Dating Advice for Single Mothers
By Vanessa Palencia
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! I still remember planning my Anti-Valentine’s Day party as a single gal like it was yesterday! It’s crazy how time flies, but it’s even crazier how much I’ve grown. I’m now two years strong into my current relationship, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about the struggles I went through as a single mother in the dating realm. So to all you single mothers: I hear you. I feel you. I know exactly what you’re going through because I’ve been there, too!
Dating as a single mom can be incredibly exhausting and awkward. There’s usually so much conflict with date nights because you want to enjoy yourself, but the whole evening is often overladen with guilt for not being home with your child. Then when you reach that big milestone in your relationship, you have to introduce your beau to your kid(s). This is huge because this meeting can either make or break the relationship. I don’t know about you ladies, but whenever I entertained the possibility of my potential partner not getting along well with my kid, I automatically envisioned living in hell for the rest of my life. Nope. Not happening.
At the same time, dating does reap its rewards once you’ve found that special someone. Because not only have you found your best friend, but you’ve found a co-parenting partner, which makes the whole parenting load a lot lighter. Immersing myself in the dating world was definitely a learning experience for me, but sometimes I wish that I would’ve had someone to mentor me. Someone who had been through it before. Although I had my mother, she only dated one guy after she had me and immediately got married, so it was a one-and-done deal, which can be extremely rare.
With this in mind, I’ve devised a general guide for all you single mothers to help you navigate the dating field a little better. But don’t let it stop there. I want you to use the comments section below to tell me your story and to share your tips for other mommas in the dating life. Remember, we’re only as strong as the relationships we form and the communities we build!
1. Date men with value
This may sound like a very ‘duh’ statement, but sometimes in the quest for love, we tend to forget the meaning of a man with value. While values may vary depending on what your belief system is, a man with value generally understands the scope of the relationship he’s entering with you. He consents to potentially entering the father role later on down the line and shows you that he cares about you through his actions (i.e. respects your beliefs and opinions, makes your life easier by washing dishes or watching the kids, etc). I learned this a few heartbreaks later, so don’t make the same mistakes I did.
2. Balance out your dating life
I know how exciting it can be to finally have someone to talk to, but dating is not the same as being in a relationship. They should not, by any means, be your priority. Dating someone means you are taking the time to get to know them and understand how they work, so don’t work your schedule around his. He needs to work his schedule around yours because you’re a #bossmomma.
3. Put your kids first
When you’re in the dating field, nothing is set in stone. While I believe that in marriage, the parents need to put each other first to create a strong foundation within the household, the dating field is not the place or time to try to create that foundation. Until then, your children come first because they’re the ones who will be with you every step of the way no matter what happens.
4. Ask the right questions
You’re a single mom with your hands full enough as it is. You don’t have time to waste. Learning their favorite color isn’t going to help you determine whether you two are compatible. You need to find out the important things. What’s his 5-year goal? What steps is he taking to get there? Is he an ambitious person? Do his interests line up with yours? Is he family-oriented? Ask the big questions first, the rest will fall into place. I honestly wish I would’ve known this earlier because it would’ve saved me time and energy. You don’t know how many times I tried investing myself in the wrong people!
5. Remember your standards
I suggest writing them down in bullet point form in your journal or on an index card and place it where you can see it on a daily basis. You cannot lose sight of your standards. Don’t make exceptions just because he’s super cute or you really just want someone to talk to. You’ll just end up frustrated and drained of energy from trying to change them into someone they weren’t. I once spent 3 years on a guy just because he was cute and cool, even though we were clearly incompatible!
6. Think long-term
The way I see it, single mother or not, we shouldn’t be wasting our time with someone we’re not compatible with. But as single mothers, time is of the essence so make sure that you think long-term everytime you’re on a date. If you can’t handle the idea of being in a relationship long-term with them, then you need to move on. What’s helped me figure out whether I really saw someone long-term was by determining how comfortable I could get around them by asking myself questions: Would I be comfortable bare-faced around them? Can I divulge my secrets? Do I feel confident around them?
7. Introduce your kids when it’s serious
This is a highly debated topic for a reason. Some people believe that you should introduce your kids earlier in the relationship before you get too attached to your potential love interest, while others believe you should introduce your kids later when you know for sure that you want to marry them. I say introduce them when you know it’s serious. Ultimately, you want to protect your kids, but the lines are easily blurred when it comes to determining whether your new beau will make a great addition to your family prior to introducing them to each other. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you really follow #4, #5, and #6. They will help you better decide whether someone makes the cut or not.
In the end, you are the mother and you know what will work best for your family. Listen to your heart and trust your instincts and never settle for less than what you and your family deserve. Trust me, there can be a happy ending if you just believe in it.