Like many Circle of Moms members who are single, Jennifer R. is confident when it comes to play dates with her kids. But she feels nervous and a little confused over the adult dating world. “I am a single mom of a soon-to-be two-year-old who thought for sure I would never date again,” she says. “But a few weeks ago I met this guy and I really like him. I haven’t dated in three years and on top of being out of the dating scene, I am also stressing out about how to deal with being a single mom [who] dates and [how to] balance the two. How do I start?” she wonders.
She's not alone. Many single Circle of Moms members feel insecure and nervous about dating again. Here, they offer answers to questions Jennifer and others are asking as they broach the dating world the second time around: How do you know when to introduce your kids to the guy that you're dating? When is the right time to start dating after having a baby? And how do you know whether the guy is going to treat your kids okay?
1. It’s Normal to Be Freaked Out
It's natural to feel butterflies in your stomach, so don’t worry, advise single moms like Amanda T. “I just started seeing someone and I was nervous at first,” she says. “I even cried on our date because it was all new to me. My advice is to just take it slow. The guy I met was totally alright going at my pace and so I am now happy I met him.”
Wanda J., another mom who is considering dating again, says she’s trying to get over her fears and plans to get to know someone slowly, especially before introducing him to her son. “I haven't started dating yet either, but I do worry about how I will handle it. I think we have to boost our confidence by reminding ourselves that we are strong, independent, and smart women who are raising young children alone.”
2. Go Slowly
Many single moms, including Laura H., are afraid to jump into the dating game because they're scared of being hurt again. Laura says: “My ex knocked the confidence out of me and left me feeling worthless and untrusting." But, she reasons, “There has to be a couple of decent guys still out there, doesn’t there?"
When you’ve been burned and it's hard to believe that good guys exist, Nochelle U. advises easing into dating: “Don’t put pressure on yourself to immediately find Mr. Right and date lots of guys. I feel you have to wait for the right man. . . and that there is no need to hurry. Right now you can enjoy the dates. We should never settle for anything less than what we really would like to have or be with for that matter.”
3. Trust Your Instincts
Friends, families and co-workers may try to push you into dating when you aren’t ready. Or, they set you up with any guy is who is a warm body, describing him as “a really nice guy.” But single moms like Eileen stress that you don’t have to give in to the pressure and should follow your own instincts about who you will and won’t date. “I don’t think you should feel rushed, and should ask yourself if you feel comfortable with leaving your children with a babysitter,” says Eileen. “And if you go out with someone [who] doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. If you have doubts, listen to them very carefully. I think the most important thing is to not be looking for a man to save you from single motherhood. That is how you'll end up making bad choices. If you are happy with yourself, your kids, and your life, you have a much better chance of staying detached and rational while you're dating.”
4. Start Virtually
If you are uncomfortable about lining up in-person dates, one way to dip your toes into the dating pool is to start chatting with guys online, says Melanie A. "It is hard to get back on the dating scene when you have kids, as most guys would run a mile when you say you have kids." When you chat with someone online first, you can find out how they feel about kids before you ever meet.
Melanie also explains that online dating offers a much more realistic way to meet people when you have a single mom's schedule: "I started meeting people online and went from there. It was just easier for me as I work full time and my spare time is usually when the kids go to bed."
5. Prepare Your Kids
From making sure you’ve got the right babysitters in place to finding the right time to introduce men you are dating to your kids, thinking through how you will or won't involve your kids will lessen the stress involved in starting dating, suggest Circle of Moms members like Julie C. “Look for other single mothers in your area and trade babysitting nights,” she suggests. “You may be able to find groups at local churches or online somewhere, and build the relationships from there.” And, once you’ve started dating someone it is key that you feel comfortable with him around your kids, and/or even like kids in general, says Sara W.
Sara has been single for almost three years and relays that, "although finding quality people to date has never been a problem, finding ones that are okay with the kid factor has. My advice is don’t let anyone get into your children’s lives too quickly. Make sure that what you have with this person is a solid relationship before introducing them.”
Patty F. also suggests that single moms ask themselves: “How will this impact my kids?" and Mel D. agrees. "Every mom’s situation is different," she says, so "You just have to know your children and follow your heart. I have dated but only [with] my most current relationship have my kids met my boyfriend and understood that he is my boyfriend. Previously they had met a couple [of men I dated] but it was made clear to [the men] up front that when [my kids] were around we were just friends. It worked for us. Even when I did explain I was dating my current boyfriend it took adjusting to the situation.”
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