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Not very many people plan on being a single mom. We say not very many people because yes, there are moms who start out as single moms and they are amazing! But for many of us, single motherhood was not in the cards. We met someone, we fell in love, maybe we got married. Had a kid or two, maybe three or four. Things were going great. Then suddenly, they weren't. The bottom fell out, as it it wont to do. And suddenly, we're of a certain age with some kids and single. Do you have any idea how scary that is?! It's terrifying. The idea of starting over, at our age, WITH KIDS, is enough to turn any single mama into a hermit. But we want love! We want it all, OK? So we date. Well, we attempt to date. Turns out, dating as a single mom is about as easy as anything having to do with being a single mom.
There is just so much more to consider now that we have kids. We can't just hit the bar and look for cute guys to pick up! OK, maybe we can do that, but like, not on a school night. Or every other weekend. We can't bring hook-ups home. We can't spend a full Sunday strolling through local farmer's markets. Our bodies are not what they were 10+ years ago. They're BETTER, in our opinion, stretch marks and all. But we're not winning any lingerie contests, is what we're saying. The bags under our eyes could fill the bra we no longer fill with our actual boobs. And we have little people to look after, who rely on us for everything. It's hard out there for a single mom. How hard, you ask? Well, these are some of the most common fears single moms have when they re-enter the dating world.
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Actual footage of us at the gym! But seriously, who has time to get all fit and fabulous when you accidentally joined the PTA and they actually want you to do stuff? Our bodies are a wonderland, we know this. Deep down, we know this! But we also know that not everyone will see our stretch marks and post-nursing gym-sock-filled-with-wet-sand boobs in quite the same light. It's so hard to get comfortable in these new bodies with partners who have been there through it all. With someone new? Positively petrifying. Dating as a single mom means showing it all, even the not so great stuff. And it's hard to get comfortable with that.
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So many single moms struggle with finding and meeting new people. Most of our friends are coupled. We don't have time to actually go out. Do you dare hit on that possibly-single mom or dad at the school function?! That's what is so scary about this whole business. Yes, we may want to meet new people and possibly find someone to date. But we can't shit where we eat, if you catch our drift. School is out. Target is out, lest you meet someone and it goes terribly and then you run into them again. Work? Forget it, HR fires people for that. Where are all the eligible single people?!
Listen, we get that online dating is "the future" or whatever. But have you ever actually used Tinder? Or OKCupid? Match? Or any of the other dating sites and apps? It's ... not great. You can pretty much count on a couple of things happening. You'll state VERY CLEARLY in your profile that you have kids and then get a bunch of guys who message you and say they don't date moms. You'll get some dick pics, that's par for the course. And then you'll get the people who apparently LOVE dating single moms but get super mad when you're not available for drinks at 11 p.m. on a school night. It's great!
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And it is exciting! Until you really consider the possibilities. The odds of you finding the right person the first time out the gate are slim to none. That means you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or princess! And for someone coming out of a relationship, that can be a scary thing to do. If you're coming off a particularly bad breakup, you have some stuff to work through. That's not easy to do when you also have to help your kids process it all. The idea of doing it all over again, only to be hurt again? Not something many of us want to gamble on.
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There is nothing wrong with not wanting to date right after the end of your relationship. And actually, it's probably a good idea to take some time. You're processing a lot, and adjusting to this new life. And your kids need you as they process and adjust to everything, too. Does that mean the fear of dating or the lack of desire to date will keep you single forever? No. Eventually, when the time is right, you'll want to get back out there. But it's totally normal to be scared out of your mind in the beginning (and even after you're ready).
That's one of the scariest parts about dating as a single mom: trying to find the right guy. When you're single, you look for someone you're compatible with, someone you share interests with. But as a single mom, you have to do that PLUS consider how this person would vibe with your kids. Obviously, not every person you date is worthy of meeting your kids. But you still have to consider the possibility! Let's say you find someone who you get along with really well, and things are going great, and then you find out they don't like something that's a HUGE part of your kids' lives. Thank you, next! Not going to work.
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Oh boy. This is the one thing that keeps so many single moms off the market. How can you possibly know if this is the one you want to introduce?! How do you know if your kids will like them, and vice versa? And how to you even make that introduction? Short answers: you can't, you don't, and who knows. It's one thing to introduce your new person to friends and family. It's a whole 'nother thing to grant them the honor of meeting your children. Because one you do it, you can't undo it! And it's a complete game-changer.
You barely have time to take a shower and eat a proper meal. So where the hell are you supposed to find the time to meet someone, get to know them, go on fun dates, and see where things go? It's a fear a lot of single moms have: never having the time to date, even if they wanted to. Between the kids and their stuff and work and home life, you are pulled in a million different directions. It can totally seem like dating just doesn't fit into your life, and it might not! Not right now. There are only so many hours in a day, and your kids and motherhood and life takes up so many of them.
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It's actually terrifying to imagine that you will never find someone who not only understands your crazy life, but also doesn't hold it against you. It can help to find another single parent to date. But then you run the risk of neither of you ever having any time at all. It can feel impossible and overwhelming, which is why so many single moms just don't do it. To go through all that trouble only to have someone tell you it isn't going to work because your priorities are too different? THE NERVE. Your kids will always be your priority, and it takes a special person to see that.
The idea of taking your clothes off in front of a virtual stranger and having sex with someone new makes us want to vomit. Sure, you took your clothes off in front of PLENTY of strangers before you got married (no judging). But after years of the same person, opening yourself up to that kind of intimacy with someone new is terrifying. Has sex changed? Do you even do it right anymore? It's a whole new world! New can be very exciting. But new can also be the worst. No one likes change! Especially the kind of change that requires you to be naked and vulnerable.
And dating as a single mom means you totally have a backstory! Your kids didn't show up through immaculate conception. Whether it's your divorce story or your breakup story or your "I wanted to be a single mom" story, you're going to have to spill the beans. And you want to be as honest as possible, even with the stuff where you don't look so good. That's a tough conversation (or couple of conversations). It's scary to think that someone would decide you weren't worth the risk after finding out what got you where you are. That fear keeps us a lot of us at home with Netflix and no chill.
Listen, we all do it. Compare the new person to the old person. It's human nature! The good and the bad, we keep a tally. But we can also get hung-up on stuff from previous relationships, and that can hold us back. We're scared of falling for the same type, or scared of not meeting the same type. But every person is different, and every relationship is different. It will have the good and the bad, and we just have to get over the fear of the goods not being good enough and the bads being worse than the last time.
Oooooooh boy, this is a doozy. One of the biggest fears a lot of single moms have. Because let's be honest, we can't afford to make the same mistakes again! We've got kids to think of, and we have to protect them at all costs. This is one of those times when waiting until you're REALLY ready can be helpful. And therapy. Lots of therapy. Even if your marriage or relationship ended because of something your ex did, there may still be lessons there for you to learn. Learning them before making the same mistakes is key and can save you a lot of heartache.
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Isn't this a fear everyone has all the time, in regards to everything? No? Just us? Oh. Listen, no one wants to be rejected, especially after putting yourself out there! But you have to remember, it's probably not going to hit just right the very first time. The odds of that are slim to none. You have to meet some people, reject some, be rejected by some. A thick skin helps, and a good sense of humor about it all. But still, the sting of that first rejection can take a while to get over, and it's a fear that so many of us have.
You have to have boundaries when it comes to dating as a single mom. And you have to be clear about those boundaries up front. There are just some things that don't fly when you've got kids! Also, you don't have time to play games, so make sure your expectations and needs are well-known from the get-go. It all sounds well and good, but man is it scary to advocate for ourselves sometimes, right? You don't want to come off as a bitch, but you also don't want to be a pushover or be forced into a situation you're not comfortable with.
If we had a dollar for every guy who felt the need to say he wasn't looking to be anyone's father, we'd have enough to take ourselves out on a date and skip the middle man. Who even said that was an option?! It's like people don't understand that parents don't need to be married or together in order to co-parent their kids! It feels like this is hang-up a lot of people have when dating a single mom. And then it becomes a hang-up when you're dating AS a single mom. We're not looking to replace our kids' parent. We're just looking to hopefully fill their side of the bed some nights.
Dating as a single mom is scary. And hard. And fun! Sometimes. If you're newly single and aren't ready yet, take your time. If you've been at this a while, we hope it's going well. Either way, don't let these fears hold you back from getting yours.