It’s inevitable. If you’re a single mom, you’re probably going to start dating again. But this time around, you can go about it armed with advice from other singles who are also parents and have successfully dated.
Parenting is difficult enough. Toss in parenting a child by yourself and, well, harnessing a hurricane might be easier. Single parenting is mind-blowingly hard. It’s a real challenge. Now there’s dating in the mix? Please, no.
But after perusing these dating strategies from single moms, one single mom-to-be, and a professional therapist, you may discover that it may not be so hard after all. These strategies have helped them get back out there on the dating scene. Maybe they’ll help you, too!
I was surprised to hear this advice from Karen, a 39-year-old mom of a toddler. How can a single mom make dating a priority when there are so many other things that need to be done? “It’s easy to sit at home and be tired,” Karen said. “But make the effort to go out. It’s worth it. I’ve brought my baby along on brunch and coffee dates. Scheduling dates can be easier if I bring baby along sometimes. Not every time!”
Be Clear about Your Future
Dr. John Richards, a licensed therapist, advises that single moms think about the future they’re hoping to create. “Single moms need to consider the character, attributes and qualities of their potential partners.” He also stressed how important it is to know the profile of the type of family they hope to have in the future. “If the person isn’t fitting in well with your plans and your family, don’t try to force it,” Dr. well with your family, don’t force it Richards said.
Gillian, 29, is trying to conceive because a health condition will likely impact her fertility in the future. She’s had to face the fact that she’s going to be a single mother. “Dating suddenly got so much simpler when I got the perspective clear in my my mind,” she said. She needed to realize that she didn’t want a family, she wanted a baby. “When I looked at it the right way, it relieved a lot of pressure off of dating,” Jill said. “Being a single mom removes some of the pressure from dating. Before, I was seeking the person that would ideally complete my family. But that’s not what I really want.”
Have Phone Conversations
Jen, a 39-year-old mom to a toddler, stresses the importance of getting to know each other over the phone before going on a date. “It’s a good way to screen potential dates,” she explained. “I feel like I shouldn’t arrange for a babysitter if there’s a possibility that five minutes into the date, we’re really not that interested in each other. More people need to do this!”
Jen says she once felt major red flags when she spoke to potential date on the phone. She told him during the call that there was a park across the street from her house, and suggested that they meet at that park for their first date. But when he offered to pick them up and drive them to the park, she got a bad feeling and chose to call off the plans immediately. If you feel like something isn’t right, trust your feelings!
Prepare to Move On
As you’re focused on figuring out your new normal, it’s important that you let your kids know that they still matter to you. “If you don’t like the fit between your date and your children, that’s a deal breaker. This is true even if you’re in love with him,” Dr. Richards explained.
Be Patient with Introductions
Jen remembers that her own mother dated when she was a child. “Kids start bonding pretty quickly. Be aware of that,” she advised.
Dr. Richards added, “Kids will engage at some level, even if you think they will.” He suggested that older children are allowed to ease in slowly. “Your teens and adult children should to move closer to your dating partner at a pace they’re comfortable with,” he said.
“Don’t let people assume that you’re just looking for a parenting partner,” said Gillian, who’s currently undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments. “Some people think that if you’re a single mom, you must be desperate to get into a relationship. I’m not out there to see if I can find someone to rescue me from being a single mom. That’s is important, because it shifts the dynamics of the relationship.”
Be Open to Online Dating
With regard to popular online dating sites, Gillian confessed, “I used to think that men who resorted to online dating would be perverted or disgusting. But they’re not.”
Jen gets lots of hits on her profile, even though she openly states there that she’s a single mother. “There are some questionable people on those dating sites, but there are a lot more good people on them.”
Karen was happy to report that she met a really great guy on an online dating site who even came over to visit her when she was pregnant and on bedrest.
Let Go of the Guilt
If you’re feeling guilt over leaving your kids to go out on a date, try to adopt Karen’s state of mind: “This is my time. I deserve to go out, to have a drink, to relax and to be myself,” she said.
Jen said that of course her toddler was on her mind the whole time, but she still looked forward to her dates. “The time away is always so precious, I want it to be great,” Jen said. “Once time a date canceled, so I spent the night out with my friends instead. We had a great time!”
Don’t Lose Your Balance
“If you’re falling in love, be sure you don’t abandon your kids to spend all of your time with your new love,” Dr. Richards said. “Doing this will tap into your children’s fear that they’re going to lose you. And, it gives your dating partner the false impression that you’re totally available to them. You aren’t. Make sure you keep your balance.”
With the proper strategies, you’re sure to find that dating can be empowering and fun, just how it’s supposed to feel. You can do it, mom!
*Note that names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.