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Dos and Don’ts of Dating a Single Mum

photo of Kate Taylor
by Kate Taylor match.com’s dating and relationship expert
Dos and Don’ts of Dating a Single Mum

1. DO be reliable

Mystery and intrigue don’t appeal to single mums on dating websites. She has enough mystery in her life trying to work out why little Johnny suddenly refuses to eat peas, or why her ex cut off his maintenance. From a partner, she craves dependability. All those Nice Guy qualities you’ve been playing down because you thought they were boring? Play them up! Be the man she can set her watch by. When you say you’ll text her later, do it. Reliability is the quality she’s searching for, as it means she can hand over the reins every now and then.

2. DON’T be crazily spontaneous

How to strike dread into any single mum’s heart: call her and say, “I’ve got us two tickets to Paris for tonight. Start packing!” Single parents are restricted by many different schedules – work, kids, co-parent, babysitter, extended family… She’d love to be carefree, but she isn’t. So work with her availability. If you’re a spontaneous kind of guy, manage it INTO the date itself: skip dessert in the restaurant for a moonlit drive, or swap the cinema for a walk along the beach.

3. DO show interest in her kids

The loneliest part of single-parenting is having no-one with whom you can share the daily joys (or disasters). If you show interest in her children, you’ll build a solid bridge into her life. Even if you don’t have kids yourself, you can still relate to her life – you were a kid yourself once! Don’t feel you have to offer advice or guidance, just listening is enough.

4. But DON’T rush things

Most single mums don’t want to introduce every boyfriend to their children before they’re a known quantity. Take it at her speed. It might take a month, it might take six. Relax. You can’t rush this process. If you’re not a parent yourself and feel like you need a better idea of what life around kids is really like, spend time with your friends’ families, or babysit your nieces and nephews. Read some parenting forums for tips on step-parenting, and talk to friends who’ve dated single parents.

5. DO expect her to be busier than other girls you’ve dated

A single mum hasn’t got time to text you all day or spend all weekend by your side. She’s going to have a ton of commitments, and much of her time isn’t her own. If your own life is quiet, you might begin to feel neglected. Don’t! Learn her schedule so you can work with it – she’s going to be free in the evenings for long phonecalls or at-home dates, so connect with her then. On weekends when she’s busy with family stuff (until you can join her), do your own thing. Look up recipes you can cook together at night, take up a new sport or hobby.

6. DON’T forget the small gestures

Single Mums love romance as much as other women, but it takes a different form. Popping over to cook her dinner will be just as impressive as treating her to a five-star restaurant, but more thoughtful because she doesn’t have to find a sitter. Offer to put up a picture, or fix a shelf, so she doesn’t have to manage the house all by herself. Later on, bake cookies with her kids so she can enjoy a bubble-bath. Small thoughtful gestures will win her over, every time.

7. DO accept her ex will probably still be around

Unless she’s a widow or her ex is a total cad, a single mum will still have contact with her ex. You have to make peace with this. She hates it as much as you do, but this is her issue to deal with. You might feel protective of her, or want to step in over a dispute, but stay cool. Just being around in the background will support her.

8. DON’T get the fear Single mums aren’t more likely to push for commitment than other women.

In fact, they might be less likely. They’ve got kids so their biological clocks aren’t ticking, they know they can support themselves, and they’ve already been burned by one relationship. Second-time around, single mums might just be looking for some adult conversation and some company, not the whole fairy tale.

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