How to Date a Single Mom

single mom

NeTeah Hatchett shares inside secrets to dating a single mom.

There seem to be several perks when it comes to dating a woman with kid(s). One of the major perks being that you have the opportunity to see firsthand the type of mother she would be to your future children. The other perk being that you can almost guarantee that a house with kids in it, is guaranteed to have snacks on demand at all times. And depending on how you look at it, there may also be some “downsides” when it comes to dating a mom, let alone a single mom.

For most men, dating a single mom can be quite a difficult task. And I’ll be the first to say…I get it. Now I do want to clarify that there is a major difference between being a single mom and being a mom that just happens to be single. All too often, I see women using this term interchangeably and they are most definitely not one in the same, by any means. In my opinion, being a single mother has absolutely nothing to do with one’s marital status. Heck, there are married women out there that consider themselves single moms within their own household because they assume the majority of the responsibility for their kids. The difference between a single mom and a mom who happens to be single, is that a single mom has the sole responsibilities of raising a child on their own, whereas a mom who happens to be single, could be a mom who is single but in an equal and successful co-parenting situation; so now that we have that clarification out of the way, let’s proceed.

Let me just say that as a woman, dating without kids was a headache, as I can imagine is the same for men, but dating with a child has proven to be even more difficult and I can provide several reasons why. And let me just be clear, that these are based on MY experiences and obviously not reflective of EVERY single mom out there.

The Sitter Struggle

Being a single parent sometimes means having to schedule a night out several weeks in advance and hope that your sitter remembers that they agreed to watch your child when the time actually comes. Whether it be a night out with her friends, or a surprise trip planned by her significant other, one of the major downsides of dating a single mom is that it definitely limits the opportunities for spontaneity in many aspects of life. So unless she has babysitter options at her beck and call, one thing a guy has to realize, is that she may not always be able to drop everything and meet up for a drink after work or grab a bite to eat at the spur of the moment.

The Fill-In

Now while this may vary by situation and female, there are many single moms who date to not only find a potential long-term mate for themselves, but also to find a suitable male role model/stepfather to their child(ren). There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to dating a single mom in this aspect, because if you aren’t up for the role of stepping in and picking up where someone left off, it can cause quite a headache down the road. For a man to step in and assume the role of an absent parent takes a lot, and not men all equipped or ready for that type of responsibility, and that is perfectly fine. Granted it may not always be mandatory that you fill the role of the absentee father, but with some single moms, it can actually be a requirement or expectation if you plan to be with her long-term. Now obviously, this isn’t a discussion that comes after the first 2 or 3 dates, however it’s definitely something that should be a topic of conversation at some point in time; determining the (future) expectations, as far as the child(ren) are concerned.

My Time… Not Yours

One of the major obstacles that I’ve faced being a single mom and dating is that many guys don’t understand how much time it takes to be a parent. Now women may be lucky enough to come across a guy with a child(ren) of his own who understands this, but more often than not, many men without kids don’t understand that raising a child actually takes time. She may not be able to sit and have long, endless conversations with you while her child is awake, as her child should/will always come first. Guys also sometimes tend to get annoyed hearing a child constantly talking or asking questions in the background. She may very well miss a call or three because she’s helping her kids with their homework, or getting them ready for bed. Understand that and accept that she’s a mom first. If the woman you’re dating is an active parent (which you should hope that she is), this is just something that comes with the territory. Respect it or move on.

Meeting Day

This really isn’t as much of an issue as the factors I’ve named above; however, it sometimes can become a touchy subject. There are the guys who would be fine with not meeting her child until she’s meeting him at the altar, and then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those men who want to set up play dates after the first date/encounter. At the end of the day, there should be no pressure from either party. When both of you are comfortable enough to introduce the child to one another, is the time that the meeting should occur. Ladies shouldn’t force it and guys shouldn’t run from it. If you’re dating a woman with a child, be aware that at some point in time, the day is going to come that you’ll be introduced. And again, this is another conversation that is always nice to have to make sure that you are both moving forward in the same direction.

More or less, dating can obviously be tough enough for a man, but dating a single mom takes a special kind of man. One who’s willing to take the time and energy to acknowledge and understand that he may not be the center of her universe. One who respects that her lifestyle and priorities may differ from that of another woman, or even from his own. It takes not only a special kind of man, but it also takes a woman who is willing and able to take on the balance and responsibility of being both a partner and a parent. At the end of the day, expectations of the situation should be discussed to ensure that you both are on the same page. The best piece of advice that I can leave you with….is to simply be understanding and be patient. Those are pretty much the keys to dating any woman, but especially when dating a single mother. Take heed.

Photo: Flickr/Johan Larrson

About NeTeah Hatchett

NeTeah Hatchett is a 26-year-old Ohio native with a BA in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati. She has blogged on various topics on several websites and was also an online radio show host that was featured weekly on,/a>, which focused on dating, relationships and sexuality amongst women in the 21st century.


  1. Single parents should only date other single parents.

    They don’t have to meet the kids until they’re 18.

  2. I am dating a single mother of three. I honestly do not know how she does it keeping up with a house, laundry, cleaning, meals, school, homework, repairs/remodeling, disciplining, yard work, caring for family and her ailing mother all while being a mother of three and still finding time for herself. I have said in the past that I get it, I understand but recently I have realized that I really don’t and may never fully grasp it. I myself am a single father of a teenage daughter but its just one of her. We have dated before and a big part of what pulled us apart was allowing stress to get in the way of who I am at heart and my smothering her and her not getting time for herself and her children. Well, we are together again and I have made this same mistake once more. As ashamed as I am to say it, once again I failed to listen to what she was trying to tell me and I smothered her. We have been trying to get a business going and in the moment of being stressed about getting this going to provide financial security for her and her family I have been at her house almost every day and have even shown up on days that I knew were for her and for her children. My heart was in the right place but it all came to a head a few days ago and now she has put distance between us and it feels more like friends once again. Did I mention she is my best friend and the very definition of my soul mate? We have been in and out of one another’s lives many times over the years and each time I fall more and more in love with her and her family. She has been a wonderful friend to me and I have learned so much from her about being a parent, my faith and spirituality, myself as a person and life as well as the world around us. I am afraid that if she is able to find it in her heart to give me another chance this may be the last time. I once thought that if you don’t cheat, lie, mistreat and are genuinely sweet and honest and loving that was all it took. I have now learned that dating a single mother the three is a whole new ballgame. It takes so much more than that. It takes patience, understanding that I may never come first because even on the one night a month that we do get to be alone, it is her night and she has been in this epic battle for sanity and peace for a whole month and she now just needs to feel special and loved. I have learned that her time with her kids and for herself is just as sacred and valuable as the holy grail itself! I am now trying to give her space and time to think and be. Today and tomorrow is a rare moment each month that she gets a day and half to herself so I am trying to let her have it. I have to say it is a little scary, knowing that you hold such a wonderful woman’s heart in the palm of your hand and yours in hers yet feeling unsure just how bad you have damaged the relationship. Losing a partner is one thing and hard enough. The thought of losing your best friend and soul mate… there are no words. If anyone reading this has any honest advice, especially from a single mothers point of view I would love to hear it.

    • Brian.. Wow… If give my eye teeth to have a partner as devoted as you. I am a middle aged single mom with 4 boys at home, 20, 15, 13, & 10. I just broke up with a man that was in my and my kids’ life for 2 years. He did so much for me and my kids and I let him know that I appreciated and respected him EVERY DAY. He was, however totally controlled by his 40 year old adult daughter as well as indirectly by his ex (10 years divorced). He always said he wanted a permanent commitment but it never seemed to materialize. I’m not arm twisting anyone to want or love me, so it ended. He chose not to want to try to make it work. I’d love to have an ear to listen and a strong chest to lean on sometimes….

  3. After years of dating single moms, I now highly suggest to any man DO NOT do more than casually date a single mom….Nothing serious, no commitment, don’t spend a lot of money, The baggage, the drama with the kids the drama with the ex, the debt, the expectation that my wallet be forever open to children not mine, all make it far from worthwhile. A serious relationship – and (gulp) – the ultimate bad decision, marriage, with a single mom will lead to him losing tons of money yet put him in a position where she uses her kids as an excuse to make him the absolute last priority (even behind her ex(es)). In addition, he will have no say in disciplining or influencing her children….but he better keep his money flowing to she and her brood.

    I like kids. I was a nice guy once, chivalrous and a gentleman. Single moms took fool advantage of my willingness to be considerate of her time while I got shorted again and again, my generosity while while she gave little to nothing back, my hard work ethic doing things for her while she did not reciprocate because she was – supposedly – “always busy with the kids”. In addition, she felt entitled to it all simply because she was a single mom, who ultimately was a single mom who got there because of her own poor decision making.

    Don’t buy any of the stories that dating a single mom somehow has something to offer a well-meaning, good salary earning, single guy. There is NOTHING for a guy in a serious relationship with a single mom. N-O-T-H-I-N-G good anyway. Nice guys always finish last in serious relationships with single moms.

  4. It’s not worth it. I’m 41, single, with no kids. Never been married. She has two kids aged 11 and 15. Two different dads. She lives with her mother. For two years, I have been her cheerleader, confidant, babysitter, errand runner, etc. etc. Pick up her children from the bus stop every day so they don’t have to walk(GASP) a quarter of a mile to the house. I bring her lunch at work; surprise her with little things “just because.” I get zero in return. I didn’t even get a card at Christmas from her after two years. I hear the same thing over and over..”I’m a single mom!” She lives at home with her mother, who does all the cooking, allows her and her children to live there for free. She works four days per week at a doctors office. Has every Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. All I ask for, is a simple “goodnight” text, which never happens because she’s too busy. I’m so sick of hearing women complain about being “single Moms,” and playing up the part of being a “victim” for the attention. Don’t date single Moms unless the kids are grown; it’s simply not worth the hassle.

    • You my Friend are exactly that to her no matter what she may tell . you are in the nice guy friend zone. I’m a single dad and and date single moms and can tell if she wants to just be friends or more you might think about . she is simply using you and her mom it seems. Sorry but she considers you a friend.

  5. The opinion of a “single mom”, no co-parent involved…

    I whole heartily agree with this article in every aspect of dating a single mom, the challenges and the benefits. However, my opinion differs from those of the comments listed, as does my situation. Being a “single mom”, I find it hard to hear friends or even strangers say that they have to share their “kid” on the weekends, birthday, holidays with their ex’s or that one is more financially responsible for their child than the other parent. He or she is still there, putting forth some effort or at least wants to be in the child’s life? Yes, your situation may not be idea but there is another party involved, someone else that cares, someone else that is willing to put in their opinion about raising your child, even if you don’t agree or he/she is not giving as much of themselves as you think they should.

    Your child is benefiting from having both parents in their life, even if you don’t agree with the level of support that the co-parent is providing you and your child. You don’t have to have that heart breaking conversation as to “why don’t I have a dad?” or hear your child say that to others…it truly breaks your heart. As for my situation, her bio dad made his decision and I made mine- it’s the best situation I’ve ever made! Maybe I feel there is a difference because I am envious of co-parenting situations…I would welcome the chance to have a complaint about how difficult the co-parent is in helping me to raise my child or how wonderful he is. However, there simply isn’t the opportunity to do so.

    Sometimes we as humans can’t imagine how much harder things really could be, including me. I think the situation of a “single” or “one” parent child rearing is defiantly one of the hardest and possibly most rewarding challenges and differs from a co-parenting situation on many aspects, including dating. I am comfortable in my single non-co parenting situation because I am a strong woman and know that I’ve made it through so much and there is nothing I can’t face. I also know there are others out there who face similar challenges or even harder things than I, and I commend them. However, I hope that others see how lucky they and their children are, even if the co-parent relationship isn’t the best that you know it could be. There is still two parents in their life, right? Which they deserve!!

    But this is just my opinion like you have yours 🙂  Best wishes all!!!

  6. I don’t think that’s really an accurate differentiaton. I’m a single dad, not a dad who happens to be single, because I walk both my kids to school, care for my younger one when she gets off after lunch each day, take them to medical appointments, hold my younger one through the night when her rare cyclical fever syndrome gives her several days of 104 degree fevers every few weeks, pay for, clean, cook, and otherwise maintain a house equipped for all three of us, teach them how to catch fireflies, chaperone field trips and activity days, help my older one understand her homework, kiss and bandage skinned knees, pull them in the wagon in neighborhood parades, and tie back their hair before we make pumpkin pie as a family.

    The fact that they only spend approximately 60% of their nights, around 75% of their parent-facing time, and maybe 80% of their mealtimes with me does not render me merely a father who happens to be single. I may have around five more hours per week available to me than a parent with sole custody would, but that’s basically the same as a single parent who has a good friend who will babysit.

  7. NaTeah: And depending on how you look at it, there may also be some “downsides” when it comes to dating a mom, let alone a single mom.

    You lost me on this sentence. What other kind mom besides a single mom would I be dating?

    • Good morning Paul,

      I briefly touched on the differentiation in the 2nd paragraph, between being a single mom & a mom who just happens to be single. As in my opinion, being a single mom isn’t necessarily based on one’s marital status, but rather based on the level of responsibility they have for their child(ren).

  8. Stephanie says:

    “The difference between a single mom and a mom who happens to be single, is that a single mom has the sole responsibilities of raising a child on their own, whereas a mom who happens to be single, could be a mom who is single but in an equal and successful co-parenting situation; so now that we have that clarification out of the way, let’s proceed.”

    I was a “mom who happens to be single,” as you so aptly put it, but I find it a little unnerving that you feel the need to clarify between the two, as if one has significant advantages over the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages and, if you ask me, are in relatively equal difficult situations. Based on your definitions, there are a lot more points to this scale: a mother who happens to be single but the father or someone else has custody and she rarely sees her children, if ever (which I guess you could call “a single woman that happens to be a mother”); a mother who shares custody but the father doesn’t exactly pull his weight in the relationship (“single mother”); a mother who has primary or sole custody but has some dependence or interdependence on her parents or other family members and sometimes (or often) struggles with maintaining authority and control over her child’s upbringing (still, a “single mother”); an unmarried mother who has a live-in partner (how “single” is she?); a mother who is still married to the children’s father but currently separated (how “not single” is she?); a mother who is solely responsible for the children but receives government or some other means of financial assistance (hmm, another “single mother”); a mother who may or may not have sole custody but receives NO child support financial assistance from the government, family, or elsewhere, and fully financially supports herself and her children even though she “only” has them 3-5 days out of the week. Not to mention the emotional burden and STRESS of still having to regularly cooperate/put up with a spiteful, bitter, or difficult ex, and being forced to hand off the child to the other parent that you still can’t entirely trust. There are emotional costs as well as financial and timely ones. Several of these made up my situation, though I was fortunate enough to eventually find a supportive, understanding, and patient boyfriend, who three weeks ago became my husband. How was I any less of a “single mother?”

    Each mother has her own struggles and challenges and I found it insensitive to imply that one particular group has it “easier” than the other. Or that there is only ONE differentiating situation.

    On the other hand, I applaud that you pointed out there are many advantages to dating a single mother. It was one of the things my husband loved most about me – that I was reliable and responsible, even if I wasn’t “overly” available (which, I think, has been proven to be an advantage in dating, anyway). The snacks thing is funny, and so true – after his bachelor years living on takeout, he very much appreciates that I can, and do (!) feed him. 🙂

    • First and foremost Stephanie, let me congratulate you on your marriage 🙂

      My intent in the paragraph you mentioned wasn’t at all meant to be insensitive. With the original post, I was asked to provide a more clear opinion of my differentiation between the two, but I chose not to dive too deep into that topic, as I realize that there are always exceptions to every situation. The instance that I’m referring to when I say “whereas as mom who is single could be a mom who is single but in an equal and successful co-parenting relationship”, meaning that I know some moms personally, whom EQUALLY share all financial, physical, and emotional responsibility to raising their child(ren), but because they and the father are not together, then that in turns means they are a single mom and that is what I disagree with. As I stated, there are married women who are single mothers, as they carry most of the weight of raising and rearing their children. I didn’t at all mean to imply that simply because both parties are present, that that takes anything away from a woman being a single mother, so I do apologize if that was the way it came off.

      And thank you. I didn’t want it to seem as though single moms only create burdens for the men who want to date them, so I did want to also mention some of the bright sides of dating one as well! And that goes for dating a mom in general. It’s always nice to get a sneak preview of what could possibly be in store for the future. And yes, my daughter loves to eat, so if nothing else, one can always count that my fridge and pantry are stocked fresh with goodies!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts on my post! Wishing you and your husband the best of luck 🙂

  9. There’s so much truth to this, yet I may technically fall into your mom who happens to be single as my son’s dad is a part of his life. But during the school year he only sees his dad 2 weekends a month and dad lives 2.5 hours from us. So every soccer game, boy scout meeting, running club meet, birthday party, parent teacher conference, etc, is me. I’ve been single for nearly 3 years and I’d say the hardest challenge is the first one you named. Doesn’t help that I have no network of sitters where I live so there is absolutely no week night date nights or impromptu drinks after work. Until someone meets my son our dates can only be every other weekend. I’ve found that a vast majority cannot understand this and they quickly get tired of having to schedule everything weeks in advance.
    I’d also add in the issue with differing parenting styles. I’m not looking for someone to step in as a parental figure but as a couple spends time together with their mutual children I think different styles can be a real problem. I tend to be a fairly strict parent and we focus a lot on academia. So far the men I’ve dated are much more lax on their parenting style. Or the men feel as if they need to “back me up”. I don’t need back up. I’ve been a mom for 10 years, I got this! I’ve even had a date tell me that I need to loosen up and cut the apron strings (this was our first and only date). So my advice when dating a single mom is to initially really watch it with any clash in parenting styles (IMO I’d just butt out at first) and discuss where the boundaries will be. Can you discipline the child or should only the mom do it? What is the typically punishment for X behavior? Of course communication is key when dating anyone.

    • Amanda, I too have run into that issue. None of my family lives here, so my babysitter options are also very minimal. Many men do grow tired of having to wait several weeks to finally meet up just to grab dinner and a movie. Or even some, dissatisfied that I won’t allow them to take me out along w/ my daughter as I am very selective about who/what she is exposed to and especially before I’m ready for that type of interaction. Many have come and gone due to my limited accessibility, but at the end of they day, my mini and I are a packaged deal. She’s not going anywhere, so it’s just something they’ll have to get used to.

      Thank you reading and commenting 🙂

  10. I’m dating a single mom at the moment (I’m a single dad but probably closer to a dad who is single, I only have my kids 4 days a fortnight) and the biggest thing is simply somedays parenting is tougher than others (either on her or me). Go with the flow. If that means some nights you are just texting each other because something’s come up with the kids or you know she is bone tired, let her go to bed early and don’t think anything of it. You wouldn’t get upset if someone working two jobs doesn’t have much to say while they are at work so don’t get upset if someone with kids needs to look after their kids first, thats their second job. Bed time especially can be hard so make allowances for this. My kids are younger and sometimes it takes 30min to put them to bed and other nights it takes 3 hours. It happens and there is not much you can do as a parent.

    And when you get those moments alone together make the most of it and focus on your partner. They want to feel special, attractive and sexy just as much as you do, just for parents the zipper on the super parent suit gets stuck sometimes and it is hard to take off.

    • Thanks for reading my post Luke. It’s nice to see that a father can relate to it as well! I love the analogy you used as far as someone having two jobs. It really is the same thing. I think it’s just hard for those who aren’t parents to truly grasp that aspect. And I wholeheartedly agree that when you two are FINALLY able to get some alone time, then it’s spent wisely and totally focused on just the two of you! 🙂

      • We dads have the same issues, just mostly we aren’t allowed as much time with our kids so we usually have more alone time in the shared parenting arangment than the moms do. Strangely I have noticed a lot of single dads at the local pool getting back into shape during the week after work, yes me included. (Hint ladies if your trying to meet a single dad look to the local sport center for the slightly overweight men by themselves trying to put their lives and waistline back together, the ones I have met all seem like good decent guys)

        My girlfriend and I have alternating weeks with parenting so we have to make do as best we can as there is never a time when both of us are kid free. Luckily she has good friends and parents to help with the babysitting. Because I only have my kids for such a short time I am a little hesitant to give them up even for just one evening.

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