My daughter was only three when I separated from her father. I got with my husband before I was even old enough to drink, and when things ended, I had to learn to navigate new relationships on my own, with a child. Needless to say, it’s been a crazy experience. Here are some ways that being a single mom has changed the way I love.
I’m extremely cautious about who I date. Obviously, I’ve been hurt before. Who hasn’t left a relationship with a few new dings and scars? Add a child to the mix and it all becomes much more serious. When I’m dating, I’m not going to let just anyone into my world with my child. Single moms can’t afford to not be picky about who they let in.
I can’t give my entire self. I give so much to my child that I only have so much to give in a relationship, or there will be nothing of me left for myself. As a single mother, I’ve done work to figure out who I really am and what’s important- and there will always be a little part of me that stays guarded.
I’m extremely independent. Building a life on my own with a child is no easy task, and I’ve worked hard to get where I am. Don’t be surprised if a single mom is more independent than what you’re used to — we know how to take care of ourselves and we don’t need you to do it for us.
I’m so strong, I’m unshakable. Everything is on me all day every day as a single mom. I have no backup. It’s stressful, exhausting, and lonely at times. Single moms go through life dealing with so much adversity and as a result, we’re stronger than most people. Not going to lie, we’re kinda like superheroes.
I’m a lot more patient than I used to be. Single moms have to exude ridiculous amounts of patience to survive each day. This ability to take life’s stress and handle things in the most pragmatic way imaginable makes me an exceptional partner for all sorts of reasons. This doesn’t mean I want to wait around forever for you to make up your mind about whether we should have pizza or sushi- but if I’m giving you my love, you’ll have my patience as well.
I see through bulls**t. I witness a lot of shenanigans as a single mom. I’m not going to be lied to or spend one more minute on something (or someone) that seems like a waste of my time. Be upfront and honest with me and everything will be smooth sailing. However, if you try to deceive me, I’ll drop you quicker than you can blink.
I have different expectations. Please don’t assume that because I’m a single mom that I’m looking for someone to be the new parent for my kid. Most single moms have had some kind of relationship trauma, and we’re looking for different things than someone who is less experienced. Clear communication and mutual expectations are the main things I’m looking for.
I don’t need you, I’m choosing you. Single moms stay busy and our time is precious. If I am seeking out someone to spend time with, I’m going to make sure it’s someone I really want to be around. If we’re together, it means I’m either sacrificing time with my child, or time to myself- so you can be sure of the fact that I appreciate your company.
I’m able to see others as complements, not completions. Recognize that my life with my child is already complete before you got here. I’m not looking for someone to swoop in and save me, and at this point, I’m certainly not interested in making a bunch of big changes to fit someone else into my life. I want my partner to be someone who has their own life and we both complement each other.
I feel sexier. Without expectations from someone else on how to look, what to wear, and how to act- becoming single allowed me to find my true self. It allowed me to love my body in a way that was only for me. I have never felt more confident than as a strong single mother.
I’m nurturing but I’m not looking to be your mother. I have always been the domestic caretaker type. But as a single mom, I’ve had to learn how to be everything my child needs at any given time. I have learned not to be taken advantage of and I keep my circle small. Those within it will always have my willingness to jump in and help. That being said, I’m not trying to be a surrogate mom to a grown man.
I know life doesn’t always follow a plan. Most single moms didn’t plan to become single when they made the decision to have a child. But it happened- for better or worse- and we’ve learned that in order to survive, we have to roll with the punches. Not saying we won’t be sad when a relationship doesn’t work out, but we certainly won’t let it destroy us.
I’m ready to move on if a person or situation doesn’t suit me. I’ve done my fair share of forcing relationships in the past, but as a single mom, I don’t have time to hang onto someone or something that’s not right. As licensed marriage and family therapist Ron L. Deal, MMFT, says: “Not liking the fit between the person you are dating and your kids is a deal breaker, even if you love him or her as a partner.”
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