It is so sad to say that when you google the phrase, ”dating a single mom,” and scroll to the bottom of the search where you can see the most frequently searched phrases on the topic, you will find ”dating single mothers is a waste of time.” Many of you may be wondering, “What do you know about the topic? You are married with 3 beautiful boys.” But, if you have been following along for a while, you know that I was a single mom for 4 years. In this post I am sharing my experience and some tips for dating as a single mother. DISCLAIMER: This is 100% my experience and I have promised to keep things transparent with you all here in my EXCLUSIVES. No hateful comments please. Also, I wrote and published this article 3 years ago as a single mother, but have updated it with hindsight comments as well.
It is such a disheartening feeling as a mother. That feeling when you get a divorce, or separate from the parent of your child, get ready to hit the dating scene and then realize that the playing field isn’t level. Yes, most available men on the market that fit your criteria are probably dad’s and you are fine with that, as a matter of fact, you would prefer that, but much to your dismay, the single dad’s aren’t looking for a single mom match. So you go on a few dates, have your eye on the perfect candidate, and then begin to strategize on when to drop the news that you have two little boys. It is a harsh reality, but it’s the truth.
Ben, my first husband, and I divorced when our youngest son was 6 months old. After we learned to navigate the new 50/50 parenting, get in a co-parenting groove, and build our relationship into a friendship after the bitterness of failure, I decided to spend my time, when the boys were at their dad’s house, DATING. I remember creating a dating profile, absent minded of the fact that a huge red flag in the eyes of male suitors would be my status as a mother, and I began the journey of dating as a single mom. Instantly, I saw the disparities between single mom’s and single dad’s in the dating world.
Curious on your thoughts of these disparities, two years ago, I polled you all on Instagram with your single mom questions for two reasons. One, so I could share my real time experiences with you and two, so that I could learn from my fellow single moms. It takes a village ladies, especially when you have children. I posted my experience so that all the single moms could join together and bounce ideas. Here’s what you all were asking and how I answered as a single mommy!
Is dating as a single mom harder?
YES! I am looking for different things than I used to in a man. In college I focused on a partner’s potential for success, attraction, spontaneity, and drive. Now, as an adult single mom, I need dependability, security, honesty, respect, financial stability, and most importantly, the ability to love my children and accept my family, to name a few. I do not seek these things because I lack in these areas, I desire a man who can stand on the line with me and match me in the qualities that I can offer to him. It will take a special kind of man, but I am very optimistic!
When can you introduce your children to the new guy as a single mom?
If I am honest, I am disappointed in my judgement here but hey, I am learning as I go. My boys met the man in my last relationship and they were instantly attached, as far as a friend POV goes. They constantly asked to be around that male figure. I realized very quickly that while they have an AMAZING father that fulfills the dad role completely, my children may seek to have more of a family structure from either of their parents. They are very accepting of those that I love which means I need to protect this accepting innocence at all cost. Just as a split hurts me, it could also instill abandonment in my boys.
I have recently been spending a lot of time with a super great guy (This was Mr. Greg by the way!) but the kiddos will not be a part of any future relationship until I know in my heart that this man is “the one.” I am not saying that I have to have a ring on it, but I AM saying that me and the other person will have to have a talk about spending the rest of our lives together. Then, we can take the relationship to the next level, which is meeting my precious boys. Not sure I can put a timeline on it, I guess when I know, I will know!
Do you feel like you will ever find true love as a single mom?
Absolutely! I have not given up the dream of one big happy family and living my life with “my person” or should I say “our person” since he will need to be the right fit for my boys as well. I am a firm believer that he exists, so I am taking my experiences with others, whether my boys, the man I am dating, or friends and family, one minute at a time. No need to rush it, when it all feels right I will know.
5 Tips for Dating as a Single Mom from my Experience
1. KNOW YOUR IDENTITY & WORTH
Being a mom is a thankless, yet amazing job. You are constantly working to support your small family, teaching your children, and giving your littles the best life possible, which unfortunately can be at the detriment to your identity. Your sole focus and reasoning behind everything that you do revolves around your kids, so when a man comes in to your life and you give a slice of time to that person, you are allowing them to see you in a more vulnerable state than if you did not have children at all. This is a very scary thing but can also be a very beautiful thing if it is done with the right person.
Lucky for me, identity through motherhood has never been a problem but personal worth has been. As a single mom you long for your partner to be proud of you and find worth in you. You feel like you selflessly do so much, and I am not complaining by any means as being a mother has been the greatest gift I will ever be given, however you want a partner that can appreciate your ability as a mother and woman. To me, I correlate this with worth, if I feel appreciated because of my identity as a mother and as a strong woman, my personal view of worth to my partner is heightened. Remember, I am only speaking from my point of view and am not saying that this concept is right at all. As a matter of fact, personal worth probably should come from within and before having children (it did for me,) but my role as a woman has changed and so my views on relationships with those that I love have as well.
2. CONSIDER YOUR DEALBREAKERS
So this is the “red flag” theory. If you see any red flags, do not overlook them! Boy am I GREAT at overlooking red flags. With one of my relationships since my divorce I saw red flags within the first month but I have been known to keep the milk past the expiration date. I know, I know this is easier said than done, you make excuses for the other person because there are so many other things that are nice but the fact of the matter is, a red flag is considered a deal breaker. There may be quirks that aren’t necessarily red flags but if something is said or happens that makes you stop dead in your tracks and question if that is a red flag, IT IS! This is important in any relationship but is especially important as a single mom because you owe it to your kids to be the happiest version of yourself. Imagine the depravity that you will be delivering to your children if they never see the happiest side of you? When I am happy, I am goofy, upbeat, playful, want to go and do things to make memories with my kids. They deserve this side of their mom. Not the uneasy, apprehensive, unsure version. Figure out your deal breakers before dating, write them down, and do not change them for anything. I have a list of deal breakers from LESSONS LEARNED!
3. THE KIDS ARE ALWAYS THE PRIORITY
I have never had an issue personally with putting a man in front of my kids. In fact, I am very forthcoming that my boys WILL always come first. Be sure the person you are dating understands this fully. The minute I feel like a man is putting his foot between my boys and I, I vamp and you should too! Remember when we talked about the uneven playing field for single moms and single dads in the dating world? I hate to say it, but you are just going to have to accept and deal with it. Under no circumstance should you diminish your children if things get serious with a man or allow yourself to loose precious moments with your babies because you are with someone that doesn’t want to be around your children. THAT IS A DEAL BREAKER!
4. YOUR FUTURE MEANS MORE THAN JUST YOU
I cannot say this enough, it isn’t YOUR FUTURE, it is the future of your small family at hand. When thinking about being single after divorce and trying to navigate the uncharted waters of dating with children, I realized that my needs in a man were completely different because I am tasked with finding the person who can help to build a happy future not only for myself, but for my children. When it comes time for the introduction, watch for unexpected red flags that occur when your kids are present. Observe what seems to upset your children or make them uncomfortable.
Writing down what may be red flags for your children ahead of time will help you to keep those warnings top of mind if you get to the point of introducing a man to the children. I have only made my red flag list for my boys last week after observing their behavior with my past relationship. If I meet someone that I believe to be ”the one,” and introduce him to the children, I will look out for any red flags from that list. There were things I liked and didn’t like with my previous relationship but couldn’t process them on the spot and needed time to observe what I wanted in a relationship for my boys. Writing down times where I felt like the interaction was off, in my past relationship, would have helped me to recognize red flags much quicker and will help in the future as well.
We are not looking for a father figure here, more so a male figure that they can look up to. One who has values that I want my boys to imitate because believe me, they will imitate and soak up everything that happens around them. Making sure that my boys always feel loved and like they are part of a family that would do anything for them is my top priority.
5. FIND THE FIT
And this is us, quirky, random, full of life and content. We don’t need disruption. In fact, we don’t need anything as momma (aka ME) is taking care of business, running the household successfully financially, teaching the boys through quarantine, keeping a clean living space and all that jazz. We want the perfect fit. Someone who naturally without effort fits into our life. It may sound selfish but I have done enough changing for men in my past. I love me. I love my boys. I don’t plan on changing a thing from here on out. FInding the fit for your family is essential. If you find yourself changing to make someone love you then you are in the wrong relationship. You will become exhausted, lonely, and unfulfilled. Find that fit and avoid all of these things… trust me!
Hindsight, two years later, I only have one thing to say. I took my advice and found the perfect man. I love you Mr. Greg.