Below is an email I received from a woman seeking advice. Her concern is that if she starts dating, her ex is going to badmouth her to the guys. I decided to give her advice by writing “10 Single Mom Dating Tips.”
Jackie, I’m wondering if you can write about dating as a single mom when your ex is especially difficult. In any divorce, when you think about dating again, you get overwhelmed, but what if you add to that worries about your ex actually trying to sabotage any attempt to move on, just to “get even”?
What if your ex has called all your family members, friends, even your new job, just to try to discredit you? Surely a new boyfriend would get that same treatment, or worse…
My ex is a narcissist and very difficult. I’ve set firm limits, we hardly
talk, and I have a great attorney. But I worry about meeting someone amazing and them running away because of my ex and his need to control everything (still). I know I’m not alone, because many women leave narcissist husbands. Can you write about this?
10 Single Mom Dating Tips
1. Make sure the guy knows you are a single mom. In other words, don’t try to keep it a secret. A friend of mine met a woman he fell head over heels for. It always bothered me that she didn’t tell him she had two young kids until the 3rd or 4th date. Why was she trying to hide her children instead of taking pride in her two most beloved human beings? That really showed her colors, in my opinion. Was she insecure and afraid he wouldn’t want to go out with her? In other words, she felt she had to sell herself and then “break it to him” that she had kids. That disgusts me. The girl turned out to be a complete nightmare, liar and cheater, and it didn’t work out, anyhow. But, my friend did not care AT ALL that she had kids. In fact, he liked it.
2. Single mom attire and dating attire are totally different. If you feel like saying, “Jackie, please don’t insult us, we know how to dress for a date,” then I apologize.But, true story. A single mom I know came to a party I was at dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt, her hair in a ponytail and no makeup. And this is a woman who really wants to meet someone. In other words, she wasn’t just there to see her girlfriends. When getting ready for a date, keep in mind that even though you are a great mom, tonight you are an attractive, feminine, sexy woman, and your goal is to feel as pretty as you can.
3. Know when to stop talking about your kids. I could go on and on about what a great basketball player my 13 year old son is, or how cute my 11 year-old daughter’s smile is, and think nothing of it. But know when enough is enough. A date is about getting to know each other, so try to focus on asking the guy questions about himself and his life and sharing information about yourself. I do get it that kids are a huge part of a single mom’s life, but just remember that there’s a lot more to you than being a mom. Where did you go to college? What do you love about your career? What are your dreams? What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?
4. Be honest and upfront about why you got divorced. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you need to have “a story.” Not a made up story, just a good answer for the question your date will surely ask: “Why did you get divorced?” A bad answer is, “Because my ex is a total asshole.” Just be honest, but leave out details that will make you seem angry or bitter, or that you have the victim mentality.
5. Don’t badmouth your ex or talk about things he did or is doing that bug you. That will turn off your date and you will most likely never hear from him again. If you want to complain about your ex, call your girlfriends, tell your therapist or journal your feelings.
6. Don’t introduce him to your kids too soon. Just because you are head over heels with your new guy, doesn’t mean your kids are going to be. This is where not being selfish has to come into play. Enjoy the new relationship for yourself and give your kids a break. They will meet him eventually, if you end up getting serious. Your kids will have such a better reaction if you wait a little while.
7. Have faith in your new guy, regardless of what he might be hearing around town or from your ex. When I hear a guy bitching about his ex-wife, I kind of roll my eyes, and chances are, that’s exactly what your guy will probably do, should your ex try to “warn” him of getting involved with you. It’s totally out of your control. It’s your word against your ex’s. So, if your guy really loves you, he is going to take your side and decide for himself about you and your character. Have faith!
8. Don’t constantly talk about how hard it is being a single mom. It is hard. I know that. And, chances are, if your date is a single dad, he knows that, too. So, no need to talk about how you were carpooling all night, or that you are working two jobs, or that your ex rarely sees the kids. Single moms are rarely validated. So, don’t expect to hear how great you are from anyone.Know in your heart how great you are. That should be enough.
9. Take it slow. If your date thinks you are interviewing him for husband number two, he is going to run away really fast.
10. Enjoy yourself. Dating is supposed to be fun, so don’t put pressure on yourself that it has to work out. Every date, every guy you meet will add something to your life, hopefully something good, whether it works out or not. So, just go in with that attitude and you can’t lose!