Before I had my son, I worried a lot about dating as a single mom by choice. Would I ever have time to go out and meet new people? Would my single-mom status be a total turnoff to men? What man in his right mind would date someone with so much baggage? These are all totally normal worries to have about being a single mom and dating.
But dating as a single parent isn't as miserable as I expected it to be. In fact, in many ways, it’s better than it was before! Being a single parent by choice actually helps me navigate the dating world better than I did prior to motherhood.
Even if you think your body is a wreck and you haven't been on a date in 15 years, there's someone out there who will love everything about you and fit perfectly into your family. The process of finding him or her might not always be easy...but hey, dating isn't easy for anyone, single parent or not!
So to help you see that dating with children isn’t as bad as you might think, here are 12 benefits of dating as a single mom.
1. You’re clear about what you want and what you don’t have time for.
Parenthood is a hard job even for two people--so as a single mom, you're understandably going to be a busy woman! And childcare is too expensive to get a babysitter all the time.
The silver lining here is that you’re going to be incredibly picky about how you spend any of your valuable spare time. You know time is precious, so you cut to the chase in all areas of life.
The same is true when it comes to dating. You simply don’t have time for a man who doesn’t make you feel amazing and enhance your life.
In my case, being a mom has given me a greater sense of purpose as well. I know who I am and what’s important to me. I’m clearer than ever on what kind of person is good for me and what qualities I want.
When you're dating as a single parent, you have this great intuition that guides you. You pick up on all sorts of clues and details that tell you whether your date is ‘in’ or ‘out’. You know what you want, and you’re not willing to waste your time on anything (or anyone) that isn’t it.
2. You’re not looking for a baby daddy.
It wasn’t until I decided to have a baby by myself that I realised I’d been subconsciously dating in order to find the father of my child.
That’s a tall order! No one was good enough. I held men up to an impossibly high standard and rejected them all for not checking every single box.
It might sound backwards, but now that I have a child, I can date for myself! It’s liberating, much more fun, and opens me up to people I might not previously have considered. I can relax and see where it goes without the intense pressure.
Granted, if it goes well, I’m open to having a partner who is interested in co-parenting, getting married, and adopting my son as their own, so evaluating someone’s parenting potential isn’t completely irrelevant. And for some, the constant, draining, often times lonely nature of raising a child alone, makes them yearn for a partner even more. But the bottom line is that once you have a baby alone, you don’t need a partner to have a baby. You can date men because they make you happy, because they’re good in bed, because they make you laugh, because they are amazing with your child, whatever.
3. You’re better at screening out the duds in online dating
Online dating is an art perfected by single moms. Again, because your time is precious, you don’t find yourself spending hours browsing dating sites or Tinder. Why? Because you don't need to!
You get quick at separating wheat from chaff. You hone your skill of cutting to the chase in conversations. You might even make a list of "must-have" requirements necessary for you to even start chatting with someone (e.g. has a child of their own, doesn’t smoke, etc.).
4. You’re forced to get to know potential romantic interests properly first
You may be quick at the initial vetting, but as a single mom, you’re forced to take the actual dating process as slowly as it deserves. It’s not easy (or cheap or fun) to stay out all night when you have to find a babysitter and get up to do the school run the next day
Plus, "adult sleepovers" aren’t really feasible (or fair on your child). This forces you to get close to your love interest on an emotional level before things get too physical. It may be a bit old-fashioned, but it’s a strong way to start a relationship.
5. Men find moms attractive
You might think having a kid will stop men from finding you attractive. Kids are off-putting to men, right? No one wants to date a single mom. They either want no kids in the picture or one of their own. Right?
I’ve actually found the opposite to be true. I assumed any men I tried to date would run away as soon as I told them about my son, but some men find me sexier because I’m a mom. They see how much I love my son and want some of that for themselves! One guy told me that seeing a woman with a baby ignites an instinct in him--it’s an instant turn-on.
Besides that, being a mom makes you more confident, loving, and experienced: all qualities which make you more attractive to anyone.
6. You don’t waste time with idiots
I don’t know about you, but I used to stay with guys who clearly weren’t right for me because they were sexy or funny or the bad boy. They were silly reasons, and I wasted a lot of time compromising my real values instead of finding a truly compatible partner.
Nowadays, I don’t have the time to waste on men who aren’t right for me or who don’t treat me well. Not only does this save me a lot of time; it also makes me feel great about respecting myself.
7. Dating isn’t as stressful
Since it’s no longer the be-all-and-end-all, the ordinary little frustrations of dating don't get to me as much.
So he hasn’t called? It’s much harder to obsess (though not impossible). I have plenty to be getting on with that's not checking my phone ten times a minute.
What did he mean by that text? Who cares. I don’t have time to spend analysing his every word.
Ultimately, these days, I’m the one calling the shots. I’m decisive, harder to pin down, and more in control of my dating life. I'm not interested in games. If he’s not serious about making me a priority, he’s gone.
8. Breakups don’t hurt as much
Likewise, many single mothers who are dating say they now get over guys faster than they did before. They don’t have time to get in a funk if it doesn’t work out with someone. They have a child to look after, so they hunker down and get on with it. A lot of breakup advice revolves around finding a way to distract yourself, and single moms have that built-in!
Tantrums, potty training, and playdates keep single moms grounded in the here and now, instead of wallowing in the past and fantasizing over what could have been.
9. Dating isn’t as important anymore
Especially as you started getting older and felt like time was running out, you might have found yourself obsessing over finding the right partner. When you’re constantly on the lookout for the perfect guy, it can take over your life and suck all the fun out. True story: in the past, I might even have chosen a class based on which one might have the highest male:female ratio...
These days, I can just switch off and relax. When I'm on a date, I no longer look across the dinner table and ask myself whether or not this is the man of my dreams. I just see if we have fun or if he makes me laugh or feel good. A date is no longer a potentially life-changing event; it’s just a date, as it should be.
10. You weed out anyone who’s not serious quickly
When you're dating with kids, have a baby, or are a single pregnant mom, any guy who just wants a bit of fun probably isn’t going to stick around for very long. You won't have to guess if a guy is caring or family-oriented, because he'll have to show it through his actions and choices.
Dating a woman with a baby or child isn’t so much about long candlelit meals and spontaneous weekends away. You’re more likely to be faced with car sickness, dirty nappies, and sleep deprivation. If that doesn’t weed out the commitment-phobes, nothing will.
11. You don’t feel like you’re missing something
If you’re single at an older age without children and all your friends are married with kids, you probably feel lonely from time to time. You might seek out romantic relationships to try and fill that hole or you may find yourself fantasizing about getting help with day to day life.
But once you have a child, it’s different. You have a little one to look after. Someone who’s more important than you. Someone who's in your life and heart each and every day. It’s much harder to feel lonely (especially when you can’t even go to the toilet on your own)!
12. You love your body
If you’ve grown and given birth to a baby, you know how amazing the female body is. So you’ve got some scarring and stretch marks, and things will never quite be the same as they were when you were 25. But you’ve gotten to know your body and see what it can do, which is so much more powerful than having the "perfect" waist-to-hip ratio. This is a really hard one for me, because I’ve gained weight I can’t seem to get off and I just don’t feel like myself. But, if you can learn to appreciate it, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable in your skin. (Not only that, but the less self-conscious you are, the more fun you’ll have in bed!)
So, is it hard for single mothers to date? Yes. For many women, they don’t feel like they can spend money on babysitting when they aren’t sure the date will even be fun. And, when you are waking up in the night to care for an infant or simply exhausted from working full time, making lunches, attending parent meetings and the list goes one, it’s hard to feel to feel up for a date.
But in many ways, dating as a single mum by choice can be even better than dating before motherhood. With a vibrant dating life, your little one(s) at home, and all the other things you do, your life will be busier than ever...but it will be so rewarding too.