Single mum dating is tough. The challenges are many and varied. Let’s explore a few:
Single mum dating challenge number 1: Finding a man willing to date a single mum
I thought that the most challenging thing about dating as a single mum would be finding a man who even wants to go on a date. There aren’t that many single mum’s in their mid-30s on the dating scene. Why would a man date a woman in her mid-30s who has a child, when there are literally hundreds of thousands of childless women in their mid-30s on Tinder?
The mid-30s is an odd age in the dating world. There are women who want to settle down immediately and to have a family – the clock is ticking. There are women who have decided that career is their thing and who don’t want any kind of commitment. There are some single mums like me, but there are certainly not many.
OK, so there are some guys on dating apps who just want a one night stand.
Here’s a conversation I had on ‘Bumble’ the other day:
Me: Hi, how are you? (On Bumble, because it is “the feminist version of Tinder”, women have to message first. As it turns out, finding anything to say other than ‘Hi, how are you?’ is actually quite difficult particularly when said match has an uninspiring selection of photos – maybe there’s a clue here and I shouldn’t bother messaging them..)
Mark: I’m great, and you? You’re very pretty. (Reading between the lines, I think he probably wants to get into my knickers)
Me: Thank you
Mark: What brings you to Bumble? Looking to hook up? (Yes, I was right.)
Me: Not really my scene I’m afraid
Mark: That’s too bad.
Me: Yep, sorry, good luck.
Mark: …………..Radio silence. (I think common courtesy would have dictated a thank you here, but common courtesy doesn’t seem to apply in online dating).
Aside from the hook-up merchants, who I suspect are indifferent to children, there are actually quite a few men on the dating apps which I frequent who don’t seem remotely phased by the fact that I am a single mum.
More fool them because…
Single mum dating challenge number 2: As a single mum, I come with ‘baggage’.
Not all single mums come with ‘baggage’. Let’s be clear, Cygnet (my son) is NOT ‘baggage’. Cygnet is wonderful. He may limit my availability for dates, quite significantly as it happens, but he certainly is not ‘baggage’.
Any date who called or implied that a child is ‘baggage’ would be given a stern talking to and then be left nursing their pint all alone in the pub because I would have hot-footed it out of there.
My ‘baggage’, and as much as I hate to admit it I do have baggage, is emotional. My emotional baggage is getting gradually lighter, but I will probably always carry a bit of it around with me.
Then there’s the baggage that you wouldn’t think about, the baggage which co-parenting with someone who I really do not like very much brings with it:
- I can get a bit down when I have been at work all week and then I have to hand Cygnet over to his Daddy for a day at the weekend. All I want to do is to spend time with Cygnet.
- I can get a bit annoyed when Daddy delivers Cygnet back to me both hyper and exhausted. Daddy then explains that our 18 month old Cygnet has eaten a big portion of his Granny’s coffee mousse. This is homemade coffee mousse made with real espresso coffee. Sugar and caffeine for an 18 month old – wonderful! I am not sure whether Daddy is spiteful (on a Sunday night knowing that I have work the next day) or just stupid. Probably just stupid, but I get annoyed nonetheless.
- I can get a bit bitter when Daddy announces that he is going skiing next month and therefore won’t be able to have Cygnet on his night during the week and for his normal childcare day. This means that I have to take annual leave from work. Daddy has done very well financially from our separation and also seems to be galavanting round the globe on regular exotic or adventurous holidays.
But, do you want to know the biggest challenge of all?
Well first, let me tell you about this guy who I have met.
I swiped right on Bumble and I got a match. I messaged him and he replied. He didn’t seem weird. Now those of you who have read my blog post about why I didn’t reply to many prospective dates on Tinder will know that the ‘not weird’ variety of man does not come about often in the online dating world.
He seemed chatty and easy going when we were messaging each other. He also seemed honest. We agreed to meet up. He wanted to speak on the phone first and by speak I mean to hear each other’s voices rather than speaking in Times New Roman font.
We met in a pub on one of my rare nights without Cygnet and shared a bottle of wine. He was easy going, agenda less, able to listen but also showed that he was actually doing so by asking questions. Questions to show that he was interested, genuinely interested in what I had to say and not just feigning interest because he wanted to sleep with me or, like my ex, he felt that the time had come to settle down and I met a few of his criteria.
And he is interesting. He is a musician and he spoke about his music with such dedication and passion that, despite my ignorance of music, he was really interesting to listen to. We have since met up a couple of times and have been to the theatre. We have shared a couple of bottles of wine and I think, I hope, that we will become great friends.
But, and this brings me onto my final and most significant challenge as a single mum back on the dating scene…
Single mum dating challenge number 3: I am not ready for another relationship.
Separating from my ex and getting out of my toxic and controlling relationship has been empowering. Really empowering. And I am loving it. I feel alive again. I feel that I am free and worthy again.
Life is busy. I work full time (well almost). I look after Cygnet. I have a whole load of decorating and admin and just general stuff to do. I manage my life by focussing 100% on the task at hand. When I am at work, I focus on my work. When I am with Cygnet I focus on Cygnet 100%. I don’t spend my time with Cygnet on the phone to work colleagues or checking my work emails or even on Twitter. Pen and Cygnet time is just that, time for Pen and Cygnet and nothing else.
I have created a little nest (our flat) for myself and Cygnet. It is our little sanctuary. It is our safe place. I feel totally comfortable here. Cygnet owns the floors and covers them with his toys. I own the walls and cover them with artwork. That’s just how things are.
I do have some free time, not much, but I do have a bit and I want that free time to be about escapism. I want to meet interesting people and to do interesting things.
Relationships aren’t about escapism. Relationships can’t be about escapism. A relationship is real life.
I am just not ready for my different worlds to collide. I know that it will be a long while before I ever introduce a new partner to my son. I just don’t think it would be right for him. But I also know that it is not right for me yet either.
I am not ready to let a new person into my life.
The biggest single mum dating challenge of all: I am not ready for a new relationship.