I am a single mother. I use a couple of dating apps – Tinder 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.
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!