Navigating the world of dating can be complex. First, there’s the initial meeting; then comes the getting-to-know-someone stage. These encounters can be exhilarating but, at the same time, somewhat intimidating.
But what happens if you meet the perfect woman, but she has children? Some men tend to shy away from dating a mom with kids. But don’t run for the hills yet. Single moms can be the perfect partners, with the children as a bonus. Keep reading to check out the complete guide to dating single moms who, just like you, are searching for love.
What are your intentions? Are you looking for a one-night stand or something more serious? Don’t tell her one thing, but your actions say another. Is marriage on your radar in the future, or are you content with being an eternal bachelor? The answers to these questions are beneficial for a single mom because it’s not just her in this relationship. Who knows? Maybe she’s the one looking for a casual fling, and you want something more serious. Whatever you decide, it’s always best to be upfront, starting from the beginning.
Slow It Down
The difference between dating a single mom and a woman without children is that a woman without children has no other person to consider. So don’t rush the relationship, especially if you’re unsure how involved you plan to be with her children. If you don’t know, be honest and say so.
You also don’t want to force yourself to take on a role you’re unwilling to maintain for the duration. Follow mom’s lead. She’ll let you know what she’s comfortable with and when you should take a back seat. For example, abide by her wishes if she’s not okay with you punishing her child.
- You don’t have to meet her children immediately, especially if they are a little older. You’ll want to give your relationship time to grow, so don’t rush to be a parental figure. You are both in this relationship together, so decide together when the time is appropriate.
- You also don’t need to rush to live together or become engaged. Instead, focus on developing a trusting relationship; when you both feel comfortable, you can take it to the next level.
Understand Her Kids Are Her First Priority
Accept that her children will always be first in her life. This is an admirable trait because it demonstrates devotion to their children. If she has that loyalty to them, you can best believe she’ll have it for the man in her life, too.
Older children may have a say in who mom dates or whether she dates at all, so prepare yourself. If a mom has a close-knit relationship with her child, they may experience a bit of insecurity at the thought of her dating. Respect that close relationship and allow them to navigate this situation together.
Give Emotional Support
Single moms can be under tremendous pressure when it comes to providing for their children. Unfortunately, you may not fully understand the circumstances. For instance, does she receive financial support from the children’s father? Does she have emotional support from family or friends? The pressure to provide for children is tremendous, so be a partner who can empathize and listen.
Don’t get upset if she’s late for your date because she had babysitter issues or if she can’t have drinks with you next week because her child has dance class. Instead, offer a little kindness and understanding, trusting that it will all work out in time. She doesn’t need the added pressure. Besides, encouragement and support will go a long way to help build a stronger bond between you two.
How to Offer Emotional Support to Your Partner
Try to keep the questions open-ended instead of asking questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” This allows the person to elaborate and open up more. Sometimes simply asking if they’re okay is a huge help. You can also ask questions like:
- You seem stressed. How can I help?
- I know the kids have a lot going on. How have you been holding up?
- I haven’t talked to you in a while. What’s going on in your life now?
Be a Good Listener
Sometimes, it’s more about listening than offering advice. Actively listening shows that you are interested in and care about their situation. While listening, give them your full attention.
- An occasional nod shows that you are listening and not daydreaming
- Put your phone away and turn it off or on silent
- Turn your body toward them to display open body language
- Ask for clarification if there’s something you don’t understand
- Summarize what they said to show you’ve been listening.
Even if you disagree with what they’re saying, keep your opinion to yourself unless they ask for it. You’re there to listen, not judge. When seeking emotional support, people don’t want to hear a critique of their actions. Chances are, they’ve done enough self-critiquing and only need you as a sounding board.
Avoid asking questions that may be interpreted as judgments or blaming, like, “So what did you do to make them angry?” Additionally, watch your tone. Even if you don’t judge or criticize directly, your tone can convey plenty of emotion. Facial expressions are another dead giveaway. You might not verbally say you disagree, but your face may tell a different story, so be careful of your expressions.
Single moms have plenty of responsibilities. Not only do they have to care for their children financially, but they must also provide emotional support. As a result, they often have limited availability, making it hard to schedule and even keep every date. In addition, their child may get sick, and they may need to cancel or reschedule.
Being spontaneous can be difficult for single moms. It’s no longer about picking up and going away for a weekend staycation. Instead, for single moms, it’s about ensuring the children are okay before enjoying a little time off.
Keep Opinions to Yourself
It’s easy to swoop into a situation and pass judgment from the outside looking in. For instance, you might judge a mom’s parenting choice because you don’t know or understand the complete picture. And even if you don’t, it’s not for you to judge. One of the pressures single moms face is scrutiny from others.
This behavior will not be welcomed and isn’t healthy for the relationship. It’s okay to have ideas or suggestions, but if she doesn’t ask, don’t offer. Otherwise, it will seem like you are judging her current methods and that you’re overstepping her boundaries.
Instead of critiquing her parenting, acknowledge that being a single parent can be difficult. Be respectful of the fact that every mom has a different method of parenting.
Additionally, view her choices from a place of compassion and helpfulness.
Don’t Take It Personally
If you’re dating a single mom, her child may not be too happy about it. So, if the child says something rude, don’t take it personally. They may feel you’re replacing their father or that you will be taking time away from mom.
It’s common for kids to feel insecure when their mom moves on to another relationship with someone else. However, becoming a couple doesn’t mean they automatically become part of the family. This takes time and is something that should never be rushed. Instead, let it happen organically.
When you finally meet the children, understand that you may not get the warmest greeting immediately. A parent moving on can be an emotional situation they aren’t ready to deal with yet. Seeing their mom with someone else can be a bit confusing for some children. Give it time and patience for the child(ren) to come around. They’ll need to process the situation at their pace.
Single moms cannot afford to have someone untrustworthy in their lives, especially when it comes to their children. If she trusts you enough to pick up her child from school, she needs you to be there. Drama need not apply when it comes to a single mom. She has enough going on in her life, so she doesn’t need added drama.
Trust is one of the essential foundations of a healthy relationship. So, build it by being a reliable, stable partner who keeps his word. If you say you’re going to be there, be there. Being trustworthy only reinforces her positive feelings toward you.
The Ex Factor
Depending on how the single mom’s previous relationship ended, you may be dealing with the ex. He is the child’s father, after all. When dating a single parent, consider the other parent’s feelings. Understandably, they may have some jealousy or resentment, causing them to be standoffish. However, resist the temptation to be combative.
Being aggressive only adds stress to your relationship. Instead, try to be respectful of their feelings and approach the situation with a sense that this is difficult for everyone involved, but you’ll be there for your partner no matter what.
Allow the Children to Come To You
Tread lightly when meeting the kids for the first time because this is a highly significant (and sensitive) time. Do not attempt to push your way into their lives by offering unsolicited advice on school, boyfriends, or anything. When they feel comfortable enough, they’ll come to you.
If more than one child is involved, understand that it takes some children longer than others to trust you. Their timeframe for showing trust in you may vary, and one may come across as more welcoming than the other, and that’s okay.
Focus beyond a Relationship with Mom
You may have visions of whisking mom away for a vacation this summer, but that most likely won’t happen. Why? Because you have a relationship with the mom and the child(ren). If mom goes, the children go. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but be prepared that it may very well be. Here are a few ways to focus on the relationship between the mom and the children.
- Plan dates with the entire family
- Celebrate the holiday with the family
- Take each child out individually for a special time
- Take the reigns when it comes to special birthday events for the kids
- Go to their sporting events and show support
Do’s and Don’ts of Dating a Single Mom
- Do understand that her kids come before you. Canceled dates and unavailability may be frustrating, but it comes along with the single-mom territory.
- Do ask about her kids. It’s okay to want to see pictures. Her kids are a big part of her life, so she loves talking about them.
- Do believe her intentions. If she tells you she’s interested, she is. Single moms have very little time for ambiguity within a relationship. If she tells you she’s not interested, believe that, too.
- Do ask her about her feelings regarding having more children. If she’s not interested and you are, this may be a dealbreaker. But, again, it’s best to find this out sooner rather than later.
- Do give compliments on her appearance. Moms have little time to invest in their appearance, so it’s nice to know the effort paid off.
- Don’t ask to meet her kids. She’ll let you know when she’s ready.
- Don’t be insulted if you don’t meet the kids right away. Single moms are very protective when it comes to their kids.
- Don’t refer to her as a MILF. Sure, it’s nice you think she’s hot, but a compliment like that may come off as insulting.
- Don’t be jealous of her ex. She will most likely have a relationship with him for a long time (or until the child turns 18).
- Don’t judge her parenting skills. You may have an opinion, but early in the relationship, keep them to yourself and only offer advice if asked.
Dating a single mom isn’t always easy. However, it does come with perks, like her being truthful and upfront at the very beginning of the relationship. She doesn’t want to waste her time (or yours.) Single moms are more likely to invest in long-term commitments if that’s what you’re looking for.
However, as with any other relationship, take your time and get to know her. Even if a single mom wasn’t what you originally wanted, you might find the relationship worth your time.