The Single Mom's Guide to Finding New Love

Remember the dating scene when you were younger? Maybe you were a fun party girl who hit the dance floor with your friends and went after what you wanted like a man-seeking missile. Or perhaps you were the quiet type who met prospective dates through friends and family and focused on settling down with someone special. Whoever you were then, entering the dating scene again after having kids is a whole different world and will require a different approach.

How Things Have Changed

If it's been some time since you were in the market for a mate, things have probably changed for you.

The number one factor that has brought change to your life is, of course, your children. Being a mother not only changes the practical parts of a woman's life; it changes to some extent who she is and how she feels. Once you have children, you know what it is to love unconditionally, so all other loves have a hard time competing.

You also put your children's happiness and well being first, which makes you more discerning when seeking out a new prospective mate. Now when a guy gets your attention, you're not just thinking, "he's cute", you're imagining how he might interact with your children should things progress that far.

Your emotional maturity has probably gone up a level or 10 since you had kids and entered the adult world. You most likely have a pretty good idea of what you want in a man (or at least what you don't want!) and you're wise enough to think things through. You can enjoy the warmth of attraction between you and a guy, but you're not about to mistake it for everlasting love.

You may be in a very different financial position than you were when you first started dating. It's possible that you've acquired money and assets through advancement in your career or through your divorce settlement. This puts you in a position of greater power that allows you to be choosier.

If your money situation hasn't improved too much or has taken a hit since your relationship ended, you're most likely focused on rebuilding your life and looking for a man who will understand your goals and work with you towards them.

Where To Meet Prospective Partners

Now that you're a mother, you might feel uncomfortable with the bar scene and other hangouts that cater mainly to the young and childfree crowd.

You might want to consider some family-friendly spots to meet and chat with single men. While you by no means have to date men who are single dads, it may help to have this major factor in common.

Places like the park, the kid corner of the library, and other kid-friendly environments all provide opportunities for running into a single dad. Unfortunately, moms (single or otherwise) far outnumber single dads at any of these locations. Still, it doesn't hurt to give it a try and see who you meet.

Friends and family can be helpful in your search for a mate. Most people know at least a few guys who are single or divorced. Let your friends and family know you're looking and they'll probably be glad to help.

Some people shy away from fix-ups like this because of the possible drama that could result if it doesn't work out, but others find that the extra support of having friends in common helps to get the relationship going in the right direction, whether it turns to romance or stays platonic.

The Internet is another place to meet single men, but most of us know the pitfalls of online dating. It's best to join a reputable site like Match.com or eHarmony instead of wasting your time in random chat rooms fending off the unwanted advances of men who aren't worth your time.

Find out if your city has a local chapter of Parents Without Partners. This organization provides support and encouragement for single parents. While it's not a dating club, you can meet lots of new people through meetings, and finding a prospective partner there isn't out of the question.

You never know where you'll run into a great guy. It can be everyday spots like the grocery store, Laundromat, or coffee shop. Be friendly and approachable and keep your options open.

Tips For Re-Entering the Dating Scene

  • Be realistic. You should definitely have an idea of what kind of man you want in your life, but don't create an image of a perfect Prince Charming that nobody can live up to. At the same time, don't idealize a less-than-perfect guy, glossing over his faults. Instead, take a realistic view and decide which positive attributes you want in a guy and which faults you're willing to overlook.
  • Accept yourself. If it's been awhile since you've dated, you probably notice that you don't look the same as you did back then. For many of us, that's an understatement. Kids and time change our bodies in ways that can sometime be undone, and sometimes can't. Getting a makeover can be helpful for your appearance and self esteem, so if you want to get one, go for it. Do as much as your budget and personal preference allows, and have a good time. Just don't beat yourself up for not looking the way you did at 18. Everyone has something to offer. Let your best self shine through.
  • Don't jump in too quickly. You might be emotionally vulnerable when you first start dating again. It's not always an easy step to take. Try not to throw yourself into serious relationships too quickly; you may be sorry later. Don't get your kids too involved with a guy who may or may not be around; give the relationship a chance to prove its staying power. If you're comfortable with keepings things casual for a while, that may be the best way to go. That way you can get your feet wet again without too much pressure to commit.
  • Have fun! Dating when you have kids may be a slightly nerve-wracking endeavor, but it doesn't have to be serious and boring. Not every relationship will work out, but you can at least have a good time searching for Mr. Right.