Dating is hard at the best of times, but when you're a single mum it can be extra-tricky. Thankfully, mum-of-one Emma Mathews is here to show you the ropes...
So, you’re ready to take the plunge and jump back into the uncertain waters of the dating pool. But now you’re a mummy and come as a package deal - an obligatory multipack – which means the man you’re looking for needs to not only be your soul mate but also impress your kids (so you’re not looking for too much, then!).
The simple truth is – the whole dating thing is not the same as it was pre-children. Oh no. Once you were skilled in swapping numbers in nightclubs or meeting new men in the gym. Now your skill set is completing the housework one handed and the only man you’re likely to meet is the postman.
So here are seven tips to help you survive dating as a single Mom...
1. Dating apps are your friend
Let’s be honest with each other; you are never going to charm Mr Right in the cereal aisle wearing yesterday’s clothes (and you probably won’t even notice him anyway, as you’ll be trying to calculate which brand contains the least sugar while attempting to ignore your chids chocolate-related meltdown).
When the only public places you frequent are soft play centres, petting zoos and playgrounds, the likelihood of meeting a male is extremely low. And if you do stumble upon a sexy stay at home Dad they are always married.
So why leave the house to find a match when you can swipe through thousands of potential dates from your sofa in your pyjamas?
And therein lies the joy of the dating app.
2. Full disclosure of the mini-me
Scrolling through a few of my ancient Tinder messages, the majority of the conversations have ended with me mentioning my son. It’s at that point they usuall ghost me (as in disappear like a ghost, never to be seen or heard of again).
I’ve even heard stories of women not telling guys until the third date (by which point they’re already pretty invested in the relationship), and then never making it to the fourth.
So my advice? Own up to being a mother in your profile, and you won’t have to do a big (and possibly awkward) reveal further down the line. After all, being is mother really isn’t something to be ashamed of now, is it!
Yes, this might put some people off at the first hurdle, but being a mum is far too important to hide, and if a prospective date’s not into it, it really is better to know sooner rather than later.
3. Beware of the MILF hunters
That said… there are some men who are actively looking for a single mother. Yes, I’m serious!
Well for some lovely chaps, it’s because they admire our independent natures, our ability to manage motherhood and careers singlehandedly and our proven childbearing and rearing capabilities.
Then there are the other ones. The guys who seek out single mums because they think we are sexually deprived, frustrated and, consequentially, ‘gagging for it’. These are the ones you want to avoid at all costs!
Somewhere between Stiffler’s and Stacey’s Mom, single mothers have been promoted from unwanted spinsters to seductive cougars. An ex-boyfriend once admitted he only went on the first date with me as he thought I would be ‘easy’. And ultimately he is now an ex.
So, I repeat. Beware the MILF hunters.
4. Don't believe the "I ALWAYS look after my Nephew” guy
Call me cynical, but I am so over the men who think it will impress you that they sometimes look after someone else’s kid.
They may make a point of telling you they’re godfather to their mate’s children or that they teach/coach/support children in their day job.
Truth is, that precious godchild they haven’t seen in months doesn’t even remember their name.
5. Channel your inner stalker
I’d say this is good advice for anyone who’s planning to try online dating, but obviously if you’re a single mum you have to be extra vigiliant.
To avoid being catfished (i.e. duped into a relationship with someone who’s not who they say they are), I recommend putting on your detective cap.
Dating apps do half the work for you by linking users social media profiles, so don’t be shy - have a snoop. If your scrolling through the Instagram of an ‘avid gym goer’ and find images of doughnuts instead of dumbbells, there’s a good chance he’s lying.
Alternatively get him to add you on Facebook, or you can always take the stealth route by tracking him down through mutual friends (Tinder handily tells you who your mutual friends are if you have any).
Provided his profile isn’t a pesky private you will find yourself with an encyclopaedic knowledge of how often he sees his mother to how many jobs he's got through.
Just remember which information he has provided and which is social media harvested intel, and prepare an appropriate ‘I have just this second found that out about you’ face for when he does tell you!
6. Remain in your underwear until the last possible minute
D-day (as in Date Day, obvs) has arrived! You have plucked, scrubbed, painted, shaved and plastered on the under eye concealer. Your date outfit has been carefully chosen and ironed.
Your date outfit has been cobbled together inbetween dinner and bath time, and hung up in the hope the creases might drop out.
NOW – and this is the important bit – do not put it on until the very last possible minute. Trust me, it’s the only way to avoid the risk of contamination by jammy fingers, snotty noses and low flying felt tips.
Having said that, it’s imperative you time your transformation from knackered mum to sexy singleton precisely though. You don’t want to be flashing the babysitter.
7. Just enjoy it
Now, this may sound difficult, but just relax and be yourself. Your never going to keep up the pretence for long anyway.
And remember, not every date needs to lead to something. Even if you know within the first three seconds that he’s not Mr Right, you are out of the house, having a conversation with an adult and there are no squabbling children at your feet. Enjoy it!