Choosing to be with someone who isn’t worthy of your time has a tendency to reflect poorly on you. I don’t mean to sound overly conceited or self absorbed but it tends to lead people to question your judgement. It is difficult to take much stock in the word of someone who has a difficult time managing certain aspects of his/her life.
I have been learning this the hard way. First, it came up in a conversation with a friend’s boyfriend. I introduced “Guy with the Smile” to him one night at a party and they really hit it off. They actually stayed in touch even after GwtS and I split up last November. One day about a month after we split and I had been on a date or two with the European, my girlfriend’s boyfriend called me out about having dated GwtS. He said he didn’t understand how I thought we were ever going to work. I didn’t answer because quite frankly I didn’t have an answer, all I knew was that I had wanted it to.
GwtS is younger than I am. We both had pretty marred childhoods. We both dealt with it very differently. I came out of mine seeming, at least at the surface, pretty unphased by my childhood. He wasn’t so lucky. In his teenage years he made some poor life choices, choices that he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. He made some mistakes but he had learned from them and moved on. In many ways we were very alike.
We were also fundamentally different. I am cautious by nature and he was borderline wreckless, with his words and actions. I knew none of it made sense but then I thought maybe it could. I was wrong.
This weekend I was talking to another friend about GwtS’s past and as I listed off the qualities that made him such an odd choice for me his expression went from confused to “WTF” very quickly. He just looked at me like I was insane. I think that was the first time I heard myself talk to someone about him frankly. I was mad. I should have been looking at myself that way. I finally was.
Iguess one of the perks and ultimately one of the faults in my optimism and acceptance is that I had opened myself up too much. I was so open that I wasn’t making any attempt to protect myself. I think the biggest lesson I have left to learn from this GwtS thing is that I still have to protect me. I can give within reason but only to people who deserve it and only when I am not hurting myself in the process.
Posted by trjensen on May 29, 2012
I decided I needed to offer a little more insight into the topic of dating a single mom. One of the scariest things for any single mother is letting a man into her children’s lives. It isn’t always the fear that someone might physically harm her child(ren) but that they run the risk of being emotionally damaged by her decision.
Single mothers, especially new single mothers, often feel the pressure to find a man while their child is still small. The more present that man is at an early age, the more likely the child is to accept and truly bond with him and vice versa. This pressure can stem from insecurity, a genuine need for support or misconception about how they may be perceived by society.
This puts women in a very precarious position. They run the risk of falling prey to one of the most common types of douche bag. I don’t know one single mother who hasn’t date this man and he is the reason she is cautious when she dates from that point further. This is a necessary lesson although a painful one to learn.
Every single mom dates the guy who will try to get to her by using her kids. She usually dates him early in her new role as a parent. I didn’t date much when my son was small and never involved men in my family so I learned this lesson when my son was much older. Men who aren’t serious about a relationship with a single mother often try to get her attention by expressing an interest in her child(ren). This is very enticing for a single mom. She has often resigned herself to the fact that she will have a difficult time finding someone to accept her circumstances let alone seem to embrace them. Men who do this are despicable.
This is generally the first timeshe will see her child’s heart break and it also the reason she will forever be hesitant to allow a man to be involved with her children. This “man” is an important part of learning how to be a single parent. He is a necessary evil. If you find yourself wanting a real relationship with a single mom you have to let her accept you in her own time. Don’t focus too much on her children or push the idea of group outings involving her kids.
She has learned her lesson and when she is ready to share her life with you she will. Don’t push her because odds are that her distance has nothing to do with how she feels about you and everything to do with wanting to protect her kids.
Posted by trjensen on April 23, 2012
I got a request from a reader, Davis. He wanted me to discuss dating a single mom.
I’m an avid reader of your blog sometimes having to put everything else on hold. I’d like you to write about and maybe you have and shall point me to the right post – dating the single mother. Twice in a row I have fallen into delicate situations where:-
SCENE 1: a single mum and I are really hitting it off in every way you can think of.
SCENE 2: Everyday motherhood reality sets and shifts her focus to the intricate balance of providing for and spending time with her kid(s). I think this can be read as the fear of being hurt, or its-too-good-to be-true and focuses on where her future and security is inevitably invested, her kid(s), where she can’t possibly be heart broken by a 2 yr old.
SCENE 3: I feel sidelined, and tactfully withdraw coz to press further puts so much pressure on her to keep up with all 3 aspects of her life – her kid, myself, work.
SCENE 4: The I-hate-to-love-you-and-leave-you feeling takes hold
Dating a single mom can be difficult for a man. It is confusing and trying to find time to be a couple can be very difficult. I stopped dating shortly after my son turned five. I just found it difficult to focus on his needs and trying to balance that with a relationship. I also wanted to focus on my son. He needed me and that need was more significant than my wants.
A single mom is no longer solely worried about your emotional well-being. Her decisions affect someone else. I had many single mother friends who did date. When things were rocky in their relationships the children were often hurt too. Women want to shield their children from this. If she lets a man into her child’s life and he leaves, he isn’t just leaving her. She may be equipped to deal with this but it affects her family. Her children run the risk of feeling abandoned and hurt. Her attention can also be divided as she is trying to heal from a failed relationship that detracts from her time with her children.
It is understandably difficult to take that risk. A single mom’s children come first and she has to protect them. Single mothers are different from childless women. Children can make a woman more guarded. What she wants for herself may not be what is best for her children and most women know that. They don’t date the same way. They have different priorities.
If a man wants to date a single mother I think the most important thing to remember is that she is and always will be a mother first. If you aren’t serious about a relationship with her then don’t involve her children but accept that she will always meet their needs and wants before her own. If you are serious about her or really want to have relationship then don’t pressure her. When she feels comfortable with you she will let you in. If she doesn’t it is time to move on.
If you are certain that you want relationship, be honest with her. Give her time to find a way that that works for her family. Letting someone into her family is frightening because it just doesn’t just impact her. She has to see how you fit. Don’t force the issue because if she cares about you then you both can find a way to make it work.
Here is another great post on the subject.
Eight Little Rules for Dating a Single Mom
Posted by trjensen on April 23, 2012