Meeting new people is tough, and it’s even harder for a parent who has to navigate both solo parenthood and trying to find a new partner.
Of course, finding a man just so they aren’t alone isn’t a priority for most solo moms! The desire to find a partner comes after they’ve figured out who they are as a person, how another father figure will fit into their children’s lives, and what they need in a partner.
But at the end of the day, meeting people as a single mom is tough. You likely have home and work responsibilities that make free time a thing of the past—plus it costs more to have a date night than just the amount of the dinner bill and taxi fare. Lining up a babysitter and even getting yourself ready can become so much of a chore that many single moms are reluctant to even enter the dating scene.
Still, there are a ton of solo moms who rock both motherhood and the dating game, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Of course, their experiences range from positively exceptional to less-than-desirable, but here are 20 solo moms’ real thoughts on what they’ve gone through dating as single parents.
Before there was a dating app for every situation and life stage, single moms had to meet people the same way as everyone else: in real life. But now, mom Taylor Murphy wrote for Stylecaster, many single mamas rely on dating apps to find a guy.
The problem is, they often spend more time swiping left than actually going on dates. Taylor explained that although as an under-30 single mom she was still looking for someone around her age, she recognized that things had changed, and her ideal guy wouldn’t be ready to settle down. Of course, that meant she had to look elsewhere for a compatible date.
One young mom wrote in to Glamour’s Ask Emily column seeking advice on dating in the modern world as a modern mama. And despite matching with plenty of available guys on dating apps, this single mama couldn’t seem to land a date. She noted that guys would “fade off” after a couple of days, and she was thinking they were likely intimidated by the fact that she has a child. She agreed that dating as a young solo parent was difficult and had trouble navigating it alone, hence the need to ask for dating advice from the all-knowing Emily.
After experiencing the birth of her twin daughters and a divorce that left her sharing custody of them, mom Sydney was nervous to date again. She wrote via Motherly that not only was dating with kids complicated, but it was made worse by the fact that she was going through a divorce. At first, she tried to separate mom-Sydney from date-night-Sydney, but it didn’t go so well. Although she admits that once she let her guard down with a great new guy, it turned out to be easier than she thought.
Writing for The Stir, mom Ashley highlighted the fact that her kids always come first—date or no date. And while some moms might be overeager when it comes to finding someone new to connect with, she explained that for her, other responsibilities were just more important. Any guy she dates, she notes, has to recognize that he’s going to be her second or maybe third priority. Her kids come first, followed by her career, which helps her support her children.
Of course, it takes a mature guy to accept and appreciate a solo mama’s priorities, so she might have to pass on some dates to find the right guy.
Mom Becky explained that while she was totally open to dating, she wrote for The Stir, she wasn’t about to bring anyone home afterward. And no matter how well the date went, she said, a guy shouldn’t expect to have any alone time after the date—after all, single moms have to go home to their kids at the end of the day. And for Becky, she wasn’t going to invite anyone around her daughter until she was either engaged or married to them first.
Of course, some relationship experts recommend not introducing your tot to your date for at least six months or longer—so Becky has the right idea.
Now Emma might be in the minority when it comes to her perspective on dating post-babies, but she wrote an entire article on Wealthy Single Mommy about why it’s better to date as a single mom. Topping that list? You already have kids, so you’re not looking for someone to have them with. And for many women, that’s a relief—even if you may opt for more babies later, you already have your brood and don’t feel the biological clock ticking so much.
There’s also the fact that women with kids are often more comfortable and confident in their own skin than childless ladies on the dating scene.
While some women may be okay with their kids meeting prospective suitors—and with older kids, sometimes their pre-approval is nice—other moms are ironclad about their meeting-the-kids rules. For example, single mom Latrice wrote for The Stir that she wasn’t about to invite just any man into her son’s life. Instead, her date wouldn’t get to meet her little guy until she determines he’s sticking around for the long haul. And further, Latrice explained, if a date asks to meet her son and she says no, that means she’s not sure about him yet—so he better put in the work first.
When Katie’s single friend suggested she start trying online dating, she thought she’d give it a try. But after a few disappointing experiences, the single mom took to Babble to write about her experiences and give other single mamas some dating tips. The bottom line? To date as a single mom these days, you’ve got to have a ton of confidence and not let things get to you. If you thought that “ghosting” was bad as a 20-something singleton, imagine what it’s like as a mom who’s spent weeks second-guessing herself and then finally pulled it together enough to shave her legs and wash her hair before a date, only to be stood up!
But Katie maintains that it’s worth it—you just have to let the negativity go and learn to get over it when people aren’t who you expected them to be.
If your ex is involved in your kids’ lives, that’s likely a good thing! But for many single moms, it’s not so easy convincing a new guy how strong that connection between the two parents is. Marianna wrote for The Stir that her new beau better understand that her child’s father will always be around, and that she’ll always have to talk to him. Clearly, many men don’t appreciate two exes co-parenting for the sake of their child, and instead get jealous and worked up over calls and texts.
As Marianna explained, guys who get jealous over the ex shouldn’t waste their time with a single mom whose kid’s dad is in their lives.
Truer words have never been spoken—at least for some single moms who feel like they’re barely keeping their heads above water. After all, trying to run a household, take care of one or more extra-needy kids, and maintain a job takes up a lot of energy. And as single mom Stephanie wrote for Washington Post, at first, dating reenergized her. But after a whirlwind of dates that went nowhere, she found herself falling for a guy who didn’t seem to understand her responsibilities at home. That led Stephanie to admit that although she wanted to date, she simply couldn’t—she had too many other things to worry about rather than a potential partner’s feelings and needs.
All women will admit this one, but it’s particularly true for single moms: game playing and drama are better left off the menu. Single mom Patti wrote that she used to spend months wondering if a guy was into her and playing into all his silly games. But now that she has a child, she realizes when it’s time to pull the plug—and does so without question.
There’s always been drama on the dating scene, but mature single moms don’t have the patience or the interest for letting a guy give them the runaround. Besides, their kids take up too much of their energy for them to spend any of it worrying over a guy.
Mom Annie has clearly experienced too many guys who were either overeager to become “daddy” or who were turned off by being involved in a kid’s life, period. She explained that “Believe it or not, I’m not looking for a father for my kid.” And her statement rings true for many single moms: in most cases, kids already have a dad, and mom isn’t looking to replace him.
But many guys on the dating scene—particularly ones who are yet childless—don’t realize that most single women with kids are looking for a partner, not another parent for the little ones.
While plenty of single moms stress that dating as a mama is tough, others suggest that it might not be so bad. In fact, Adriana came up with a list of eight things that make dating as a single mom not so awful. Writing for Huffington Post, Adriana noted that after her 16-year marriage ended, she didn’t have high hopes. But it turned out that there were plenty of guys willing to date her—including ones her age—and that there are still chivalrous men out there who are willing to pick up the check and invest time in you as a person.
Plenty of women feel self-conscious about their bods postpartum, but mom Vanessa refuses to cater to men’s expectations. She acknowledges that guys tend to have certain ideals about young women, but that women with children are an entirely different breed. “I made a person!” Vanessa exclaims; “Don’t date me if you are expecting me to either have a perfect body or to apologize for the body I have.” Clearly, more ladies—and guys—would do well to recognize this fact and appreciate that stretch marks come with creating a life, and that it’s beautiful regardless.
One mom at P.S. I Love You was very honest when explaining what it’s like to date as a single mom. But rather than focus on what single moms should and shouldn’t do when dating, she addressed the misconceptions about single moms on the scene. She explained that it’s hard to overcome the misconceptions that single moms are just out for some fun, or that they’re interested in “raising” their boyfriend while parenting their kids. She’s had plenty of bad experiences, true, but this mom also holds nothing back when it comes to declaring what she is and isn’t interested in—something that’s bound to find her the ideal partner in the end.
Plenty of moms struggle with single parenthood at first, but mom Alaina learned to embrace it, she told Refinery29. In fact, she even started her own blog to change up the negative narrative surrounding single moms dating. And she acknowledges that not only is dating as a single mom not bad but that it can also be enjoyable.
For example, she highlights the benefit of being able to “screen” potential partners as parents. For childless folks, that’s leaving a lot up to chance if you’re wanting to have kids together down the road. Alaina noted, “People change when the baby comes,” but single moms already know what their partners are like with kids.
Mom Kaywanda was told a ton of negative things when she first started dating as a single mom. But she soon found that the negativity wasn’t based on facts. Rather, Kaywanda found plenty of guys who wanted to date her—kids or not—and she even wound up in a relationship with a guy who didn’t have kids of his own and things were great. Still, she told Refinery29, single moms can’t internalize all that negativity.
Projecting positivity is the biggest challenge: single moms need to “shift the expectations in [their] own mind and realize that people will still find [them] attractive,” Kaywanda writes.
It seems like simple advice, but it’s Anna’s honest perspective on dating as a single mom. She wrote for Refinery29 that before having her daughter, she’d been a commitment-phobe. She enjoyed getting out and dating, and she even enjoyed the post-breakup cycle of finding someone new again. But because her daughter was the result of a casual relationship, she later found herself wondering if she could find a guy to be both her partner and her daughter’s father figure.
Of course, it took her realizing that just being herself was the best way to catch the right type of guy—one-year-old daughter in tow.
While dating was carefree and fun in her earlier, pre-child years, Jayme struggled to date as a single mom. She wrote for Mommy Nearest that dating post-kids was way harder than she expected, especially when a prospective date wanted her to go out to dinner on a Wednesday night around 8pm. To childless people, that might be acceptable, but as Jayme explained, a single mom to two couldn’t make it happen. Therefore, she found that she’d need to date guys who were single parents too, so that they could better understand each other—and so she wouldn’t have to explain for the umpteenth time that she didn’t want to have more kids than the two she’s already got.
In her The Bump article about the types of guys single moms should avoid dating, Christine acknowledged that it took her three years to venture into the dating scene after her son was born. And with every guy she dated, she was silently “testing” him to make sure he was the right fit for both her and her child. After all, bringing someone new into her life meant it would affect her son, too, and she needed to know if his kids were a priority, if he even liked kids if he didn’t yet have any, and whether he cared more about his car than his lady.
Of course, she recommends ladies should avoid guys who are deadbeat dads, who are overeager to meet your kids, and those who are “party animals.”
References: Motherly, Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Babble, HuffPost, Glamour, StyleCaster, Refinery29, Mommy Nearest, The Bump, P.S. I Love You