Single Mommy Dating: Choices and Timeframes

Whenever you breakup, the question of how much time is needed before jumping back into the sea of dating. A divorce will often complicate the breakup process with periods of vein “separated” not “single” and sometimes drawn out court scenarios. Finding romance and finding true love can be two difference things and every single parent must find the balance.

Knowing your needs and your kids needs are the foundation of understanding when to get back into the dating world – if at all.

I’ve become quite reconciled with the fact that when my son goes off to college isn’t the next couple of years, I’ll become the dog lady if he neighborhood. I’ll volunteer and adopt a little pack and walk them in the neighborhood with pride – we’ll maybe sometimes in anguish. Me? I’ve been single since my divorce, more than 13 years ago.

The Single Mom Elephant in the Room

Of course, the first thing you are thinking when I say I’ve been single for 13 years is, “oh my god that is a long dry spell! Don’t you miss or need sex?” Or course, there’s that and yeah, trust me, it’s been a long dry spell. But, if I chose to move my life forward based on my sexual frustrations, well, let’s just say that I’d probably be making yet another bad decision.

We are all humans made up with feelings and if you were married, chances are you would like to work towards a committed relationship rather than a string of boyfriends. Finding that lasting connection is something most of us long for. Falling in love immediately and having a Brady Bunch lifestyle is a great thought. New technology should help, but swiping left or right can lead to quick exciting interactions, long-term love or another big-time problem.

The Anatomy of Staying Single

The anatomy of staying single is more of the results of circumstances and decisions. It means you take the time to heal and the Kong’s you wait, the harder (really more awkward) it becomes to dive back into the world of meeting men, getting to know then and thinking about the next level. Even if you have exposure, ways to meet people through work or hobbies, there are always logistics with kids that don’t make dating convenient.

For me, the thought of dating didn’t conjure ideas of fun dates and adventures meeting new people. Just the idea exhausted me, trying to coordinate co-parenting schedules and guys wanting to fast forward to family events.

SIN*gle definition doing what you want when you want with no regrets

The Anatomy of Getting Back in the Saddle

Yep, the pun is totally intended there but it true. There is a process to getting back into the dating world. Without the right tools and personal development, you will likely be part of the statistics of women who fall right back into an unfulfilling or even a toxic or abusive relationship. Chances are things will be worse than the previous relationship. And you need to think of your kids.

What is the anatomy of dating again?

There are three things you need to take care of before you really jump back in to dating:

  1. Being out of love with your ex
  2. Resolving the emotions of the breakup
  3. Security in your life scenario to not fall into rescue-me syndrome

These may seem like straightforward ideas, but they are not always easy follow. After all, it gets lonely being on your own and the idea of having someone to just hug you when problems arise sounds so incredibly wonderful.

Are You Ready to Date After Divorce?

Let’s face it, as a woman we are emotional beings – I say that as a pretty masculine oriented chic who has always been the guy’s pal for sports and fun because I kind of act like a guy in most cases. But, yeah I can be really emotional especially as a single mother looking to protect my family. I don’t want to date; I want a committed relationship and while I know you don’t get from the first date to marriage in one leap, I’m not into dating around even if it means years alone.

Here are some reasons to wait and to not start dating after divorce:

  • Feeling Betrayed: if you were cheated on or otherwise betrayed in a long-term relationship, inventory feelings before you jump in just for spite.
  • Feeling Worthless: needing validation because you feel insecure about your looks, age or life situation will lead to taking whatever attention you can get, good or bad. Feeling like you cannot attract a man is not the starting point of finding a quality partner.
  • Are Jaded and Distrusting: relationships require an open mind to build trust and strong bonds. Starting at a point of distrust sets every relationship back before it even starts.
  • Eager to Just Settle Down: similar to feeling worthless, being too eager to settle down can lead to jumping in and ignoring warning signs that you should be backing away.
  • Hearing You Should: friends and family mean well because they want to see you happy but remember they aren’t in your skin experiencing your emotions. Only you can tell when it’s really time.

Here are some reasons to jump back in and start looking for love again:

  • Able to Set Health Boundaries:
  • Knowing Your Objective: are able to determine if you are looking for fun dating experiences or a committed relationship and able to express it to a partner or date
  • Comfortable in Your Life: single mothers can struggle with finances and time. Be sure you are happy with your situation or comfortable with your life path of growth so you don’t fall into the rescue-me-syndrome.
  • Understand Deal Breakers: figure out what you want more than just a funny, successful guy with a six-pack. That’s great but really not specific. Determine if there are deal breakers such as smoking, certain pets or hobbies that you just can’t jump on board with.
  • Time While Raising Children: you have the time and space to be able to work, raise children and make time for dinner dates without feeling overwhelmed or guilty that the kids are with a babysitter. Mom guilt is real and not very kind to single women looking for relationships.
  • Intrigued By Others: moving past automatic judgement and wanting to learn about others, try new things and experience different ways is the ideal mental and emotional space you want to be in to start dating again.

I guess I’ve been lucky that my support group, while often saying, “Hey, Kim, I think it would be great for you to date,” always respected my feelings. They never forced me into a blind date or pushed the issue. After years of saying it wasn’t time and starting to talk about starting some online chatting on dating sites, they were supportive and just happy to see me ready to open myself up to possibilities.

Finding What Is Right for You

Every woman, whether a single mom or not, needs to think about what went wrong in their previous relationship before they start dating again. For me, I decided early on to put my energy into my son and developing my career. I didn’t feel there was much else left for me to give in that process and when I longed for someone it was often in times of need or turmoil. I know dating at that time would lead to needy decisions not empowered ones.

At the same time, the longer time went beyond my divorce, the harder it became to start dating again. You feel older, less exciting, and quite frankly become pickier as you develop a healthier sense of self and self-worth. At times, maybe too picky. I’ll admit to being almost petty with things that really weren’t deal killers, thinking that it was my life and I have every right to paint my perfect partner and move on if I’m not happy.

I probably left a great guy or two wondering why I never called back. However, I always knew I needed to be comfortable with where I was and where I was going in my life and looking for someone on the same path. If I walked away, it probably meant I really wasn’t ready.

How to Date After Divorce

Chance are you are co-parenting as a single mom. This can be a blessing or challenge when starting to date. Using the time that the kids are at your ex-husband’s is a great way to have some much-needed mom time, self-care and dating. Time is precious with kids and you need to make the co-parenting situation work for you.

That being said, a co-parenting with a toxic ex can make it hard because they may take negative tones with the kids about your dating. It may be a situation where you don’t want to let your ex know that you are dating again. We all have our reasons and know they are valid if you really feel concerned about something. Talk them through with a friend or therapist to find the best course of action and set healthy boundaries with your co-parent if necessary.

Single Mom Dating Again

Set the pace you are comfortable with when starting to date again. While time is precious, don’t be in a rush to get to the next level of commitment. Even single men looking for a serious and committed relationship may be put off by your rush. Whether you start a month or years after your divorce, develop a strategy for success.

Here are some tips for single mother’s getting back into dating after divorce:

  1. Determine Where You Want to Meet Men: swiping along with all other online dating might not be your thing. If that’s the case, look for a romantic partner via church groups, new hobbies or even professional matchmakers.
  2. Create a List: make a concrete list of all the reasons you want to stay with someone and vice verse, know what the deal breakers are. While you can’t get 100% of what you want since no one is perfect, get clear on your most wanted traits in a romantic partner or committed relationship.
  3. Set Guides for Involving Kids: experts all agree that introducing kids to potential partners too soon is unhealthy for the kids. It creates anxiety and stress in an already tough single parent or co-parenting scenario. Think about time and commitment levels before you start introductions.
  4. Spend Time with Friends or Hobbies: don’t ignore self-care and time for yourself just because you are starting to date or in a new relationship. Time for single mother’s is always packed with things to do and making sure you have the opportunity to recharge will make you a better mother and lover to your new man.

Final Thoughts on Single Mommy Dating

Raising children is hard. Doing it as a single parent is really hard and often lonely. There is always a lot going on and it can be hard to find the time to even think about dating. While I’ve personally been the prime example of staying single after divorce, I have seen many friends not just find great new partners and committed relationships, but move across the country for that bliss.

I know people who have met online and fell in love and others that were picking fruit at the grocery store on a Friday evening. That new love can happen anytime and any place but just make sure you are in the right emotional place to be open to it and able to dive into it in a healthy way.

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