How to date the childless.

by mssinglemama on June 25, 2008

The first question most single parents ask when they finally get back out there on the dating scene is, “Can I even date someone without a kid?”

The challenges to dating someone without a child can be daunting. Will they ever understand your life? And when they do – will they run away screaming in fear once they realize that parenting never ends? It can also be irritating to date childless people.

They often lack genuine empathy for your situation, talk about stuff that just seems pointless and annoy you with stories about how hard their lives are. But, as one of my friends said recently, “You can’t help who you fall in love with.”

When I left my ex-husband and Benjamin was just four-months-old I couldn’t imagine anyone joining our lives but they did and the relationships didn’t end because I’m a single mom, they ended because child or not we weren’t a good match.

Here are some things you can do to fan the flames of a romance with the single and childless.

1. Be patient. They’re not going to “get it” right away nor should they need to. Do you know if you’re going to marry this person or be in a long-term relationship with them? No way. You might have a feeling in your gut, but that’s not enough to warrant long chats about how they’ll perform as a father or a mother. And besides, nothing will freak them out more than these kinds of questions. These questions will come later and by the time later comes you might not even want to be with them any more.

2. Put it into perspective. Before you became a parent – you weren’t one. Duh! You’re shouting at your computer screen. But, seriously, think about it. Being a parent is nothing anyone can prepare for and chances are you wouldn’t have predicted what kind of parent you are today. There’s no way to tell what kind of parent your flame will become once they’ve fallen for your kids. Don’t waste your time analyzing their every move. Instead, focus on how they treat you – this will give you the answers on how they will eventually treat your children.

3. Go easy on them. DO NOT ask or tell them to be your child’s missing parent, DO NOT expect them to save you and DO NOT ask them to move in until you’ve been dating for at least one year. These are recipies for disaster. You’ll freak them out. And besides, you’re probably moving too quickly. You have a child now so everything must move slowly. No more whirlwind romances. This is one of the hardest facts to come to terms with, dating will never be the same.

4. Find your fun side again. This one was tough for me. During the first year, I had a really tough time relaxing on a date or just chatting about something other than Benjamin. I thought it was all they were thinking about (the fact that I’m a single mom) when in reality, I was the one thinking about it constantly. Eventually I let my hair down and said hello to that single chick inside of me again.

5. They don’t really care that you’re a single parent unless you make them care. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned. If someone falls in love with you, the fact that you’re a single mom or dad is icing on the cake. But before they fall in love with you try to avoid scaring them off with negative comments about being a single mom. For example, don’t say “Being a single mom is SO hard, you have no idea, sometimes I just want to die.” Keep your single parent anxieties to yourself and your close friends until you’ve been dating someone for a while.

Would dating another single parent be easier? Sure. At the beginning, you’d have more to talk about, you could relate, he would instantly get the parenting thing. But dating another parent opens another can of challenges, I’ll save that one for later.

In the meantime, I hope these mini-lessons help. Do you have any to add? Or any stories about dating the single and childless?

P.S. I hope the networks are reading this post, there could be an entire soap opera titleds, “The Single & Childless.” Awesome.

Related Posts:

Date Night

Do Men Really Care if You’re a Single Mom

Can Single Moms Fall in Love?

Can Men Feel Empathy?

[Photo Credit: "Love XOXO" by Pink Sherbet on Flickr]

Related posts:

  1. Date night.
  2. How to Date a Single Mom, Part 2
  3. How to Date a Single Mom, Part 3
  4. How to escape a bad date.
  5. Man up fellas…why? Because you’re the man, damn it.

{ 4 trackbacks }

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie June 25, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Well, I don’t have anything add but I do think this is good advice. I have dated single but childless guys and single dads since my ds’s father and I split, and I just find it easier to date single dads, especially ones who have at least joint custody. I don’t get to see my dbf as much as I would like, but on the nights I don’t he is with his kids and I am with mine. I lucked out though, all our kids are young enough to actually get along.

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Jessee June 25, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Oddly enough, I prefer to date men without kids.. go figure..

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mssinglemama June 25, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Who knows … I haven’t actually had a single dad as a boyfriend. I’ve gone on dates with a few, but they never panned out. But it wasn’t because he had kids. Like I said, you can’t help who you fall in love with – if he has kids – SWEET! If not … just as sweet but dating a guy who’s never spent serious time with children can be rough.

I just wonder if they can handle it… you know? You just have to give them the space to figure that out on their own.

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davidrochester June 25, 2008 at 10:52 pm

One thing I’d add is to pay attention to how the date talks about children, and about his or her own parents or childhood. While it’s not possible to predict how someone will be as a parent, I think it is possible to get a heck of a lot of clues about their parenting philosophy based on little things they say … and picking up on that can, I think, save a lot of pain later.

This is kind of hilarious, but … I’ve broken up with two single moms because I didn’t respect their parenting philosophies, and I knew that in the long run, we would have continual clashes because I wasn’t a biological parent of the child/children, but I had very clear ideas about psychological and emotional ethics of parenting. If either of them had been paying attention, they would have seen the breakup coming from miles away. :-)

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mssinglemama June 25, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Nice point David! You’re so right … they can tell what kind of parents we are … and if the relationship gets serious enough you actually have moments where you co-parent.

Another bonus to dating single parents! Insta bad or good parent radar.

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Yvie June 26, 2008 at 6:37 am

I don’t know if I can add anything here, but I guess it depends who you’re actually dating. There can be a single childless guy out there who’d be the right guy for you or a single dad whom you think is the right guy for you.

These are choices. :) And yeah, this is a great tip for guys out there who’s checking out hot single Momma. :)

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kit4real June 26, 2008 at 8:56 am

This is great advice.

I also have dated both guys who have children (hello Brady Bunch) and guys who don’t. And, yes guys who don’t have kids are reluctant to be serious because they have said to me “I’m not sure I want to be a step dad.” With this said – I get the immediate red flag – I don’t want to get any closer to someone who doesn’t appreciate the thought of being around my kids as a potential “co-parent.” Plus I find myself living 2 different lives. The one when I am with them and the kids are gone and the one as a mom.

On the flip side, the reoccurring thing with the guys I have dated with children have had 2 or 3 kids and that starts to add up with me having 2 of my own. It gets “interesting” with that many people around all the time… especially when you have to drive 2 vehicles everywhere you go for example….until you decide if this is worth getting a seven passenger ride! :) lol

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jonb June 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm

The hard part about dating a man without children is succesfully evaluating the type of man he is. Is he selfish and after you for sex, or is he a man of substance who you can share yourself with and grow with? Conversely, as a single mom you have to decide if you are only looking for a break or fun from your daily routine, or something meaningful. The hard thing is many men are capable of presenting what it is you want to see so to speak. How do you open yourself up while simultaneously staying guarded because you have a child to think of first? And say you find a good man, does he love you, or has he fallen for your child, or the idea of family?

I’m sure I just scared all the women in the room, lol, but I guess what I am getting at is that I have learned being a single parent, and balancing your work, child, personal life, and future is the hardest job in the world. I respect all of you for doing what you do.

In being with my girl and her son 8 months, I have learned more about myself, life, and love, than I have in a lifetime.

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Cheryl June 26, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I’ve recently split w/ my daughter’s father (April), though for all intents & purposes I’ve been a “Single Mom” since the begining b/c he lives in another state than I do, and we only saw him one weekend a month. He provided no financial help (still doesn’t) and very little “hands on” parenting. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his kid, it’s just the way things are… long story I guess.

That said, I always SWORE I’d never date a man w/ kids before I had a kid of my own b/c I never wanted to compete w/ his ex & how complicated that might become if we were to get serious, or married, etc. down the road. I didn’t want to have to ask permission to co-parent from an ex-spouse, or having differing parenting views from my BF or his ex.

And then I met my daughters father. He has an ex wife and TWO kids, now aged 11 and 9. He’d been divorced about 4 1/2 years when we met. Honestly, I’m not sure we’d ever have ended up together for almost three years if we didn’t get pregnant (oops!).

Now that we’re not together anymore, I have to say I cannot imagine dating someone that doesn’t have children. What a 180 degree turnaround right? I just can’t picture being w/ someone who has NO idea what it’s like to be a parent, how hard that is, etc. and especially because I really DO want someone who will co-parent my daughter with me, not stand in the shadows or let me run roughshod all over his opinions on what my daughter needs, etc.

Good post! This one has been bugging me for several weeks, not that I’m even remotely ready to start dating yet. It’s just nice to know that I’m not the only Single Mama that wonders how in the hell I’ll do it when I am ready.

Cheryl ~
@jasperblu

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osolomama June 26, 2008 at 7:19 pm

I think your advice is terrific. I also think that the child-bound (sorry for that negative term but I couldn’t think of another at this point in the evening) dating the child-free is more challenging than parents dating each other.

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QTMama June 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

One thing I have noticed about dating a single dad is that they just … GET IT. Where as the childless men don’t. I had one man tell me that my “availability sucks” and another that told me that my face lights up when I speak of my daughter. I think, it just depends on the man.

I heart JonB.

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mssinglemama June 26, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Love, love, love these thoughts!!! What an awesome discussion.

So – the conlusion = single parents get it.

Now if we could just find each other in the flesh. So funny! Because we’re all stuck at home parenting and can’t meet. I have to arrange a big single parent party in my city.

Has anyone ever done that?

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modernsinglemomma June 27, 2008 at 11:20 am

this is so good! And there ARE guys out there who are naturally more open-and even excited- about the fact that you are a mom. Kids to them are not baggage, but icing!
Like what my friend’s G.U.. said to her in a recent email:

“What scares me is that it does not scare me. [Name of child here] does not scare me either. I’m going to have to restrain myself here and not go on about how much I love being around kids…”

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jonb June 27, 2008 at 9:23 pm

I musy say kids have a way of making you realize how selfish you used to be and how selfish most people in the world are.

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mssinglemama June 27, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Okay, Jon B. I am officially in love with you. Now go marry that girl!!!!

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Brian Leggett June 14, 2011 at 6:36 am

I’m a single man with no kids and I’d prefer to not date a woman with kids. I don’t want to date a woman with kids. Children annoy the hell out of me and I do not enjoy the company of ill behaved kids. I want a woman all to myself. I don’t want to have to be with a woman who has to cancel our dates because she can’t find a baby sitter or can’t find her “baby daddy.” I’d actually prefer a single childless woman. I don’t want to be second to any woman’s brats. So as I said before, no women with kids.

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freda August 16, 2012 at 10:05 am

love this discussion, i have been a single mum for a year and a half. i started dating a male friend four moths ago. he is childless. things are going really well. he has known from the start that i am a mum. i decided very early on that i would need to date a man for a year before he meets my boy. so. we are four moths in. i know he likes children and wants to have children of his own as we have touched on the subject briefly. i also know that his parents divorced, he has a step dad and lots of siblings. so he understand the complexities of families where the parents have seperated.
i am falling in love with him while still knowing that there will come a point when we will have to have a conversation about my son. there are things about him that make me think that he will not be allowed into my sons life, he smokes, he is rubbish with money. on the other hand he listens intently to me and is patient and very loving. as a non parent he has no idea what i do. he has never dated a sinlge mum and i have never dated as a single mum ! it is a minefield and it is hard. all i can do is be as emotionally honest with myself and him and take things slow. people change and adapt and grow. loving a man who loves me and my son is possible.

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Langa Mgazi May 12, 2013 at 3:19 am

I have an 8 year old daughter, I have been dating a single childless guy for 14 months. I have made it a point not to impose my kid on him, so no…lets all go to movies or buy her a present or help me with school fees, I’ve been cautious. It so happens this week though that his best friend who I went to college with who has a kid invited us over to his house for a gathering, the invite specified that it is a “kid-friendly” gathering. So I felt it would be safe to bring my kid. My boyfriend tells me he doesn’t know how to handle it, he isn’t ready for fatherhood and kids have a way of painting pictures in their minds, creating expectations which when unmet they get very upset and are scarred for life. And so he is nervous and feels I need to consider this before I decide to bring my kid along. This hurts, cause it feels like rejection, I might be able to take a lot of emotional strain, but I’m totally protective over my kid…besides I am looking for a life partner…so if I’m still dating for the sake of dating when am I gonna start dating people looking for their life partner?

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Amanda June 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I have been a single mother to my 2 daughters 5 and 6 years old for nearly 5 years now. I have dated both single childless men and single dads. I have actually found that childless men at least the ones I have dated are better with my kids. I guess because any man brave enough to date a woman with 2 little girls would have to have a pretty good guy. I never thought I would date a childless man period. And though I have dated around a bit after my rocky relationship with their father I became jaded to the whole idea kind relationships. I didn’t plan on getting remarried ever. I didn’t want another child. I liked calling the shots with many girls and not having to answer to anyone about my life choices. A few months ago I met my cousin for a drink pine night and he introduced me to his roommate. He was 3 years younger than me and childless. I had no intention of setting him again. My cousin gave him my number and he mirror plan trying. Now months later I’m completely in love with him. He makes me feel like the 19 treat old girl I was before I must their dad. He consistently surprises me buy showing up to their tee ball games. Taking it’s to the fair and buying tickets so they can go plan rides when I didn’t ask or expect him to. I didn’t know before him that I could feel this way about a guy again. I got suck feeling so inferior or undateable because I have kids. I believed some the things those jerky guys say about single moms. But they are wrong. Your are more than your material status we are than moms. We are people. Women who need and deserve everything singles girls get and more. Because we know how to take care of ourselves. Our children. And any man who comes along.

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