In today’s world, dating a single mother is becoming far more commonplace. If you date a woman who has some age on her (meaning she’s closer to 40 than 30) who has been married or in a previous long term relationship, there’s a chance she has at least one child (maybe more). Never dated a single mother before or dating a single mother for the first time – here are some things to know:
It is unlikely she is just looking for a good-time guy
She’s too busy for just a good-time guy. With work, a child or children’s activities, taking care of a household, trying to have some semblance of a life – her time is precious to her. While she may think you are cool and a nice guy – if she feels no potential for something more serious she won’t waste time trying to make time for you. Her time and space are far too precious for that.
You need to find out early about the status of the child’s father
Don’t be afraid to show interest in the situation that is her child’s father. This does not mean you need a doctoral dissertation on their history nor should you take this as a chance to play Horatio Caine and interrogate her. You want to get an idea of how they get along and how active he is in the child’s life which leads to rule #3.
She is not looking for a replacement for her child’s father, so don’t try to act like it
This will get you in trouble. Her child has a father – regardless of how active he may be in the child’s life. She is not looking for that. One quick way to turn her off is to come in and try be something she doesn’t need. What she wants is someone who shows a real interest in her and her child. She wants someone who is going to be a positive influence for her child. Plus the last thing you want to do is to make the child’s father feel like you’re coming in and attempting to replace him in his child’s life.
Do not rush to meet her child
Make your interest known after you get to know her and she gets to know you. But do not force it. Get to know things about the child through the mother first. She will know when it is the right time for that initial meeting to happen. But the meeting must be mutual between you and her – not a one-sided interest. If she is less than anxious for you to meet the child that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, consider it one less thing that you don’t to have to be overly concerned with early in your dating. Since some children, (depending on age and maturity), have a tendency to attach themselves quickly to people and things they like – it is wise on her part to delay the meeting until you’ll have a firmer grasp on where the dating may lead.
She will not always be available when you want her
Things happen with children all the time. If you aren’t a full-time single parent you won’t fully grasp this concept. As a full-time single parent, your life is not always yours usually until your child’s bedtime. She can’t always go out and there are times where she may have to cancel plans she made with you because something came up with her child. She knows you’ll be disappointed when it happens. She’s a woman and if she cares for you she’ll find a way to make it up to you when the time is right.
Do not take her independence as a slight toward you
She is single. She is also a mother. She had no choice to be independent once it became apparent the two would be joined at the hip. It is not that she does not want to depend on you – it has just become easier for her to depend on herself particularly because while you’ll are dating you can leave at any time. She still has to be there as a mother solely depending on herself.
Do not be offended if she doesn’t want you spending the night
She is a mother. She is supposed to be interested in the perception her child has of her. She may like you a lot but it doesn’t mean she is ready for her child to see you coming out of her bedroom in the morning. Be prepared to leave in the middle of the night to go to your own house. Once (and if) you meet the child and develop a rapport, it’ll change once you’ll become more serious.
Be very careful about criticizing her parenting abilities or her child
This could be number one on the list. As a matter of fact, it could very well be the only thing you need to remember. Let’s break it down. If you’re not a single parent like her, it’s unlikely that you’ll never totally understand what she has dealt with or deals with on a daily basis. The last thing she wants is your unsolicited advice or take on her parenting ability. That is not to say she is not interested in WHAT you think – it is more about WHEN you give it to her. Chances are, if you are reading this, you have or have a had a mother. Mothers are usually incredibly protective of their children. Once you cross the line of providing insight to being what she may view as incredibly critical of her child – she might make a change and that change could be you.
Show that you are genuinely interested in her child
Even if you haven’t met her child yet, show an unprompted interest in her child. When you talk to her on the phone – ask her about how the child’s day was in school etc. If you believe nothing else, know that she is always making mental notes about you. Her child is likely the most important person in the world to her. If she thinks you are trying to get in that world – she needs to know that you understand that this a package deal and that you embrace the concept that there is no being with her without the child. But don’t be fake about it – she’ll read through that quickly and dismiss you just as fast.
It goes without saying that the older you get, it increases the chances that you’ll date someone who has a child. If you decide to make that move, it is wise to consider all the variables. You might like her – but know that her child is incredibly important to her. You won’t make it far with her if she does not feel you get with that premise.