Dating a Single Mother - Island of Sanity

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Dating a Single Mother

I came across an article on Huffington Post titled, 7 D*** Good Reasons to Date a Single Mom. I'm not going to repeat it here -- that would be redundant, boring, and copyright violation -- but you can follow that link if you think I'm summarizing the writer unfairly. So here are the reasons she gives:

"1. She can roll with the punches" She explains that single mothers are used to dealing with all sorts of problems with children and so they will be more tolerant of problems with a man. Except ... we all deal with problems. By that reasoning, a woman should leap at a chance to date a policeman, because he deals with the worst of the worst every day: thieves and gangsters and drug addicts and prostitutes. Does that make him more understanding and tolerant of his girlfriend? Maybe. Maybe not.

The writer says that, for example, a single mother is unlikely to be upset if her boyfriend is late for a date because she's used to things like her child throwing a temper tantrum while waiting on line at the mall. Yes, her attitutde might be, "My boyfriend's faults are so much smaller than my children's faults that I don't need to get upset about them." Or, if her boyfriend messes up her reaction might be, "I've just dealt with all these problems with my children all day and now on top of it you pull THIS!"

She may end up treating her boyfriend like a child. She's used to making decisions for people who don't have the maturity to make decisions for themselves. She's used to telling them what to do and how to do it. She might be relieved to finally be able to spend time with someone who doesn't need constant direction and supervision. But in my experience, she's more likely to continue this same pattern of behavior with her boyfriend, to tell him how he should be running his life and give him orders, just like she must do with her children. To take a trivial example, I recall a first date with a single mother once where in the restaurant she ordered my meal for me. I didn't want to be rude and interrupt her, but it was ... weird.

In short, I think this could easily go either way.

"2. She's well rounded" and "3. She's independent" These two are similar: A single mother can get along fine without you and doesn't need you. The writer concludes this by saying, "You can rest assured I'm going to continue to have my own life." This is supposed to be a reason why you would want to date a single mother. Just what every man wants: To be a side note in the life of a busy woman who doesn't have time for him! Did the writer of this article bother to ask men what they wanted from a relationship before telling them how a single mother can fulfill it? I've never heard a man say that what he really wants is a woman who doesn't need him in any way and is perfectly capable of getting along without him. Most men I know what a relationship of mutual dependency and shared responsibility -- not a room mate to share living expenses.

"4. She loves like no other" Single mothers practice unconditional love. Yes, I believe that most single mothers give their children unconditional love. But will they also show that same love to a boyfriend or second husband? Most men in this situation say no. If she has two children and a dog, then the best he can hope for is to be the number 4 priority in her life.

"5. Single moms are sexy" The argument is that single mothers are anxious to get away from the mother role, to dress up in sexy clothes and have a romantic time out. That's certainly not my experience. Just the opposite, they're more likely to say, "I can't do that any more because I'm a mother now" and "I certainly wouldn't want my children to see me dressed like that".

Indeed, while mothers often talk about how nice it would be to get away from the responsibliity of taking care of the kids now and then, they often find themselves calling the baby sitter to make sure the kids are okay, and insisting that the date be brought to a quick close so they can rush home to check on the kids.

"6. She knows what she wants" Presumably she's been through a divorce or a bad relationship, so she's "probably done some soul searching". So she knows what she wants and if she's dating you, you must be hit.

This is a rather backwards argument. The author's position is that the fact that she has made mistakes before proves that she won't make mistakes in the future. I wouldn't count on that. Given that statistics say that 70% of divorces are initiated by women, if you're dating a divorced woman the odds are that she initiated the divorce. I'd think that means the odds are higher that if you marry her, she will ultimately divorce you, not less.

"7. She's playing for keeps" From the heading I thought this would be similar to number 6, but in fact it's quite different. The argument is that if she has children, then any man she brings into her life will affect not just her but her children. So she said in #3 that a single mother is independent and doesn't need a man to help her raise her children. Then in #7 she says that a single mother needs a man to help her raise her children. Hmm.

This article sounded to me like a desperate plea from a single mother, frustrated that men don't want to date her, trying to explain why she's really a good person to date.

In practice, few men want to date and eventually marry a single mother. You're walking into a difficult situation.

One, her children will always be a priority above you. I get it. Aside from all the issues about motherly instincts, as a hard-headed, practical matter, her children need her to survive. You don't. They have to be her priority. But that doesn't make it any easier for the man to take.

Two, if you marry her, you will become responsible for her children, but you will have very limited authority. Getting to the point where she and the children think of you as their father is a long, hard road. Depending how old the children are when you come on the scene and a host of other factors, you may never get there. But while you have no authority to discipline them or make decisions for them, you are responsible for paying their bills, you are responsible for their behavior if they get in trouble at school (or with the police), etc..

There are lots of sweet stories and sappy songs about a man marrying a single mother and becoming a father to her children. It's great when it works out that way. Sometimes it does. But often it doesn't.


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