Things to Know When Dating A Single Mom
By: Sarah Fader
Updated January 18, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Dating is an inherently complex matter. There are so many factors to take into consideration in the world of dating and attempting to find love. Dating someone with children may bring its own complexities into the situation.
Important Things To Be Aware Of When Dating A Single Mom
According to Cafe Mom, there are roughly 10 million single mothers in America. At some point, a person is likely to encounter a single person with children. Below is a list of crucial things for potential suitors to know.
The Kids Will Always Come First
Anyone who dates a single mother should understand that she will likely prioritize her children while she dates. A single mom may feel an extra burden if she is without a co-parent to help her with parenting or other responsibilities related to her children. This doesn't mean that a mom can't make time to date or prioritize someone else that she loves, it's just helpful for someone dating a mother to understand that her schedule and responsibilities might differ from someone without children.
So, make sure to be especially respectful of her time if she is making time for you. It may also help if you can try to be as flexible as possible with your own schedule and don’t be overly concerned if she’s not responding immediately to every text that you send her. This may mean you’re not whisking her away on a surprise getaway weekend, but there are a lot of ways that you can make smaller gestures that might matter even more to her.
You May Not Immediately Meet The Kids
Any parent will likely be choosey about who their children meet and when, so the length of time you may be dating before you meet her kids may vary. Discussing this when it becomes an issue and being understanding is important. Whatever the time frame or conversation looks like, though, make sure that you actively support and respect any decisions or boundaries she makes.
Her Former Partner May Still Be In The Picture
Unless a single mother is also a widow, the likelihood of the other parent of her children being in her life is considerably high. When people share children, they often co-parent with one another even if they are not together. This does not mean that the single mom is still romantically involved with the other parent of her children. However, she may sometimes come in contact with them, whether that entails picking up the kids, dropping them off, etc. Anyone who chooses to enter a relationship with a single mother needs to be able to handle that her ex will likely be in the picture, and that relationship may be a complicated one that you’ll need to navigate tactfully. Or, if that relationship is healthy, you’ll still need to navigate it tactfully and without jealousy.
It is important to note, though, that more women are also becoming single mothers by choice.
Her Patience For Mind Games Is Probably Low
When dating, it is not uncommon for people to play mind games, such as “hard to get” or intentionally work to make the object of their affection wonder whether or not they are truly interested. While these games may still appeal to certain individuals, single mothers are unlikely to fall into this category. Parenting is a tremendous experience. It greatly changes one's outlook on life and minimizes one's patience for mind games.
You Should Not (Necessarily) Assume A Parental Role
No two single mothers are exactly alike. While some single moms may want her new partner to parent with her, there are others who are simply interested in building a meaningful and impactful relationship with their significant other while maintaining their role as the sole parent. When and if the relationship becomes serious and you become a member of the family, a discussion about parental responsibilities and expectations will be important.
Is Dating A Single Mom A Good Decision For You?
There is no universal answer regarding whether or not one should date a single mother. Ultimately, the choice rests with each individual, but having an awareness of the bits above of information is incredibly important.
Sometimes, the saying "the kids come first" comes with negative connotations or stigmas and can serve as a turnoff to potential suitors. It shouldn't. A woman's decision to put her children first, even above herself, demonstrates responsibility and character.
The fact of the matter is that if a woman, or any single parent for that matter, neglected their children to spend time with their romantic partners, it would serve as an immediate red flag. The manner in which a person handles responsibilities greatly speaks to who they are as individuals.
While each person has to decide whether they are comfortable with dating a single mom, there are certain signs that indicate that someone should not pursue the preceding course of action. One of the strongest and most obvious signs of someone who shouldn't date a single mother is a dislike or aversion to children. Disliking children is not an inherently negative trait. However, a person who does not care for kids should not become romantically involved with someone who has children and is responsible for meeting their needs every day.
A Final Word
Each person has to make their own decisions regarding dating. While finding the right person is incredibly important, finding them at the right time, place, and other elements also determines whether or not the relationship will succeed.
The age of a single mother's children will also play a significant role in her dating life. Younger kids may require more time and attention, whereas children who are in their teenage or young adult years may be more able to help with household chores or look after themselves.
Regardless of who or where we are, life can sometimes be challenging. This is especially applicable for single mothers who are raising children by themselves. Childcare is not an easy task; it requires considerable amounts of time, energy, and resources. In many regards, dating makes the matter more complex, although not insurmountable. People who choose to date single mothers may also witness some of the unique challenges that these parents face.
Here at BetterHelp, we provide professional counseling for life's challenges. One of the greatest equalizers of life is that we will all face obstacles, regardless of whether we are single mothers, dating single mothers, or none of the above. Regardless of labels, status, or positions, we all need help sometimes and asking for help is an indicator of strength and self-awareness.
Therapy is for everyone, whether or not you have a mental illness, and can truly can provide anyone with skills they can use in their day-to-day life. HuffPost outlined some of those, including problem-solving better and handling problems when they arise better. Therapy can also help you have a better sense of yourself and your purpose and hold you accountable for our own goals in addition to improving your communication skills, particularly when it comes to emotions, which can improve your relationships in turn. In fact, 75 percent of people who have tried therapy said they benefited from it. You may be wondering if online therapy has the same rate of success. Research so far indicates that common types of talk therapy, when working on an issue that isn’t severe, is comparable to in-person treatment.
There are some other great benefits to online therapy to consider. First, if you’re looking at dating or already are dating a single mom, you probably need your schedule to be as flexible as possible. BetterHelp can help with that. You can reach out to your counselor from anywhere you feel comfortable; there’s no racing to an office for a rigid appointment. Online therapy also tends to be more affordable than traditional therapy. In addition, BetterHelp has a couples counseling option if that’s something you’re interested.
Here are some recent reviews by BetterHelp users dealing with similar issues about working with their counselors.
“Loretta is a very knowledgeable therapist. She has a lot of experience and is able to relate to me and my experiences. She has helped me think about problems from other's perspectives; helped bring out my self confidence; and has made me a better partner. I am glad to have Loretta by my side during this pandemic!” Read more on Loretta Brown.
“Working with Elaine these past few months has been extremely helpful. She is a good listener and provides you with practical ways to navigate through issues. She doesn't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear but in a way where you are able to evaluate yourself deeply and take steps to improve. I see tremendous growth after having worked with her and so has my family. Would definitely recommend her services.” Read more on Elaine Morris.
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