I started writing this series reflecting on my time as a single mum and life has taken over slightly but I’m happy to unveil part 2. I’ve thought long and hard about what topic to cover next and having just moved in with my fella it’s easy to forget the many bad dates, hilarious online dating profiles and time spent feeling like I had missed the boat that got me here so this one is all about dating.
I spent two years being single Mum to Alice and hard as it was I have so many good memories of my 1:1 time with her. Dating during this time was a mixed bag and with the time constraints and responsibilities of single mum life, not easy. I’ve picked out some highlights, advice and single Mum dating wisdom to share with you.
The Dating Profile
The man of my dreams was never going to just knock on my door when I was sat at home every evening after little one’s bedtime drinking wine and tidying up (it turns out this is what Alice thinks I do after she goes to bed, she’s not far off) so inevitably I ended up using dating apps. It took a little while to pluck up the courage to sign up and at first I was adamant I wasn’t going to use Tinder. It had the reputation and I wasn’t interested in THAT kind of dating. As it happens a large portion of boys tend to behave the same across all platforms so it’s not an app issue but a lad issue, that’s one for another time! In my sense of female empowerment I chose Bumble. For those not in the know Bumble gives girls the power, you swipe, you match but it’s in the girls hands to send the first message. This sparked the interest of my feminist side (you can read more about my thoughts here) and I signed up. But what to write about myself? The idea of writing a profile induced the same sweaty-palmed dread that accompanied trying to write my personal statement in school. Trying to be funny, interesting, intelligent in just a few sentences was pressure I didn’t need and I did briefly consider jacking it all in and resigning to life alone. Then the big issue came up, do I say I’m a parent? I didn’t want to seem like I was hiding something if I ended up on a date but on the other more important hand I was very conscious of the potential weirdos that might have been lurking amongst the profiles waiting for people with kids. Call me dramatic but that was a risk I was not willing to take and I made it a rule that I wouldn’t let it be known publicly that I was a Mum. I never wanted to have that doubt that someone had only swiped because I have a child and it worked well. Looking back on it this gave me an initial amount of peace of mind and I would tell any single Mum to do the same.
The Good, the Bad and the Funny
This brings me on the the dates. I did alright for the number of dates I went on but mostly they were non-starters and I probably should have been more picky. A few of them really stand out though and I know we all love a funny date story so here goes. Let me start with triathlon guy, or moonwalk guy as he would later become known. I started messaging this guy and he seemed nice, his picture made him seem tall and handsome and he seemed to have something about him being into fitness and having an interesting job. We even sent some voice messages as I had an irrational fear that I’d meet someone and they’d have a weird voice- anyone else?! He passed the voice test and we arranged a date, when the short guy who literally had nothing else to talk about but triathlons arrived I knew he wasn’t for me but put it down to his nerves. He said something along the same lines and we decided to go for a 2nd drink, it was when he voluntarily asked if I wanted to see him moonwalk, then did it, that I started looking for the nearest exit. Back to swiping it was.
Moonwalk guy was followed by over-enthusiastic guy, cheating guy and plumber guy- yes my plumber asked me out, it felt far too much like the beginning of a 70’s porno so I didn’t accept BUT the girls and I did enjoy a full session of plumber-puns!
Then I met a guy who I was seeing for quite a while and although we even went on a summer holiday together I never properly introduced him to Alice, I think deep down I knew. He had made the right sounds about my single parenthood not being a problem but the jokes he made about kids made me feel like the reality of actually having a little one around wasn’t for him. He cemented this on holiday when there was a child having a bit of a moment next to us and he literally could not have been more pissed off! I remember saying ‘you know I have one of those don’t you?!’ and knowing in that moment this wasn’t the right long term relationship for me. I probably should have taken the restaurant catching fire on one of our first dates as a bit of a sign. C’est la vie.
The Serious One
Throughout all of the above I had moments of ‘online dating is not the way forward’, times when I deleted all the apps, completely lost faith and thought I’d be on my own forever. It wasn’t easy and although it sounds silly to say I was worried I’d never meet anyone, when you’re in the situation it’s hard not to think like that. If you’re going through it now, I feel you girl, but trust me it’ll be ok in the end and in the meantime don’t stress, enjoy your you time.
When I met Dave I had deleted all the dating apps over the few previous weeks, I was sat watching First Dates two days after Christmas wondering when I should just bite the bullet and apply. Instead I loaded POF back on to my phone and matched with Dave. I knew in that first text conversation which went on in to the wee hours that I was excited about meeting him and the rest is history. I stuck to my rule and told him about Alice when the topic of meeting for a date came up and he was really cool about it. It was a non-issue in the sense that it wasn’t a deal-breaker for him but it was an issue in that it was a situation he respected. I know it sounds terrible to use the words ‘deal-breaker’ but I was honest with myself that for some men it just would be. I think it’s fair to know yourself enough to admit that taking on someone else’s children isn’t for you and I would rather know before I meet someone than waste two people’s time. I would strongly urge any other single Mum’s to approach it in the same way, if he can’t love the the amazing package you come a part of then he isn’t for you, simple. Also, if anyone ever used the word ‘baggage’ it was a straight left swipe, this turned in to my 2nd rule!
In the weeks and months that followed we regularly talked about how we were going to support Alice whilst introducing Dave in to our lives. At every stage we talked, researched and sought advice where we could and although at times it was challenging, and still can be, we seem to have muddled our way through ok and it definitely bought us closer as a couple in those early days. I was careful to have the conversation with my ex before we introduced Alice, something I expected from him when he partnered up so was only fair I do the same, and although this could have been difficult it went well and we’ve been able to set a friendly, honest tone moving forward which is best for Alice. For her to see us all getting along is in my opinion the best case scenario and one we all strive for together and will continue to work at. We’re now living together which has thrown up some new challenges helping Alice adapt and I was worried about the upheaval and change for her but I was reminded that although I had crafted a lovely life for the 2 of us, Alice now has 2 loving people at home watching out for her and that can only be a good thing.
And that brings us up to date! It has been funny reflecting on dating during this time, it was difficult and emotionally charged at times but also funny and cringey! I’m going to finish with the five top things I learnt:
- If all his photos are group shots, he is the least attractive one. Guaranteed.
- Grammar is way more important to me than I thought
- 98% of guys have been to Thailand and sat next to a drugged up tiger
- As a single parent (and anyone using dating apps) set some ground rules and stick to them
- Don’t settle!
I’d love to hear from other single parents about your experiences dating, how did you feel about it? What are your tips for other single parents hitting the dating scene? Feel free to leave a comment below and if you like the series you can subscribe to never miss a new post!