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Not to mention that in the rare and precious moments I do have to myself, it feels like a major risk to spend that time with someone I might never see again rather than catching up with friends, reading, zoning out to Netflix, or, you know, sleeping.
The men I’d normally take an interest in are often just starting their careers, still in undergrad, or staying out until 3AM every chance they get—whereas I’m living the opposite lifestyle, and as a party of two, not one. In spite of this barrage of challenges, I still have hope.
Still, the experts say single moms would do well to look for prospects in places other than our glowing screens.
“We treat online dating like we do our social media streams and select only the images that stand out to us,” says Silva.
“You already have a family, so if you want more than a fun hookup, your focus should be on a man who’s clearly father material,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author of . “Keeping your sex life separate from your child is crucial,” she says.
It makes perfect sense to me: My needs and desires have changed since having a child, so I want a more stable partner to be around regularly—not just for a booty call. “Having someone come in and out inconsistently isn’t good for any child, especially if they’re mourning the loss of two parents breaking up, or the absence of a parent in general.” As a young, single mom with a full plate, it’s a surprisingly common fantasy to seek out older partners for their wisdom and life experience—but experts advise not to date anyone just because he or she is your senior. “By locking into specific age, you may miss the perfect woman or man who’s right in front of you by applying these limitations.” Remember that age really doesn’t equal maturity.
“Don’t involve children in your dating life until you’re relatively sure the person is a long-term keeper,” says Dr. “I suggest single moms wait six to 12 months—that’s typically how long the ‘honeymoon phase’ lasts.” Holding off until then is a good way to minimize the risk of your child getting attached too soon.
Real talk: Considering the 200 different directions I’m pulled in each day—which include working full time; waking up with my six-month-old daughter at ungodly hours; cooking; cleaning; carpooling; bathing; co-parenting; dealing with temper tantrums; and still attempting to take care of myself—the mere of dating can sometimes seem nothing short of impossible.
“Well-meaning friends and family often can’t help but offer cautionary tales and unsolicited advice, projecting their own fears onto your new relationship,” she continues.
“This can confuse you and add unnecessary tension with your mate.” Same goes for a spat with an ex (or your child’s father) on social media: “Don’t post anything negative on social media, since nothing good can come of it, especially now that you have a child to worry about.” says Dr. “Take the high road and let it go.” Knowing when to introduce a love interest to your child can be really tough, but when in doubt, wait it out.
“When we’re young, we don’t have a ton of life experience,” says Dr. “Not all 20-something’s are that way, but it does take a while for women to figure out who we are as a person, and develop the strength to assert ourselves and make good boundaries and know who – and what – we want.” Bottom line: Figuring out who you are is something you owe yourself, and something that will help you find a more suitable partner in the future.
It can be tempting to vent on Facebook about how stubborn an ex is being, or share how happy you are in if you’ve found a relationship with someone new.