My Internet indulgence includes perusing the app Reddit before I go to sleep. I follow a dating subReddit that allows individuals to ask for and give advice about dating.
One night, I came across a single mother asking for dating help.
It saddened me. Some comments came from men who claimed that no one should date a single mom because she will never be able to give a man all of her love and attention.
I sat there thinking: “Are there actually people that think that I don’t deserve to date just because I parent alone?”
Single mamas deserve love too, even if finding it can be challenging.
As of writing this post, I am dating someone and, despite being someone who apparently doesn’t have enough time or affection for another human being apart from my daughter, things are going really well.
Dating as a single mom is possible – it just takes a little more work.
The biggest challenge is finding the time and confidence to put yourself out there to find that certain someone who complements your solo parenting lifestyle.
What Is It Like to Date As a Single Mom?
I’ll be honest – it’s stressful.
First of all, you have to find the time to meet people and date them. If you are in a shared custody arrangement with your ex, this may alleviate your schedule.
Otherwise, if you’re like me, you’re parenting all on your own and time is a precious commodity.
Secondly, you’re confidence in your attractability has probably suffered due to your post-baby bod. I know when I started dating again, I was very self-conscious about my saggy belly and breasts. I couldn’t imagine any guy wanting to see that let alone tap it.
(P.S. The right man isn’t going to care about your squishy physique.)
Third, being a single mom means that you carry around some emotional baggage. You may be grieving the end of the relationship with your child’s father or you may have escaped with some emotional wounds.
Either way, whatever you carry with you will always be there since there is a little one that maintains a connection between you and your ex.
Lastly, you’ve focused your entire soul on loving and caring for a tiny human that you aren’t sure if you can open your heart to anyone else. Trust me when I say that if you meet the right person, it’ll happen.
Your heart will grow three sizes, just like the Grinch.
If you’re ready to date then you shouldn’t let any of these things hold you back. I know it’s scary but with the right frame of mind, and a few of these strategies, you can find someone else (other than your child) that completes your soul.
Struggles When Dating As a Single Mom
I already mentioned some of the struggles of dating as a single mom above: finding time, body confidence, emotional baggage and opening your heart. There are a few more I want to mention in more detail:
Before you worry about any other single mom dating struggle, you need to meet someone first. Again, time is precious as a single mother so actually making an initial connection with another individual can seem impossible.
Between your motherly responsibilities and working, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to meet someone. And, if you do, you have to find the time to get to know them to see if something long term is worth pursuing.
If it’s not, you’re back at the drawing board.
Finding Time to Spend With a Partner
When you meet someone, they have to be patient with your limited time. Often in new relationships, there is a honeymoon period where both people want to spend as much time together as humanly possible.
When you are a single mother, these times may be few and far between.
Dealing with a Jealous Ex
Even if your ex doesn’t have jealousy issues, they are going to struggle with accepting that another man may be involved in their child’s life. Hopefully, they are understanding and compassionate and this struggle doesn’t affect your life.
If you have a jealous ex, there could be some problems. Since your child ties you to your ex in some capacity, they may still try to give you a hard time over dating.
My ex has dated many times and my daughter has met some of these women whereas I have not. I’m okay with that to a point – I’ve never noticed a negative effect on my daughter. I think she just got used to the revolving door.
Should my ex find out about anyone I am dating, the shit would hit the fan. I have sole custody and day-to-day care of my daughter, so I have decided that it’s really none of his business.
I should probably mention that my ex is a narcissist of the worst kind. There is no open and honest communication with him without aggression and threats.
You know you’re situation best so if you feel that your ex has no business knowing that you’re dating, you have the prerogative to keep it to yourself.
Strategies for Dating As a Single Mom
Now that we’ve talked about all the ways that dating as a single mom sucks, let’s look at some strategies to get back into the dating game:
Don’t Be Afraid of Online Dating
Ick, online dating, I know. People tend to shun this form of dating because it can be a shallow and trite way to meet people.
But for single moms, it can be the perfect place to find someone – since we really don’t have a whole lot of time to do it the “old fashioned way”.
(Which is how, exactly? I’d really like to know.)
Online dating can be a way to successfully meet and date people. It has worked for me since I had my daughter – but that’s because I follow 2 very important rules:
- Manage Your Expectations
- Be Scrupulous and Vigilant
When it comes to online dating, you have to manage your expectations. You are likely not going to meet the perfect partner on the first go and you have to expect some rejection along the way.
Of the about 20 messages you send out only about 10 are going to respond. Out of those 10 responses, you’ll probably only end up meeting one or two. This is normal and should in no way make you feel any differently about yourself.
You can also expect to get ghosted, in which an individual with whom you have been conversing stops all contact with no explanation.
(Yes, it really does suck as much as it sounds.)
Again, this has nothing to do with you – despite how much you want to internalize it. If you feel that rejection is getting you down, step back from online dating for a while.
Once you do get to meeting people, you have to be scrupulous and vigilant. Not everyone is who they say they are so you have to take the time to get to know them and be aware of their negative qualities.
Beware that honeymoon phase where your love chemicals are in full flare. This is infatuation and, while totally normal, can blind you to the true character of the other person.
Remember that if you enter into a relationship it will affect your little ones. Eventually you will want to incorporate your new partner into your mom life, so make sure he or she is a good one.
Allow Dating To Be a Priority
You’re allowed to date.
There, I said it.
Some moms feel guilt over spending time out on dates instead of with their children. Guess what? You’re allowed to put your own emotional needs first sometimes.
Being a single mom is a balancing act and as long as your children are receiving your love and care, it’s okay to take some time to focus on yourself. If this means dating, so be it.
Self-care is crucial for any mom to maintain emotional health and balance in life. You can choose to focus on dating as a form of self-care and schedule your own time for that.
Again, remember that balancing act. You want to make sure you’re not taking too much time away from your kiddos.
Let Go of Desperation
I’ve seen so many women leave relationships with the father of their children and fall into the dating trap. They so badly miss having intimacy and adult companionship in their lives that they go from one relationship to another.
Sometimes women become so desperate for that connection that they settle. They take the first thing that comes along and try to make it work.
However, if you’re not scrupulous and vigilant, you’re going to end up with a long list of ex’s and a hurting ego.
I remember how desperate I was to fill that void. I wasn’t picky about who I allowed in my life and more than once I ended up hurt. It wasn’t until I took time to focus on my own life (about 3 years) that I was able to understand what I was truly looking for.
I realized that I didn’t need someone but I wanted someone who complimented my life.
As soon as you can turn that need into a want, you will be able to find a partner that is right for you.
Put It Out There
Once you are ready to date, put it out there in the world! Tell your friends and family that you are open to meeting new people.
You never know who you may meet through social connections.
You may also want to get out in the world too and find a hobby or activity that you enjoy outside of your home. Not only could you meet someone this way, but you will also be enriching your life.
Even if you don’t find a partner this way, you are putting yourself in a position to meet interesting people and learn new things!
Mistakes Single Moms Make When Dating
In order to date successfully as a single mom, there are some mistakes you should try to avoid.
No one is perfect and sometimes we have to fail a few times in order to develop and grow but I thought I’d bring these potential faux-pas’s to your attention:
- Introducing your kids too soon. There’s no golden rule on when to introduce your kiddos to your partner, but keep in mind how easily children can get attached. You kind of have to feel this one out – just be mindful of how disappointed your kids will feel if you and your partner break up.
- Not telling potential suitors that you have kids. You may feel that being a single mom is a deal-breaker but you should never withhold that information from anyone you are dating. Those who have issue with your parenting status have a right to bail while those who are cool with it will feel lied to.
- Bad mouthing your ex. When you first start dating someone, you are anxious to share everything about yourself – even your past. Knowing that you’re a single mother, your date is going to expect some past issues with your ex. If you feel the need to explain the situation, do so in an objective and straightforward way. In the early days of dating, don’t say anything negative about your ex.
- Rushing into a relationship. This ties in to the desperation thing I mentioned above but try not to rush into a relationship. Take things slow and allow whatever is going to happen to develop naturally. Usually it’s one of those things that when you feel the time is right then the time is right.
- Looking for a hero. You don’t need anyone to rescue you from your situation. Your kids don’t need you to replace their father. You don’t need to find someone else to alleviate your parenting burdens. As soon as you start looking for a relationship based on these needs, you are going to fail. Make sure that you seek someone to complement your life, not take responsibility for it.
Do Single Moms Find Love Again?
Of course they do!
If they are open to it.
Everyone deserves companionship that includes love and respect. Just because you have your kiddos in your life, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for one more – if they are good enough.
Are you a dating single mom? Are there any strategies and tips you would like to share? Share them in the comments below!