Dating as a single mom often looks like a potential minefield. Maybe you’re still smarting from a breakup, or you’re wary of letting another person into your children’s lives after a messy divorce. Well, there’s no rush and it’s always a good idea to take your time and be kind to yourself.
Loving yourself becomes a task in itself, especially when you’re busy pouring out unconditional love as a single mom. You’re so caught up in making up for the absent figure in your children’s lives that dating hardly comes across your mind. You might think of it as a luxury or a far off dream, given your current schedules. But believe us, it gets better. You need to allow things to fall into place and once they do, it would all be worth the wait.
When you do get ready to get back into the game, you’ll indulge into over- thinking and might end up developing a lot of questions and subsequent apprehension. How do you meet someone when you’re a single parent? Or just, how do you get back into dating as a single mom?
Lucky for us, we could get in touch with some brilliant and enigmatic young single mothers who were kind enough to share their life experiences and their journeys with us. After all, its the practicality of it that motivates you more than theory, isn’t it? Here’s a look at what Pooja Sharma, blogger and content consultant by profession and a single mother to a 12- year old has to share about rushing into anything after a divorce:
“Process your own feelings first. A relationship in rebound mode will fall into the same pattern – whether it was co-dependent, abusive etc. Unless you break free of the pattern, you’ll fall for it again. Give yourself that buffer to recover and remember, getting over an old relationship is like grieving, it needs time.”
So, make sure you’re over the loser who couldn’t appreciate your wonderful being once you’re ready to search for Mr. Right again.
Now, let’s leave all the skepticism out the door as we attempt to answer all your questions about how to date as a single mom without help! We swear to be as honest and raw as we can be to help you choose the right direction. Dating as a single mom is possible and here’s how:
9 Tips When Dating As A Single Mom
Getting into dating again as a single mom can be tough. After all, you’re probably juggling between your work and childcare. Shaving your legs/ arms for a random guy at the cafe seems to be a lot, doesn’t it? You’re probably asking yourself if answering some strange guy’s first date questions is worth leaving your child at home.
Well, if you never try, you’ll never know. Would you?
But we get it – dating as a single mom isn’t a piece of cake. However, if you do decide to dip your toes back into the dating pool, we’ve put together a friendly guide you can keep handy. Dating as a single mom? We’re with you all the way.
1. Give yourself time
How to start dating as a single mom, you wonder? We swore to be honest, didn’t we? So, we advise you to take your time. Especially if you’re dating as a single mom after a divorce or a bad breakup, it’s okay not to rush into dating right away.
A 2019 survey shows that many women were already thinking about dating fairly early into their divorce or separation, with 65% saying they started dating within the first year itself. While getting back in the dating pool is exciting, make sure you’re ready for it. Remember, there’s no rush.
Make sure you’re not in your head about a fairy-tale romance that awaits you. Engage into some of your post-breakup healing and then consider getting back to dating. Even if you haven’t just come out of a breakup, but are struggling with the realities of dating as a single mom with a baby, it’s perfectly alright to figure out the other aspects of your life, before you jump right back in.
Related Reading: 8 Dating Tips For Single Moms To Bounce Back
Lawyer and single mom Laila Zafar agrees, saying, “We must be sufficiently healed from the traumas of our own past so we don’t repeat patterns and are able to attract better companionship. I do feel that staying single for a while after a divorce or breakup is not a bad idea – it gives one time to quieten the doubt in our own minds.
“I know a single mom, who began dating even before her divorce came through and she was clearly not healed from the end of her marriage. Not surprisingly, all her entanglements were reflections of the unhealed bits of her broken past. I couldn’t understand why she kept doing this to herself but I always advise single moms to stay clear of self-damaging behavior that could turn into a toxic relationship,” Laila adds.
2. When dating as a single mom: No guilt, please
How to date as a single mom without help? Well, for starters – don’t beat yourself up. Some days are going to be tough and others, much easier.
Dating again as a single mom might tip you into a pool of guilt. You’re a primary caregiver for your kids – what if dating as a single mom by choice takes you away from them? What long-lasting effects could it have? Forget it! So much easier to stay in your PJs with the kids while eating peanut butter straight out of the jar, right? Wrong.
You need to ditch the guilt, girl. You have every right to date and to fall in love and build a whole new life for yourself. None of this makes you a bad mother. In fact, it gives your kids a healthier perspective on what parenthood is about. Excessive dependence of children on their parents or vice-versa can be damaging and counter- productive. Dating as a single mom by choice could actually be a pretty good decision.
Laila says, “My advice to single moms looking to date or attach to a new partner again, is to understand and accept that dating as a single person and dating as a single parent are two entirely different matters. As single moms, we must abandon all dating illusions and learn new relationship boundaries around the people we meet or date, because we now have children involved. Once we accept this and are able to compartmentalize our lives, things get a lot easier.”
3. Think about your deal-breakers
How to start dating as a single mom? Don’t waste your time on the things and people you know wouldn’t work for you. If your date is adamant that they’re not comfortable with kids, don’t spend your time trying to convince them otherwise. If you’re truly passionate about waking up early just so you can prepare your children’s breakfast, seek out someone who at least wishes to support you.
How to date as a single mom without help? By dating a man, not a boy. You’re a single mama and you’re busy as it is. Even if it’s something as small as needing the thermostat at a certain number, stand by it, and don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t care!
For Pooja, it’s all about honesty. “If I feel I can’t be honest about my divorce or my kids or even my health issues, I know I’m not with the right person. And at their end too, if they can’t share their most authentic selves with me, why are we even doing this? Also, I’m a deeply conversational person – I need open and frequent communication. So, talking and sharing would definitely be deal breakers,” she says.
We agree, Pooja! Talking and sharing solve more than half of all our relationship issues. Communication is key.
4. Dating as a single mom? Make sure they know about your kids
This might sound like a really obvious tip, but honestly, dating as a single mom is hard. And it’s easy to be a little skittish about bringing up your kids on a date. You don’t have to scream it in their face as soon as you meet, but it’s a good idea to bring it up on the first date itself (or the first few messages, if you’re online dating).
When you’re getting back into dating as a single mom with a baby, don’t forget that your kids are a major part of your life, your schedule, your love life and a lot of things will be majorly determined by that part of your life. Don’t shy away. If your date thinks a single mom isn’t exactly sexy, that’s their loss!
5. Consider online dating
How do you meet someone when you’re a single parent? So, you probably have your mommy groups and school groups and hopefully plenty of single mom support groups. But have you thought about online dating? There are plenty of single mom dating apps which can help you navigate through people you’d be interested in, giving your circumstances.
A survey shows that 44% of women dating online are single moms. Also, 76% of single moms do indeed mention their children and/or post photos of them on their profiles.
So, that could be a neat way of putting yourself out there, while also letting potential dates know that you have children. And hopefully, there are some cute men out there raising their own kids. You could be dating a single dad as a single mom. You could be swapping babysitter details and talking about the perils of single parenthood with the man of your dreams on your first date!
Online dating has been a mixed bag for Laila. Recounting some truly hilarious incidents, she says, “Unfortunately, my foray into online dating coincided with the pandemic, so I haven’t been able to go on physical dates. I’m quite shocked by my own new and renewed dating behavior. After my divorce and as a single parent, I find that I now expect more from my relationships and even if the slightest red flag appears, I tap out.”
“There was this guy, he seemed nice enough, but suddenly became too keen. He said ‘I love you’ on the second day of speaking! And after I told him no, he kept saying it and so I had to cut him loose! Another guy wanted to book tickets and come to my city a week after matching! I am very clear about my discomfort around over-familiarity and stalker behavior,” she adds emphatically.
“There was another guy, from my early Bumble days,” Laila remembers. “He asked me to marry him right after matching and when I rejected, he cussed a lot. Later he sent me photos of his wedding, saying, “You missed out!”
“My favorite was this guy who had such a beautifully worded bio, but when we started chatting, I could clearly tell that he did not have the language to have written it. And when I asked him, he confessed that he copied it off someone else’s bio! So, seeing as I have learned some boundaries and self-respect, the experience has not been all bad, save for the lack of pursuable options,” Laila laughs.
6. Have a conversation with the kids
Now this depends on how old your kids are, but assuming that this applies, allow them to have questions. Teens and pre-teens, especially can have plenty of questions and fears about their mom dating again.
If you’re dating as a single mom after divorce, or if you’re widowed, this might not be the easiest conversation to have, especially if your kids are old enough to remember their father, or if you’re co-parenting with an ex.
Don’t try and hide the fact that you’re dating again. Talk to your kids, be honest and reassure them that you’ll always be their mom. At the same time, be firm about the fact that you are entitled to be happy and have different kinds of love in your life. This doesn’t mean you love your kids any less, just that, when you’re dating as a single mom by choice, you get to expand your heart and your circle of people, just a bit.
“It really depends on what kind of openness you already have with your kids, their exposure and how much diversity is already present in their lives,” explains Pooja. “Do they already read about and know of single-parent households etc? If they understand only man-woman-child families, they have no context to understand your new relationship.”
“Recently, my 12-year-old asked me about a certain gentleman. I was very transparent with her and I would not choose to be with someone who is not utterly honest with their kids too.” Pooja adds.
Related Reading: 21 Things To Know When Dating A Man With Kids
7. Have fun with sex
It’s time for the talk! Say, you’re dating as a single mom living with the parents. There isn’t a lot of privacy for yourself, anyway. Bringing a man home is probably daunting enough and the prospect of sex is a little worrying. Will the kids hear you? Will they ask questions? Also, it’s been a while and do you even remember how to do anything anymore? What about sexual compatibility?
Again, we agree that these are valid questions. But if you’ve got your childcare sorted and managed to have some sort of a conversation with your kids, relax and let things flow. If you’re worrying about what your body looks like after having kids or if you’re too tired to do much in bed, don’t. Let things unfold, make sure you like and trust the person you’re with, and have fun.
“Look, when you’re a single mom, your home is a sacred space,” Pooja says. “Whenever an unknown party comes in, be it a friend, a partner or whatever, they must not violate this space, especially if your kids are young and easily intimidated by the idea of another person.”
“I’m a very confident person and have no doubts about myself. But when we’re in a particular age group you have to be clear about things,” Pooja adds.
When asked to elaborate, she exclaims, “Every thing, really! Contraception, whether or not you want to have more kids, health issues, limitations. We need to be realistic about expectations and maintain transparency. And that comes from knowing your own sexual rights and boundaries, even more so when you’re older. Hell, maybe you have limitations with time or stamina. Maybe you’re too busy all week to make time for sex. All of this needs to be defined, else it’ll lead to conflict.”
8. When dating as a single mom, have realistic expectations
How to start dating as a single mom? Understand that it’s always going to be different to dating as a child-free person. Things might not fall into place as easily, you now have kids and responsibilities that will come first, which means you also have to be more responsible about who you date and how you conduct your love life.
Even if you’re dating a single dad as a single mom, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be completely in sync. So, keep your expectations as realistic as you can, expect that things might not always work out the way you imagined. It’ll save you from those little heartbreaks and disappointments that you frankly, don’t need.
“I had zero expectations because I was initially unsure of what I was looking for, but the more I explored myself and my needs, I was able to clearly see my own intentions with my relationships,” Laila says.
“Once that clarity set in, my fears around being single forever dissipated. Now, I am okay with being single or not single, but settling for a relationship out of fear of growing old alone is something I won’t do. And I’m far more vociferous about what I like. I like men who are polite and ask consent before taking numbers or getting into more intimate behavior like sexting, for example, and I’m not afraid to voice these things out loud,” she adds.
9. No drama with the ex
If your ex is still in the picture, or if you’re co-parenting, avoid any showdowns over your dating life. Maintain firm boundaries, and ensure they have no say in who you date or how often.
Even if you’ve broken up with a live-in partner, and are unsure about your status, we recommend a clean break before you start dating again. Don’t get into the grey areas of dating as a single mom – it rarely works out.
It’s nice if you’re cordial with your ex, but for the love of god, do not get into any messy ex-with-benefits sort of a situation with them. It’s confusing for you, it’s bad for the kids, and it stalls your chances of moving on to a newer, healthier life and relationship.
The sheer exhaustion of dating as a single mom Dating as a single mom is no piece of cake (but keep some cake handy at all times). It’s important to take a little time for yourself, give a nod to your own needs outside of your role as a mom.
Your kids are your world, and that’s amazing. But don’t forget, there’s always enough room for your world to grow. It’s okay to let new people in, it’s great to engage in some healthy flirting and dress up and go on a date.
“Honestly, with age, we should get better at everything – relationships, sex, parenting,communication, all of it!” Pooja concludes.
We say ‘amen’ to that.
Yes, it is. You might want to wait till your kids are a little older and can be left with a babysitter. But it’s important to date as a single mom since you’re not just a mom, but also a person with needs and desires. Be responsible, tell them about your kids and have fun. You’ve got this.
Guys can sometimes be apprehensive about dating a single mom since she’s not exactly footloose and fancy-free. Make sure they know where you stand, that your kids are your focus and that anyone who thinks differently is not the date for you. If you’re dating a single dad as a single mom, it’s possible they’ll be more empathetic to your situation.
It depends on how the relationship is going. If he seems eager to meet them, interested in them, you could introduce them after a month or two. If he seems unsure, or you’re unsure about him, wait it out. As a single mom getting back into dating, there’s no point letting your kids get attached to someone who may or may not stick around, or who’s not genuinely invested in them.