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Lessons In Dating: My Single Mom Dating Rules

I may not have been actively back in the dating scene for very long, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about dating. Through a series of mistakes, I’ve developed my own set of “Dating Rules,” for the single mama.

  1. If he can’t commit to a date, he won’t commit to you.

    Having trouble getting him to pick a time, date, or place for your date? Move on. He can give you as many excuses as you’ll put up with, but when it comes down to it, that’s all they are: Excuses. If he’s interested in getting to know you, he’ll want to make sure a date happens. He’ll want to make sure he’ll be seeing you and he’ll do it by securing a date and a time in your schedule.

  2. Know When To Pick Your Battles.
    I find that since becoming a parent, I’ve become really picky in who I date. The qualities that initially attract me to someone aren’t necessarily the qualities that I am looking for in a significant other. I’ve become very picky when it comes to who I want to interact with my child. The thing is, though, you need to know when and where to be flexible with what you’re looking for.
    You have to think, “needs vs. wants.”
    • I want someone who is outdoorsy and enjoys the same type of movies that I do.
      I need someone who I see sharing the same parenting style and values that I do.
    • Will you decide that someone isn’t right for you just because they don’t like the same kind of music as you, despite the fact that you are compatible and have fantastic chemistry? Probably Hopefully not.
    • On the flipside, are you going to start a relationship with someone who believes in screaming and spanking, when you believe in healthy discussion and time outs, just because you have the same long-term goals?
      You really need to sit down, think, and prioritize.
  3. Be Flexible.
    While you can’t completely rearrange your schedule (especially when you have children) keep in mind that if you’re constantly turning a guy down (or cancelling on him) because of scheduling conflicts, he’ll eventually stop asking.
    Again, if he’s constantly turning you down, or cancelling on you, then he’s demonstrating that he lacks respect for your time – and in turn, you.

    Don’t have a lot of time without the kids, or can’t afford a babysitter? Have a date at home, after the kids are in bed. A movie in the living room, a late dinner in the kitchen, a drink on the deck. Normally, a dangerous strategy when it comes to abstaining from sex, but it’s a lot easier to resist when you know your little ones are asleep in the next room.

  4. Sex
    Don’t do it on the first date, but don’t wait too long either.
    Personally, sexual chemistry is huge for me. If there isn’t any chemistry, I’m not going to be interested for very long, no matter how much we have in common, but if you do it on the first date, there are going to be questions in both of your minds.

    “Is this something they do often? How many people have they slept with on the first date? Why was this so easy?”

    I’ve slept with someone I had a great connection with and everything fizzled out after that and I’ve slept with someone after waiting to become monogomous, only to realize that it would never work because we lacked chemistry between the sheets. (Yes, it was that bad.)

    There has to be a happy medium.

  5. Be Honest.

    Put everything out there. Don’t be deceitful and don’t exaggerate. If you’re looking for something long-term, it’ll never happen if you aren’t honest from the start.

  6. Be Open.
    You never know who you’re going to meet, or where you’re going to meet them. Be open to new people, new places and new adventures! Don’t be afraid to take yourself out – go for a coffee, grab some sushi and a drink and enjoy yourself.
    You’re more likely to meet somebody when you seem happy and comfortable with yourself, than you are if you’re staying holed up in your apartment.

    Don’t keep a rigid checklist of what you’re looking for in a mate. Looks can be deceiving – you’ll never know who someone is unless you really give them a chance. Agree to dates you would normally turn down – even if it goes nowhere romantically, you may just meet a great new friend – or someone that may be perfect for another single friend!

  7. Don’t Move Too Fast.
    It can be tempting to jump in with both feet when you find someone that you have a connection with – especially when they’re exactly what you’ve been looking for and they’re looking for the same things as you.
    When you get too comfortable, too fast, you’ll find you overlook a lot of things that you may not have if you’d taken your time and slowed things down. You may find that you compromise and accept a couple (or many) traits that would normally be dealbreakers.

    This rule is especially important when you have children. The last thing you want to do is introduce your child(ren) to someone and have them get attached and emotionally invested. You’ll be more apt to stay in a relationship that isn’t going to work out in the end if you’ve already introduced everybody.
    I’m always upfront about my desire to wait to introduce my child to people that I’m dating. I find that sharing that rule with potential partners helps to weed them out, as well. You’d be surprised how many guys decide they aren’t interested in dating me because they’re “offended” that I prefer to keep those aspects of my life separate for some time.
    And, while I understand that some people want to know right away whether their children get along with someone before pursuing a relationship, I highly recommend doing it the other way around.
    A relationship between two people is just that: between those two people.
    You need to see where it is going before incorporating the parenting aspect of your life – much like you would wait until you know where a relationship with someone is going before introducing them to your parents.

    Think of your children like that: Your tiny, adorable parents. Are you ready to introduce them to mom and dad? No? Then you probably aren’t ready to introduce them to your children.

  8. Look Good, Feel Good.
    You’d be surprised how a nice thorough cleaning of your apartment, a little bit of makeup or some effort into your hairstyle can change the way you feel.
    Take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day to do something that makes you feel good. Spend that extra time putting more thought into what you’re wearing for the day, put on some sexy panties, to put on a little mascara, or to give yourself a great blow-out – whatever it is you decide to do, do it for you.
    When you feel good about yourself, you’ll smile more and put out a much more positive vibe than if you’re schlepping around in your yoga pants, flip flops and a ponytail. (My usual garb, but hey – I’m still working on myself!)

    When you feel good, you attract good things.

  9. Don’t Spend Your Entire Date Talking About Your Kids

    Your kids are a HUGE aspect of your life, but that’s a given. Talk about you and what makes you awesome (aside from your fabulous spawn.)
    It’s okay to have a night that doesn’t revolve around around your children. By all means, answer any questions your date may have, or give a basic rundown of your little ones, but try to steer the conversation into an adult direction.
    Let him get to know you.
    If your children are all you can talk about during an evening you don’t have to be focused on them, he may think that parenting is all there is to you.

  10. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Settle Down With The First Guy You Meet

    When a guy asks me why I’m single, I usually say, “because I’m not desperate enough to date someone who isn’t looking for what I want and who won’t treat me properly.”
    I know it may come off as harsh, but it’s true – and I think that rule should be one that anyone who is dating should follow – be it a man, woman, parent or not.

    Settling down with someone just because they’re showing an interest in you is a recipe for disaster. Take your time, figure out what you want and what you’re looking (or not looking) for and ensure that the men you’re dating qualify.

    I know, as single moms, we are almost held to a different standard when it comes to dating. A lot of times we’re perceived as promiscuous, simply because we’re unmarried with children but that shouldn’t make you afraid to date more than one person, just like someone who doesn’t have children. Just like I stated above, you have to be open – do you think the guy you’re “meant to be with” is going to sit around and wait for you to finish feeling out the guy you’re dating now? No, he isn’t.
    Be proactive. Take chances.
    If someone doesn’t like that you’re dating (not sleeping with) multiple men, then have a discussion about exclusivity. If he isn’t ready to be in an exclusive and monogomous relationship with you, then you shouldn’t allow him to dictate how many people you can date.

You may not like, or believe in my rules, but they work for me.
Perhaps you should sit down and come up with some rules that work for you.
Just like anything, dating isn’t something you want to go into unprepared.
You would never make a big purchase, like buying a car, without knowing what you need out of one and doing some research beforehand. Buying a car is a big commitment to get into without a plan.
So is a relationship.
Think about what you’re looking for and what you want, and then plan for it. Going after what you want only works when you know what you want.

Here’s your homework: Think about the dating rules you (maybe unconsciously) apply to your love life and leave your number one rule in the comments.
Let’s add to my list!

Edited to add:

I figured this goes without saying but just in case:

Bonus Rule: Leave The Drama At Home
Bringing up the baby daddy/mama drama isn’t going to go anywhere positive. Leave any negative talk about about your ex or your past relationship at home. It’s unnecessary and inappropriate.
If you ignore this rule, don’t expect a second date – this guy will be long gone. Nobody wants to bring drama into their life and when it seems like that’s all your life is full of, it’s not likely anyone will be interested in involving themselves in that on purpose.
Think before you speak.

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