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6 Things to Know When Dating a Single Mom

A single mom with her son who’s laughing, showing what it’s like to be dating a single mom.

When you’re dating a single mom, you’re signing up for something serious, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making a huge commitment. A single mom will always put her children before her dating life, as she should. Her kids are going to be the most important thing in her life, her biggest priority. You need to be respectful of her life, her children, and her time. But, depending on her situation, she may also have a lot of freedom and time to dedicate to you and your relationship.

If you’re dating a single mom, here are a few things you can do to make the relationship fun and lasting:  

Be flexible.
A mom’s time is precious to her. If you’re dating someone with kids, something will come up. She may have to cancel a date because a kid is sick or there’s an emergency at school. Or there may be certain days of the week that don’t work for her and her schedule at all. If you want the relationship to work you’ll need to be a more understanding and flexible, than you would be otherwise.

Be creative.
Some date idea might not work well when you are dating a single mom. If you’re used to a nice dinner out and then a late night at a bar with lots of wine and drinks, you may have to let go of that dream. Not for every night, but for the majority of them. If the person you’re dating has kids, and she’s raising them by herself, she may not have the bandwidth to stay up late. It’s important to branch out and be creative with your date suggestions. Give up your signature date ideas for something less time-consuming that’s more flexible, and save the big nights out for when she doesn’t have the kids waiting at home.  

Don’t be pushy.
Let’s say you really like this woman and can’t wait to be a bigger part of her life. Depending on your personality, you may or may not be super excited to meet her kids. Regardless of how you feel or what you want, it’s important to not be pushy when it comes to integrating yourself into her life. Meeting someone’s kids is a really big deal. Most single parents don’t want their children getting attached to someone they’re dating until they are sure it’s going to work out, or at least last for a considerable amount of time. Don’t push to meet her kids or spend more time with them until she and the kids (and potentially her ex) are ready for that.

Get used to her ex being around.
“Single” mom only means that she’s currently not partnered, it doesn’t mean there’s no ex in sight. If the other parent is around he or she needs to be considered and respected as well, regardless of what happened at the end of the relationship. As a new partner, it’s not your place to defend or disrespect her ex. Hopefully, it’s a positive relationship now and everyone gets along. But even if it isn’t, it’s not your place to push back against his or her presence.

Don’t play parent.
Disciplining someone else’s kids is usually pretty inappropriate. As you naturally get to know these kids, be aware of your role in their life. These children already have one or two parents in their lives and they don’t immediately need another. In the future, if you and their mother move in together or get married, and your role is more parental, you can assist in laying down the rules and boundaries. But only then, and only after a serious discussion and plan with your partner and her ex. It’s not your place to discipline.

Be supportive.
Single moms have a lot on their plate! Besides raising children and navigating a separation, there’s work, school, household chores, cooking, and everything else you can think of. Your partner is likely the emotional support for numerous people, so why not be the emotional support for her? Besides being understanding and flexible and patient, being supportive is major. She will really appreciate your support, whether it looks like a shoulder to cry on or an ear to just listen. Support is key in any relationship, but especially when dating a single mom who may be used to being everyone else’s rock.

Listen to what she wants from you.
Single moms are incredibly special, and do every and anything for their children. If you’re dating a single mom, keep in mind that she may need you to be there for her in a bigger way than you’re used to. Or, she may be the complete opposite, and may not want something serious from someone right now. As with any relationship, listen to the person you’re with and respect their needs and wants while also making sure you’re getting what you need and want out of the relationship.

If you’re new to it, the idea of dating a single mom may seem like a big deal. But it’s incredibly common. Yes, you’re dating a single mom but that’s not all she is. Her kids are a huge part of her life, but they’re not the only part. Have fun, enjoy dating someone different and new, and see where things go.

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