It goes without saying that nearly everything about dating as a single mom is wildly different than dating when you're kid-free. Small changes — like needing enough advance notice to procure a babysitter — and big shifts in your decision making — like having an incentive against inviting toxic or destructive people into your life — are all to be expected. But even if a night out on the town with a would-be romantic interest isn't exactly the same as it was pre-kid, there are things even motherhood can't change about dating.
Sure, we might be less likely to go home with someone because we have someone already waiting for us at our own homes. And maybe we're less likely to accept a last-minute drink invitation because, well, it's harder to do anything last-minute when you're a single mom. We might be more likely to have amazing dates because the necessity of planning ahead gives both parties more time to invest in the date being a really good one, too, but parenthood doesn't change everything. No, really. I promise.
Because for every part of dating that definitely does change when you have kids, there's at least one thing that doesn't change at all. Honestly, it would be kinda cool if we didn't have to deal with some of this sh*t anymore and could magically make it go away by having a kid, but that's just now how this whole dating things works. For better or worse, not every single facet of your life will change the moment you procreate. And when it comes to dating, here are the things that absolutely stay the same even when you're dating as a mom:
You Get Nervous
If only the steal-heartedness you develop from years of watching your inept toddlers hover near death on the playground could translate into unshakable nerves before dates. But it does not work that way. In my experience, date-associated nerves are not better nor are they worse post-kid. It's the same, which is the say, occasionally nauseating.
You Talk To Your Friends About It Before & After
Why would this change? It doesn't. Of course we talk to our friends about dating. Duh.
Your Whole Day Leading Up To A Date Kinda Revolves Around It
Yes, being a mom means you have some additional "things" in your day that non-parents don't have. But things like picking up/dropping off kids, feeding them, hanging out with them, and going to work? Yeah, we have all of that down. We do it all the time.
When we have a date scheduled we're still doing all that stuff, but it's slightly more on autopilot — our minds are pretty fixed on the one thing in our day that's not running on rails: getting prepped to go out and be charming and stay awake. That was true before we had kids and sat at work all day thinking about what we were going to wear on our date and how we were going to make time to shower. We do the same thing now, we just have to juggle several additional responsibilities while being distracted by outfit indecision.
If You Aren't Feeling It, You Aren't Feeling It
One of the worst assumptions people make about single moms is that we are desperate to change that status. Like being a single mom is the absolute worst possible life to live, so we only date for the exclusive purpose of finding someone whose hand we can hold on the way out of it.
In no way can I speak for everyone, because people's feelings about their specific parenting/relationship status are as unique as the statuses themselves. But speaking for myself and every other single mom I've encountered, we date for just as many reasons as non-parents. Sometimes we're totally looking for a real partner. Other times, we are looking for something else entirely. And regardless of what we're looking for, our standards about what kind of person would acceptably fill that need are not inherently lowered by the fact that we have a kid. So if we're not into someone, we don't go, "Well, better than being alone!" and keep dating them anyway.
If someone is the kind of person who dates like that before kids, then yeah, they're probably going to keep dating post-baby with the same tragic set of non-standards. But for the rest of us, you shouldn't assume you know what kind of relationship we ultimately want, and you definitely shouldn't assume that we are willing to accept some less than perfect for us just because we're moms.
You Get Optimistic
Ugh. Can't help it. Still happens.
You Get Insecure
Things Sometimes Don't Work Out & You Still Get Bummed
All the dramatic ups and downs of parenthood do absolutely sh*t to insulate you against the specific pain that comes from things not working out with someone you really like. It's the worst. It will always be the worst.
You Have Sex With People
There are definitely times when I look at the landscape of my schedule and responsibilities and think, "When the f*ck am I ever going to have time to, well, f*ck?" And yet, I always seem to find time when I'm really motivated about it. And no, it doesn't involve a parade of rando dudes coming in and out of my kid's home. Yikes. No.
Just like it was before kids, I always think I'm too busy for sex. And also like before kids, I always make time for it. If this ever changes, please check on me for I am not well.
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