How to date a single mom

You will probably never be first priority over her child—but she is also very capable of having a real, adult relationship that could last a lifetime


Single mothers, especially those who had their child young, like I did, often worry about what kind of man could possibly fit into their little two-person family.

We worry a lot about different things, from whether or not our future husband will fully accept our child as his own, to in-law issues and even how to go about disciplining and raising your child with a partner when you have already done it for so long on your own.

Most couples have long discussions about these things before the child actually comes, but we don’t have that option.

Two roles

My daughter is now 7  years old, and I have had a couple of relationships since I had her, but none until the one I am currently in seemed to be the perfect fit. It always felt as if I was playing two roles that were mutually exclusive—mother and girlfriend.

The thing about dating a single mother is that instantly, she is not just a girlfriend, and you will probably never be first priority over her child. At the same time, though, she is also very capable of having a real, adult and long-term relationship that could last a lifetime. Here are a few tips on dating a single mom:

Accept her child—Nothing will get you booted out faster than ignoring her child, being mean to him or her, or pretending he or she doesn’t not exist. They will always be there, because we are a package deal, which you either need to take as a whole or leave completely.  It’s hard enough for us to have to raise a kid on our own, but having to raise a boyfriend until he matures, too? Forget it!

Be understanding—There will be times when we will ignore your texts or calls or not be able to see you for days because we needs to attend to our child’s school or sickness, or maybe even just want to spend quality time with him or her. Again, don’t act like our second child and start throwing tantrums when you aren’t number one.

Be an adult—We can’t go on spontaneous trips to the beach at 4 a.m., or go on a drug binge just because “it seems like fun” at the moment. Half the time, we will want to bring our child on trips out of town to spend time with them, and because we want you to spend time with them, too. This is not to say we can’t ever be fun; it just means we know our boundaries and we can’t go overboard anymore because we have a little one to think about now.

Ask how he or she is doing—Sometimes something as seemingly small as this can really make our day better, specially if we are having a bad one. Ask us how we’re doing, if we need help with anything, or even just wash the dishes without us asking and give  us an unexpected treat like a pint of ice cream and a hug when you come visit.

Make an effort—If you are serious about us, make an effort to spend time and get to know the child that you might very well be calling your own someday. Watch DVDs with them, help them with their homework once in a while, or play games with them. It’s not just us moms whose trust you need to earn, you know!

Communicate—Talk to us. Be open about the issues you foresee in the future, about what scares you and what you worry about. We know how anxious you probably are, and it’s okay if you let us know. We will be thankful for your honesty and the not-so-easy path we have to take will be so much easier if we are constantly communicating.

If the woman you like has a child, don’t be afraid to date her, but know that there will be adjustments to be made and more patience required. On the flipside, great rewards await you, as well. Good luck!

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  • edwin

    If the man loves you, he should also love everybody that you love your family, friends and especially your kid. If he doesnt forget it. It will not work. If you still continue, that means you selected him over your kid. You are immature to raise a family

  • Erica Paredes

    In case you missed the point, this was supposed to be a light hearted article on tips to date a single mother…nothing more nothing less… but the strong reactions I have been getting leads me to believe that there are a lot of issues that society goes through re: custody of kids, inability to come up w/ solutions for civilized relationships between exes/ new boyfriends and kids etc. Im glad that regardless of your reaction. you READ my article and now you are thinking about it.

    Now for all other unrelated or serious questions, I suggest you all see a family counselor. Or for legal questions, see a lawyer. This is my last comment.

    • Mux

      Maybe a follow up article  addressing some of the issues raised, and how you handled it from your own experience would be interesting.

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