Dating a single mother is so much different than dating a child-free woman. In other relationships, you may be able to tell how she feels about you, by the time and energy put into your relationship. But single mothers don’t have as much time to see you as often as you’d probably like, and, for most of us, our priority will be our children.
That being said, us single mothers are also much more clear about what we’re looking for in a partner, and what we want out of a relationship. In many cases, we’re a catch and we come with perks! Here are 11 truths about what it’s really like to date a single mother. (And this goes for dating a single father, too!)
TRUTHS OF DATING A SINGLE MOTHER
1. For the first few dates, weeks, or even months, the chemistry may be palpable and we may want to prove that we are still fun even though we’re – gasp – mothers, but you’re only seeing one side of us.
If we both really, really like each other (maybe we’re falling in love?!) there will come a point when we must decide if it’s a good time for our new partner to meet our children. Personally, I don’t listen to so-called experts, because much like dumping someone, there’s never the ‘right’ time, to introduce your children to a new man, and only you know when your children might be ready to meet mommy’s new friend.
Some people wait a year, as most experts profess. For me, it was about four months before I felt comfortable introducing my new guy to my children. The main reason being, I’m not going to hide my children, the most important people to me. I didn’t want to shock my children by saying, “Mommy has been dating this person for a year!” I don’t want to have secrets, with my boyfriend or with my children. Also, I’m just one person, juggling children, friends, and a career. Throw in “hanging with new boyfriend” into the mix, and eventually, I started to feel like an octopus, being pulled in eight different directions. When reality sets in, your new guy will realize that you don’t really have the time to spend hours upon hours with him alone. Your new guy must realize that he may only have you for a couple of hours every date, and maybe only a couple of times a week. Which brings me to…
2. Once your new boyfriend has met your children, he’s also going to realize there’s another side of you (that’s way less attractive!)
When you’re on a romantic date, just the two of you, in your blissful bubble, “Mean Mommy Face” and “Mean Mommy Voice” are left back at home. (Although the urge to dunk your napkin in water and wash that tiny piece of pasta sauce of your date’s face because you are a mother, may not go away.) Your new guy will suddenly realize there are two different versions of you. One is the fun-loving, care-free gal he met. That is, until he starts hanging out with you and your children a little bit, here and there, and hears your “Mean Mommy Voice.” Your new guy, too, may see an expression he’s never seen on your face before, which is the “Mean Mommy Face,” which scares your kids because they know that when Mommy has her Mean Mommy Face on, she really, really means it, when she says for the thousandth time, to “go wash your hands!” Likewise, if you are out and about, with the new person you’re dating, they may hear your panic scream when, for example, you lose your kid for .09 seconds in a store or restaurant or anywhere, really. It may be embarrassing for him, and also a little jarring. All this being said, if he’s into you, he’ll understand and will still love both versions of you. (Even if he may wonder what happened to that care-free gal?)
3. Us single mothers have known our kids before you. We have bonded with our kid before you. So, it makes sense that, we will still want to spend one-on-one time with our children, even if we love you, too. Please don’t take it personally when we say, “I think I’m just going to hang with the kids tonight.” Most single mothers (hopefully) know when their kids need a little more attention or one-on-one time. In fact, in my case, it’s me who is the one who wants to spend one-on-one time with my kids, especially if I feel I haven’t spent enough quality time with them that week. Sure, I do miss you, new boyfriend, and, yes, I would like to see you, but please understand that my desire to spend alone time with my children is always in my heart, and that it’s important to both my children and to me, that we get this quality alone time, most likely for our entire relationship. So, buckle up! If it’s important to me that I spend quality one-on-one time with my children than it should be important to you, which means you understand. Which brings me to…
4. Please understand us single mothers are tired. Like where-are-the-toothpicks-to-keep-my-eyelids-open tired. Yes, all mothers are tired but don’t be surprised if we tell you our date needs to start at 5 p.m. and end at 9 p.m., because we have given ourselves a self-imposed curfew. We know that we need a good night’s sleep because we have kids to deal with in the morning, especially on the weekends when we have our children. And, I hate to say this, but sometimes, even when our kids are with our exes, sometimes us single mothers just need time to ourselves. A single mother’s dream is to have a completely empty house for a few hours. So, yes, sometimes, even if we are kid-free at night or on a weekend afternoon, please allow us the time to enjoy doing nothing, which includes not seeing you. But, the good news is, the more and more close we become and the more and more time we do spend together, the more our need to be surrounded by silence starts to dissipate. Our need for complete alone time may not ever completely go away, but it will lessen and we will want to spend more time with you, especially if you recognize that, most of the time, we just want to chill. Speaking of time…
5. Not all of us, but some of us, will learn quickly to manage to have sex in under three minutes. (And we’ll tell the kids, you have to “fix the shower” or “check to make the air-conditioning is working.” You learn to have silent and quick sex. I mean, we’re single mothers, not dead! And while we’re being honest…
6. Us single mothers will bail on you last minute. Not once. Not twice. But a number of times, with no rhyme or reason. Our kids get sick. We just remembered that our kid has a recital the night of your office party with spouses. Or, our children suddenly have a fever and we get that call from the babysitter that our kid just threw up and suddenly that party we’re at and have looked forward to for weeks – that you waxed your legs and underarms for – comes to a sudden halt. It sucks, but it will happen, and if you love us, or even really like us, then you’ll not only understand, but you’ll get used to it. It’s disappointing for us, too.
7. Speaking of things that suck, as much as we don’t want to vent about our exes to you (and trust us, we really don’t want to, and we really try not to), sometimes our exes can ruin our day, which can put a damper on our planned evening out. The good news is, now you can cheer us up! But, please, don’t make light of the situation we are in. Be understanding. Sometimes we just need a hug.
8. Although we come with children, we also come with “excuses.” Dating a single mother can be fantastic if you’re out at an event, or out with people, and you want to leave. When you’re dating a single mother, you can use the excuse, “She needs to let the babysitter go,” even if, in reality, your children are having the time of their lives, spending the night with grandma and grandpa. We don’t mind you using our kids as excuses to get out of something. We’ve done it a million times! This is a definite perk of dating a single mother! Still, excuses aside, we also always feel guilty. If we’re with you, we feel guilty for not being with our children. If we’re with our children, we often are reminded about how little time we actually spend together. We know, rationally, we shouldn’t feel guilty, but we can’t help it. The guilt is just always there.
9. But speaking of ‘always there,’ the sleepover has been a tricky one. I’ve been dating the same guy for more than a year, and, yes, even though my kids really, really like him, and I do too, we’ve only had sleepovers when we’ve been on vacation together. I haven’t slept at his place, nor has he slept at mine. Again, this is two-fold. I don’t feel comfortable with my guy sleeping over when my children are with me. Or maybe I would, but, sorry, my bed is taken by at least one of my children, who loves to sleep with me and I love to sleep with them. So, literally, there is no room for you. Also, it goes back to getting a good night’s sleep. Even if my children are at their father’s, I have gotten used to my quiet kid-free morning routines, so, yeah, come to Netflix and chill, but then please LEAVE. Or understand why I’m leaving your place, even if I could sleep over. Understand that having an entire bed to myself, on kid-free weekends, is like a luxury vacation for a single mother. (At least to me. But I know many others who love sleepovers.) In time, this will change and there will be sleepovers, but for now, I’m happy to go to sleep alone and wake up alone. It’s a perk to us, so let us enjoy.
10. Speaking of perks, when you date a single mother, you, too, are getting other perks. (No, I’m not just talking about my amazing children.) If you sneeze, we will have Kleenex on us. We will ask you if you’re hungry or if you want something to drink, remind you to put on sunscreen, and we (or at least I do) have super fun snacks, like pop tarts and Fruit Loops cereal. Us single mothers will take care of you (not in a weird way, but in a kind way) and also make you feel youthful again (sure, you can try the trampoline in the backyard!) If you’re sick, we will ramble off a number of things you should be doing to get well soon. Us single mothers have tricks to keep from getting sick. We will always have ginger ale in our fridge. And we will always have Advil on hand (because, you know, our kid comes home with a violin she needs to practice!)
11. Finally, we (or at least the majority of us!) are NOT looking for you to father our children. We are not looking for an insta-daddy. But we are looking for someone who values our relationship with our children, and also participates, no matter how boring playing with our children may be to you (“What do you mean, you don’t know what the 1846 Pokemon cards are named?) We just want to see some genuine effort and thought.
Trust me, dating a single mother, or father, is a juggling act for both of us.
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