Like some weeks back, I had a chance to spend some time with a friend who happens to be a single mother. Curious about a man she had earlier told me she was dating, I inquired about him. But much to my surprise, she said that relationship died long time ago. What’s more, the one that came after that, too, never grew into anything serious.
Before I, being the nosy journalist that I am, could chip in with a barrage of questions, she declared she has completely lost passion and enthusiasm for relationships, claiming men are beasts who just want to use and dump women.
She went on to whine about how virtually all men who hit on her are only interested in her cookie jar and always vanish once they raid it. “I have tried close to three guys and none seem willing to commit, not even to marriage but a simple relationship,” she loudly wondered. She went on to declare, “Right now, I am not even bothered by men and dating. I am now just focusing on my kid, so long as life moves on.”
My pal’s story, which is perhaps a stark reminder of how difficult it is to date when you are a single mother, made me empathise with her. Generally, for none parents, dating has increasingly become a difficult affair. But it seems even more difficult when one is a single mother.
Unlike single fathers, who always move on almost immediately things fall apart, single mothers have it difficult. Little wonder then, that, we have numerous cases of women who, sadly, remain single mothers forever. The average man is scared of a single mother because, among other things, they perceive her kid(s) as baggage and fear the prospects of being sucked into baby drama.
Such is the catch-22 situation most single mothers find themselves in. However, besides the unfortunate societal stigma that these women have to constantly fight, here are seven common big mistakes they make, which end up sabotaging what would have otherwise turned out to be great relationships.
1) All men are dogs and all they want is sex
A good number of single mothers short-change themselves by adopting this terrible attitude towards men. How I wish I was perched atop a mountain or a rooftop to shout this point. Just because you had this nasty experience with the father to your child (ren), doesn’t mean all men are ‘beasts’. Thing is, and ladies please repeat this after me, there are many great men out there.
Just don’t ask me where to find them! Some are genuinely looking for love, regular companionship and honestly desire to form families. Actually, sex is the last thing on their minds because they have had enough of it, anyway. Contrary to popular female belief, to such men, sex is just the icing on the cake; it’s not the cake itself, if you know what I mean!
You shoot yourself in the foot by adopting this negative attitude and being bitter against all men.
2) Remaining single for so long
It is normal to take some time and stay away from dating, following a break up to recover. However, some of these mums take way too long. Do not cry over spilt milk for decades. Once you become overly comfortable being a single mum, it becomes an impediment for you to make the switch and get into a new relationship because you return when you are too ‘rusty’ to successfully go through the motions, so to speak.
Remember the older you and your kid(s) get, the more difficult it becomes to get an appropriate partner in your age group or age set to settle down with. Painful but true. So dust yourself and get cracking girls. ‘I am single by choice’ is a lame and tired consolation.
3) Introducing your child(ren) to potential suitors too soon
It is important to examine how your kid(s) would gel with your new man. But this requires a lot of tact because it can be tricky. Just because a man has claimed that he loves kids doesn’t mean you drag all your three kids to the first date or out of town treat he offers.
You can imagine how it would look like when two months down the line you break up and the kids cannot stop nagging you, asking where he is, how he is doing, when he will take them out or buy them gifts and what not.
Again, once you break the news — which, of course, you must at some point, as you nurse the heartbreak, your kids, too, go through the torture. That is not good. You must not necessarily introduce your kid(s) to every Tom, Dick and Harry who buys you coffee or takes you out for a date.
4) Immediately making your new boyfriend a parenting helper
Parenting is a difficult task and I kid you no man wants baptism by fire in as far as co-parenting is concerned. The orientation requires a lot of tact and diplomacy. Try and resist the temptation to ask for school fees the very evening after the first date.
Even if you are broke as a church mouse and schools are opening a week after you just begin dating. Trying to baptise your new man into your life by fire is akin to him asking to sleep with you on the first date! Just because your daughter’s school is next to his office doesn’t mean you burden him with the responsibility of picking and dropping her at your door step every day, weeks after you start dating. Before making him share the parenting responsibilities with you, wait for the right time, which is a certain point where every sensible man normally begins to feel stupid for not helping!
If you are in a hurry to have him share responsibilities with you, you need a tremendous amount of diplomacy to make him start feeling silly early enough for not helping you. You, for instance, don’t need to tell him your TV got spoilt and request him to buy you another. Just let him visit and let him know the kid(s) really love cartoons and they miss them so much that they visit neighbours to watch them.
If he is a real man who cares and has a brain worth writing home about, he will buy the damn TV, even without you asking directly.
5) Being a martyr for your children
It’s common to see single mothers repeatedly use their child(ren) as excuses not to fully live their social life. Well, we know your kid(s) grabs virtually every second of your free time and the situation is so tricky that even creating time for yourself and some for a potential suitor becomes almost impossible. But remember you are a social being.
Look, ladies always keep your hormones in check when making decisions, lest you end up enslaving yourself and screwing up your social life, just because of your children. Trust me, there are times when it’s more important to be out there socializing and networking than hanging around the house playing with your kid(s).
6) Sabotaging the relationship with, “My kid this, my kid that…”
When you are on a date, please, for heaven’s sake, be on the date. Do you really have to punctuate almost all your sentences with tales about your child? Be sensitive and avoid boring your date with countless tales about your kid(s). Neither should you bulldoze your potential suitors to love your children.
For instance, it is a no no to nag and blackmail your new catch to love your kid(s) as an incentive for you to love them back. Just like it took you time to fall in love, the man needs time to connect with the child. Go ahead and date the man, whether or not the child likes him or not is a huddle that you will jump when you reach it.
Didn’t I say your situation is a bit complex, thus expect dating to be a bit tough? Meanwhile, one week into the relationship is not the time to tell him your kid has a birthday (and the kind of gifts he like) the following day.
7) Not coming clean about the ex
If there is a reckless mistake single mums always make is hoarding information about their baby daddies. If your baby daddy is still in the picture, let your new man know and get used to it.
If yes, in what capacity? Because no man wants to make an impromptu visit, only to bump into some hairy dude in a vest, rolling on the carpet in the name of playing with the children.
That can turn into an ugly scene, complete with bloodshed! It’s also a big scandal to lie that you cut off ties, only to be discovered you are still in communication and even receives cash handouts from him. Bear in mind no man easily allows his woman to enjoy the best of both worlds.