You’re a successful career woman and a devoted single mom who is surrounded by great friends and family. Looking at you, anyone would think that you’ve got it made. But what happens when you get back into the dating scene? How do you let your date know that being in a relationship with you also means having to get along with your kids? Furthermore, how soon should you let your guy know about your children? Should you even consider dating again or just accept the possibility of being by yourself forever?
Read this article to find out how a single mom should deal with motherhood and dating.
Maan*, 37, is an executive assistant at a multinational firm. She was a mother of one and pregnant with her second child when she lost her husband in car accident five years ago. “He never even got to see our little baby girl,” she says.
It was difficult being a young widow, but she says she received a lot of support from family and friends. Two years after her loss, her closest friend suggested she start dating again. “I didn’t know what to say because it never really occurred to me,” she says. “I was so preoccupied with my kids and my work. But I decided to give it a go.”
She says her parents thought it was too soon, and were in fact scandalized by the idea that she would be going out while she left her young children with them, but for Maan’s mother-in-law, who was a widow herself, it was the right thing to do. “She told me, ‘You were a great wife to my son, and are a good mother to my grandchildren. You deserve someone who can take care of you too and be a partner in this family.”
Getting back to the dating scene wasn’t as easy as her friends said it would be. “In the early days, my mind would be preoccupied with my children—have they been tucked in? Did they get their milk? Did they miss me and my bedtime stories? I’d also fret about when to tell my date about my kids,” recalls Maan. “I didn’t want to hide the fact that I have children from my dates, but back then I was worried about the timing—would it ruin the date if they immediately found out I have children?”
After two awkward dates, Maan realized letting her potential dates know upfront she was a single mother was the best thing to do. “I lay my cards on the table and let them know I come as a package deal. They can take it or leave it.” She also established a new rule, “No more nighttime dates, at least for now. I want to be the one to tuck my kids into bed.”
Maan remains single, but has become more relaxed about dating. “I only date occasionally. I’m not quite the serial dater anyway,” she says. “But I’ve been seeing a guy who has met my kids by chance and they seem to get along. We’ll see what happens afterwards.”
THE EXPERTS SAY:
“Bringing kids into a potential romantic relationship can seem complicated,” says psychologist Stella Dizon of the Health and Wellness Center in Quezon City. “But it doesn’t have to be. Some people still prefer to keep silent about their kids in the initial stages of dating. But just when it’s about to start developing into a relationship, I believe it’s necessary to let him know about your children, because if it really gets serious, you’ll have to know if he can be a good father-figure for them. He will have to learn to get along with the children too. If he can’t, most single moms know that’s a deal-breaker right there. Leaving the kids with people you trust can also put your mind at ease while on your date.”
“I’m someone who deals with the truth better than with secrets,” says Irma Mutuc, a therapist at the Living Free Foundation in Makati. “So I’d like to know what I’m getting into. Find an appropriate time and ease the matter into the conversation, like casually mentioning some sweet thing your child did. It will set the tone for whatever relationship you would like to have with the guy—honest and open.”
Read the first part two parts of FN’s Mature Girl’s Dating Guide series:
- Mature Girl’s Guide to Dating: 3 Things Every Woman Should Do before Entering a Relationship
- How to Deal When You're Single after a Long-Term Relationship
Read this article for more dating tips for single moms:
*Names have been changed.
(First Published in Marie Claire Philippines Features section as “The 30+ Dating Guide” in February 2009; photos by Niccolo Cosme; adapted for use in Female Network)