The Ultimate Guide to Dating a Single Mom

By: Michele Baird
Updated: April 5, 2021
A single Mother with her baby

Dating a new person can be exciting, nerve-racking, and wonderful, but when your new romantic partner is also a single mom, you may find new joys and challenges to face.

Dating a single mom can be a wonderful experience, but it is wise to understand everything this new relationship may entail. 

What Single Moms Look For In a Person

First off, are you even someone that a single mom would want to date. Moms are always busy. They have very little time to themselves, so if they are going to start taking the little free time they may find and spend it with you, they want to make sure that you are worth the effort. 

Currently, in America alone, there are about 15 million single mothers. That means that there isn't one comprehensive list of things that every single mom wants. These are just guidelines for things that many single moms find attractive in a partner. 

Dependability 

A single mom doesn't have a ton of time. When you make plans, it is crucial that they can count on you to follow through on them. Plans, both big and small, take time and effort for her to set up.

Even something as small as dinner and a movie can take a week of planning to pull off for the single mother. If you bail at the last moment, it will be a big deal. When you make plans with a single mom, you better do everything in your power to keep them.  

Directness

Lack of time keeps coming up in these, but that stems from the fact that most single moms don't have enough to spare. If you want to date a single mom, you have to be direct about it. Ask her out, don't just ask to hang out, go to a party, or meet up with a group. 

Tell her you want to take her out, and then understand if making those plans can be a little complicated with her work and child care schedule. She will appreciate not having to spend time dancing around the topic. 

Stability

It may have been an adventure pre-kids to run around the country following your bliss, but now for a single mom, she doesn't have that luxury. She has to take care of the kids, which often means being able to be where they need her. 

She is working hard and then coming home to a family that needs her to do even more. If you want to be a free spirit, that may not work for her. She needs someone willing to be there with her day in and day out. 

Stability doesn't mean she expects commitment from you before the first date; it just means that if you do start dating, she doesn't expect you to plan any crazy adventures, at least not without discussing it first.  

Honesty

The old saying that honesty is the best policy has become a cliche for a reason; it's a fact. Honesty is one of the most important things for every relationship, and it is not different with single moms. 

Not everyone is in a position to date a single mom. As much as that may be unpleasant to hear, it is better to find it quickly rather than a month into the relationship. If you aren't ready to date a single mom, be upfront and let her know. 

If you hold back or try to date her because you are worried about hurting her feelings, all you are doing is wasting her time and yours. She will always be a mom. That isn't going to change. 

If you love kids, let her know that. If you aren't sure about kids, let her know that as well. Honesty will allow both of you to make a plan that will work, which is why it is so essential to busy single moms. 

Low Maintenance 

Your new partner already has at least one child that she has to take care of every day. She doesn't have the energy or the desire for a grown one. She wants a partner who is self-assured, independent, and able to take care of themself. 

She has probably already had enough drama for two lifetimes, and she isn't looking for more. She will want you to be open and honest with her, and she will likely return the favor. 

Caring 

Caring is a no-brainer for any relationship. With single moms, it's even more critical. She isn't expecting you to become a parent to her child right now, but she will always be looking at how you interact with people and considering how that will translate to her kids.

She also wants you to care about her. She will want you to listen and understand how her day went, and she will want to hear about your day. She expects you to ask about her kids, and like most moms, she will be more than happy to talk about them.  

Compassionate 

Compassion is another relationship essential for everyone, but it can take on a whole new meaning for single moms. They will need you to understand that even if they want to go out to dinner or hang out at the bar, there will be times their kids need them. 

When this happens, they need you to show compassion and sometimes hang out with them on their, or their kids, terms. 

Single Mom Dating Expectations

Now that you have seen some of the things that single moms will expect from you, it is time for you to understand some of the new experiences you might face if this is your first time dating a single mom.

Dating is dating, though, so the same advice and lessons for dating will apply to single mothers. There are a few unique single mom experiences, but a solid relationship is usually built on the same foundation as dating anyone.    

Understand It Won't Be All About You 

Even if she is deeply into you, you're going to be at least sharing the spotlight with her kids. The children depend on her for almost everything, so they will always be the first thing on her mind. 

She will have to consider how everything she does affects those children, and even though sometimes you may not see why she can't or won't do something, it doesn't mean she doesn't want to. 

When something comes up that involves her children, she may make plans, deal with problems, and shift plans so that she can take care of her kids, even if it comes at the expense of her happiness. 

You're often going to feel like you're not the most important thing in her life, and the truth is you aren't. Mom's make sacrifices for their kids, and if you are in a long-term relationship with a mom, you may have to make some sacrifices too. 

Plans Will Change

You got the tickets, made the reservation, and have the perfect evening all planned out, and then she calls and tells you that her child is sick. She won't be able to come out tonight. Depending on your relationship, you may have to skip the show too and help her. 

No matter how far in advance you make plans, sometimes things will get in the way, and you will have to be ready to change those plans. Odds are she will be just as upset as you are about missing the plans too, but she has a responsibility that may get in the way. 

If you are unable or unwilling to change your plans at a moment's notice dating, a single mom will be difficult for you. Sometimes it helps to remember that she isn't the one forcing the changes. She is just reacting to new information as it becomes available. 

Romance May Be Different 

Hopeless romantics may still be hopeless romantics; they also may be a little more tired and down to earth. What may have once seemed like a romantic gesture may now be interpreted as obnoxious. 

It will be up to you to determine how your partner's prescription of romance has changed. Figuring out where they stand on romance can help save both of you some hard feelings down the road.

Also, weekend getaways and luxury hotel nights may not be in the cards, at least not very often, unless you want the kids to join you. You have to find your romance where you can get it. If that means cuddling while the kids watch Frozen, you might have to adapt.

If you are not sure, discuss romantic plans with her, especially at first. As you begin to learn where she stands on romance, it will be easier for you to surprise her. 

Her Kids, Her Rules

When you date a mom, you really should be at least excited about meeting children. If you have a problem with kids, the relationship is doomed before the first date. Even if you love kids, though, remember that it is up to her how and when you will meet them. 

She may want you to interact with her kids right away, not as a father but as a friend. She may also not want to introduce you until she knows if your relationship has a chance of going anywhere. It's entirely up to her how much or how little interaction you will have with her kids. 

When you interact with her kids, the final word on what is and isn't acceptable is hers. Whatever her rules are for her kids, you should follow them. She and the children both have to be comfortable with the part you will be playing in their life, so listen, and consider how they feel.

You can voice your opinions and your interest in her children. They are a massive part of her life, so as you get to know her, you will start to know them. However, she will always make the final decisions on anything about her children. 

You May Have to Interact With the Ex 

It can sometimes be hard to hear old stories about a new partner's Ex, but when kids are involved, it becomes very likely that you will have to have repeated interactions with the Ex. It can be challenging and emotionally draining for everyone involved. 

Like with the children, it is best to follow your new partner's lead when talking to the Ex. She may not want you two interacting much because it can be strange for her as well, or she may want you to be friendly with the Ex for the children's sake. 

If you feel uncomfortable or have questions, you will have to voice them. She has to know how you feel about dealing with her Ex. Communication on the topic may help you avoid problems down the road. 

Be Ready to Help Out

You most likely won't have to deal with this at first, but as your relationship progresses, you may find yourself helping out with her and her family more and more. Having another trustworthy adult around can be a lifesaver. 

You will probably start out small with this, making dinner for everyone once in a while, picking the kids up from daycare, helping the kids out with homework. 

As your relationship grows, your level of interaction in day-to-day processes will increase. It is true in every relationship, but it can become even more apparent with a single mom. 

You won't have to make these changes immediately, but understand that they could be coming if everything goes well. 

It's Going to Be Hard Sometimes

This statement can be true about every single relationship out there. However, when you are dating a single mom, sometimes the difficulty can seem new and different. 

Small problems that may not have come up in other relationships may become much more important when her children are involved. It may lead to concerns that need to be addressed. 

As always, the best way to deal with a problem when dating someone is open and honest communication. If something is bothering you, it is important to discuss the issue. There may be no solution to the problem, but you may find a way to work through the point by discussing it. 

Great Things About Dating a Single Mom

Dating a single mom isn't all about problems and new responsibilities. Some fantastic things come from relationships with single moms. 

The list is based on generalizations, with so many single moms out there, not all of these will be true for every mom, but they are things that many single moms have in common. 

She's Looking for Something Real 

Time is of the essence for a single mom, so she is not looking to waste it. When she meets you, she doesn't have the time or inclination to mess around. She wants to find out who you are and if you will be someone she can build a future around. 

Dating a single mom can help you cut through many of the games you will find on the dating market. If you are looking for a real relationship, single moms can help you find it. 

She Knows What She Wants 

Single moms have often been in long-term relationships before. They have seen the good and the bad, and now, they have a better idea of what they need from a relationship. It can sometimes feel intimidating, especially if you don't know precisely what you want. 

However, the honesty of the situation can often be refreshing. When a woman knows what she is looking for in a relationship, it is easier to decide if you can move forward with her or if it is time to go your separate ways.

If you find that you and her both want similar things out of the relationship, it can be a great way to connect and build a life together.  

You'll Have Time to Yourself (At Least at First) 

When you first start dating a single mom, there will be many times when she has to do something with her kids and won't be able to hang out with you. If you are the type of person who enjoys a relationship but also likes having your time, this can be great. 

You will only get extra time initially, though. As you and your partner become more serious, you will find that you are expected to interact more and more with the family side of the relationship. So eventually, this perk will fade to some extent.

She Doesn't Expect You to Be Perfect

No one should expect perfection from their partner, but genuinely accepting someone, flaws and all is something that can only come with life experience, and a single mom has plenty of that. 

You don't get a free pass to fall apart, but you also may find that you don't have to worry as much about the minor problems. She puts up with a lot, and she realizes that you do too.

She Is Stable

Raising kids often dictates a level of stability from a mom. She is going to be great at making and trying to keep a schedule. 

She is also often going to be hard working and dedicated. She is the type of person who knows what she will be doing next month, even if she doesn't have the details. 

Your new partner will be someone you can rely on to be there, not necessarily for you specifically, because she is doing it for her kids, but you can sometimes reap the rewards of that stability. 

Bottom Line 

When everything is said and done, the main difference you have to deal with when dating a single mom is responsibility. Hers, not yours, she has an extra responsibility that can sometimes affect the way that she interacts with you. 

If you are ok with the fact that she has added pressure, you may be able to enjoy a fabulous relationship, but if you can't, it is better to tell her sooner rather than later. 

Expect to interact with her kids, but be ready to do it on her terms. They are the most important thing in the world for her, so if she becomes important to you, they will become important to you. 

Over time, as the two of you become closer, her responsibility may become your responsibility, but that time may be a little way down the road. 

Dating a single mom can be an enriching experience, but you have to be ready to deal with some of the things that can accompany the relationship.