Don’t date a single mother – here’s why

I am a single mother.  I use a couple of dating appsTinder and Bumble.   I have a few matches (when you like them and they like you) and am having a few conversations.  I have a couple of ‘dates’ lined up.  I know that dating a single mother must be tough for a man.  If I were advising my bother, I would tell him “don’t date a single mother”.

I am quite open in my dating profile.  I say that I am a mother to a wonderful little boy.  I don’t mention his age and I don’t post any photos of him, but I certainly don’t hide the fact that I am a single mother. I still have quite a lot of matches.  I am not bragging or anything; I am certainly no stunner, but I really can’t understand why the ‘single mother thing’ doesn’t put men off.    

I always make a point of dropping my son into conversation early, just to make sure that men have the option to make a quick getaway if they have carelessly overlooked the motherhood bit of my profile.  To date, not one of them has missed it.  Yes, don’t worry, I saw that’ or ‘hey, that’s cool’  are common responses. 

And then I think well, is it ‘cool’?  Do you really know what you could be getting yourself into?  Do you really understand what it means to be a single mother? Do you understand what ‘dating’ a single mother could mean for you? 

Let me tell you. 

Don’t date a single mother.

don't date a single mother

1.  Don’t date a single mother because… you will never be my number one. 

No matter how amazing, how interested and how interesting you are, no matter how much you make me laugh, no matter how attractive I find you, my son will always be my number one.  He is part of me.  He is my flesh and blood.  I will always prioritise what is in his best interests.  You may come a close second, but he will always hold the top spot.

2.  Don’t date a single mother because… you may have to meet my ex.

I have no regrets about separating with my ex.  You don’t need to worry about old flames still burning.  You may, at some point, have to meet my ex though.  He won’t like you.  He won’t like the fact that his son has a potential ‘father figure’ in his life.  He will feel threatened.  He will see you as a rival.

3.  Don’t date a single mother because… sometimes you might not like me. 

My ex brings out the worst in me.  You might not like me when I am speaking about or dealing with my ex.  I don’t like myself when I am around my ex.  Not only that, you will probably have to listen to me ranting about my ex’s parenting style, the fact that he pays very little maintenance, the fact that he feeds our son junk food and can never be bothered to put our son’s coat on even when it is bitterly cold outside.  I will try not to use you as a punch bag, but I absolutely cannot use my son, because my son has a right to think his Dad is amazing.  I will need to vent to someone, and that someone might be you.

4.  Don’t date a single mother because… sometimes you might have to date my son too.

We come as a package.  I am certainly not suggesting that you will meet my son anytime soon.  I don’t want him to meet every man I date.  I only want to introduce him if and when I think the relationship is going somewhere.  I want to make sure that he doesn’t form a bond and then have to suffer a relationship break-up at the same time as me.  Poor thing has already had to do that.  But, if and when we get there, if and when the time comes for you to meet him, we may end up going on dates together. All three of us!

So, if this hasn’t put you off totally, if you are still up for the challenge,  here are some tips for dating a single mother:   

1.  Ask about my son

He’s not going anywhere and he’s the most important person to me.  I recognise that in the short to medium term my dating life is going to be very separate from my parenting life, but at some point, if we are going to have a long term relationship, my two lives are going to have to converge.  Ask about my son.  At this stage your recognition that my son exists, and is important to me, will help me to bond with you.

2.   Please understand that I cannot be very flexible

My ex and I now have a parenting schedule.  This means that I have one week night and one weekend night free each week.  I work late on the week night to make up my hours, but I can meet after 9pm.   There is no real flexibility in this schedule.  It is planned months in advance.  Please don’t ditch me at the last minute, my free time is precious, and please understand that I can’t just drop everything because you saw some tickets on lastminute.com.  I am really sorry, but that is just the way it is.

3.  Remember that time is really precious to me.

My time with my son is golden.  I don’t get enough of it.  My free time is golden.  I don’t get enough of that either.  My work time is also pretty valuable.  I never have enough time to achieve all I need to achieve at work.  Night time is precious.  I certainly don’t get enough sleep.  I hope that my time with you will be golden too.  I probably won’t have enough time with you.  Let’s make the most of the time that we do have together.

4.  Sometimes you will have to remind me that you have needs too.

I am wrapped up in my son and caring for both of us.  It is a logistical and oftentimes emotional challenge.  We get through.  Sometimes, and I apologise for this, you are probably going to have to remind me that you have needs too. 

I’m sorry, please bear with me, but don’t say I haven’t warned you.  Don’t date a single mother! 

  

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64 Comments

  1. November 25, 2015 / 6:10 pm

    I’m always intrigued by single parents who date, because dating has been entirely off the table for me in the time that I’ve been a mother. The first 5 years, I was married, and for the last 4 I have absolutely. no. desire to date. None. Part of it is all the things that you state above, except that I’m not really open to introducing new father figures into the children’s lives beyond those they have through their friends and mine. The other part of it, though, is that I don’t think I’m built for romantic relationships. I don’t much care for sex and every other thing a boyfriend could give me I already have in my wonderful friends.

    Thanks for being so open and honest in this post. And thanks for sharing it with #TwinklyTuesday!
    Sadia recently posted…Twinkly Tuesday, November 24, 2015My Profile

    • November 25, 2015 / 8:14 pm

      Interesting to read this Sadia – I often think that if I ever find myself single again I won’t be interested in pursuing another relationship. I’ve been divorced before but I didn’t have children at the time and I was only 29 so I pursued romance – in real life and eventually through internet dating. I can tell you that, at 44 years of age, I have enough knowledge of ‘man’kind (and particularly my dodgy choices) that I would quite happily revel in my own company for the rest of my days! I wonder about lonliness though – it’s nice to know that you have such great friends to stop that from being an issue.
      thenthefunbegan recently posted…The Truth about… #53My Profile

      • thesingleswan
        November 28, 2015 / 9:19 pm

        Hi,

        thank you. I totally agree. I would quite happily revel in my own company for the rest of my days too. I actually quite enjoy my evenings with a glass of wine and my blog. x

    • thesingleswan
      November 28, 2015 / 9:22 pm

      Hmmm, yes I know what you mean. Dating does seem like a lot of hassle. But I actually quite like the excitement of dating, the early days, before the sex, before things start to get boring. It makes me feel like a teenager again. Sometimes dates are horrendous and that’s fine too – it gives me something non baby related to talk about. thanks for your comment .

  2. November 25, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    Ooh Pen, its an absolute minefield isn’t it?! I have to say it is a bit concerning that so many men seem to be taking the news so much in their stride. I probably don’t need to say it but I would advise you to err on the side of caution – I have been there in the internet dating game and in my experience there are a lot of men out there who are only in it for the short term game. Good luck finding someone who fits the criteria – if you do then you’ll know he’s a keeper! Xx #thetruthabout
    thenthefunbegan recently posted…The Truth about… #53My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 28, 2015 / 9:20 pm

      thank you. Yes, I agree. It is a bit concerning and you are probably right. They are probably in it for the short term game, which is fair enough as long as they are honest about it so I can make an informed decision. x

  3. November 26, 2015 / 1:08 am

    My wife and I can barely manage ‘date nights’ so I can’t imagine how tough it is to arrange actual dates with people not on your schedule. Best of luck with it. I’m sure with the right person you will figure it all out.
    Thanks for linking up to #fartglitter x
    Mama, My Kid Doesn’t Poop Rainbows recently posted…Happy Loy KratongMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 28, 2015 / 9:17 pm

      Planning, planning, planning. I haven’t quite scheduled a date in for January yet, but I am not far off. x

  4. November 26, 2015 / 2:17 am

    All of this is so true! A friend of mine who is a single mother and I have had this exact same conversation! I think there are lots of great guys out there who actually get this, though. Best of luck!
    Jenny @ Unremarkable Files recently posted…Minecraft Ate My ChildrenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 28, 2015 / 9:16 pm

      thank you!

  5. November 26, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    Some years ago I went through a divorce (we had no children). I had to get back into dating and, being in my thirties, this could have been a real issue. Thing is, I was raised as a stepson, not to mention the oldest of three siblings. This, I think, gave me a different perspective and I was quite happy about potentially dating single mums. Things took a different course and it never actually happened but I was quite prepared to do it and face the challenges you mention. Although I do understand it’s all well and good for me to say that and have to deal with the reality. If I had been a single mum’s “number one” I would actually have been quite concerned. If she didn’t put the kid first well, it would say quite a bit wouldn’t it?
    JOhn Adams recently posted…Proud to be #SeriouslyAwkward. Are you?My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 28, 2015 / 9:15 pm

      Hi,

      thanks for your comment. I am glad that you would have been willing to face the challenges that dating a single mum might entail. That’s great. My concern is that many people don’t really understand the challenges that it might entail. I am not sure that many people really think about it. Thanks again.

    • thesingleswan
      November 28, 2015 / 9:11 pm

      yey, give it a go. We can share stories. x

  6. December 1, 2015 / 3:37 pm

    Great points, I’m lucky I am not single, I bet itnisnprqctically even more awkward with having a child too. I hope you find someone that makes you happy and accepts you and all X #SundayStars
    Mummy here and there recently posted…Nurofen for ChildrenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      December 4, 2015 / 9:59 pm

      thank you.

  7. December 4, 2015 / 12:22 pm

    #1 Works when you’re married as well. When my wife became pregnant (23 years ago this Xmas. Blimey…) I had to accept that I was relegated to second place. How can you have a problem with that?
    Child howling and puking in the middle of the night? I rushed in, lifted my son out of the cot – and put my back out. My wife casually stepped over me as I lay on the floor. “Welcome to the new world,” she said…
    Anyway, I’m #4 in my wife’s affections now and I wouldn’t have it any other way…
    Mark Richards recently posted…Waiting for Godot. And My Son…My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      December 4, 2015 / 9:56 pm

      Excellent. thanks for your comment. I think the difference is that before your children arrived you were #1. You are now the father to #1,2 and 3 and that makes you special. Dating a single mum you will never be number one. I guess that means that there is no transition to the relegated position which may be easier. It somehow feels different to me. thanks for your comment.

    • 2CLEAN
      December 9, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      That’s your own children that have relegated you to second place though, not another man’s seed. Completely different ballgame bro. Sacrificing yourself to raise another man’s seed, especially if the woman’s single mom status was the result of the woman’s poor choice in men, is a sucker’s deal.

      • thesingleswan
        December 10, 2015 / 8:38 pm

        Thank you for your comment and your … somewhat brutal … honesty.

  8. December 5, 2015 / 12:45 am

    I’ve been with my husband for all of my adult life (and some of my younger years too) so dating is not something I have ever done lol. I’m amazed you manage to find time to date at all but you have it all planned out so well, good luck for the future, I hope Mr Right is just around the corner for you. Thanks for linking up to #sundaystars xxx
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  9. December 30, 2015 / 10:51 pm

    i LOVE this so much!!
    this is so relevant for me right now and something I think all men need to read.

    I am always told by men that most men go for single parnts as they assume we are easy lays tut tut, like we are desperate, but in actual fact i am way more picky now i have my son to think about!

    #singleparentlinky
    Claire Jacobs recently posted…Single Parent Linky; 2015 Round UpMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 4, 2016 / 10:13 pm

      Easy lays! You must be joking. I reckon I am probably the toughest lay ever. I have my son to think about and there is no way in a million years I am making similar errors of judgement when it comes to male suitors again. And then there is the fact that my free time (ie when I am not caring for my son, working, shopping, cleaning, budgeting, blogging) probably amounts to about 22 minutes a month in 15 different blocks. Any lay who can fit into those time-slots is going to be bitterly disappointing.

      I exaggerate, but single mothers are not easy lays. Please lets end the stereotyping.

      thanks for your comment and for hosting the #singleparentlinky

  10. August 16, 2016 / 9:02 pm

    I have no issues dating divorced mothers whatsoever but I will be cautious. I just got out of a 2 year relationship with a divorced mother whom I thought was the one. I thought it was odd that her 6 year old son had no manners, talked over adults constantly, interrupted adult conversations constantly, ordered her around to get him things without saying please or thank you, he always decided where we would would eat, what we would do, wouldn’t do anything he was told unless there was a reward involved such as him getting bought a new toy, he was always hitting me up to buy him things every time I was around, everything from candy to food to movies, to toys and it never stopped. He once climbed all over a strangers car at a car show and scratched the paint (when the cars owner said something to her she defended her sons poor behavior and called the cars owner a jerk). Her son would frequently cry and throw tantrums if he could not get what he wanted. She withdrew her son from swim lessons and changed his school because she felt the teachers were “mean to him” and she didn’t like their approach. The final straw was when she stood up for her ex husband even though he was into child porn. She keep going on about how she thought he was innocent despite the overwhelming evidence against him and he was always hanging out at her place in order to see their son. He would eat the food in her fridge and sit on her couch watching tv and playing video games. I made the mistake once of saying I thought he was guilty and she called me all sorts of names (judgmental, a know it all, yelled at me, etc) thats when I said audios. I had put a lot of effort into that relationship, made her and her kid my number one priority and spent thousands on her and her son, not to mention time and emotional investment, only to be treated like that. Sorry but no one is worth that kind of treatment. It was then I realized she was in deep denial about not only their children’s behavior but also their exes and there was nothing I could do about it. They will self destruct and raise entitled/troubled kids and you can do nothing but watch and be a bystander who pays for things when its convenient for them. I guess it takes a bigger man than me.

    • thesingleswan
      August 17, 2016 / 8:41 pm

      Hi Max,

      Thank you for your long comment. I don’t usually pass judgement on other parents and how they raise their children because I have had a number of people criticise me for and my son (principally around how I made the decision to leave my ex and around how I work full time. On the latter point, I have no alternative. On the decision to leave my ex, there was of course and alternative but it was not a happy one…). Without wanting to be judgemental, I can’t help but think that your ex’s behaviour towards both her son and her ex is not right and I can understand why you are finding it difficult to come to terms with.

      I do hope however, that your experience with your now ex will not put you off dating single moms again in the future. We are not all the same. Most of us work really hard to be the very best parents that we can be and we have to work doubly hard because we shoulder more of the parenting ups and downs than many parents in a couple.

      Good luck in finding a new love.

      Best regards

      Pen

      • HumanSVD
        August 27, 2017 / 11:01 pm

        You undermine yourself by saying why men should not date single moms. You even admit to a male family member not do so. Single moms almost virtually nothing for a man seeking love. The phrase, “You’ll never be number one” translates, “You’ll never be important to me”.

        Everyone always assumes the husband must put the kids and wife above himself but rarely ever, if at all, mentions that she must put her kids and husband before herself. You can’t expect a man to put his chips in the pot with nothing in return. So why exactly are you trying to date again?

        Single moms. Men, you are warned!!

        • thesingleswan
          August 28, 2017 / 8:20 pm

          Well, thank you for your comment and for your honesty. Thankfully, I don’t think everyone shares your opinion. Pen

          • Tony
            September 18, 2017 / 11:03 pm

            THESINGLESWAN,

            I agree with everything you’ve said about childless single men dating single
            mothers. I’ve tried it three times and none of them ended well. I tried to
            accept the “Package Deal”, But I got tired of constant reminders that her
            uterus had another occupant. I made it abundantly clear that I wouldn’t
            be second best. That ended it for me. My two biggest problems were first
            Baby Daddy Drama. Invariably the ex would want to start trouble and that
            was something I don’t tolerate. Ex’s of any persuasion have their place and they
            need to keep it. And the scarcity of alone time. I understand child rearing is
            tough. I never had my own children, but dammit I have needs too. Too many
            dates cancelled at the last second and being a sounding board when the ex stirred things up.
            I came to the conclusion that I cannot and will not date single mothers. The investment yields
            way too small of a return to interest me, And I can never, ever accept or love children from
            another man. To me that’s settling for second best. Swan, many men think this way. We’re
            not wrong. We’ve a right to our preferences. Maybe I upset you with my reply. That wasn’t
            my intention. But you did open that door with this blog. In closing, dating or marrying a single mom isn’t for me. If that makes me a bad person, then so be it. At least I’m honest.

          • thesingleswan
            September 19, 2017 / 9:33 pm

            Hi Tony,

            I am not in the least bit upset by your reply. I think it is good to be honest. I know that as a mum my child will always come first. I also know that I won’t be able to have a serious relationship with a man who doesn’t understand, appreciate and support that. If you can’t accept ever being second best, then I think it is a good thing that you’ve recognised that dating a single mum is not for you.

            Like I said, I think your honesty is a good thing. If you ever do decide to date a single mum again (there are some great ones out there!) then I would encourage you to have this kind of conversation up front – it could save some heart-ache and pain down the line.

            Good luck in your dating and relationship journey.

            I won’t be asking for your number 😉

            Pen

  11. October 23, 2016 / 12:48 pm

    Dating is hard enough already – let alone adding single parenthood into it. Definitely think you’re right about things like your spare time being precious, thats something I’ve noticed so much more with having a child, everything is so planned. And never being number 1 (I even feel this way about my husband!!) Good luck with the dating, there are some great people out there, it’s just about finding someone who fits with you both!! x #kcacols
    Devon Mama recently posted…Recipe: ‘Good For You’ GranolaMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 23, 2016 / 8:27 pm

      Hi,

      thank you very much. Pen x

  12. October 23, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    A brilliant post, I have been “single” for the last 15 years since leaving my ex husband and I use the word single loosely, I have had a million dates and a couple of disastrous relationships. I have had the best fun though with a few tears, I wouldnt have changed a thing about it. I have kept it well away from my children, except for the last one, I vowed never again until they are both out of school, which they both are now and thankfully have not been effected by my last relationship, I finally feel ready to dip my toe in again… scary though
    flying solo recently posted…A Beautiful, Heartfelt Hand Written Letter From My 8 Year Old NieceMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 23, 2016 / 8:26 pm

      Hi,

      It sounds like you’ve been on a bit of a dating and relationship rollercoaster. I know what you mean about keeping the children out of it. I definitely want to keep Cygnet out of any of my relationships – that’s if I ever get that far. At the moment, I am just a serial first bad dater. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      October 23, 2016 / 8:25 pm

      x

  13. October 24, 2016 / 9:08 am

    I don’t think I’d be able to find someone online. I’m definitely too much of a wuss and occasional psycho from lack of sleep haha! #KCACOLS
    Amie recently posted…What They Wore – HalloweenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Haha, Yes I am a psycho from lack of sleep quite a lot of the time. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  14. October 24, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    This is a really thoughtful and honest post and I really enjoyed it. I think the right person for you genuinely will want to date a single mother, and they will want to work round and overcome those issues together. Thanks so much for linking with #KCACOLS. We hope you come back next week.
    Someone’s Mum (Danielle) recently posted…Printerpix Magic Mug Discount CodeMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 26, 2016 / 7:01 pm

      Hi Danielle,

      thank you! I hope you are right. Pen x

  15. October 27, 2016 / 7:33 pm

    I saw the title of this post and was really interested to see what you were going to say on the topic! And it was a great, honest read. And I think the right man will be ok with all of your points. x #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      October 27, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Thank you Madeline. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      October 28, 2016 / 7:50 pm

      Thanks! I hope you are right. Pen x

  16. October 28, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    A really interesting post as always Pen. I think once you have found the right man he will not mind one bit that he will never be number 1 because your son should rightly always come first. #KCACOLS
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    • thesingleswan
      October 28, 2016 / 7:47 pm

      Thank you Maria. I hope you are right. Pen x

  17. Swampfawkes
    November 11, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    Thank you for being honest about your limtations. All the reasons you illustrated are main reason why I cannot date single moms.

    • thesingleswan
      November 11, 2016 / 10:12 pm

      haha, you never know what will happen in life and who you will meet. Single mums are brilliant you know. Pen

  18. Jim
    February 10, 2017 / 9:37 am

    After reading this we feel blessed. My wife and I have been married 7 years we have two children together. Never in my mine will I think of leaving them! I love protecting our family! It’s simple, become a quality man or woman make good life choices cause that’s what attracts quality people and succeed in relationships if you want the best for your child mostly the family the husband will do what it takes to provide the needs, he will put himself before the wife and kids same for his wife, vice versa. that’s why single mothers will struggle in relationship because the man is not getting the appreciation he deserves by providing the needs for the family he’s not first priority. At first when you hear a single mom say my kids come first it sound good from the outside it is obvious, but for a man if he decides to married her it will be an unwise choice. A quality man is wise he will not seek single mothers he will either focuses on his own success and be alone or still be with his wife and kids. Single moms have a higher risk of having a second divorce, its a fact. But a single mom can become a great wife and mom if she chooses to change the common thinking that scars men away. After the heart breaks in dating diffrent men with low self asteam she needs to change her ways and prove herself she will be a great mom or future wife to attract good men if thats what she really wants, not because she has a kid.

    • thesingleswan
      February 11, 2017 / 8:44 pm

      thank you for your comment Jim. Congratulations on a happy relationship and thank you for sharing your story and your opinion. Pen x

  19. March 24, 2017 / 8:27 am

    A fantastically honest post. Openness and honest is so great. Especially in the world of online dating! I think the fact you’re an incredible mother will be a huge selling point to lots of potential suitors xx #blogcrush

    • thesingleswan
      March 25, 2017 / 10:03 pm

      thank you Jo. This is a lovely comment to read. Pen x

  20. March 24, 2017 / 11:13 am

    One of my good friends is really, really close to his step dad. Probably a lot closer than to his ‘real’ dad. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that at some point, his mum was dating his step dad. There are definitely some fantastic men out there who are fine about dating a single mum. #BlogCrush

    • thesingleswan
      March 25, 2017 / 10:02 pm

      Thanks Kelly, this is a lovely comment. Pen x

  21. March 29, 2017 / 12:51 pm

    Oh it must be such a tricky situation to negotiate, for all three of you (man, woman, child). I love your honesty in this post, and I really hope that things work out. When the right man comes along, these things won’t be an issue – they may take some working out at first, but he will accept every part of you (including your son and your responsibilities that come with it).

    #blogcrush
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    • thesingleswan
      March 29, 2017 / 7:12 pm

      Thank you Lucy

  22. A.G.
    April 16, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    For once, a single mother who is honest. Unfortunately, the very reasons you so honestly dispense will be the same ones why increasing numbers of single men want nothing to do with single mothers. I believe that the first course of action for single mothers looking for relationship partners should be looking for single fathers. The relationship demands wouldn’t be so asymmetrical.

    • thesingleswan
      April 16, 2017 / 9:10 pm

      Thank you for your honest comment. Pen

  23. Eddie
    July 10, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    As a widowed father of three I sympathize. Anyone I date doesn’t have to deal with an ex, but since both of my parents have passed away the in-laws are a big part of our lives and that can be even more awkward. In my experience only other single parents have been able to understand my situation.

    • thesingleswan
      July 10, 2017 / 8:54 pm

      Wow, Eddie you are a superhero. It must be really tough for all of you. I can see how only other single parents can understand your situation. Take heart though – there are some awesome single parents out there! Pen

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