Raising a child on your own isn’t easy, and trying to find time to add love into the mix is even more difficult. If you’re fortunate enough to be dating a single mom, consider yourself lucky that she’s made space for you in her already hectic life. Oh, and be prepared for these things to be different than if you were dating a childfree woman.
- She Has Different Priorities. When you’re responsible for another human’s livelihood and wellbeing, they are your number one priority. They come before work, even before yourself, and especially before your dating life. That doesn’t mean the person she chooses to date isn’t a priority, just that they aren’t the number one priority. You need to accept this if you want to date her.
- Her Time is Valuable. Single moms don’t have much free time between raising their kid(s), working to pay the bills, and running an entire household alone. Since her time is so valuable, she won’t want to waste it on the wrong person or do things that don’t benefit her or bring her joy. When making plans for your next date, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind. However, choosing to spend her valuable time with you is a huge compliment.
- She Has a Stricter Schedule. As much as single moms probably need a vacation, it’s important to acknowledge that they can’t just up and go on a spontaneous weekend away. Between school drop-off, after-school activities, appointments, and their children’s daily routines, setting plans in advance is necessary when dating a single mom. Not only because she’ll need to find the time, but she likely needs to arrange for a babysitter, too.
- She Takes Dating More Seriously. Although many single moms enjoy dating to get out and have fun, it’s probably safe to say that most are looking for something serious or will eventually lead to something serious. When dating anyone, it’s a good idea to discuss whether or not you’re looking for the same thing. But, when dating a single mom, this is even more important. Please don’t waste her time if she wants a serious relationship and you don’t.
- She Knows What She’s Looking For. In my own experience as a single mom, I have a very clear idea of what I’m looking for when it comes to a relationship; I suspect this is true for most single moms. But, of course, it would help if you fit into her life and what she’s looking for, so be honest and genuine in your interactions and conversations. Otherwise, you’re just wasting her time.
- She Has a Past. Everyone has a past, but a single mom’s past is slightly different. In many cases, she’ll need to be in contact with the father of her children for the rest of her life. Having the person you’re dating talk to their ex regularly can be challenging for some people to understand or accept. But it’s important to realize that their relationship didn’t work out for a reason, and he is not a threat to the person she is dating.
- She Requires Patience and Understanding. Being a single mom is far from easy. There will be times when she needs to cancel plans at the last minute because her child is sick. There will be days when she’s completely burnt out and needs someone to lean on and vent to. And there will be times when everything feels like too much, and she’s not her usual, fun self. During these times, she needs a partner who will be patient with her, someone who will be understanding, kind, and supportive.
- She Comes Prepared for Any Situation. A definite perk of dating a single mom is that she’s usually prepared for anything. Her purse is often a magical portal that somehow contains everything you could ever need, including tissues, snacks, bandaids, and pain relievers like ibuprofen. Not only is she prepared, but she’s pretty good at handling various situations too.
- She’s more independent than usual. Being a single mom is a lot of work, especially in the beginning. But as time goes on, single moms learn how to do everything for themselves and their children independently. However, just because she can do it independently doesn’t mean she wouldn’t appreciate the extra support. Let her know she’s doing a great job and offer to help when it makes sense.
- Kid haters need not apply. Eventually, as the relationship progresses, you’ll be invited to meet her children. If you get to this point, you should feel honored because most single moms would not introduce their kids to just anyone. However, keeping in mind that single moms typically aren’t looking for someone to fill the role of their child’s father, she still needs her new partner to value and care about her children. Not only that, but they will play an essential role in her kids’ lives, which is a big responsibility. So if you don’t like kids or aren’t ready for that level of commitment, don’t date a single mom.
Other things to keep in mind when dating a single mom
- Her kid may not accept you immediately. Depending on the relationship her child has with their father or the circumstances of their parents’ breakup, your single mom’s kid may not be all that happy to have you around at first. Research published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science revealed that single moms and their kids often see their relationship as intense and exclusive, so when someone else comes into the picture, it’s not received well. You’ll have to exercise patience and be willing to show consistency and care if you want to date a single mom.
- They’re not your kids, so be respectful. While you may eventually end up in a serious long-term relationship in which you become a parental figure to her kid(s), at the moment, you’re an outsider. With this in mind, in no circumstance is it appropriate for you to discipline her kids or insert your opinions about their behavior/choices. Unless you’ve previously discussed this with their mom, it’s important that you be respectful of this boundary.
- Don’t be judgmental. Single moms experience so much judgment from society for the simple fact that they’re raising kids on their own. That’s ridiculous, outdated, and sexist, but these attitudes still exist. The last thing she needs is the feeling that she’s being judged by the new person she’s dating too. Acting as if you somehow know more about relationships or that you’re in a position to tell her how to live or act is completely inappropriate and will ensure that you’re not part of her life for much longer.