The Must-Have Man List

by mssinglemama on December 17, 2009

Do you know what you would want from a man if he popped into your life (not what you need, but what you want)?

Here’s a starter list of some man qualities I think are mandatory before he can be single mom worthy:

1. Respect for you and the kids.

2. He should like you (a little bit) more than you like him. You should be fawned over because you don’t have time for the other way around. Soon it will balance out. But, at the beginning, you should be chased.

3. He accepts your past. I, as a single mom, have yet to make it far enough with someone who questioned my past or held it against me. I am almost certain I can pick these types of guys out from a line-up, so maybe that’s why. Regardless of how jerkdar accuaracy, avoid them like the plague. Bcause soon, they’ll be bringing up your past – the past the two of you share. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

4. He’s a role model. No drugs. No cheating. No jerk behavior. No abuse. And, an obvious one, but something to just put out there in black and white – would you be okay if your children grew up to be just like him?

5. He must respect the “kid thing”. If he gripes for a second about the kid, or battles for their attention then – sorry! – he’s not the one. There’s a difference, by the way, between legitimate concern over not enough one-on-one adult time and what I call griping. Use this as a measure – if he sounds at all like he’s whining or if he’s using it against you – there’s your answer.

6. He must accept you and your space. It’s no secret that most of us single moms have commitment issues. At least I do. He should be respectful of your issues, as troublesome as they are. But respecting and accepting them and your space will lead to open communication, trust on your part and, hopefully, a happy baggage-free ending.

7. Laziness is not an option. If he has a lazy side and shows consistent efforts to be more helpful and active over time, then make an exception. But I wouldn’t recommend a guy hooked on video games or attached to the television set.

8. Kindness is mandatory. He should never raise his voice, yell or scream. Guess what? The way your ex treated you was not normal, it was not okay and there are a million guys out there who will treat you with love and respect – like an adult. Go figure. I know. News to me too.

9. He wants you to be happy. If you’re happy, he’s happy. In life, in love, at home, at work. And you should feel the same way about his happiness.

10. He talks about the future. You’re a single mom. If you want a future with him, say it. If he avoids the conversation or is at all evasive – red flag. Move on and carry on. That’s not to say a future commitment can scare him a bit, that’s okay. But if he never talks about a future with you, generally speaking, that’s not a good sign.

I hope this helps. I just feel like I can see things so much clearer now that I’ve found a good one, and I want – as usual – to leave you with what I’ve learned.

Add or refute my list in the comments.

Back up reading:

Single Mom and the Men Who Love Us
How to Date a Single Mom (the series)

{ 4 trackbacks }

Single Mom Dating: Man List - Dating Tips and Tricks
December 18, 2009 at 1:05 am
Love and relationships: What are your non-negotiables? « Organised Chaos
January 6, 2010 at 3:09 am
Butterflies vs. Lead Weights
February 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm
Single Mom Question: We have chemistry, but… | Single Mom | Single Mom Blog | Ms. Single Mama
June 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Robyn Jones December 17, 2009 at 7:44 am

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I needed this more than I knew- needed to see some of the issues in my face to make my decision that I have been wishy-washy about become crystal clear.



Maria December 17, 2009 at 8:36 am

This is so good. I just started seeing someone recently (first real relationship since having my daughter) and I needed to read this. My guy meets these basic criteria for sure – but it’s just nice to have it laid out like this. ๐Ÿ™‚ Linking to you on my blog.


Gitte December 17, 2009 at 8:38 am

What an excellent post. I’ll print it out and put it on my fridge ๐Ÿ™‚


Radomir December 17, 2009 at 8:44 am

Ahh, utopia. What a sweet and lovely place.

Be honest, we’re human, not machines… what’s in it for us men if we, like you wish, drop all of our manly features and become.. soft and cudly like that.
You wouldn’t respect us anymore if we just sit and stay and fetch like that.
I’m nice to my wife and try to be understanding and all that, but there are limits. Sometimes we have to put our foot down otherwise you’ll walk all over us. That wouldn’t be a win-win situation for both of men and women.

But anyways, love your blog, love the Bear, bought my wife the necklace and a shame you don’t live at this side of the atlantic (europe) ๐Ÿ˜‰
Have a great christmas and i wish you three all the best for 2010.


Christina December 17, 2009 at 8:45 am

This post just put a huge smile on my face. I thought these types of men only existed in fairytales and single-mom-falls-in-love type blogs. But they are really out there! I know because I found one. I just kept nodding my head in agreement as I went down every number in your list, especially number 8! If I had only known then what I know now…


Jamie December 17, 2009 at 8:50 am

I love this and it is exactly right. I am beginning to doubt that this man exists for me, but I shouldn’t settle for anything less! I just got out of the only relationship that I have been in since my son’s dad and it was a trainwreck. I think I will avoid dating for some time unless Mr. Perfect lands in my lap!


Kelly Herrera December 17, 2009 at 9:54 am

Genius. I know that you’ve learned a lot of this through trouble with B’s dad. The laziness is such a huge thing (like your story about why you ended things w/ B’s dad, specifically the boxes) and the line about being OK w/ them growing up to be just like him hit me right in the gut. That is SO important and telling.


Ashley December 17, 2009 at 10:08 am

Awesome, awesome list!!! I love and agree with each and every single one!!


kristen December 17, 2009 at 11:23 am

Good list. I would sum it with two words – emotionally mature. No one is perfect, and no one is great all the time. The ability to recognize your mistakes, put someone else needs before yours, be respectful comes from being emotionally mature. Of course, I hold myself to the same standard…


Anonymous December 17, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Love the list! I whole-heartedly agree with all of these – especially #2 and #9! Life is good if you both care about making each other happy! Can’t wait to meet the guy who fulfills all of these.


Sheila December 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I am sending this to one of my married friends who unfortunately has a hubby who violates many of these!


girlplease December 29, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Yea I broke one of my major rules–laziness (as in housework/errands) and it’s a huge problem for me. I should send this to myself.

I also need to find someone who won’t use your past against you; it’s now the biggest control/fear pressure point in my potential divorce with my husband (using my past therapy sessions as a power play in a custody battle). I would never, ever have thought in a million years I would have that used against me by my own husband. Now I know.

For the future on top of this list I’m adding my own:

Never going to be as 100% open about my past and admitting when I was the asshole in relationships due to emotional struggles. Forget it.

Prenup, prenup, prenup!!!!!! My parents worked their @ss off to be debt free and have a good retirement. Now that they’re sick and close to passing, I never, ever want another man to have what they built. Prenup what you come into in a relationship (that goes for his stuff too) and all marital income can be up for grabs. But damn it, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a man control me financially or leave me stranded at 50, 60, etc.

I’ll never, ever look over major no nos of abuse/addiction—verbal, mental, emotional, physical, drugs, alcohol, gambling, porn, sexist. I’ve had enough for 38 years in some sort of fashion, thank you.

My god have something in common and not be that hopeful “oh isn’t that cute, he’s a free spirit.” Free spirit for me means no security in life (job, financial, etc). Have a friggen decent job that you can hold down, will ya? For things in common, we need to have more than wine tastings in common.

No obsessions, especially with sports. The decor in my house has suffered!


Violet December 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Great list Alaina! My boyfriend asked me the other night what things make me happy that I really enjoy doing. It took me a minute to respond because I had never really had a boyfriend ask me what made me happy, what I enjoy doing. It showed me how much he really cared about me being happy. He see how hard I work all the time and spend so much of my time taking care of everyone else’s needs and he wanted to make sure that I had my needs taken care of as well. When he asked me that I realized that so many of the things that I used to do that I enjoyed doing, I don’t do anymore, because it is hard to find the time to do it with everything else that has to get done. When I told him this he said, we will find time for you to start doing some of the things that you enjoy and make you happy. This seems like such a simple thing, yet no man has ever bothered to ask me that or think about what makes me happy. It is amazing when you discover what a real relationship should be like and find it.


Abbie Toy December 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

And my man meets all the requirements in this list. Priceless:)



ashlea December 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm

My list looks an awful lot like this one!
After more than one applicable experience, I did have to add this:
If you have two children already and you have been through a hell he can’t imagine and you are honest and up front letting him no you will not be having any more children, HE SHOULD BELIEVE YOU. The school of hard knocks graduates “big girls” who know what they want and mean what they say. He should also know you’re a little too experienced to make any more beginner mistakes in the name of love so, no, falling in love with him does not mean he’ll wear you down and get one more baby out of the baby factory. If they had to do it on their own for a while they might not think “what’s one more?”


Darcy December 18, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Ashlea –


Hanie December 17, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Excellent list, Alaina. Did a similar list when I was a single mom. I got married to a wonderful guy who fit into the “I want” list. The next morning after our wedding, he brought me a mug of coffee to the bed. I literally cried as I never had any partner who did that – a mug of coffee to bed! Simple things matters, like that.


Lesha December 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

Can I print this out pocket sized and give it to guys I want to date so they know up front what I’m looking for? I think it might save so much wasted time!


April December 18, 2009 at 9:08 am

Nice. It’s so hard to pin point these ‘wants’ into a list.


Roxanne December 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

love, love, love this. as someone who is in the beginning throngs of a new relationship (I know! bitter little me!) it’s definitely good to see this kind of thing in black and white, and making sure you can say, “CHECK!” on every single one, no exceptions, no “oh, but he …” BS. you rock, as always.


Travis December 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Can I take your list one step farther?

1) Not just respect, but adoration, for you and your kids. He will become a father role to them. And will define their future and perceptions of men and step-fathers, whether you like it or not.

2) Chasing is a game. If your into games. I would say though that he should want to know as much about you as humanly possible and that he wants to keep pursuing consistently elevated levels of knowledge. You should return this with the opportunities for him to get to know you better. The best scenario, is when both of you are chasing each other.

3) I don’t know if I would accept the “accept the past” as you described. If your past sucked, I’m going think it sucks too. But, what’s important is that they accept the path you took to get to the current place in your life. He should be more concerned with the future. Obviously, the past shouldn’t be held against you. (Very difficult. Men and Women struggle with pasts, but I see women as more willing to look past prior mistakes, more so than men)

4) Oh, absolutely. He is a father role. And you don’t want someone to stomp on all the work your trying to do to show your kids what men should be like. He will influence your kids, and they will gain impressions of men through him.

5) If he is “whinning” he is a kid. I knew a man who hated that his own kids got more attention then him. I have a word for men like him… And it isn’t nice, at all. Man up, and take on this new role and if he isn’t into your kids, he really isn’t into you as much as you thought.

6)I would think this is where taking it slowly, and patiently will open the door to trust as you get to see them in their true light. If they want to really be with you. He will, take the time to get to know you and allow you to build up trust in him.

7) Even in real dating, laziness isn’t an option. If they are doing their part to maintain a house, home and family. They will have a lot to work on (laziness can reflect underlining problems that affect financial, and social). And if he is like “Hey babe, can you get me a beer, as WoW is going a little too long time.” That is the sign you need to walk away… and quickly.

8) If love is his foundation then kindness will follow. Men who truly love, will always be kind. Will show respect, will honor you and (As they say, love is quiet, it is peaceful, and it is harmonious) (cheesy, but man it’s true)

9) Yes and yes. I believe that if you are happy, you will want to follow suit in offering up happy solutions and work to keep that environment going. (Being happy isn’t always about being completed giddy all the time, it’s about how he and you deal with frustrations)

10) The really good guys, will talk about the future after knowing that you are one. He will whisper it, he will imply it. and he will let you know quietly and by his actions that you are the one. If they are not talking about any depth, that the future might hold, then something is wrong. He can’t see a future. Even if it is just setting up events for the future (Sign one that it isn’t going to work after that period of time, is that when you offer to plan something ahead, he is leery about it. Or pushes it off, with we’ll see, I might be busy). If guys are into you, they will make sure they spend all the time they can with you. And if planning a future event get’s them looking at their schedules and talking about how to do it. That is a very good sign.


mssinglemama December 20, 2009 at 6:42 am

Thank you for adding Travis! Awesome list.


Sparkle April 15, 2012 at 11:02 pm

I know I’m years late on this reply, but I just found this blog and since I’m going through a divorce myself I found the list amazing as there is a special someone that has returned to my life.

Travis it is so wonderful to have a man ADD to this list in depth giving us women that are brave enough to not have given up on a real genuine lasting love even after what we’ve been through. My special someone has all the bullet-ted points down from both MsSingleMama’s list and your additions so I have to say I’m pretty lucky. And since he’s a single father, I can bet he’d come in here and be able to check off the same list when it comes to me. So I guess that makes both of us lucky ๐Ÿ™‚


Shiang December 19, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Love the list! Such a good reminder not to settle & only look for the best!!

Reply December 20, 2009 at 1:21 am

Life is too short to settle. If we lived our lives to the fullest and refused to accept crap from anyone, everyone would be a little happier (and cheesy as it sounds, the world will be a little easier to live in).


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Another Anonymous December 20, 2009 at 3:40 am

???????what have i been missing? it almost makes me want to cry ,knowing that there are men ,apart from DR PHIL, capable of using emotional intelligence and not just there man bits,that there are some who have a broader meaning for the term “MAN-HOOD” other then whats in their pants.The father of my little one is the ‘ANTI-LIST” and for the four yrs we have been together, iv’e been dancing that pathetic jigg of “honey we should see a councillor,whats wrong ,we can talk about it…..if i become ur doormatt will it make things better ?” I should have left that emotionally infertile man sooner,its a slow work in progress but i don’t need him or his B.S -and the more i read here the more i know it ,i belive it.thank u for helping with the happiness me and my daughter will have in the future.


mssinglemama December 20, 2009 at 6:39 am

Another Anonymous.

Wow. I can feel your pain and frustration jumping off of the screen… I suffered for two years with Benjamin’s father and after I left, I saw so clearly at how awful he was to me. This post – Should I Leave My Husband? may also give you guidance:

I hope it helps and use my Single Moms Forum if you need support in whatever may come…


Danielle December 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm

I agree 100% with all numbers! I have finally found a man who not only wants to be a part of my life, but my daughter’s as well. He even respects my desire to take things slow and steady when it comes to Emma. Too much too soon can sometimes be a bad thing, but he’s along for the ride no matter what. Plus, he’s an amazing cook taboot!


Another Anonymous December 21, 2009 at 6:16 am

Thankyou Ms Single Mama , you are pure inspiration .Just wanted to let you know that i read the post you recommended -“should i leave my husband” .It was invaluble! Thank you for feeling my “pain and frustration” i wish he could but the only one that does is our daughter,which is why i am convinced there is no easy fix ,i just gotta do it,move me and my baby on.It’s nice to know that great minds think alike and here’s a place where you can let some steam off but also in a productive , life motivating way with other people who “just get it ” and not just that but they actually care . Well definately be trying out the forum !Thanks again


Crissi December 21, 2009 at 11:53 am

This is all so true!!! I have dated many frogs that exhibited some of these characteristics. And I bent to them! Oh, how I wish I had had more self-esteem to put my foot down when these red flags were raised. Then I wouldn’t have wasted so much time kissing frogs. Luckily, I have found my Prince Charming who is everything I ever wanted in a man, and possesses all the MUSTS necessary to be a wonderful addition to my life and the kids’ and my future!


Rachel December 21, 2009 at 12:30 pm

You inspired me to make my own list!

I think knowing these requirements is important — everyone’s are probably a little different, but none of us want to make the same mistakes we did with our first husbands/boyfriends/father of our child/whatever. Once I started noticing these traits in a guy I was dating, I walked away quickly and didn’t look back. Thanks again…and Merry Christmas to you and your family ๐Ÿ™‚


Samantha December 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm

This list rocks and is such good timing for me. I’ve been on the fence about a man and this list makes is crystal clear that he’s not the one. That last tip was the clincher because talk of the future is always put off. Also the one about your kid growing up to be like him hit me hard. I honestly don’t want my son to grow up and be like this man.

Thanks for taking the time to write it out and remind me that there is a quality man for me out there.


Kathleen December 22, 2009 at 3:51 am

That list is so good that I think it should be passed out to every girl when she turns 13. And we can make a mirror one to be passed out to the boys.

I’ve never been a single mom but I did watch how my then boyfriend treated his niece, his parents and others. I paid attention to how he treated me when I got the flu and then how he acted when he got it. As important as it is to be helpful, I had to know that he could accept help as well.

I agree that “emotional maturity” is critical. I would put “kindness” on the top of my list as well. Two decades into this marriage, into this life we’ve created, and it’s amazing to me how much kindness and an assumption of good will towards each other has helped us. We’ve endeavored to make our family a safe harbor for each other, for our child, for the people we love. It’s a shocking amount of work for a woman who once believed that love was enough, but it’s worth the effort if you are with someone who is working just as hard.


Kathleen December 22, 2009 at 3:57 am

I wanted to add that while I’m very thankful for the relationship my husband and son have, I know for sure that it’s better for a child to have a healthy single mama than live with two parent who are not healthy together.

My son is gay and until someone asked me if I was sad my grandchildren would not have a mother, I had never thought about it. I want all children to have love, security and safety and of, course, that includes my future grandchildren. The gender and number of parents is immaterial to me.


Brenda December 25, 2009 at 9:28 am

What can I say my second marriage is goin down the drain ๐Ÿ™ I am thankful there are blogs out there supporting single moms. will be visiting this sight regularly for support for sure.


Marienna December 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

This list is wonderful. I am going to print it out and give it to my two daughters. Coming out of an 18 year relationship (15 married) and being a single mother for 5 (glorious and petrifying) months, I can add to the list:

His actions will ALWAYS speak louder than his words. And the two must be consistent, not conflicting. I hold myself to the same standards.

Never again will I give a man the benefit of the doubt when he continuously says one thing, yet does another (or does nothing at all). Passive-aggressiveness is serious and toxic to any relationship.

I deserve better. So do my girls. Thank you for a great blog, it is comforting to know I am not alone.


girlplease December 29, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I would like to hear your story. I’m prepping myself emotionally to file and like you, I’m scared. Please email me when you can at girlplease29atgmaildotcom


Lisa February 4, 2015 at 3:45 am

I have been so beleedirwd in the past but now it all makes sense!


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Apphia December 26, 2009 at 9:13 am

Hie thanks I didn’t know all this I always have problems finding the right one.Hope this will help me


Donna December 28, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I just noticed the picture of you holding the Shiner Bock beer can. I’m from the town named Shiner where the beer is brewed, it always amazes me whenever I see it somewhere.


girlplease December 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

God I wish we could all write honest ads for internet dating sites:

Wanted: A man who would treat me with respect, love, and adoration. Someone who is easy going but not someone who will let others walk on them or hurt me/my son–but that doesn’t mean being a manipulative bully either. Must be reasonable and accountable in all arguments/disagreements. Yelling, name calling, threatening, and taking away my keys is not acceptable. If you’re a slob, keep moving and call a maid because I’m not one. Must be college educated and have a good job and make a decent salary. I’m not a sugar mamma nor am I a gold digger. I believe in a worry-free life. I don’t want bill collectors, living paycheck to paycheck, seeing past due notices, or asking friends for money while you buy $200 golf clubs because “you deserve it”. Think about the future as well as the present and learn from the past. Be a role model, educator, philosopher to children. Be open minded about races, religion, politics, etc. Think about individuals/situations, not mass generalizations because everything isn’t black and white. Be affectionate but not overly needy and whining. I take care of those under 18, not over 18. Be an individual yet enjoy being with me. Be social yet not overly social when it’s non stop every move you make is nothing but your friends and family. If you have any addiction issues (even if people tell you you do and you think they’re boring and out of touch), sex, drugs, sports, gambling, drinking, Facebook, etc. then move the hell on. I don’t need you, want you, it’s not cute, it’s not just once in a while—it’s annoying and you’re a loser to me and nothing I want my son to see. If I did, I would have stayed married.


natie January 2, 2010 at 7:44 pm

wow @ Girlplease its like you read my mind completely on that one!
and Marienna you truly put all the thoughts I was trying to convey to my ex boyfriend into words. I was so excited I quickly ran to my journal and wrote “His actions will ALWAYS speak louder than his words. and the two must be consistent, not conflicting”* My ex would always claimed he loved me but his actions said something entirely different, in fact they said nothing at all! He didnt put any effort into our relationship and seemed to avoid acknowledging the fact that I had a child. At first I thought maybe i was being too harsh or demanding or picky but marienna helped confirm what ive known all along: i dont have time for that BS!


Cissy January 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I loved this! It is going in my Journal!


Anne January 3, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this list! In the years since my divorce my biggest mistake has been trying to tell myself its MY job to make changes….MY job to work around the other person because Im the one with ‘baggage’ (as a good friends mother once said to me)… but to me my so called ‘baggage’ is the bonus… the part of my package deal that will someday be cherished…and that is when Ill know ‘he’s’ right!! I needed this list as a friendly reminder that Im worth every single quality listed and anything less…. well, is just not worth my time. Thank you again! I love reading your blog!!


Melissa January 6, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I’m a single mom and I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter and I am more than ready to get married to him. Well he isn’t ready…any advice of what to do? He said he isn’t ready at this moment to be responsible, but knows that when he is, he wants it to be with me.


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