A few years back when I was a single mother, fresh on the dating scene, a guy told me “…you’d be really hot if you weren’t a mom.” To which I thought, you’d be really hot if you weren’t...not. His statement didn’t warrant a response of any kind from me, except an exaggerated eye roll. I don’t recall what the guy who said it looked like, or even his name (obviously because he wasn’t worth committing to memory), but it did get me thinking. Being a mother isn’t something that I keep hidden or have ever been ashamed of; so why was this guy acting like it was a character flaw?
After expending too much time and energy thinking about this, I realized the flaw was not with me, but with him. Some guys just aren’t cut out to date a single mom. And that’s ok! We don’t have time to separate the boys from the men anyways, so if they excuse themselves from the equation, it merely does us all a favor.
But let’s be honest, dating is hard enough, never mind once you’ve been out of the scene for a while. I know jumping back in hit me like a tequila hangover on a Sunday morning. Millennial mommies reentering the scene have to make sure their social accounts are up to date; this means posting pics where you put some effort into your appearance (mom-ponies and “I-woke-up-like-this” face don’t count). You need to get current on the latest internet slang (IRL, IMO.. Bae?... dafuq are people even saying these days?!) Yea, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. But not to despair. Dating and meeting someone new can be super exciting and totally worth it! And even if he is paying, just make sure he’s worth the time and energy first.
Finding Mr. Perfect doesn't happen overnight, so don't expect it to! Unfortunately, in real life, your knight in shining armor won't be wearing, well, armor. Or a cape. Or ride up on a white steed. Or show up in a limo at your door (a la Pretty Woman). Point being, you'll have to dig a little harder to find him.
Defining exactly what to look for is nearly impossible; however, defining what NOT to look for is a heck of a lot easier. Use common sense and stay away from guys who have a rap sheet longer than your child's Christmas list... or how about any rap sheet, for that matter. Just keep your eyes open, be smart, and follow your gut. Some of the less obvious clues are much harder to spot, but are just as much cause to turn and head the other direction.
If you catch yourself with one of these guys, run. They are NOT ready to date a single mom and ain't nobody got time for that. Get on your Nikes ladies and listen up.
1. He Only Wants You
I once dated a guy who told me that he was dating me, not my son. Wrong. As a single mother, I come as a set, a pair, a duo. You should fully expect any man that you date to show your kid(s) the exact same respect that he shows you. And if he isn’t ready to date all of you, then he can date none of you. Period. A single mom is a WE, not a ME.
2. He Starts Bad-Mouthing
Do you remember being in middle school and talking about how annoying your brother was? Ugh, he’s so stupid and his feet smell like rotting raccoons. And then your friends start chiming in and suddenly you find yourself on the defensive. I can talk about my brother, but no one else is allowed to! The same rules apply to your child’s father. I don’t care what you say about him. No good man will blindly enter the relationship and speak ill of a person they have never met. Be wary of someone who does. Remember, just because you despise your baby daddy, that doesn’t mean your kiddo does. And for their sake (as well as yours), you do not need that negativity surrounding the relationship.
3. He Wants to Know When, When, When
If you are dating someone who is turning up the heat on wanting to meet your kids, either he’s secretly Santa Claus or he needs to cool it and back off. I’m guessing it is probably the latter. You are the only person who can make the determination of when that next step should happen. It’s a really big deal! Don’t let anyone rush you. Not even Mr. Kris Kringle. Relationships can still be very serious, even in the pre-meeting-kids phase. And on that same note, any man who asks how much you’re getting for child support is probably a life-sucking leech. Unless wedding bells are in your immediate future, that is NONE of his business. Run!
4. He Refuses to be Flexible
No, this does not mean you should date an acrobat. Unless your Prince Charming is Robin Hood, leave the tights at home. Being flexible means you need a man who has a lifestyle that is congruent with dating a single mommy. Kiddo gets sick? Dinner for two turns into pizza and a movie for three. Babysitter cancels? It’s ok, we can all go mini golfing instead. A man who dates a single mom needs to know that she is the back-up plan. If he isn’t willing to shift his schedule to accommodate these small, common occurrences, he isn’t worth your time. It will never work in the long-run anyways. Been there, done that. Trust me.
5. He isn’t OK Coming in Second
Your new man must realize that he is competing with a child who is accustomed to having your undivided attention. This means there will be a power struggle at first. And even if you have a little angel, be prepared for Dennis the Menace to make an appearance (keep his car keys out of reach unless you really enjoy playing hide-and-seek). Your little one needs to know they are still your numero uno, so if your new guy seems jealous of the attention you give your kid(s), he may be a little too needy for the independent women you are.
Now that we have the red flags out of the way, I thought it might be helpful to hear firsthand (from a guy’s perspective) on what he thinks are important aspects of dating a single mom. So…I asked my five-year-old. Listen up guys! Here are Keylen’s rules for dating his mommy (and yes, even though I am dating his dad, he still holds him to these as well). In his own words:
1. Don’t ever throw sand in her eyes
2. Don’t fart on her, especially under the covers
3. Don’t sleep on her side of the bed
4. Don’t say you are the #1 babe. I am always mommy’s #1 babe.
5. If you go on a date, make sure the babysitter knows how to turn Netflix on first
Single moms run their own homes, pay their own bills, have successful careers, and look after themselves AND their kids… dating should be a piece of cake. But it's definitely tougher that that. Be diligent, be open-minded, be smart, follow your intuition, and most importantly, never let a man treat you like a cheap funnel cake when you deserve decadent red velvet cake.