Dating a single mother isn’t always easy. But the answer to your question (should I date a single mom) depends upon you. What you value, and what you are looking for in your relationship. There isn’t just one answer (like YES or NO) for everyone.
To make the decision, it helps to understand a bit about single moms
There’s no one kind of ‘single mom.’ Single moms come in all shapes, colors, and ages. What the single mother experience is like depends heavily upon the woman’s age, support from the father and her family, and her financial situation.
When a single mom has a good job, support from the child (or children’s) father, and is otherwise stable, dating her in the beginning won’t be too much different from dating any other woman. You might have to do more schedule shuffling to get a good day/night to meet up, but if she has a stable schedule and help with the kids, it shouldn’t be too hard for her to make time to spend with you. She’ll be able to get child care coverage, and she’ll be able to meet you to do just about anything you want (though she might avoid staying out overnight).
If the single mom you are considering is stable (financially and emotionally), then initially you shouldn’t have too many qualms about going out with her. Oh, yes, of course, if you both really like each other and want to move the relationship forward to where she introduces you to her children, then things get a lot more complicated.
But in general, a stable single mom has a lot more emotional bandwidth for you and your needs, though not nearly as much as a woman without children.
However, if the single mom you are considering has one or more children, but very little in the way of support, you need to know more about her. A single mom without stability or support is in the fight of her life, for her life. Her children are her life, and every day, she is getting up and going to battle for them.
Given the effort of the daily battle, there is going to be a lot less room for YOU in there, in her head and in her heart, because so much of her life is tied up in making life happen on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t mean that a single mom can’t have a solid, loving relationship. Not at all. But it does mean that you and she will have to come to terms with her availability, in both time, space, and her heart.
Single Moms have more responsibilities
Yes, they do. And this comes back to the first statement in this post. You have to know what is important to you. If you are a person who loves freedom, worships spontaneity, hates schedules, wants to do what you want, when you want, and doesn’t want to be tied down…..dating a single mother isn’t going to be for you.
While some families are able to live free and easy, most families find that a schedule and routine are the best lifestyles for children. If you have never had a child, you don’t know the pain of getting into a solid routine and then getting out of it, whether for a special event, due to illness, or for fun.
You may find yourself frustrated when your single mother turns down your generous offer of tickets to a music festival, because she doesn’t want to be away from her children to travel to the event. Or you may not feel like you are a priority, when she chooses to stay home with a sick child instead of having her mom (the child’s grandmother) can and baby sit.
You may feel like you are somewhere near the bottom of what your potential woman is thinking of, far below the children and her job. This is the truth whether your potential mate is has a stable life or not.
The kids are part of the mother’s life, and you fall in love with them too
At some point, if you continue to see a mother, you are going to meet the children. I don’t know how long this will take. Sometimes, she might want ot introduce you to them quickly. In other cases, she may wait months or even years. But eventually, you’ll meet the kids.
This can be wonderful for you, or terrible. Some of this is dependent upon the age of the children, and also the involvement and/or influence of the biological father. If the children are older, they may welcome your involvement with their mother, or they may hate your guts, and may not hesitate to tell you about it.
Younger children tend to be ignorant of the currents of the relationship between you and their mother. They are completely self-centered. They only think of themselves and how they relate to you. In some cases, they may grow very attached to you very quickly, not necessarily as a father figure but as an adult who is nice to them and cares about them.
What can happen is that the children fall in love with you.
And you may fall in love with them too.
If you love those children, you are in a tough place. Your relationship with them will not change, ebb and flow, the way your relationship with their mom does. If the adults are struggling, their love for the children doesn’t change, it doesn’t lessen.
If you fall in love with those children and you break up with their mom, your love and relationships with them are over. Just like that. It can be very abrupt, like a small death. It is hard for the children, and hard for you.
The children are one of the reasons why I don’t always recommend that you jump into a relationship with a single mom. Not because I think the children will make the relationship hard, or that they’ll reduce your enjoyment of their mother.
Instead, I worry that the children will enhance the relationship so dramatically that you will find yourself unwilling to leave that relationship, or even unable to, despite the fact that the relationship has run its course. The end of the relationship is traumatic enough, and would be compounded even further by the loss of other love, and not because the relationship has run its course at all, or because it was ready and time for it to end.
I think breaking up with kids that you love is 10x harder than breaking up with an adult who you love or used to love.
Mother’s prior relationships can sour your experience
When you take on a single mom, you also take on the potential that some of her past relationships (such as biological fathers or ex-husbands) won’t take kindly to your involvement with her, or with the children.
A new boyfriend is competition for the affections of the children, and jealousy can result. New relationships can sour the working relationship between the biological parents, even though the new boyfriend has no intention of trying to disturb or harm anything.
I can’t say this will be the case in every situation. But just know that you may find negativity or even hostile actions coming from the corner of the children’s father.
You may not be in the same place in life (as far as marriage and children)
A single mom may have already been married, and she already has a child or even a few children. If you are a man thinking that you want to settle down with someone, and have a family, your single mom may not be the one for you. She may be completely over marriage or traditional relationships. And she may not want to have any more children, as the ones she has are enough.
On the other hand, she may be open to getting married, perhaps for the first time, or again. After all, she’s been through at least one major relationship, and has learned tons from it (we all learn from our failures).
If you want to get married, or have biological children of your own, the relationship may not get very far very fast, and you should approach this subject early on if it is important to you.
Single moms have a lot of baggage
A single mom has to carry a lot of baggage with her. Kids are a huge burden and drain on her, and on your relationship with her.
She brings valuable experience to the table, but also vulnerabilities and fears.
To be with a single mom, you need to be prepared to maybe go slowly, and work through past baggage, past hurts. You may have to work harder than you ever had at a relationship, with someone who doesn’t really have as much time for you as you’d like.
But if connect, and find a way to overcome the past, and your conflicts, dating a single mom can be joyous and wonderful, just like any other relationship.
Should you go on a date with a single mom?
Should you date a single mom?
Only if you are the courageous sort. The kind of person who wants a challenge, likes a challenge, and isn’t intimidated. If you aren’t afraid to work for your relationship, and aren’t afraid of loving the woman and the children who come with her.
And only if you are prepared to be a parent, even if it is only part-time and a step-parent situation, or in brief moments here and there. Even if the mother takes on almost all of the parenting duties while you and she are together, there will come a time when you will be called to guide them, direct them, manage them, care for them, just as she would.
If you answered no to any or all of these questions, then no, you should not ask out a single mom for a date.
But otherwise….why not?
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the screen when the kids are occupied. She can be reached through the Contact Us page.