Is it time to find love again? Dating tips for single moms from fellow single moms

Ysa Abad

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Is it time to find love again? Dating tips for single moms from fellow single moms
How should you tell a potential partner that you have a child? When should you introduce them to each other?

Dating and parenting are already complicated matters on their own, but to maneuver both at the same time – and find the balance between the two – can be intimidating. 

Will your kids like your new partner? How can you be sure that your new partner will be good to your child? What will your relatives and friends say when you go back to the dating scene? Will you have enough time to balance being a mom and being a partner? These are just some of the concerns that most single parents have once they start considering finding romance again. 

Rappler sat down with two mothers to talk about their experience dating as a single parent, and to share their advice on what to expect and how to make it work.

Make sure that you’re ready to date again

For Rhea, a 27-year-old marketing associate, timing plays a big part in dating as a single parent. “You have to be sure that you’re healed from your breakup, and that you’re [dating] not because you’re lonely, or because your ex-partner has already moved on,” she told Rappler. 

She advised that before setting up a profile on an online dating app or asking friends to connect you with someone, it’s important that you’re certain you can handle all the uncertainties and potential heartbreaks that dating can bring. “Dating as a single parent requires a different approach as opposed to when you’re solo,” she said. 

Are you ready and willing to set aside time for dating? How important is it for you to go back to dating again? Unless you have both the physical and mental capacity to make connections work, best to not start dating yet if you’re only doing it half-heartedly. 

“Don’t rush things. Make sure that you’re only doing it when both you and your children are in a good place,” Rhea said. 

Know your motivation for dating

Alongside knowing if you’re ready to date again, single parents should also identify their reasons for going back to the dating scene. 

According to Angie, a 33-year-old accountant, it’s important to have the right goals and purposes when it comes to dating again, whether you’re a single parent looking for a casual night out or a long-term romance. “Think about what you want and need in your new relationship,” she said. 

What kind of person do you want to connect with? What qualities and characteristics are you looking for in a potential partner? How should their values fit in with your own? What are your deal breakers? What kind of family are you hoping to establish with a new partner? 

Having an understanding of what it is you’re looking for in a relationship will help you avoid potential partners that won’t work well with your family in the long run. And for most single parents who have been burned by a previous relationship, it’s understandable why many tend to set higher standards when they go back to dating again. 

“It’s not just about me and finding a partner anymore,” Angie said. “It’s about making sure that a potential partner could fit in with my family.” 

She added that knowing what she wants and preparing herself to date again makes her more confident in looking for a new partner. “I personally think that being empowered as a single parent makes a huge difference in dating again. People tend to think that just because you’re a single parent, you’re desperate to be in a relationship or that you’re looking for someone who will help you feel less lonely or save you from the financial responsibilities, or whatever.”

“But that’s not often the case. It’s important to remember that how you carry yourself translates to how you are in the dating scene. There’s people out there who tend to prey on vulnerable single parents because they’re desperate to feel needed. But if you want to look for a partner that could see you as an equal, it should start with you feeling confident about yourself,” she continued. 

Brace yourself for unwarranted judgment

With society’s obsession with motherhood, mothers are often subjected to critical and uncalled for comments about how they raise their children. And for single moms going back to the dating scene, they usually can’t escape these unsolicited thoughts about their dating life. 

“It’s always about the appropriateness of dating again as a single parent,” Rhea said, adding that she’s had her fair share of judgmental opinions from her workmates, friends, and even relatives. “They will try to make you feel guilty for not spending all of your time with your child.” 

Her advice? Only listen to people who matter to you. “I will always prioritize my child, but I won’t allow other people to make me feel bad for wanting a personal life, especially when I make sure that I do my responsibilities as a parent,” she said. 

Angie also stressed the importance of having a strong support system to rely on when things get tough. “I know that no matter how strong and confident I feel, there will be days that I’ll need help,” she said. Even now that her son is five years old, she said that she still receives physical and emotional support from her network of friends and family. “They’re there to remind me that I’ve done well in raising my child, and that’s a really big help.” 

Be up front about being a single parent

Once you’re ready to put yourself out there again, both Rhea and Angie emphasized the need to be honest about your kids. “Your children are a big part of you. There’s no need to hide them or lie about it,” Rhea said, adding that you must disclose that you’re a parent once the closest opportunity arises. 

For them, there’s no point in trying to establish a connection with someone when you know that they won’t be comfortable dealing with kids in the future. “If you think that they’ll flee because you’re a single parent, then best to not get attached to them in the first place. It’s not something that you have to apologize for or rationalize,” she added. 

While this could potentially limit your options, they said that at least those remaining choices will be of quality. 

Introduce your kids when the time is right

While it’s important to be up front about having kids, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should also let any potential partner meet your children immediately. 

For Angie and Rhea, the when and how depend on each parent, but it should be in a manner that fits you, your partner, and your children. 

Angie said that she first introduced her current boyfriend to her family when she was confident that she was “safe” with him and when they were already serious with their relationship. “I didn’t want my son to be attached to a partner who I’m not sure will stay in my life. I had to do some tests first – that’s why I introduced my boyfriend as a friend first. I wanted to make sure that he’ll be comfortable dealing with my child and they’ll get along together,” she said. 

Rhea, meanwhile, hasn’t introduced any partner to her three-year-old daughter yet. “I’ve started dating, but it hasn’t reached the point where I’ve met anyone that I could see being a parent to my child,” she said. 

“My daughter’s still too young now, but if ever I’ll introduce a partner to her in the future, I want to ask her first about it,” she added. 

Both Angie and Rhea agreed on the importance of understanding how your kids feel about you being in a new relationship. They advised fellow single mothers to start a conversation with their children and how comfortable they are that their mom is seeing someone. In this way, parents could assess if their child is ready for such big changes, and also address the worries that their children might have. 

Some children might feel scared that your being in a relationship might make you prioritize them less, so parents should assure them that having a partner won’t diminish the love and commitment that you have for them. Discuss how your lives can change in the future and acknowledge the concerns that your children have. Best to keep the communication between you, your partner, and your kids open so that everyone would feel comfortable expressing their worries. 

Make opportunities for them to get to know each other better, but don’t force things to happen. Especially for parents who have teens or adult children, it’s best to let your children come to terms with your new situation at their own pace.  

Rhea also pointed out that in cases like these, your partner should be willing to follow your lead when it comes to getting to know your children. They should not force you or dictate on you what you could share about your family. 

Be realistic about the situation

As most single parents know, dating won’t always go smoothly, so best to brace yourself for any potential heartache. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t connect with someone you’ve met. And when you’ve fallen in love, make sure to not abandon your responsibilities with your child.

Keep an open mind when your partner makes mistakes – remember that this could be the first time they’re dating a single parent, but also know when to draw the line when their shortcomings can already be harmful to you and your child. Your partner should also recognize that you have past wounds that they should have to deal with.

Learn to be flexible in how your children are dealing with the changes, too. Expect that their reactions could change depending on the situation. Best to just work with what they give you and don’t judge them too harshly. 

“Most of all, be kind to yourself,” Rhea said. “It’s not going to be easy, but don’t beat yourself up for every mistake that you make.” –

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