real life

Here's some advice on dating single mothers. Listen and learn.

This one’s for the single mums.

By NeTeah Hatchett

There seem to be several perks when it comes to dating a woman with kid(s). One of the major perks being that you have the opportunity to see firsthand the type of mother she would be to your future children. The other perk being that you can almost guarantee that a house with kids in it, is guaranteed to have snacks on demand at all times. And depending on how you look at it, there may also be some “downsides” when it comes to dating a mum, let alone a single mum.

For most men, dating a single mum can be quite a difficult task. And I’ll be the first to say… I get it. Now I do want to clarify that there is a major difference between being a single mum and being a mum that just happens to be single. All too often, I see women using this term interchangeably and they are most definitely not one in the same, by any means. In my opinion, being a single mother has absolutely nothing to do with one’s marital status. Heck, there are married women out there that consider themselves single mums within their own household because they assume the majority of the responsibility for their kids.

The difference between a single mum and a mum who happens to be single, is that a single mum has the sole responsibilities of raising a child on their own, whereas a mum who happens to be single, could be a mum who is single but in an equal and successful co-parenting situation; so now that we have that clarification out of the way, let’s proceed.

Let me just say that as a woman, dating without kids was a headache, as I can imagine is the same for men, but dating with a child has proven to be even more difficult and I can provide several reasons why. And let me just be clear, that these are based on MY experiences and obviously not reflective of EVERY single mum out there.

1. The Sitter Struggle

Being a single parent sometimes means having to schedule a night out several weeks in advance and hope that your sitter remembers that they agreed to watch your child when the time actually comes. Whether it be a night out with her friends, or a surprise trip planned by her significant other, one of the major downsides of dating a single mum is that it definitely limits the opportunities for spontaneity in many aspects of life. So unless she has babysitter options at her beck and call, one thing a guy has to realise, is that she may not always be able to drop everything and meet up for a drink after work or grab a bite to eat at the spur of the moment.

2. The Fill-In

Single mothers have a lot of their plate – don’t expect to be the most important thing in her life.

Now while this may vary by situation and female, there are many single mums who date to not only find a potential long-term mate for themselves, but also to find a suitable male role model/stepfather to their child(ren). There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to dating a single mum in this aspect, because if you aren’t up for the role of stepping in and picking up where someone left off, it can cause quite a headache down the road.

For a man to step in and assume the role of an absent parent takes a lot, and not men all equipped or ready for that type of responsibility, and that is perfectly fine. Granted it may not always be mandatory that you fill the role of the absentee father, but with some single mums, it can actually be a requirement or expectation if you plan to be with her long-term.

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Now obviously, this isn’t a discussion that comes after the first 2 or 3 dates, however it’s definitely something that should be a topic of conversation at some point in time; determining the (future) expectations, as far as the child(ren) are concerned.

3. My Time… Not Yours

One of the major obstacles that I’ve faced being a single mum and dating is that many guys don’t understand how much time it takes to be a parent. Now women may be lucky enough to come across a guy with a child(ren) of his own who understands this, but more often than not, many men without kids don’t understand that raising a child actually takes time. She may not be able to sit and have long, endless conversations with you while her child is awake, as her child should/will always come first.

Guys also sometimes tend to get annoyed hearing a child constantly talking or asking questions in the background. She may very well miss a call or three because she’s helping her kids with their homework, or getting them ready for bed. Understand that and accept that she’s a mum first. If the woman you’re dating is an active parent (which you should hope that she is), this is just something that comes with the territory. Respect it or move on.

4. Meeting Day

This really isn’t as much of an issue as the factors I’ve named above; however, it sometimes can become a touchy subject. There are the guys who would be fine with not meeting her child until she’s meeting him at the altar, and then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those men who want to set up play dates after the first date/encounter.

At the end of the day, there should be no pressure from either party. When both of you are comfortable enough to introduce the child to one another, is the time that the meeting should occur. Ladies shouldn’t force it and guys shouldn’t run from it. If you’re dating a woman with a child, be aware that at some point in time, the day is going to come that you’ll be introduced. And again, this is another conversation that is always nice to have to make sure that you are both moving forward in the same direction.

More or less, dating can obviously be tough enough for a man, but dating a single mum takes a special kind of man. One who’s willing to take the time and energy to acknowledge and understand that he may not be the centre of her universe. One who respects that her lifestyle and priorities may differ from that of another woman, or even from his own. It takes not only a special kind of man, but it also takes a woman who is willing and able to take on the balance and responsibility of being both a partner and a parent. At the end of the day, expectations of the situation should be discussed to ensure that you both are on the same page.

The best piece of advice that I can leave you with….is to simply be understanding and be patient. Those are pretty much the keys to dating any woman, but especially when dating a single mother. Take heed.

This article was originally published on The Good Men Project and is republished here with full permission. 

NeTeah Hatchett is a 26-year-old Ohio native with a BA in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati. She has blogged on various topics on several websites and was also an online radio show host that was featured weekly on thepulse-radio.com, which focused on dating, relationships and sexuality amongst women in the 21st century.

So, have you ever been there?

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