Single Mom Question: Why can’t I commit?

by mssinglemama on May 25, 2011

I promised you a series devoted to your questions about being a dating single mom. And here is the first. This one is from April.

“I am so happy being a single mom that I find it hard to settle into a relationship.”

“I have been divorced for five years now and a single mother to two little girls.  I have dated off and on during the past five years, but I find the longest I can maintain a relationship is around 2 months and then I start to lose the excitement, feel smothered and just keep thinking of how much happier I am with it just being me and my girls.  There is nothing more liberating then knowing that you are on your own and can take care of yourself.

I was married for 9 years and was totally in love with my ex husband, but he cheated and that is why our relationship ended. I have healed and moved on and we have been able to maintain a friendly relationship for our girls.  So, I don’t feel that it is if I am not over him, but I can’t find that spark that I had with him.  I feel content with my single life.  I do have thoughts from time to time of wishing that I could find prince charming again, but it just seems so much easier and less stressful to go it alone raising my girls.  Is this normal?  Does anybody else feel this way?”

My short answer.

I can relate. I think just about every single mom I’ve met has commitment issues. Why? I think there are a few reasons.

1). Because we have discovered that we can live happily ever after solo.

2). We haven’t found that “spark” and are holding out of that same fire we felt before.

3). Even though we may feel “over” a traumatic experience like losing a husband of nine years to cheating,  there is still hurt there. We have found happiness and it seems so scary to risk ever feeling that hurt again.

So, yes, April – this is normal. What should you do about it? Keep dating. Because it’s fun! But from here on out don’t let the relationships make it to two months, eliminate them faster to make room for some of that spark.

What are your thoughts? Please comment and help April out. Do you find you have fears or commitment issues? And there is nothing wrong with just being a happy, solo single mom. Don’t ever force a relationship just because you think you “should have one.”

If you have a question of your own please e-mail it to me with the subject line: “Single Mom Question” to mssinglemama-at-gmail-dot-com.

Related posts:

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  2. A very good question.
  3. A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding a Manperson
  4. Do men really care if you’re a single mom?
  5. Single Mom Dating Tips, Part 5

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Commitment issues anyone…? « Single Mormon Mudder
October 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Gisela May 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

Hi April, My situation is identical to yours. Married for 9 yrs then divorced due to cheating. I, too, have dated, but find myself enjoying my single mom time with my 2 children then accompanied by a partner. With trial and errors, I have just decided to live and enjoy my life with my daily routines. I figured that one day I will find my Mr. Right when I least expect it. Nothing in this world gives me more pleasure and satisfaction then raising my children in a happy environment, even though that means that its just the 3 of us. Good Luck to you.

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Logan May 25, 2011 at 9:44 am

April I understand where you are coming from! Though my situation is fairly fresh (divorce was finalized last week and I found out about my husband’s affair 3.5 months ago), I have the same mentality where Mr. Right is virtually the last thing on my mind. Right now I couldn’t be happier raising and loving my son and just getting adapted to this new singlehood, which has been a surprising breath of fresh air after all of the hell I have been through. I thought I was going to die for a while with all of the pain of the affair, being the last to know, and having him abandon me pregnant (yes you read that correctly)….but my son has made me stronger and I have realized I cannot fall apart in my grief; I have to be strong and capable for my child. If there is a Mr. Right out there, maybe like Gisela said, I’ll run into him when I least expect it….but I am certainly not seeking him out. NONE of us “need” a man to make us complete. Good luck to you!

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Hanna May 25, 2011 at 11:07 am

I struggle with this too. I’ve been single for 4 years now. In that time I’ve dated, had flings, FWBs, lovers, but nothing like a “typical” commited relationship. I like my single mom life 85% of the time, and only really want a husband when I’m feeling lonely or sick or need help with heavy lifting (ha). I agree with you about it “just being easier” to raise my daughter without the extra complication of another person involved.

I have enough stress in my life, and I don’t want to compromise my dedication to my daughter because I’m now dealing with another person’s emotional baggage. I guess the decision we meed to make as single moms is the extra stress worth the benefits of having a committed partner? Sharing your life with your kid is rewarding in itself, but what about the rewards of sharing it with another adult as well? Yes its scary and hard, but if you want to add a whole new dimension to living a “full” life, I think its a risk you have to consider taking.

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Lara May 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

I ask myself this question quite a bit. I’ve been divorced for about 2 years, and I have a daughter who is almost 7. We are so happy on our own, and the short relationships I’ve given a chance seem to detract from our “unit” – or at least distract me. I like the advice to let go of relationships quicker to make room for the spark, but I’m not sure personally how to do that since I really don’t think dating is fun. More often than not, I find the hours spent with someone new boring. If love walks in, I’m here and open and happy to meet it. But if not, I’m quite in love with my life as it is.

I think trusting one’s instinct is imperative – and not being frustrated w/yourself for not being in a partnership. I’m still a holdout for the zing, too. We’ll know it when it arrives!

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Paula May 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

April – I too was married nine years when my husband cheated on me (must be time to change the seven year itch to nine?!). We have been apart for six years, divorced for four. During the first five years I dated a little, had some fun flings, and a couple of short term relationships but my focus was on raising my kids. It definitely seemed like the added stress and time a relationship required took away from my kids and just added more to an already full plate. Now that I am in a healthy, loving and committed relationship I can see it felt that way because I was not with the right person, and also not ready emotionally for a relationship. I never introduced any of my previous relationships to my children, mainly because I knew in my heart they were not going to go the distance. My boyfriend of almost nine months has been involved with my children for almost seven months and I now view it all differently. He is there to help and lighten my load certainly, but more importantly, he has added so much to their lives as well. They were hesitant at first but his patience, attention, and genuine affection for them has all paid off immensely and we are all better for having him in our lives.

Be patient and open, when you are ready and the timing is right for all of you, you will find that healthy and loving relationship that you and your children deserve. In the meantime, enjoy your time with your kids and love yourself!

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Alison May 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I was in a similar situation…married for 12, divorced for 2, 2 girls of my own.

For me, the sheer FUN (yeah, I said it) of discovering who I am and what I want out of life, then going out and accomplishing it for myself and my girls is one of the top things keeping me from settling in a relationship right now.

Being single isn’t a bad thing. People always make this “Oh, poor you” face when I tell them I’m not seeing anyone seriously, but really? I’m having the time of my life, and for the first time in my life, I’m comfortable with who I am.

I “settled down” the first time when I got married. This time? I’m not “settling” for anything.

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eb June 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Amen sister. Not settling for anything this go around. Best to you. I love reading everyone’s comments!

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GreenInOC May 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I am a stickler for language so this jumped out at me “…wishing that I could find prince charming again…” – what?!

In what fairy tale does prince charming cheat on the princess?!

My advice would be first to stop defining your ex-husband as prince charming. In my experience, if you don’t honor the relationship with the reality that it was you are likely to end up with another “prince charming” and all his charms and cheating ways!!

If you are finding it difficult to settle into a relationship then I say honor that. Continue having the time of your life, love your girls, grow, learn, laugh and have fun.

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Stefani May 26, 2011 at 12:27 am

I’m so happy that I stumbled upon this tonight because the last few weeks I’ve been thinking the same thing to myself. I’ve been divorced for a few years now, my ex (my daughter’s dad) and I are friends, we always have been, just didn’t do well married. But since then I’ve had one not so great relationship, that one was just over a year, and I’ve had one REALLY BAD relationship, that was about 8 months. I’ve been totally on my own for about 4 months now and I’m LOVING every minute of it! I love the time I have with my daughter, and the time I have alone when she’s with her dad. I’ve been wondering if there’s something wrong with me that I am absolutely, completely satisfied and fulfilled with my life without a man! I’ve been on a date or two recently and am totally over it, I don’t even care to date at all. I hate dating, but more importantly I totally love how things are right now. I’m trusting my instincts and just enjoying it! And I’m SO happy to find that there are other moms in the same spot as I am in their lives!

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Sam May 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

After any relationship break-up, it makes sense to allow the inevitable cocktail of emotions (grief, anger, resentment, regret) to run their course. Once we are ready to re-engage with the world, and can smell the flowers again, dating can mean embarking on an exciting new phase of life.

I think commitment problems are often caused by past issues that are still unresolved..

I found this article interesting http://www.onespace.org.uk/new-relationships/dating-again

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Carolin May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I just ended a relationship for the same reason. I couldn’t deal with the nonsense, and the effects it may have on my 3 girls. It has been 6 years since the divorce and we are doing fine on own own. It does get lonely for a while, then I think of dating all over again and is it worth it.? I just want to enjoy the time I have with my girls before they are all grown up. I am hoping my time will come when they are older.

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Gigi May 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I was married for 19 years and have two kids. I was not happy for years and years but just couldn’t pull the plug on the marriage. I was the one that cheated many years ago. His wife knew it and my husband knew it. He divorced after being married 10 years and his wife remarried within a few months. We got back together for several months then just stopped seeing one another again. Fast forward another 8 years and he found me again (I had moved). This time I divorced and we have been together ever since. My kids love him like crazy. My ex-husband has said several times that he knew it was happening but couldn’t stop it. Sometimes you just realize your with the wrong person and have to move on. If this doesn’t work, I’ll be fine but for now we are very happy and so are all 4 kids involved. Listen to your heart.

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kutekrazynails May 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

I was lucky enough to find a wonderful husband who loves me dearly. I guess the only thing in life we can hope for is for someone kind to share life with. I know it is scary to get back on the horse again, but whatever happens in life was meant to happen. Be humble, be strong, and know God is watching over you. Fonda

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K May 27, 2011 at 9:23 am

I wonder, often, how to model to my children a healthy adult relationship without being in one that they are part of. My divorce was long and drawn out, and that was emotionally exhausting. But now that it’s past, I’m with someone who is very supportive of me and recognizes that the life I lead is very busy and my children come first. This is key, I think, for any relationship single mom’s enter into. Also key, is being ready. The kiddos come first no matter what, but when someone is right, they fit into the family instead of us needing to carve them a place.

So…I say all that to say…each of us is different. In the past couple years I’ve met amazing women who, like April, do great on their own with their children. There are powerhouses who make organization and scheduling look like a cake walk. Some of us are built with an amazing independent self that can handle life with grace and humor. And, let’s face it, coming from where I did, it’s nice most days to know everything about everything in my household, where the money comes from and goes to, how everyone’s schedule is going to work, and when I can sit for 10 minutes in the quiet!

But others of us are built with a stronger sense of partnership than independence. A need to be part of a unit. And WE need to be super careful that the person we find is the one who enriches the lives of our children, too, not just some random guy to fill the void!

For ALL of us it’s about time…discovering who we are and what we really need…enjoying our children and watching them grow…and determining which is the best path for our individual family.

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kris May 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I feel the exact same way but because I REALLY want another child, I keep at it (kind of) and hope that eventually I will meet the person I am meant to be with. Honestly though…if I didn’t want more children, I’d be perfectly content being single forever. My situation was the same as yours. With my husband for 9 years and found out he was cheating when I was pregnant with our now 4 yr old. We’ve been divorced for almost 4 years and I too feel completely “over him” but wonder if I’ll ever have that spark again.

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Puddlejumpermama May 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Kris, I totally agree with you. Also, I’m almost 35, so my biological click is ticking, too! I’m terrified I won’t get the chance to have another child ~ this time with somebody I want to share everything with. I feel like my easy, fun, exciting first pregnancy was wasted on somebody I had no emotional connection with. I want to do it again so badly, but who knows if I ever will…

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RebeccaLK May 27, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I think it is human instinct to question a huge change in our lives. Wanting LOVE so badly makes women date…which is good. But you know you have learned alot from your pain…when you question whether it is worth letting go of your single mommy life. I admire that. Alot of single parents seek out a way to fill up that void prematurely.

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Anna May 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I agree with MSM. Even though you feel great with your girls and your singlemommyhood, there IS still hurt there (and it will creep up on you at the weirdest times, too). Before we can make a relationship stick, we gotta know how we contributed to the breakup, too. This can be hard to find when you were obviously mistreated/disrespected, but there were two people in the relationship. My ex was and still is a complete ass, but I have come to realize my mistakes, and that is part of the reason I was able to move on and be in a committed relationship.

The other reason is that I met a real man, who adores me. And I give thanks every day for him because I know what I settled for in the past.

When you are ready to commit, you will. The fact that you are asking if your current feelings/situation is normal means that you are getting there.

And if you never do, that’s OK, too, as long as you are OK with it, and not wishing for something more.

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Sassy Single Mom May 28, 2011 at 9:05 am

This is a biggie!

I went through a variety of dating experiences soon after my divorce as well. I felt it was one more thing to juggle and in the end, not so fun for me anymore. I began reading success stories of other single moms who had found fulfilling and loving relationships. From what I can gather – it seems the key really lies within ourselves … making sure our healing work is complete and that we are open to receiving the love we know we deserve.

As for me … I’m still working on that part! =) But, I know I’ll get there … and I think you will too – you’re asking the right questions and getting really curious about this part of your life … keep moving, keep growing …

Good luck, April!

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YouandMeKid May 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I think that dating keeps us lightened up a bit. We don’t want to get so enmeshed in our children that they become our entire universe. I know that sounds bad, and they come first, no doubt. But like Ms Single Mama says, keep dating light. Not every date has to be a potential mate. Just get to know other men. It feels good to have male friends!

I think it’s not so much about being “happy”, but that it’s EASIER being single lol, at least for me it is, and alot less stressful, but I still think that Mr. Right awaits somewhere, someday. If he doesn’t then so be it.

I hope you take a chance again someday!

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K May 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I am right there with you April! Only for me it was 8 years, and we’ve been apart 3. And honestly dating is the last thing on my mind. Everyone wants me to be in a relationship, and happy. But I’m very content and happy with just my two children. Who wants the added hassle and heartbreak you know can happen? lol

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Kara May 31, 2011 at 1:35 am

It’s been almost a year and a half since my ex and I separated (currently in the divorce process). He began seeing someone while I thought we were still ‘working on the marriage’. He lied about it all and I was crushed. Like so many of you others, my focus over this trying time has been on my little man (2 years old). Although it’s been difficult I get to live my days how I want to and I’m not stuck wanting him (the ex) to be apart of it. I still can’t imagine being with someone else. But I must admit there’s a small part of me that feels pressure to find another person just because he did. Is that crazy?

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LA November 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I am just now reading this post & comments – Kara, I’m exactly there with you. Mu ex dropped me while I was pregnant and has dated about a dozen women since then. And I TOTALLY feel like I need to find someone, because he is so busy looking. It feels like a competition. I think I would just crumble if he got married (unlikely: he’s 39 but who knows) and I was still single struggling to raise our son mostly on my own. I know it’s not a healthy viewpoint but it sneaks up on me a lot. I think it’s completely normal though – they’ve moved on and when you haven’t it feels a thousand times lonelier knowing they are with someone else.

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LaToya Knight May 31, 2011 at 11:15 am

I feel that it’s totally natural to feel that way. While you may be healing from you’re past relationship you’re now discovering yourself again and that’s OK. I feel that everything is a process. It’s good that you’re dating and haven’t shun away from being in a relationship at all. Time will evolve and you may find the one who you don’t mind sharing you’re life with again.

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Jenn May 31, 2011 at 11:29 am

After leaving my daughter’s abusive father 2 years ago after almost 2 years of abuse, I am still scarred.

I’ve tried dating on & off but feel like I have an invisible shield up. Maybe I’m subconcious & afraid of a nice man I trust turning into a monster again, making my house be foreclosed, & also having to endure a long lenghtly custody case for my daughter to prove I was a fit mother the whole time I was.

Today my relationship with my ex is not perfect but I try for my daughter. We are her parents regardless of our feelings towards each other. I am scared of him still though & find it hard to get past the pain, hurt & nightmare he put me though.

I’ve learnt that I am totally content being a dependant single mom. My focus & goals I have are all for my daughter & I, no one else. I am beginning to find myself again & trying to better myself as a person for not only myself, but my daughter.

I won’t put myself out there to meet someone because I don’t have a need to. I will however take the opportunity to try opening myself up should I happen to meet a nice guy who comes along when the timing is right & I feel comfortable.

I sometimes wonder if I’m moulding myself into someone a nice guy will find & like enough to have a happily ever after with. :) Just follow your heart & do what you think is best. Don’t ever settle or force yourself though.

Best of luck & hang in there!

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Steve May 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Your feelings and attitude are very common and are probably a safe way to look at dating.

It’s risky, you’ve learned, and so you’re taking it slower. It’s not worth jumping into with anyone, so you don’t do that. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and it’s over-rated. So you do it less often cause you have better things to do. Or it doesn’t make sense to be dating at this time, so you don’t.

I’m in the same boat. (But a guy.) My lady friend really hurt me badly. We have a son I’m pretty crazy about. He’s super fun and bright and enthusiastic. It really pains me that he’s got a mother that’s so inconsiderate and self-centered and just plain stupid.

Now I’ve got several dilemmas. Who wants me with this baggage?!? How can I date someone since I still need to move back nearer to my son?!? How can I explain how she and I were never married, and why was I such a loser to date her in the first place?!? I really don’t see things getting better for me. The more I explain, the stupider I look. The more I keep to myself, the stupider I look. All I can do is love my son and wait, I guess.

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Ona June 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I can understand where you are coming from Steve. The best thing you can do now is work on YOU. Get back to happy place for yourself and for your son. As they say – LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE! The moment you stop feeling like you are ‘less than’ because you are a single dad and start getting back to who you are and doing what you love – then love finds you. Most women appreciate a man for being an excellent father. Love your son and yourself and you will attract more love to you.

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sam June 2, 2011 at 7:08 pm

maybe you just haven’t found the right guy. If you are with the wrong person of course you will find them boring after two months, maybe two minutes

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Ona June 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Whoa. April – not only are you not alone on this but I could have written that question word for word myself! I have two daughters and we have such a good time that it’s so difficult for me to get interested in being in a relationship. I soo appreciate the comments of all the other single mamas here which really help me understand why I don’t have more of an urge to be coupled up. When the time is right and with the right person. In the meantime – I’m going to have fun and stay open! OXOX

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AJ Joseph June 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

I’ve been single for five years and i have a six year old daughter. My friends are always questioning me on why am I still single. I just don’t have that desire to be in a permament relationship and I don’t know why myself. I’ve had admitted to myself that it’s fear but at the same time sometimes i wished i was in a relationship. I guess you are not the only one.. :-)

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April June 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm

AJ,
I am so in your shoes. I struggle with wanting to be in a relationship and then when I get one I don’t want it anymore! Ugh! I get so frustrated with myself. Not sure if it is fear, or just a feeling that society, friends, and family make me feel pressured to find one? I have just made a pact with myself to never force myself to do something that doesn’t feel right. I believe your gut feeling will always guide you to do what is right.

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Becci June 9, 2011 at 11:44 am

wow – this really struck me today. I’ve been feeling something along these lines for a while and feeling guilty or scared about it. And I think you’re exactly right. I have learned that I can live happily ever after solo (maybe I guessed that all along), and oh boy, I do NOT want to risk losing that sense of happiness. But hey, I’ve also learned along the way that no relationship comes without risk and without ocaissional heart ache. I only have to think about my relationship with my sister (my best friend in the whole world) to realize that. Still . . . it’s scary. :(

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Melissa June 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Thank you so much for this post! No one ever understands when I tell them I’m still single because I WANT to be single. Its been almost 8 years since my divorce. I’ve dated every way possible…seriously, just for fun, FWB, any way you can think of, i’ve tried it. NONE of that works for me. I really truly love my single life. I can do what I want whan I want. I cook what I want for dinner, I wear what I want to bed, and I NEVER have to clean pee off the toilet seat! Whats not to love?? My friends and family all think i am secretly sad every day i’m not in a relationship…but I KNOW they are all secretly jealous of my freedom. I may never marry again! That way I can spend retirement MY way instead of taking care of some stinky old man! =)

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April June 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Melissa,
I just loved your post! I laughed out loud!! Single life is definately underated. But, I can totally relate to feeling like your friends and family feel sorry for you. Almost like they think something is wrong with you because you won’t settle down. I had my fun time of doing the dating think, FWB, etc. and end the end, it’s just too much work now that I am over 35. I am taking a hiatus. Maybe I will try it again at 40! ;-) LOL Best of luck!

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April June 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Hey guys! This is my fourth attempt at sending a post. Not, sure why they won’t show up. I want to thank everyone for all of their responses. They truly were very helpful; and I feel so much better knowing that there are other mother’s out there that are happy and content with going it alone! I’m not saying I will never date or marry again, but I sure am going to savor every moment of my single time, while I can! ;-)

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Andrea June 11, 2011 at 7:29 am

Hi April,
I’ve been divorced for going on four years… I have a beautiful five year old boy.. My ex cheated on me and left me for another woman… The longest relationship I’ve had since then was two and a half months… I’m finding it really hard to commit to anyone… I’m often asked, “why are you single when you are so pretty?” I just tell them, “I’m independent and I don’t need a man to make me happy?” The truth of the matter is that I thought my ex and I had the perfect relationship until the last year of our marriage… We were married for seven and a half years.. We were together for five years before that.. I would like to be in a relationship but it is hard to find someone decent, so I would rather it be just me and my son… So you are definitely preaching to the choir, April… :)

Andrea

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Farrell June 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Don’t worry about it for now – enjoy being single! who SAYS you HAVE to date anyway? If you’re content, be content! Don’t pay attention to those who think you have to have a man to be happy! (I have many friends like that – ugh)

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Cass July 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I just discovered this blog today!! WOW!! So, I had to comment on this one.

This very question has plagued me for the last 2 years. The end of my SECOND marriage left me so wounded, I’m scared to even TRY. Friends say I sabotage myself. Not only did this man break my heart, he did it after only a year and a half of marriage and then (because I was stupid) still came to “visit” me for about a year after we split (all the while he was-and still is/but they are not married) with the girl he cheated on me with. Trust me, there’s a whole huge story that would boggle your mind. I saw it as trying to get my husband back, when in reality, it was just him doing to HER the exact thing he did to me.
Took me a long time to realize that I deserved better.
He left in 2009. I have been on TWO official dates since. I’ve hung out (no sex, no kissing, nothing physical) with maybe 3 guys since my divorce (and don’t get me started on my first divorce, seriously!) I’ve had ONE boyfriend…that lasted a month.
I’m ok with being single. It just gets lonely. My kids are awesome, but you know there are certain voids that children cannot fill. I am afraid that my fear of trusting is keeping me from being open to it fully. I’m working on it….and I’m working on me. Taking care of my kids the best I can on my own and VERY proud of that fact! I know I can live without a man, but after 2 years…you get tired of being alone.
I’m just patiently waiting for the right one to come into my life, I’m always hopeful, but can’t help but feel I must be a little jaded, too.
As everyone here has said, no one NEEDS a man to be happy or to feel complete. But what happens when you WANT one, but just can’t LET YOURSELF?

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