As a reader, I tend to scoff at these types of articles. They’re very generally written, don’t take into account everyone’s personal experiences, and make a very hard thing sound so easy. So when I was researching this particular article, I decided to write it from a more personal space. Dating is hard, and dating as a single parent is even harder. Are there dating mistakes single moms make? Of course! Is following these “rules” going to end in happily ever after for most of us? Absolutely unlikely! So here are some dating “mistakes” you may make as a single mom, plus my own experience or perspective on each one. I know for me, personal anecdotes are really helpful when it comes to “self-help” type shit like this, and I hope my own spin helps you, too.
1. In my opinion, one of the biggest dating mistakes single moms make is introducing their kids to a new person too soon.
Point: Introducing your kids to a new partner (or even potential partner) raises the stakes immensely, and can end badly for you, your partner, and especially your kids.
YEP: This one I agree with, 100%. I’ve dated off and on since the end of my marriage almost two years ago, and I have never come close to being ready for my kids to enter the mix. In fact, the thought never once entered my mind. For me, that’s the BIGGEST step you can take, and I don’t play willy-nilly with my kids’ feelings. So when is the best time to make the introduction? No idea. It’s difficult, because it’s nearly impossible to determine how serious you should be about someone before you know how they mesh with your children. Personally, I wouldn’t even broach the subject unless/until we were in an exclusive relationship for SEVERAL months, and the conversations about future plans, dreams, etc. have happened.
2. Waiting too long before getting back out there.
Point: Keeping yourself off the market for too long makes it harder to start dating. If you become too accustomed to being single, being in a relationship feels uncomfortable.
Counterpoint: Nope. This one doesn’t agree with me, at all. Here’s the thing: depending on what sort of relationship you just got out of, you very well may NEED a lot of time to get yourself right before trying again. For me, leaving a toxic marriage meant I had A LOT of work to do on myself. Work that is still ongoing, to be honest. Habits needed to be unlearned, expectations needed to be adjusted, gaslighting recovery needed to happen. I needed to find me again. It took nearly 10 years for that person to disappear, and I don’t expect her to reappear overnight. What’s that saccharine saying, you have to love yourself before you can love someone else? TRITE BUT TRUE. Take as much time as you need, is my advice.
3. Next up in dating mistakes single moms make: feeling guilty about dating again.
Point: Some moms feel guilt over dating after the end of their marriage and relationship. Maybe as it relates to their hang-ups about their last relationship, maybe as it relates to their kids. We need to get over that.
YEP: Get over it, moms. Which is WAY easier said than done. And honestly, it’s something I’m still very much working on. So much of parenthood is wrapped up in feeling guilty: guilt over working outside the home, guilt over what you can’t provide, etc. Yes, we’re moms. But we’re also human, and we want love and affection and attention, too. Don’t feel bad for one second when you’re trying to meet YOUR OWN needs. Happy moms mean happy kids.