Some of the best potential life partners you’ll ever meet are trying to juggle the dating scene while raising kids. Here’s a single mom’s advice for winning their hearts.
Dating a single mom can be fun, freeing, and fraught with stumbling blocks.
Here’s a quick guide to avoiding some basic dating missteps I’ve encountered on the road to finding love and friendship as a single Mom. (I do give a few negative examples, but only to emphasize how wonderful it is when a feminist man arrives and meets me where I am.)
Ask her out
Here’s how. “Want to go out?” She loves hearing those words. Why not be clear that you’re interested in getting to know her? It’s so charming! Don’t let her wonder what this call is about. She wouldn’t be staying on the phone if she weren’t interested in getting to know you.
–When a man dances around getting together, I get weary. It’s OK if you don’t want to, truly. But why do you keep calling me, building up to it and then racing off the phone? It’s confusing and that’s uncomfortable. Make it easy for me to relax into our call.
Offer to come to her neighborhood
And do it right at the beginning of the date request. Make it easy for her. She either pays a babysitter or she asks a friend, sister, or neighbor to babysit. Less travel time for her saves her some money and/or guilt. It also means she can get home faster, should she need to. This means she’s fully present with you and not watching the clock every 30 minutes.
–I want to meet you. I want to know you. I may even want to sleep with you. Show me that you’re aware of the demands in my life and that you want to accommodate me. It goes a long way.
Ask in advance
She needs to get a babysitter. This requires at least a week and a half, if not two weeks. The good babysitters get booked way in advance. She’ll cancel on you rather than leave her child with an unknown entity. I’m guessing you wouldn’t respect a woman who puts dating you above her child’s well-being, so don’t make her choose.
–I’ve cancelled, and it’s been easy because the man who doesn’t consider my needs is showing me just that.
There’s not a ton of down time for a single mom. She wants to see you, she wants to do it soon, and she has a lot to juggle. The “she doesn’t make time for me” complaint may not apply here. Consider how present she is when you’re together before you throw out the baby with the bath water.
–A typical single mom day looks like this, with a date thrown in because she wants romantic love after all! Wake up/brush teeth/feed child/drop off child at school/work all day/ pick up child from school/food shop/run errands/shower/read to child/draw with child/clean/do the laundry/do the dishes/make dinner/make lunch/make a card to go in the lunchbox/dry hair/put on make up/get dressed/go on a date/pay the babysitter/get in pajamas/put away the laundry/put away the dishes/write the food list/pay bills/check the mail/file papers/call parent/check email/go to sleep.
Show commitment to the evening
Skip the, “we’ll figure it out as we get closer.” Figure it out right now! That way she knows where, what time, whether you’re picking her up or meeting her somewhere, and what she should wear. She wants to look fabulous! It doesn’t mean you are getting married that night. It means you respect her time and are fully interested in seeing her that evening.
–When a man says, “we’ll figure it out,” I don’t even try to get a sitter. I know he’ll cancel for some unknown reason or call the day of and say, “Where’re we going?” I’m not your drinking buddy; I’m a potential life partner. It’s disrespectful any way you look at it.
Keep her safe
It’s a statistical fact that women are in more danger of rape than men. So if she doesn’t want to walk to the restaurant, hail a cab. Both ways. Or choose a restaurant where she can park close to the entrance or meet her there. Parking lots are terrifying to women, for good reason. Invest in her feeling safe with you. She may be a feisty, independent dynamo, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t looking to you to consider her safety.
–A man berated me endlessly on our first date about my discomfort with walking to a restaurant. Never saw him again.
Assume you’re paying
Remember that babysitter? That’s $15 an hour ticking away at her bank account or a karmic debt that’s going to come due someday. This is not a guilt trip; it’s a fact of life for the single mother. She is most definitely not complaining or asking for pity. Au contraire. Awareness and consideration, those are the gifts you can give. You may even look at it as splitting the cost of the evening – she takes care of babysitting and you take care of the evening event.
–A man I was dating for a while offered to help with the babysitting as he often cooked for me at his home. I refused his generosity, but I was touched deeply.
She can handle it if you don’t feel it. There have been many times when she didn’t feel it either. We can’t control whom we love, or like. But the never calling again thing? Wimpy! OK, sometimes it’s so clear there’s no chemistry, there’s no need to follow up. But if you can see she’s feeling it, be kind. Tell her there’s no future.
–Leaving her wondering is as strong an action as calling her, so please don’t lull yourself into thinking you’re just letting it go. You know when you need to say something, so do unto others as you’d like done to you.
She’s not rushing into matrimony to hurry and make babies; she already has her kids. Take your time. Get to know her. She may want to wait a long time to introduce you to her kids. Respect that. It’s not personal against you; it’s protecting her kids from getting attached to someone who may or may not be a part of the family.
–It’s creepy when a man pressures me to meet my offspring. I do love when he asks about my child, and communicates his interest in meeting some day, but pressure is a warning sign.
Well that’s a wrap for the “Feminist Man’s Guide to Dating A Single Mom.” I’ve dated many feminist men who subscribe to the idea that all people are created equal, and that it’s important to consider each other’s needs, be respectful towards each other, and care for each other in body and heart. That’s feminism and it’s beautiful.
My next article is about the female side of this tango we call searching for love. What has your experience been with dating single moms and how can we get better at it? Please leave me a comment and let me know the topics you want addressed!