Dating as a single mom is a real challenge. When asking women how they feel about dating I always get a variety of responses. Some women can’t phantom dating, some women can’t wait to date again. But from both personal experience, and in interacting with so many women over 4 years of single mom ministry I do tend to see trends with women when it comes to looking for relationships. Some I see happen and I am so encouraged and hopeful, others I can’t help but hurt already for what is inevitable, a bad breakup. As founder of Thrive Single Moms, I have committed a lot of time to studying these patterns, to research and to learn more about the motives behind them. Healthy relationships require some interpersonal consideration, some energy and effort and a healthy community surrounding it. A healthy relationship takes two people involved and you are completely responsible one only – you. A lot of dating tragedies can be avoided by really being honest with yourself on the following points:
1. Am I healthy?
Have you given yourself time to heal? After divorce or a severe breakup, it is so tempting to jump into something too early to cover up the uncomfortable feeling of being alone and you may think it's just easier to avoid pain and hurts by the attention and affection of someone new. The truth is, if there is still healing work that must take place and is ignored you will inevitably, and even unfairly, bring those hurts into a new relationship and after the initial infatuation wears off, or even before then, you will find them sprouting up in the new relationship. This could be trust issues, identity loss, even a sense of longing for your ex, jealousy and envy, a sense of not knowing who you are or what you want, codependency, anger, and resentment. You could, unknowingly, put the healing work on your new partner expecting them to make up what you didn’t have, or what you are missing. A new healthy relationship should have the freedom to be its own unique journey and develop beautifully with two healthier people. You may never be perfectly healed, scars run deep sometimes, but do the uncomfortable working of emotional healing. Be fair to your new partner by letting them be themselves, not a band aid to your hurts.
2. Are my kids ready?
When you're a single mom your kids are first and their emotional healing is just as important. Children attach to new comers easily when they're young and harder when they're older. Making sure you've done your best to establish stability and healing for your kids is important. Be sure to create a safe space for your kids to voice their opinion on you dating and even remarrying. For both boys and girls, abuses are higher in single families. Statistically, they are more vulnerable to various forms of abuse. While no one can protect their child 100% from child abuse, especially sex abuse, creating a relationship of trust where your children feel they have a voice is a good place to start protecting them. Don’t dismiss their concerns or see their easy attachment as a sign to move forward in a relationship. Use wisdom in dating, give time to know the person you’re interested in, pay attention to concerns or red flags, get feedback from friends and supportive family members. You’re the gatekeeper to your family, take this role seriously.
3. Do I have the resources necessary?
Relationships take time and effort when you're a single mom. It means that you'll have to make some choices about sacrificing time and energy for this person. Don't allow a new person to consume you so that you disregard your obligations, career or children. You'll only set yourself up for failure and undo stress. Being honest with where you need to put your focus. As wonderful as relationships can be they do require a level of effort for your time. If you have committed yourself to some major goals like career advancement or education and training, or if you’re struggling financially on one income and having a hard time getting above water this may not be the best time to date. If you’re children are very young and need a lot of attention and commitment you may want to consider if you have the energy to date. Relationships will come, love has no boundaries of time. Don’t give into the sensation of fear that if you don’t have a relationship now you never will. Don’t compromise your goals or your commitment to your self-improvement.
4. Do I know what I want?
Being single is a time to establish and reconnect with you and what you feel your life should be. Have you really thought through what you want your future relationship to look like? Are you an active couple? Do you cook meals for each other? Do you travel? Are you in God's word together? Do you work in ministry together? Do you both hustle in your job and get inspired by chasing goals? You need to get clear and start doing those things yourself before you commit to a relationship and you will attract what you are. No man will suddenly come into your life and bring all of that with him. Create and do and God will bring the person at the right time who will make it even better. Be the person you want to meet. Be the best version of you. You’ll be more confident, more selective and more powerful in your dating position when you know exactly what you’re looking for and you’re already creating the life you want to live.
Dating and romance are some of those unpredictable things in life. You can’t foolproof them, risks are high but rewards are great too. While you can’t insure the success of a relationship, you can move yourself into a better position to date well. Loneliness can be one of the most driving factor for dating and it is the most dangerous reason. Loneliness isn’t solved by marriage or romantic relationships, some of the loneliest people in the world are married. But if you feel lonely and it’s hard for you to move past the feeling, connect with other healthy women. Joining a community of like-minded women and getting involved in a single mom’s ministry may change your life. Develop lifelong friendship with other women who are in the same season as yourself. Help each other move forward positively and powerfully and develop your support system and circle of friends, they can be with you for the rest of your life.
Founder & Executive Director Thrive Single Moms