If you have tried to date as an adult, you already know that everyone has a life situation affecting how people date and develop romantic connections. Single moms are a large part of the dating pool, and dating them carries unique implications. A recent survey showed that 44% of women using dating apps are single moms, with almost 28% of them using dating apps for longer than three years. The same study showed that single moms find love 10% faster than women without children. If you are dating women, particularly women in their thirties, forties, and fifties, you are bound to come across the option of dating a single mom. If you decide to date a single mom, it helps to understand the nuances that dating single mothers carry. Below are some tips and tricks that can help you prepare.
1. Acknowledging that Kids Come First
If there are rules for dating a single mom, the number one rule would be to realize that her kids always come first. Many will say that this is common sense but then react negatively if a woman has to cancel a date because she is needed as a mom or if something unexpected comes up with her child. Kids are unpredictable and unable to take care of many needs independently, even if they are older. Kids need to be driven places, talked off the ledge in stressful situations, and guided to overcome social and education obstacles. Kids get sick, often without warning. For women sharing custody, there may be dynamics in the other parent’s home that interrupt her solo time, even with careful planning. A single mother who does not have another parent involved faces unexpected challenges more regularly. It is essential to realize that you are not, and never can be, in competition with the child or children. There is no competition – it is an apples and oranges situation. Kids come first because their needs are kid needs, while yours are adult needs. Only after the kids’ needs are fulfilled can a single mom enjoy adult time. Being encouraging and supportive and leading with patience and understanding is helpful. A single mom doesn’t have much personal time, and if she is sharing that precious time with you, you matter to her. Try to meet her where she is, and stay flexible and agile if your schedule allows.
2. Pacing Yourself and Not Rushing
Timing is a critical consideration in any dating situation. Even with a powerful connection, you can expect that dating a single mom will feel like a marathon instead of a sprint. There are multiple explanations for this. Getting out to date is more difficult due to kid logistics, so it takes a single mom more time to get to know potential partners. Another is that while women without children assess potential partners through the lens of what will work for them alone, a mom will inevitably be trying to gauge how well you will mesh with her kids and potentially even her co-parent. Finally, a mom will need to feel 100% secure in any new relationship before telling her kids she is dating someone and eventually introducing them to her kids. There is no standard timing for this, and it depends entirely upon her comfort. Some may take a few months, and some may need more time. Be patient, flexible, and respect her boundaries. A mom is always trying to guard her kids against unnecessary changes and disappointment, and it is not a judgment of you or the developing relationship.
3. Be Trustworthy and Open
Single moms are understandably protective of their households and kids. It helps if you are open and forthcoming about yourself and your lifestyle. If you have engaged in unsafe behaviors, it is better to share that rather than hide it, especially with all vital records that can be found online, and allow your potential partner to process that information at her own pace. Inviting her to your place after a few dates can help her build trust and get a fuller picture of you and your day-to-day lifestyle. In some co-parenting agreements, single moms are asked to introduce new partners to their parents before the new partner meets their kids. If that is the case with the woman you are dating, be open to that and be forthcoming with the parent about yourself.
4. Consider Getting Hands-On in Caring for Children
While most single moms will not expect their partner to parent their children, it is always nice to offer to lend a hand, especially in busier times. By giving a ride, sharing a meal, or playing a game outside with your partner’s child, you get to know the child better while showing that you can fit into and enjoy a lifestyle that she is already living. It also means that you are trying to take an interest in what is essential to your partner and that you are willing to help if needed.
5. Respect Family Boundaries
It is essential to keep in mind that while you may have started to date a person just a little while ago, she has been parenting for much longer, and specific dynamics have been in place long before you came around. This means that you need to respect family boundaries, whether you agree with them. A good example is kids’ bedtimes. You may want the kids to be able to join for evening activities, or the opposite, head off into their bedrooms at a particular time. Your opinion or preference is secondary to what is already in place. You can ask questions and gently share your thoughts, but you ultimately must respect existing frameworks.
Dating someone with kids can seem complex and intimidating, and it is not for everyone. If you like kids or are looking for a family lifestyle, you may enjoy it immensely and find greater meaning in this type of path. Be honest with yourself about your desired dating situation, and if you decide to date a single mom, bear in mind that some fundamental differences exist in this trajectory. Navigate those differences with curiosity, patience, integrity, and excellent communication, and be patient with yourself, your partner, and the situation.