- Leave your Baby-Daddy Drama at Home
When you’re with your new man, he doesn’t want to hear about all the drama with your baby-daddy (more respectfully known as the father of your children). If you’re on a date, for God’s sake don’t even talk about it. Shush. Nope. Zip it. Uh-uh. Not a word. I don’t care that he hasn’t paid child support in 6 months. I don’t care that he’s an irresponsible shit-turd. He may be the biggest, most irresponsible horrible human ever to walk this lovely earth of ours, but your anger over it isn’t going to change it; it’s just going to make everyone else uncomfortable and make you look like a bitter woman. No one wants to date a bitter woman and my guess is, you don’t want to be a bitter woman either.
In all seriousness, I have known plenty of women who got the short end of the stick in the baby-daddy department (I thank my lucky stars for mine every day) and it really, really does suck. It’s painful, it’s frustrating, and it’s angering. However, as they say in certain circles, having a resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. So as you sit in your other relationships spewing bile about him, no matter how much he deserves it, you are only poisoning your own chances of moving on. Find your go-to person to whom you can pour it all out – your therapist or your best friend – so when you’re on a date and it comes up, you can truthfully say, “Things are kind of rough in that department right now but I’m dealing with it.”
Imagine the light that can shine from you when you are free of that baggage. And now imagine the kind of man you’re going to attract with that light…wowee, yes please!
- Don’t Introduce Your Children Until The Time Is Right
I’ve written about this before. If you introduce a new man too soon it won’t be good for anyone, and leaving it too long can cause problems too. There is a sweet spot, but the most important people you should be thinking of here are your children. You cannot have your dating life become a revolving door of men your children meet, get close to and then disappear. It damages their attachment abilities later in life, their self-esteem, their ability to trust and the way they see you. Worse, it damages their views of women. So be responsible about this. It’s ok for your child to meet your boyfriend, as a friend, have a casual dinner as you would any other “friend,” but roll out official “boyfriend” status only after your relationship has become serious enough that you think there might be a future for you as a family. That’s not in three weeks when you’re on cloud nine. That’s in at least three months when you’ve started to come down a bit…If it doesn’t work out, it’s ok and there will be important life lessons for your children in that.
Now on the flip side, waiting too long can create a false impression of what life with you is really like. You both get to live in this every other weekend fantasy of lounging in bed and lingering over bottles of wine that completely ignores the reality that on alternate weekends you’re cooking pancakes in your bathrobe with curlers in your hair and a cigarette hanging out the side of your mouth while rug-rats run around the house screaming. OK, it’s not 1973, but you get the idea.
- Don’t Date A Man Who Doesn’t Like or Want Kids
Just don’t. Don’t even sleep with him. It’ll go nowhere. You’re a woman and you have female hormones, so you will likely get attached at some point and it’ll just go downhill fast from there. Like an out of control freight train. So just don’t do it. Trust me on this one.
I have a very good friend who once said to me, “I have thought a lot about this and I have decided I don’t want to date a woman who has a kid. It’s just not something I want to take on.” It’s not that he didn’t like kids (he’s actually a new dad now); he just didn’t want to take on the responsibility of step parenting and I respected him immensely for even thinking it through. As a mother I was relieved someone could take it so seriously so as to come to that conclusion and express it.
Not a lot of men think so clearly about such things, so you are going to have to do the thinking for them. Don’t be afraid to ask the question on a first date. It should be a deal-breaker.
- Don’t Talk About Your Kids Ad Nauseum
Come on ladies! There are people to whom you can brag or complain all you want about your kids. Usually those people are other mothers; pop a bottle of wine and have at it! They are rarely your boyfriend or, God forbid, your date! When you are on a date you should be doing three things: being curious, listening and sharing yourself openly. Sometimes that will entail some talk of your children because they are a huge part of who you are, but if every topic of conversation somehow circles back to your child, this will likely be your last date.
If you are finding it difficult to talk about anything other than your children, this might be a good sign that you need to take a look at your identity. So many of us lose our identities through motherhood and most of us don’t even know that it’s happened. Talking about your kids nonstop is a good sign that it has and a great time to start doing some soul searching.
- Become Fully Self-Supporting
This is way harder than it sounds. Some of us have been out of the workforce for years and years. Many of us haven’t had a job in decades. Spousal support was created for just this reason and I think it is absolutely necessary for most of us who gave it all up to stay home with our children. The effects of having been out of the workplace are endless, from low self-esteem to not being able to secure a mortgage. There are so many reasons for us to turn the corner and become fully self-supporting and so many reasons it can be scary as all hell. Oftentimes the easiest way out can seem like finding another man to support us, but the truth is that a vast majority of men aren’t interested in that. Most men are attracted to us because of what we contribute – to the world, to the relationship – not what we can take from it. Few men actually want to rescue a damsel in distress with 3 kids and frankly those who do may have some other “issues” going on…
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe that single mothers are some of the most powerful women in the world today. We have risen up out of the ashes like Phoenixes and we are able to take on anything we put our minds to. But with great power comes great responsibility, so let’s be responsible about this and do it right, shall we mamas? Let’s make sure the right reputations go before us…