learning to like my own company again. For awhile there, after my last breakup I was not sure I would survive to see another relationship. Today, I know I will, I’m just not sure how or when. It’s that unknowing that I’m also beginning to understand. I can’t say I enjoy it yet, but I get it. I’m not ready.

While there are not a whole lot of things going tremendously right in my life right now, I am comfortable in my rebuilding. As I went on a “hello date” yesterday I was happy with the me I presented. While there was zero chemistry and thus zero follow-up, it was an opportunity to tell my story again. To hear how it sounds to talk about my divorce and my kids, and what I’m doing with my life. Of course, I leave out some of that life stuff, but I was honest in all that I chose to share.

What I learned yesterday, at some point during our 45 minute conversation, is I am confident and comfortable with who and where I am. I talked about the i-ching for a minute in reference to both of our current situations. (See, when you’re going on a first date it’s likely the other person is alone and waiting for what’s next as well.) That she had never heard of the i-ching was surprising, but hey… Here’s a paraphrase of what I said.

Back when I was into the tao and zen, I used to throw the i-ching for guidance. It’s really just a reflecting pool that you can bounce your current situation off of, a philosophy. What was interesting was out of the 64 hexagrams of the i-ching, three times I threw the exact same one.


Actively Waiting.

And what I learned was the great general does not rest during the down times of war. He is actively rebuilding, strategizing, readying his plans. In our case, we are in a down time, but rather than be lazy or discouraged, we must take advantage of this time and explore, learn, study, plan, everything we can think of, so that when the waiting is over we are well-prepared for the journey ahead.

Am I ready for a new relationship right now? Nope. How do I know? I’m too into it. I’m too ambitious. I’m too eager. There is very little peace in my approach right now. I’m learning and slowing that down over the past few weeks, but I still feel the lingering energy that would swoop in at the first opportunity for a relationship and create an unrealistic fantasy about the woman just so I could have a relationship.

In the waiting I’m working on a few things.

  • Continuing my exercise and good eating habits. (Helps me stay fit.)
  • Reading and writing. (Helps me plan and imagine the future.)
  • Exploring online dating. (Gives me glimpses of possibility. None that I have connected with, but it’s sort of like training school.)
  • Working a shift-job while I continue to seek my next big job. (Keeps me engaged. Gives my kids some child support.)
  • Honoring and visiting with my mom. (She’s 85 and has plenty of worldly-wise and unwise experience to share with me.)
  • Requesting opportunities to be with my kids and build our relationship. (Teenagers are usually too busy for mom or dad, I get it.)
  • Listening and respecting the pace of life. (Mindfulness is an ongoing practice.)

I am confident that each of the activities gives me more strength and passion for what’s next. That could be a new job. A new relationship. Or it could be more of the actively waiting. As long as I am not wasting this time, I am building a better me. I believe that.

When I think about myself at this moment I would say, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

image: meditation, creative commons usage

(Singing) Find Me Somebody to Love

Did you hear the Queen song in your mind? Here, let me help.

There. That sets the tone of my teenage mindset, from when this song came out in the early 70’s. Today, in my mid-50’s I’m still a bit like that young boy, wide-eyed, eager, and most of all lonely. It’s not that I’m not enjoying my time alone, I am. But… As an empath I really feel the aloneness in a deep way. And I know this ache still needs some time to heal before I’m really ready to quest on towards a new relationship.

I’m a bit like a hungry ghost at the moment, and that’s not where I want to start from. I can feel it, however, in my approach to daily life. I’m looking a bit too longingly into other women’s eyes. I have a bit too much “hi, how are you” swagger at work. And I am imagining lustful scenes rather than holistic, real, achievable moments. It’s like my mind wanting to recreate a porn scene while my heart is looking for a real relationship. The two lines are blurred in my mind for now, and that’s confusing.

I don’t see myself as a horndog, but I think at the moment I’ve got all the characteristics of one. I’m not acting out, of course, but I’m actively conjuring up the energy and images in my mind. I see it as revving the motor. Harmless. And yet, the phrase, hungry ghost didn’t come out of thin air. I am a bit too obsessive. I have a drive that I’m not all that proud of at the moment, that demands a partner, a companion, a place to call home with someone else to come home to. It’s fine to want all that, when the time is right. The time is not right for me, at the moment and I know it. And yet the fire burns on.

I am walking around life at the moment with a hyper sense of awareness. I’m trying to identity what features I really “fall in love” with in a woman. And I’m not really getting the formula. I fall for 5 – 6 women a day. Of course this is in a harmless and self-aware way. I see my longing, I acknowledge the beauty of the woman I’m seeing, and I move along. I am not in pursuit.

And at the same time, I can feel the lack of that connection in everything I do. I don’t want to sleep alone tonight. I don’t want to plan all my own meals, and shop alone, and entertain myself. I crave the opportunity to do all those mundane things with someone. Of course, that’s where relationships can get off course, in the mundane. So, this time, I’m thinking I will make things different.

In fact, mundane is a fundamental process in any relationship. And getting to love the simple daily tasks with your mate is part of the journey. We get all jazzed and heated up about sex and sexual chemistry, which are very important, but sex probably makes up about 1% of our lives together. It is the rest of the time you have to figure out if you can enjoy together. I’m eager to try again, but with some new realizations.

  • Partners must have equal power and voice in the decisions of the relationship.
  • Both partners must continue their creative journeys alone.
  • Keeping an outside life enriches the relationship.
  • Adaptability is critical, but some things about your partner will never change.
  • The relationship is always considered first when making outside plans, always. A simple, “Hi honey, I’m thinking about going out with friends on Friday, is that okay with you?”
  • Disconnections must be expressed, even in the face of fear.

And there, I didn’t mention sex at all. Oh, but sex should be connective and pleasurable for both partners. If your attraction and relationship is founded on sex there is going to be a lot more of living that you need to figure out together.

Summing up, what I know about myself is I’m still a bit ghostly inside with too much sexual energy wrapped up in my daily walkabout. I am actively slowing my roll and not looking for a relationship. I can still have those lusty feelings, recognize them for what they are, appreciate the woman who triggered them, and the move on with my life as I am rebuilding it. It’s a perfect time. All the relationships I have are in my head and they are amazing.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

image: lover’s kiss, creative commons usage

What a Divorced Dad Wants in the Next Relationship, Year 3!


Dating is not enough.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will surely miss it.

My goal in dating, in setting out a dating plan, was to wind up in a relationship. I don’t like dating. I didn’t like dating. And now that I’m set to remarry in March of 2017, I can tell you, while the process was not unpleasant, I prefer being IN a relationship to searching for one. Let’s get caught up.

Dating a Mom
I said this was of critical importance to me in my next relationship. Both the women I dated before finding my fiancé were moms. And I assumed that being a mom was a requisite for dating me, because I assumed that the “mom” gene was required to understand the “dad” gene. I was wrong. My fiancé can accept my dad role along side my mate role. They are not mutually exclusive, but one is not more important than the other. In fact, as I began to date my fiancé it became more and more clear to me that establishing my next relationship was as important as being a good dad. And in several years, my kids will be going off to college and all I will have is my relationship. I determined that getting the relationship right, regardless of kids was more important that if the woman had kids of her own. Date the woman, if she has kids or does not have kids is just part of the equation.

Going Long Term
As I stated early on in my dating adventures, I was not “into dating.” I was looking to be in a long-term relationship. (LTR) My dating activities were focused with that in mind. If chemistry was lacking on the first date, it was also the last date. I wasn’t interested in creating the next relationship. I wanted sparks and fire and excitement right from the start. I wanted spunky, adventurous, creative, and beautiful all wrapped into one package. I was not going to setting for “all right” or “nearly.” I was either all in or all out. I learned to streamline my dating process by using this rule: If I didn’t see a future in the relationship there would be no second date. Sure, people warm up to each other over time. But chemistry and initial attraction were part of my program. And when I went out with my fiancé I got all of my wishes in spades. Even as I was telling her, I was really not looking for a relationship, she was blowing my circuits with her charm, smiles, and wit. She knocked my socks off from the first Facebook text. And things have not slowed down one bit.

Going Too Fast
When you know it’s right, when you both know it’s right, there’s no need to hesitate. Jump into it. If you’re going to blow up, blow up big and soon. Why piddle about and “see” if things are going to work out? We jumped at the assumption that everything was going to work out, and the attraction and compatibility we felt early on was all the signal we needed. Granted we were both in the right position, we were both looking for NEXT, and we were both open to a long-term relationship. As they say, “Timing is everything.” When the timing was right with us, we were planning a trip to New York City together within the first six weeks together. BOOM. Don’t hesitate or you might miss it. Don’t doubt the magic, if you feel it lean into it, and if it goes away or fails, you will know you took your shot.

Sweating the Small Stuff
We’ve always maintained our eyes on the big relationship picture. We can disagree on several things while still maintaining our balanced love for one another. She can irritate me, and I can trigger her anger, and we know we’re bigger than any of the little misses. We have the BIG CONNECTION figured out. The little misses, the irritations, the things left undone and unsaid, can be repaired in the wake of the huge love we feel towards one another. If you’ve got big love, the little details will work themselves out.

About Those Kids
My fiancé does not have to be best friends with my kids. They don’t have to love her like a second mother. We don’t have that kind of relationship between the four of us. She is Martha, they are my kids. We all have a relationship together. Sometimes they are the priority, sometimes it’s Martha, sometimes it’s myself. But it never gets confusing because we are not jockeying for position. We all love each other. She loves my kids because she loves me. They love her because they have seen the transformative effect she’s had on my life. We are all happy. And we are all individuals in a relationship with each other. There’s give and take on the weekends they are with me. There is more flexibility and freedom on the weekends when they are with their mom. What we do have is time. And the time I get to spend with all four of them is of peak value. And when I most feel like a family is when we are driving somewhere in the car together and the kids are rolling their eyes at our overt displays of affection for one another. “I’ll get to be so lucky,” I say, to see you guys in love in the future. They get it. We all get it. We are a family of individuals who come together on alternate weekends to be a family. There’s plenty of flexibility in that and plenty of togetherness.

Looking to the Future
The kids will be moving past high school and moving out sooner than I imagine. I am going to eat up all the together time with them that I can. While I have the opportunity to be with them, I will show up 110% for them. And as they reach escape velocity I can focus even more on my primary relationship. We’ve started talking about retirement, dreams, next big plans. And we’re 100% in sync. Life after kids will not be a lot different that life today, but we’ll have even more time to explore things together. And when possible we’ll invite my kids along for the ride.

As you look to build the long term relationship with a spouse, remember your kids are important, and in some ways they are priority number one, but that will change over time. As you become less of a priority in their lives, as they move on to college and their own lives, you will be left with what’s next. Make sure you are building the NEXT that you want. As I was looking at dating a woman, I was ever conscious of the next I wanted to build together. Today I have that and it gives me great hope and joy for the future.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

Back to Dating After Divorce

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