There’s absolutely nothing like sitting with my girls, sipping something enchanting and laughing about our dating faux pas. Many of us are re-entering the dating game for the first time since the insidious creation of social media, thus we have no idea how this new sh*t goes. And so we sit around like our mothers and aunties used to, talking about the good old days as they played spades and gossiped about whose old man was doing what. Those moments are equal parts uproarious laughter and “girl… can you believe he did that?,” and are completely necessary if any woman is to survive dating again in her 30s, 40s and beyond.
What I notice for sure is that the dating stories differ between my single, childless friends and those single ladies who are full-time mommies. Often the focus of dating is different, as is the energy and time put in, and of course whatever expectations there might be. Recently, I playfully told my fly single mother friends I’d create a how-to list that might relieve us of some of the foolishness we encounter while we’re out here trying to choose and get chose.
So here you go: the dos and don’ts of dating single moms. Holler of you hear me.
1. Do understand that single moms are not charity cases. Listen, some of us chose to leave our romantic situations and aren’t desperate to enter others. We’ve done it the “wrong” way (because, clearly, if our past relationship with co-parent was functional, we’d likely still be there). Some of us even made the choice to parent and remain single because we wanted to experience motherhood, but haven’t found suitable partners to make it happen with. You aren’t doing us any favors by taking us to some movie we aren’t interested in seeing, or to Applebee’s. Chill. We likely have other options and won’t hesitate to explore them if you treat us like we’re somehow less desirable because we’re mothers.
2. Don’t waste our time. Single mothers who are custodial parents likely spend most of their time earning a living that provides for them and their children, even with the best co-parent in the universe. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. We get, like, 12 of those minutes to ourselves. All that to say, we have very little free time and we want to enjoy it, so help us to curate a good experience for the both of us, or let us stay home catching up on the 15 magazines collecting dust on the floor next to our bed.
Yes, we’ll gladly forgo a wack dating experience to spend quality time with ourselves. Realize also, that we don’t live the kind of lives that our single, childless friends do, and there are limits to how spontaneous and flexible we can be with our time. Respect that and be mindful of your expectations, or choose to date women who are effortlessly available.
3. Don’t expect that every single mom you meet is looking for a husband or father for her children. But do expect that if you’re dating a woman with her mind on marriage, she might have her own set of needs and expectations from you. It’s safe to allow the woman you’re dating to tell you what she’s looking for, and if you’re listening, you might not even need to have a formal conversation about it.
Generally, single moms are straightforward in expressing what they’re looking for in a relationship, whether that’s a “good time guy” who brings spice into her busy, often monotonous days, or a man looking to settle down and be a responsible partner. Also, be honest about whether you can be what she’s looking for. If you know you’re not ready to date a woman with children, because often there are additional expectations involved, express that. We’re grownups; we can handle it.
4. Do remember that we are people too. One of the most difficult challenges of being a mother is that, after having children, people stop seeing you as a human being with human needs. Yes I am a mother, but I’m also many other things worth focusing on and speaking about, so don’t box me in. As stated earlier, our children consume our lives, so we want our time away to be time away.
That being said, make us feel desirable and sexy. As life and relationship coach Kate Anthony says here, “I don’t know of one single mom who isn't looking to have her mind blown sexually. Most of us came out of sexually dissatisfying marriages [or relationships] and are ready to play, to explore, and to totally revel in our newfound freedom and glory.” Let it be.
There are great benefits to dating single moms. We’re experienced and mature, nurturing and patient. We are decisive and are generally not needy (because who has time for that?). Help us help you experience this awesomeness and follow the rules.
Josie Pickens is an educator, cultural critic and solider of love. Follow her musings on Twitter @jonubian.