If you've clicked on this article because you're intrigued, don't worry, we won't leave you in suspense. Can you date as a single mum Absolutely! You just have to make extra considerations and go about it in a slightly different way. Whether you're dating men or women, you're bringing someone new into your life, and that's going to add a new dynamic. Here's what you should do to keep your heart - and kids - protected.
Weed the bad guys out
When you've got kids, it's no longer just about you. If you previously joked about having things for the bad guys, it's time to cast that part of you aside - from now on, it's only about the nice guys. When we say nice guys, we don't mean "nice guys", either, who think that you owe them something simply because they've been being kind.
Finding a partner who is genuine and who isn't going to put you or the children through unnecessary stress is imperative as a parent. Consider having trusted friends introduce you, or maybe getting closer with someone genuine that you've known for a while.
Of course, these days, there's always online dating as well. While this certainly has its own share of people you don't want to be with, there are plenty of opportunities there as well. Badoo, for example, allows you to check out a profile before even initiating anything. You can see that a person's ideals and values match yours before you even meet - saving you time, any worries and valuable energy.
Never hide the "family" side of yourself
You've heard the old adage - be yourself. Yes, it's overused. Yes, it's simplified. But wow, it sure is an effective piece of advice!
When dating as a single mother, you need to know that this huge part of your life doesn't scare a partner away. While being a mother sure as anything doesn't define you, it's something that won't - and honestly shouldn't have to - change.
Your future partner needs to understand that from the get-go, and know that the children come first. If that's too complicated or too much for them, that's fine - you need someone who's aligned with you on this, and someone who'll step up and be mature.
They shouldn't like you "in spite" of the fact that you have kids - but because of who you are, and taking into account that part of that is you as a mother. If that's too much for them, that's okay - you have to understand that as well and let them go.
Get to know someone fully
Look, you can never really know someone fully - but you can get a pretty good idea.
If someone is giving you red flags in any way, shape or form - take time to sound them out, but ultimately, don't be super forgiving where your children will become involved.
In order for your children to someday have a relationship with the man or woman that you're dating, you need to do your absolute best to say that you've found out as much as you can about them.
This isn't just about learning about their history, it's about using your judgement about the way they act, and consider how that could influence a child. Everything from their manners to their temper can be important indicators, especially if you're hoping that they're going to later be around your children constantly.
Plan carefully when to introduce your kids
Children and emotional attachment bonds can be very tricky indeed. Your dating life is yours entirely, but if you plan on somebody staying around, introducing them to the children is a big milestone indeed.
Firstly, you should give things a while before making any hasty introductions. While your partner may well be keen to show you that they'll be an excellent caregiver, it's important that they know it's not about them. If your children are meeting every single person you're interested in, it's not actually good for them in most instances, and in a lot of cases could leave them confused.
Of course, this depends wildly on their age. If they're 15 and you've not been with their other parent for a while, don't worry about it so much. But if they're ten and resenting a divorce, or five and easily attached, you need to think about whether it's the right time.
Being open with your children is so important, so an introduction will need to take place at some point - especially if you've been spending a lot of time with that person lately and leaving them with babysitters or other family. However, rushing and causing stress that isn't necessary isn't a good move at all.
The "right time" will differ for everyone, but consider taking into account the steps above about getting to know someone and being ruthless, and that will really help.
Consider letting your ex-partner know you're dating again
This is a tricky one, and the response can vary wildly. Some single mothers don't have their child's father in their lives, and so this won't apply. Other do, but can't imagine anything worse than sharing their personal lives with them!
However, if you still have some form of relationship with your ex - even if it's solely to do with custody - keeping them in the loop on the big things can often be advised. Why, you might ask? Well, think about it this way. If they were bringing someone new around your kids when it was their turn to take care of them, wouldn't you like to know?
Don't allow them to control you or be petty, but communicate, and listen to any valid concerns. If you think it would help, maybe set up some kind of "meet up" - cast aside any immaturity, and allow them to vet the person who may become their kids' step-parent out.
Love is a very personal thing, but when you have children, you can't only think about yourself. Be happy, but also think holistically. Real life often gets in the way, but at least you can say you've tried.