There is a reason for every thought, feeling and word uttered from the mouth of a single mom. The reason is called experience, plain and simple. Fact is, everyone bases their thoughts and feelings from experience. But single mothers, more so than their ‘never married’ peers, double down on that experience and for very specific reasons.
“I wasted 15 years with someone that couldn’t communicate and I’m not doing that again”
“I have a child to protect and I’m not letting them get hurt again”
“I have precious time to spend on dating and I’m going to do it my way”
I truly understand these reasons, and others, when it comes to single mothers explaining a train of thought or ‘defending’ a statement they make. From a relationship coaching perspective, I work with these reasons. It’s called going deep and it’s an important tool used to get to the heart of the matter. What I like to do, however, is to understand where someone may be putting their heart before their head or reacting without the benefit of context, time and other factors.
These are just four examples from recent discussions I’ve had with single mothers over the last month.
1. I’m not looking for anything serious. I harp on this one a lot and it is because I hear it a lot. It’s one thing for people to truly not want anything serious but it’s something altogether different to want something serious but not express it in words or demonstrate it in one’s actions. And candidly, women do a good job of disguising their desire for something serious with what they believe to be a safe phrase like “I’m not looking for anything serious.” To them, it means that expectations can be wide open and men won’t be scared off by the desire for commitment. To which I say, you get what you ask for and vice versa.
2. I don’t want to be that guinea pig. So said a mother to me when I was trying to explain the importance of standing her ground and not adjusting. The example at play here was my advice that she expect more from men and not cater to a mans desire that she dress a certain way. In short, he likes it better when she wears less revealing clothes. She likes wearing clothes that make her feel good about herself and, in some cases, this meant wearing revealing clothes. I suggested that she be who she wants to be and that if he did not like it, she should walk away. She noted that while being herself was, in theory, good advice, the practical reality is that if she was always authentic, she would always be alone and that while she appreciated my advice, “I don’t want to be that guinea pig”. When I pulsed her to expound, she noted that while women accepting more and being authentic was important, she wasn’t willing to accept the consequences that came from being one of those women that were authentic but alone. To which I said, good luck always adjusting and never really being yourself.
3. Say what you will but it is what it is. Can I just tell you how much I hate this phrase. First and foremost, it is what it is if we allow it to be what it is. Why? Because whatever it is, is only it in our space for as long as we allow it in our space. If, for instance, it is referring to the reality that a guy is a jackass and we allow him to continue to be a jackass in our space than it (him being a jackass) is (in our space) until we kick him to the curb. It’s one thing to believe or accept that things or people are a certain way. It’s another thing altogether different to use such beliefs or acceptance as a rationale for standing pat on something that bothers you.
4. Do you know what it’s like to be a single parent? Okay, to be clear, I do. But that’s not the point. When I talk to clients about their relationship experiences, I do so to help them understand who they are, who they are not, what their needs and wants are, etc. To fully aid them in their journey, I will lean in with questions about what drove them to certain decisions and what the results of those decisions were from their perspective. In some cases, they will feel judgment regardless of my approach and they will reply back with the question I posed above. My issue with this reply is simple. It avoids the real discussion at hand. It’s like a parent asking a child why they did something and the child redirecting the question by ratting out a sibling. Get clear on who you are and let your experiences and life realities (like being a single parent) help you make better decisions but don’t use it as a crutch to avoid facing difficult conversation or reflection.
A lot of these concerns I’m expressing come from the mind and heart of a relationship coach that wants authenticity and vulnerability on both sides of the gender fence. And while it’s generally women that have the more natural ability to be these very things, they can often times be the complete opposite. The missing ingredient is usually confidence and a lack thereof can come in three different forms:
- I’m not confident that I deserve better. Read: I am not attractive enough or I have fatal personality flaws that are directly aligned with what I’m able to get in the world of love. To which I say, if you feel this way, you’re not ready to date. You MUST love yourself first.
- I’m not confident that I can find better. Read: Part of this is a lack of confidence in myself and part of this is my lack of confidence that better exists.
- I’m not confident that better exists. Read: I am confident in myself but men are who men are and we’re not going to change that so I take men for who they are. To which I say, when you accept things as they come, things will always come that way.
I hope these perspectives helped. Until next time…
- Dating After Divorce: Is Heartache Inevitable?
- Is Dating After Divorce A Requirement? I Don’t Think So!
- 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Saying Yes To Dating
- 5 Rules For Attracting Long-Term Love After Divorce