Dating can be so difficult for single moms. Naturally, there are all kinds of dating advice for single moms available to us these days.
I remember dating as a single mom and oh boy was it a task and a half! After the father of my firstborn abandoned us, I swore off men for almost three years… Yeah. Extreme. I know.
I literally stopped dating because I was too devastated and hurt by the fact that he could leave me with his unborn child. On top of that, I wasn’t willing to trust or give anyone my heart again.
After having my son, I carried so much resentment for his biological father that it started leaking over to men in general. I didn’t have many good examples of how men were supposed to treat women, to begin with, and the women around me didn’t give sound dating or relationship advice. So I started hating men in general and genuinely believed all the good men are already taken or gay.
At some point though, I decided that I wanted to find love so I began to work on myself. I began to work on healing from the pain of abandonment I was carrying around with me.
When I finally decided to start dating, there were some ground rules I set for myself. That’s what I want to share with you today. I have so many dating tips and dating advice for single moms but naturally, I can’t cover them all in one post. So I will share five with you today.
First thing’s first: You’re NOT looking for a father for your child, you’re looking for a life partner for yourself
This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of dating advice single moms NEED to remember. I think a lot of us are guilty of this. And naturally so. I mean, most of us don’t set out intending to raise our kids on our own, right?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are many strong capable single moms out there who do a damn good job of raising their kids on their own. Filling the roles of both mother and father is no easy task so hats off to you.
But I also know a lot of women would prefer to have the help of a good, dependable partner. This piece of advice is for those women in particular. Because of the fear of doing it alone, a lot of women subconsciously go out looking for a father for their kids.
As a result, you end up in these average-ass relationships with a man who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated but you settle for his mediocrity because “he’s good with the kids”. And sometimes we chase off good men because he doesn’t fit perfectly into the little father box we’ve generated in our minds.
This is the wrong approach. What you want is a life partner. Not a baby daddy. You want someone that will put you above all else, no matter what. That might mean you have to be a single mom for a while, and that’s okay.
What to do?
Work on yourself. Work on loving yourself and your babies with everything in you.
During the period of singledom, build yourself up. Define the kind of partner you want to spend your life with. Then evaluate if you are a woman deserving of such a partner. What do you need to work on? Are there any toxic traits you need to get rid of? What rough edges do you need to smooth out?
As you date and allow yourself to be courted by a man, you’ll know. Because if he’s the one, he will automatically start playing the father role. Not because you need him to, but because he loves you and wants to be an actual partner in your life. Remember partners share the load so no need to force it.
Be patient and let it happen with time.
The second thing to remember: Wait before introducing your new man to your kids
Personally, I would say wait at least 6 to 9 months, but I know there’s no one-size-fits-all. So I say wait until you feel as though the relationship has a good chance of lasting before introducing your new man to your kids.
Here’s the thing, You have to remember Tip #1: that you are seeking a life partner for yourself, not someone to replace your kids’ father – whether or not he’s present in their lives.
You are seeking a life partner to go on this life journey with you. Someone to help you fulfill your purpose in life. You want someone you can help to fulfill their purpose in life. Someone to whom you can be joined as one flesh and be united for the rest of your life.
Kids need stability. It’s your job to create that stability for them and introducing every guy you date to them will do the opposite. It will create nothing but instability.
If you have boys, it teaches them that it’s okay for men to be unreliable and just be in and out of women’s lives, no commitment required. If you have girls it teaches them that it’s acceptable for men to just walk in and out of their lives. That they should just take whatever they get.
Your job is to teach these little humans how to navigate life and how to be decent human beings. Kids learn not by doing what you tell them, but by watching you. They learn by doing what you do.
You’ve gotta give yourself time to properly vet this guy. Give yourself time to evaluate if he’s a good match for you. Give yourself time to decide if he’s someone you’d want to see your kids emulating.
You have to get to know as much about him as possible before letting him meet your kids: past relationships, what his are exes like, what are his family members like, are there any past demons in his you need to be aware of? This is not to say that you don’t give him a chance if he has a crazy ex, for example, but it is important to know so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to make him a part of your – and your kid’s – lives.
To take that one step further, I say you need to see him angry before you let him meet your kids. This was very important for me while dating my Now Fiance because I wanted to see what his worst looked like before I let him meet my son. I also gave myself enough time to see if he had commitment issues and if he was unreliable. Can you take him at his word? Can you trust him completely?
If your answer is not a definitive yes, then it’s not time for him to meet your kids and it might never be. You might need to move on because, at the end of the day, you don’t want to constantly have to be explaining who this new guy is or why we can’t see that other guy anymore to your kids.
My third piece of dating advice for single moms is this: He needs to date your kid(s) too
This is something I had to learn the hard way. When I first started dating my Now Fiance, I let myself get a bit too anxious. I started taking dating advice from “friends” with very questionable motives and stopped listening to my gut feelings.
Consequently, I let myself practically force my son down my Then Boyfriend’s throat. I had him on a chopping block judging his every move. The result? Then Boyfriend feeling completely awkward around my son. My son also feeling weird and awkward around him.
Here’s the thing, just because he likes you doesn’t mean he will automatically like your kid. There are many factors to take into account.
For example, how old are your kids? Is your kids’ father present in their lives? How does he affect their way of thinking? Does your new man want kids? Quick tangent: if the answer is no to that last question, he’s not the one. Trust me. He needs to want a family.
Anyway, I digress. If your kids are older, for example, they might have a difficult time accepting the new guy. Especially if you have boys who have grown to be protective of their mom.
Younger kids might be easier to come around but they might be just as difficult to convince. They might be suspicious of him and if their biological father still plays a role in their life, your kids might feel the new guy threatens their dad’s place.
Just as you spend time getting to know him and learning how much you have in common so as to strengthen your bond, the same thing needs to happen with your kids and your new man.
What are your kids’ interests? What are your new beau’s interests? Is there any common ground? Can he compromise? Can he go down to their level or help them to come up to his level?
Related: 5 Inexpensive ideas for date night
You see, you shouldn’t be asking your kids to compromise. It’s New Beau that needs to compromise because he’s the new one on the equation. But at the same time, you should help your kids to understand that this man means a lot to you.
Kids are honest and they have a way of sensing if they like someone or not. So don’t force your kids to like him. Let it happen naturally.
My fourth piece of dating advice for single moms: There’s no future with him if he doesn’t like your kids
Listen, sometimes a guy can start out with no major interest in having kids but because of his affection towards you, he starts wanting a family with you. This is not to say that you should waste your time trying to convince a man who doesn’t want kids to want kids.
It’s important to note that if he doesn’t like kids or can’t develop a liking for your kids, it will negatively affect your relationship in the future. Whether it is your relationship with him or your relationship with your kids.
We like to think that adults are super complex creatures but we can be quite simple at times. We like to be around people who like us. The same goes for your kids. They will want to be around someone who likes them.
People can’t fake their true feelings forever. If your partner doesn’t like your kids, it will start to show in his actions. If your kids don’t like your beau, YOU WILL KNOW because kids are honest about their feelings.
That level of tension and possible toxicity will eventually start eating away at your newfound happiness. But is it really happiness if the people who mean the most to you don’t like or get along well with each other?
It’s important that you know though that you cannot force him to like your kids no matter how much you like him. You most certainly can’t force your kids to like him and you shouldn’t try to force it either. The results will not be worth it.
So choose wisely and take your time getting to know this man you plan to make a part of your kids’ lives. Allow them to get to know each other too and be patient. Do your best to foster a good relationship between them but above all, let it happen naturally.
My last piece of advice: Work on healing from the pain of your previous relationship(s) before seeking a new life partner
My last piece of dating advice for single moms should probably have been number one on this list because mama if you do not heal you cannot truly move on. That’s why before you start looking again, you need to heal from your past relationship. In particular the relationship with your kids’ father.
Related: How to keep the intimacy in your relationship after having kids
Spend time with yourself getting to know more about you. Reflect on what you need to improve or work on within yourself and what you will do better in your next relationship. Work on figuring out who you are as a person and what your needs are.
Learn your love language and learn how to love yourself in the way you want someone to love you. That way you are better able to show your next beau how to love you. Do not monkey branch into the next relationship because you’re afraid of being a single mother.
There is no shame in single motherhood. However, something is wrong with letting the pain caused by your previous relationship affect your present relationships. Something is wrong with letting that pain affect how you parent and something is most definitely wrong with letting that pain direct your life.
Healing from your pain is not just for you. It’s also for your kids because it affects them too. Remember your kid’s emotional development will be affected by this process too. It’s not just about you anymore so take the time to heal.
This way, when you finally start dating again, you will have so much to offer and you will be so in love with yourself, that you will not settle for less than you have to give. This way, you will be able to teach a man how to properly love you.
My final thoughts…
At the end of the day, I think we can all agree that dating is not always easy and it is even more complicated for single moms. Not only do we have to think about our feelings, wants and desires, but we also have to date with our kids’ future in the back of our minds.
If there is one thing I’d like you to take from this article it’s this: remember dating is for you to find a life partner. Take the time to work on yourself. Develop hobbies. Grow. What value will you be adding to his life when you finally meet the one?
Related: The number one reason relationships fail
Do you have any tips to add? Share in the comments below. ‘Til next time, thanks for reading.
These are great tips! The fourth tip is especially important to me.
This post absolutely hit home for me . I was a single mom for five years . I’m not married to my person. Prior to him , I thought I needed to find someone that would be the best dad to my kids but I didn’t take the time to work on myself before looking for a partner . I never considered what I wanted in a relationship .. only considered what I wanted in a father figure for my kids . I love this post and you shared such great tips . Thank you!
Yeap Same. I was so guilty of this back when I was a single mom. It’s actually so easy to fall into this one because we want what’s best for our kids
This is great advice! Especially the first one, making sure you are finding a spouse first! ❤️
That’s right! Partner first and everything else should fall into place
Great advice! Heal, take your time, make sure he’s right for you, and then, after all that make sure he’s right for your kids! And I really like your advice of making sure you see them at their worst and when they’re angry before they meet your kids. How they deal with anger and emotion is so important in a partner and father!
Exactly. Because at the end of the day, you’re choosing someone who will teach your kids how to be and you need to ensure he’s someone you don’t mind your kids copying
Very positive post for single moms, will share with friends!
Thank you. I appreciate that 🙂