There’s a universal truth about single parenting: it’s lonely.
Sure, you have your little one to take care of, and a circle of amazing friends, but there’s certain needs that they just can’t fulfill.
And I’m not just talking about sex (although the need is absolutely there), I mean intimacy and closeness – having someone there to connect deeply with.
I’d like to say “so far so good” when it comes to my dating life, but it’s been nothing but a mess of confusion and heartache.
I thought becoming a parent, and reaching my 30s, would mature my heart and better prepare me for rejection. I thought I was more resilient, but I quickly learned that the opposite is true.
Am I going to give up dating? Absolutely not, but I know I have a lot to learn when it comes to opening myself up to others and preparing for the outcome.
Part of that is facing the struggles of dating as a single mom and accepting that it’s not going to be easy. Once you can accept the impending struggle, you can better prepare yourself mentally for it.
For that reason, I wanted to share the reasons why I think it sucks to date as a single mom:
Dating as a single mom means you have to deal with the the single mom stigma
First of all, single moms tend to have a “needy” sticker slapped on their forehead by the rest of society.
There’s this idea that single mothers are seeking a replacement father for their children. This causes most men to run screaming in the other direction.
Luckily, I’ve dated a couple of men that had no issue with this. However, since things didn’t work out and I was never granted a clear explanation as to why, this very well could be the reason.
It’s not really a stigma you can dispel throughout society, but you can certainly present yourself as a strong, independent individual when you venture into the dating world.
One important rule is to put off introducing your children to your new partner, whether you are dating or have decided to enter a committed relationship.
The foundation of any new relationship should be built on the connection between the two of you – if that all works out, the kiddos will simply be the icing on the cake.
Plus, it alleviates placing any unintended pressure on the man or woman you want to date. By keeping your kids away for the first bit, you’re showing them that your intentions are focused solely on finding a connection for yourself, not trying to rebuild a “family”.
Dating as a single mom means you don’t have time
Okay, so once you work past the “needy” stigma of the single mom, you have to find the time in your chaotic schedule to actually, you know, go on dates.
A mistake I made with the last man I dated (which means I clearly didn’t follow the above point at all) was introducing him to my daughter early on. In my mind, it simply meant that we could spend more time together if my kid was present.
It worked until it didn’t work and looking back I definitely would have done things differently.
An important aspect of combatting the “no time” struggle of dating as a single mom is to realize that the quality of the time spent with someone else is more important than the quantity.
This alleviates a lot of the mom-guilt you’ll feel when turfing your kids to a friend or relative just so you can date.
It’s about finding pockets of time to spend with someone else and making the most of it as well as maintaining a connection when you are apart.
Good relationships, whether you have kids or not, are built upon an emotional connection first and a physical connection last.
And any man or woman who can’t provide you with the patience you need is probably not worth making the time for.
You Give 100% of Your Heart
I’ve read all the advice about dating as a single mom, and have learned about many of the challenges, but this one I only came to realize recently after my last efforts went to pot.
Over the years, after being hurt so many times, I started keeping my heart closed up tight. When I met the last gentleman I courted, I opened her up wide and gave my absolute all.
Now that it’s over, I feel like I’m left with nothing. I gave away my 100%.
My first thought wasn’t how to get it back, it was how did I manage to give away so much to begin with?
It’s because I’m a single mom.
Everyday I dedicate my entire soul and being to my tiny human. When it comes to having feelings for someone else, I defaulted to this level of giving.
It happened so quickly and naturally that I didn’t even realize I was doing it until it was too late. I put so much effort into showing this individual that I would do nothing but love them and care for them.
Now I’m left with an empty, disappointed void.
It’s my bad but I’m not saying that I’m going to lock up my heart again and live as a cat-loving hermit for the rest of my life.
(Although, in this particular moment, that doesn’t sound half bad.)
No, instead I’m going to move forward focusing on the idea of give-and-take.
It’s like a dance – you step a little and your partner follows. Then they step and you follow them.
What I was doing was full-on busting out a breakdancing routine while the man I was dating stood back in confusion and horror.
I guess he didn’t like my moves?
When you get so accustomed to giving your all every moment of everyday, as single mothers especially do, you have to learn not to shut other people out but how to spare some love for yourself.
If that means taking a break from dating and doing some real deep-down soul searching, so be it. It will definitely be worth the time and effort.
Dating as a single mom means you need to learn to love yourself first
While I don’t believe the saying, “You can’t love someone unless you love yourself,” I do agree that you should definitely try to before you jump into the dating pool.
Yes, you can love someone despite how you feel about yourself, but if you don’t save some of that 100% for yourself, you’re facing a potentially heart- and soul-crushing experience.
Trust me, I’m currently working my way to the other side of one, and it’s a situation I really don’t want to be in again.
But I won’t give up. I know that if I want to have a partner in my life, I deserve a really good one.
It’s just a matter of finding him.