Single motherhood is never easy. However, with America's high divorce rates, it is increasingly common. But, that does not mean that single moms have lost interest in finding love just since the relationship with the father of their children didn't work out as planned. While difficult, dating as a single mom can be just as fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding as dating was before you had children. It does come with extra challenges, though. So, we are going to provide you with a few tips to help you navigate the world of single mom dating.
Online Dating as a Single Mom
Online dating is increasingly popular. It also allows people to filter out undesirable traits in potential partners, which is especially important for single moms. Surviving single motherhood is already a challenge, and when you throw new people in the mix, it can become even more so. After all, as you look for love, you have to consider what the impact might be on your child or children. As a mother, you know your children best, how well they handle the potential for change, and how easily they might become attached to your new mate, should things get to the point where meeting the children becomes necessary.
There are a plethora of online dating apps and sites - some more comprehensive than others. From Bumble to Tinder and everything in between, we've scoured the internet for a good, wholesome site that would make a good match for single moms. The best one, by far, for single mom dating seems to be OKCupid.com.
This is a website with endless sections for you to write, in your own words, who you are, what your life is like, and what you are looking for. There are endless ways to filter people, from religion, to gender, to sexual orientation, to location (and even willingness to relocate), and more. You can even filter by more uncommon traits, such as whether someone is monogamous or polyamorous. Plus, with endless areas for photos, you can display your children right out front, if you so choose, so that potential matches know your little ones come first in your life. Oh, and as a bonus - it is free to send and receive messages!
Seek Out Fellow Single Parents
Making relationships work is hard in any circumstance. It requires good communication, and honesty with regards to expectations. Therefore, one of the best things a woman navigating single mom dating is to seek out partners who are also single parents. People who are in a similar position understand the demands of single parenthood, and will never resent the time, attention, money, and other resources you pour into your children - even if it means cancelling a date here and there. Children should always come first.
Now, this is not to say that single people without children should be immediately crossed off your list. There are plenty of people out there who are just fine dating single moms, but just so happen to have never had any children of their own. However, single parenthood is the sort of thing a person cannot truly understand until (s)he has experienced it, so fellow single parents might often be a better match. Either way, make sure you are both on the same page where the kids are concerned. Otherwise, let the romancing begin!
Deciding When to Introduce Your New Mate to Your Kids
This is a big one, and it will vary from family to family. As I said before, you know your children better than anyone else. You know how quickly they get attached to new people, and you know the impact on their psychological well being if things don't work out and the new person suddenly disappears from their lives unexpectedly after a break-up. Therefore, proceed with caution when it comes to bringing a new person into your children's lives. Here are a few tips to make this transition smoothly:
- Sit your children down and have an age-appropriate conversation about the new person and who (s)he is to you. Reassure them that this person is not going to attempt to change their lives, or replace the parent you are no longer with.
- Make sure that they understand that you will still give them as much love and attention as they need and deserve, and that the new person will not take anything away from their time or relationship with you
- Evaluate their reactions. Small children may seem excited, especially if they get the idea that they may be about to live in a two-parent household again. Disabuse them of this notion if that is not the case. Older children and teenagers may be resentful or even angry. Allow them to vent these feelings without punishment and fear of consequences.
Remember, no matter their reactions, your children's feelings matter, too, and they deserve to be heard. that isn't to say that they should be allowed to veto your new relationship, but their needs and feelings should, most definitely, be taken into serious consideration.
Be Honest About the Role Your Children's Other Parent Plays
Different families handle separation, break-ups, and divorce in different ways. Some people remain quite friendly with exes, while others have kicked them out of their lives completely. Many people fall somewhere in between. However, it is essential that you are totally honest about the role your children's other parent plays in your life, as well as in the kids' lives. If he will be coming over for dinner, if you ever have coffee together, if you take the children to do things together, this needs to be discussed. Here are a few questions that might be asked, if, indeed, the old partner is still in the picture in a significant way:
- What role will the new partner play in the children's lives, should things get to that point?
- Will the new partner be expected to meet or spend time with the old partner?
- Are you and the old partner actually friends, or are you simply in one another's lives due to the children?
- Will the new partner be expected to be a second parent, or is that position already filled?
- How will things be handled if the children decide they do not like the new partner, especially in relation to the old partner's role?
No matter what your situation is, the new person in your life definitely has the right to know where (s) he will be expected to stand when it comes to the children, and to anyone else from the past who might still be a part of your life due to shared parenthood.
When Attitudes Toward Children Become Dealbreakers
This is a tough one. Nobody likes the idea of having to break off a romance that is otherwise an amazing fit because of children - or any other reason! However, sometimes this does happen. The first thing to do is to evaluate the reaction you receive when you tell a new date you have children. This is, ideally, something that you know prior to the first date, but if you meet randomly, say, in a park or a supermarket, that may not be the case.
This, of course, generally applies to dates who do not already have children of their own. As we all know, life with children is very, very different from life without them. So, the first thing you might want to ask a date who has no children is this:
"Have you ever envisioned yourself having children?"
Listen to the answer carefully, and evaluate. Let your motherly instincts (and some good old common sense) take over for a minute.
If the person hedges on this one at all, or balks at the idea of having to play second fiddle to your little ones, you know that this is not a good match. However, if (s) he seems open to getting to know you, and, of course, your kids, in time, then it's an initial go. Continue to evaluate this situation as the romance develops. If they offer to come over and help make dinner when your kid is sick and you had to break a date, it's a go. If they seem upset that you dared to cancel a date to care for your child, I'd say a reevaluation of the relationship is in order.
The Bottom Line
Dating isn't easy for anyone. Finding someone who is even marginally compatible often feels like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack for many people. The dating game is even more daunting when it comes to single mom dating. However, you did not hang up your desire for love and companionship the day you found yourself single with one or more children. Never fear - that special person is out there who will enhance the love and happiness in your life - and your kids' lives, too.