Single Mum Dating: The Elephant In The Room

Dating is so hard at this age, with this much baggage. Most 28 year olds are just getting into their careers, travelling, enjoying time with their friends; not juggling full-time single parenting of two small people with a demanding full-time job and an ex-husband. The online dating profile does not exactly write itself, am I right?

There is a reason you are usually part of a couple when you have kids. There’s someone else to share the pure torture of the lack of sleep, a partner who will bask in the warmth of your children’s teeny tiny accomplishments with you in a way that only a parent can. Plus you know there is someone who will love you for all your motherhood imperfections; your pregnancy stretchmarks, your wobbly belly, your eye bags and hair that hasn’t seen a brush in days. They’re 50% responsible for them so they’re kind of obliged to.

But when you’re on a first date with someone you can’t explain away your greasy mop with a sickly toddler, or your yawning with your baby who isn’t a great sleeper. Your date doesn’t want to be reminded of the fact that you were once in a relationship with someone that was serious enough to produce two children: it’s not exactly sexy.

This is why I always feel that when I’m dating the pressure is on. There’s pressure to not look like a mum – so no turning up with banana on your top and felt tip pen on your jeans. No talking about the magical things your children have done that day or lamenting your current schooling concerns. The fact I’m a mother as well as a woman feels like the elephant in the room.

In the past I’ve felt like maybe I need to compromise what I’m looking for in a date, just because I’m a mum. I’ve met men in bars who, once they found out I have children, have taken off so quickly they left skidmarks. This does not do much for a gal’s confidence, let me tell you. When I sit down and think about it, in my opinion I have quite a lot to offer in a relationship: I (think I) am intelligent, I (think I) am funny, I like to have fun, keep fit and look after myself. I love conversation, trying new things, travelling, music, debating. I’m self-sufficient, hard-working and ambitious. I’m a total catch! But I have two kids, and no matter how much I dress that up there will be men that I’d love to date who won’t look at me twice because of them.

I try to tell myself that I don’t want to go out with a man who isn’t open-minded enough to date a single mother, but that’s like telling yourself that calories don’t count past 9pm. I.e. complete bollocks you make up to feel better.

It must be tough to date me, as much as I feel it’s tough for me to date. I was in a relationship with someone I believed was the love of my life for 9 years and very happy for many of these. I know how it feels to be very much in love with someone who is also your best friend and I still wonder how it was possible that such a great relationship went down the pan. It’s a tough act to follow.

I find my marriage baggage difficult, too. I don’t know if I was lucky to experience such a serious and long-lasting relationship that ended in marriage at such a young age, but because I know how good a relationship can be I’m hesitant to accept anything less. The relationship with my ex was a whirlwind of love at first sight, moving in together after six weeks, getting engaged after 9 months and thinking we’d live happy ever after. Which we kind of did, if ‘happily ever after’ roughly translates to ‘8 or 9 years’.

Aside from boyfriends when I was at school this is the only relationship I’ve ever known. Is this how relationships always happen? Is there always a thunderbolt of recognition that this is the person you’re meant to be with or are some relationships a slow-burner?

This past, my marriage, makes dating a tough business. I don’t want to be with anyone who isn’t perfect and I keep finding myself at a crossroad. I really want to push my career forward but that won’t happen if I’m spending all my child-free evenings on dates. I haven’t ruled out giving up on men and becoming a businesswoman recluse but I think then I’d have to homeschool the kids and that is never going to happen.

I don’t need a man in my life to be happy but boy it is nice to have someone for a bit of banter and the occasional dinner.

What to do?

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  1. becky wrote:

    I was divorced at 29 and found it all v tricky friends were starting to settle and I was back in the dating game. But I live to tell the tale and have just celebrated 10 years with hubby no.2. You are still you special funny and fabulous you baggage kids or whatever and the right fella will see all that and nothing else will matter x

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  2. Honest Mum wrote:

    You are intelligent, funny and any man would want you for his ‘lady’-I think like anything in life, once you stop looking, get busy, the right one turns up when you least expect. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put yourself out there online or wherever but just focus on you, your work, life in general and romance will come xx

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  3. Emma wrote:

    It’s a hard balancing act – you want to not compromise on what you know a relationship can be like, and should be like, but you also need to stay open minded as to what Mr Right is like. You can rest assured though that the right man for you will love your children and will love you even more for having them – not less. Don’t think about anyone who doesn’t want you because of any supposed baggage – they are absolutely not worth a second of your thoughts.

    Look after your precious heart and have confidence in what you can offer to any future relationships xx

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  4. Alex wrote:

    Write this off as “what the f do you know” if you like, cos I’ve not been in your shoes BUT I don’t think that line about not wanting to be with someone who wouldn’t be open-minded enough is bollocks. It’s completely true that you are TOTALLY funny, and TOTALLY hot and TOTALLY smart, and if all that isn’t enough once you factor in two (TOTALLY adorable) kids, then that guy really isn’t good enough. Not by a mile.

    It will probably be harder. But when you find that person, then they will be perfect, because they’ll already have managed to say ‘up yours’ to at least one silly social convention (ie the ‘no baggage’ rule, as if people without children are miraculously baggage-free).

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  5. Emma wrote:

    Hey there, firstly love your blog! Secondly, in my experience (I was a single mum of one for three years) guys that won’t date a girl because she has children is kind of like a sifting exercise. I got burned a few times by pursuing dates with men who said it would never become serious because I had a child and I hoped I could change their mind if they just got to know me. I couldn’t. Like you, I had a thunderbolt moment with my ex and spent years looking for it again. Turns out, the guy in a mutual group of friends, the one that I would always chat to whenever I went out but never thought anything of it, was my Mr Right. Total slow burner, crept up out of nowhere. We’re still happily together after ten years – even though I did turn up to a couple of dates with random stickers on my dress!

    Love pops up in the strangest of places and I’m sure you won’t be waiting too long. But never compromise on your feelings because of your ‘baggage’ – the right man will see that you have the ability to commit to a loving relationship and the strength to be independent through tough times xx

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  6. Can’t imagine how tricky it musty be. But never doubt that your are intelligent, witty and beautiful – I’d date you! To say that the right one is just round the corner sounds patronising, but there is someone out there for you and you’ll know when it’s right! He’ll have to be a pretty epic sort of chap to be worthy of someone as lovely as you! x x

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  7. I was you. I had that whirlwind romance and marriage at a young age.
    Now in my *coughs* thirties, I am deliriously happy again and view my 1st marriage as my practice run. Every girl deserves a fairytale, you just have to kiss a few frogs first.
    I have no doubt in your happy ever after xx

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  8. Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer wrote:

    You will be an amazing catch for somebody some day. It’s still early days. You have to be sure you find one yourself! You’re certainly worthy X

    Posted 3.7.14 Reply
  9. Pinkoddy wrote:

    Honestly it’s not like the calories, if a man cannot love you for you (and that includes the whole package) then he’s really not worth it. I was with my son’s biological for 5 years, a single parent for another 4 years, and 24 when I met my present husband. He was only 19 at the time and such a big thing to take on (my son had undiagnosed Aspergers). So these men are out there. You are amazing and well worth them finding you x

    Posted 3.8.14 Reply
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  11. Esther Summers wrote:

    I met my 1st husband when I was in my late teens and got married at 22 before it didn’t work out a few years later, despite almost 10 years together (but no kids). I found the whole idea of dating so scary, went on a couple of dodgy dates and decided that wasn’t for me. On a whim moved from Australia to London to work and travel and 3 months later met an amazing Scotsman through work and fell head over heels! Moved to Edinburgh 4 months later and was expecting our daughter 2 months later. We have now got 2 beautiful children and have celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. I still pinch myself sometimes how my life has turned out but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. When you least expect it the right person will come through your door and will accept you and your beautiful kids as the whole package!

    Posted 3.8.14 Reply
  12. Hollie wrote:

    What do you do? You get out there and find a man who will damn appreciate your hot body, beautiful face, inspiring ambition and hilariousness.

    I cannot imagine how bloody hard dating is having been with someone for 7 years who I stumbled across via mutual friends. A friend of mine recently became single at 25 after 11 years in a relationship and she has literally no idea how to date because, well, how do you date when you’ve never actually been on a date before? It’s shit but (I imagine) you’ll have some insanely good fun along the way which will counteract that.

    And if all else fails, get your arse on First Dates because everyone knows that’s the best show on TV ever.

    Posted 3.8.14 Reply
  13. I was also divorced at 29 after a relationship that lasted just a few months with someone who cheated on me then claimed he hadn’t, I decided I wouldn’t bother, me and my girl would be just fine, then one day I had a knock (literally) on the door and 12 yrs on we are still together xxx

    Posted 3.8.14 Reply
  14. HPMcQ wrote:

    So i looks like 29 is the age to get divorced? me too! at the time it was absolutely devastating, but looking back it was probably the best decision i have ever ever made x

    Posted 3.9.14 Reply
  15. Margarita @ West Coast Mama wrote:

    Tricky topic, isn’t it. It’s a shame that most men run at the thought of ANY sort of commitment. I’m not sure how you battle this – I mean, do you keep it from them for the first few dates? Or just the first one? Or do you lay it on the table right away?

    I agree – do NOT settle, ever. If a man falls in love with you but runs at the idea or sight of children (gasp! shock! horror! little people!) than he is not good enough for you, not by a long mile.

    Posted 3.9.14 Reply
  16. Michelle wrote:

    I definitely understand that feeling, it would be nice to have companionship (and all the extra benefits)… but now is the time to concentrate on you. Be the best person you can be, find absolute happiness within yourself and your career and you will have men lining up in no time.
    P.S. Have FUN with the dating! :D

    Posted 3.12.14 Reply
  17. Lauranne wrote:

    If you figure this out can you let me know? I have now had two (serious) boyfriends both end it with me because despite being completely and utterly in love with me (and we are talking bought a house with one, engagement ring hunting with the other) woke up one morning and decided to walk away.

    It has left me bruised and battered and not sure if all men aren’t just complete and utter idiots!

    Posted 11.25.15 Reply