Suddenly a Single Mom: How Does Dating Work Again?

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Single at 32 and trying to date… yeah, it’s pretty horrible. Even though you might not want to date post-divorce as a newly single mom, you put yourself out there because you know you don’t want to be alone. I was married to my ex-husband from the age of 19 to the age of 30. When we got together, the only dating experience I had was from high school. The short version of the story, because the extended version would require alcohol, is that we moved in together at the very beginning of the relationship. I should probably also mention that we moved in together in a different country… and his culture basically considered us to be married as soon as we were living together. So, I never really dated as an adult. I was young and dumb and had no idea what I actually wanted in a husband, but like most teenage girls, I was making decisions based on emotions and not logic; a decade later, and we were divorced (finally). Now, at the age of 32, I’m truly dating for the first time.

For my currently married friends – it’s REALLY tough to meet someone. I’m not running into some hot, single dad at the grocery store, much less meeting a handsome stranger at a bar. I mean, I don’t even go to bars! Almost everyone nowadays meets on dating apps. Deciding to try out dating in today’s world,  I grab my phone and go into the app store, already feeling overwhelmed. There are so many choices and only so much free time for swiping, so I pick one and click download. 

Next is the hard part – creating my profile. We live in a world that is obsessed with appearing to be perfect on social media, so I feel this pressure to appear to be perfect on a dating app as well.  I scour Facebook and Instagram, choosing recent pictures where I don’t look hideous. Honestly, I hate that society matches us together based on looks first. Now, I know that if I saw a guy out in public I would initially be attracted to him on a physical level… I understand that being attracted to someone’s personality comes later, as you get to know them. But choosing a potential boyfriend on a dating app takes everything to a whole new level of superficiality.

Then, I realize that I also need to write something about myself. How am I supposed to attract a possible mate with 500 words on a dating app? Some guys are socially awkward even from behind a keyboard, while some really cute guys end up being sleazy. There are single dads and guys who have never been married. Every once-in-awhile, you find a diamond in the rough – a cute guy who seems normal, mostly because he doesn’t start by asking for your bra size. He can maintain a conversation over text and even suggests a phone call… and then we set up a date! If you think it gets easier for a single mom to date after this step, you’re unfortunately mistaken. Every step of dating is more difficult for a single mom.

If you ask my mom about me, she’ll tell you that I’ve always been afraid of being alone. She’s right; I crave companionship. I remind myself that I put in all of this effort because I know that I don’t want to be alone forever, but dating is difficult when you’re a single mom.  The hardest part is having a child thrown into the equation. Honestly, I would only want to be with a man that was mentally and emotionally mature enough to handle her “being in the picture”. She is always my number one priority and responsibility. She comes before everything, but that can make dating significantly harder. There are surface-level issues that come with dating as a single mom, such as not being able to plan anything last minute because I have to be sure there’s someone to take care of my daughter.  But there are deeper, more critical issues that arise in the dating world of a single mom, like the need to protect her. I need to make sure that I pick a good guy to date because my choice in a potential partner affects her, too. 

I can only hope I find someone who realizes I am worth it, despite all of the potential, inconvenient speed bumps that could (will?) appear. So in the meantime, while I worry and wonder and wait, I’ll keep swiping, hopeful that “the one” will magically appear across my phone screen and that I’m wise enough to swipe right.