Dating A Single Mom: 9 Tips for Success

Dating a single mom by the beach

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If you're in the dating game, single moms will likely be in the mix. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, the U.S. has the world's highest rate of children living in single-parent households, specifically those run by single moms.

Single moms are smart, strong, and beautiful, and they also have unique perspectives, priorities, and life experiences that need to be considered. Here's what you need to know before dating a single mom—and how to take your relationship to the next level without getting overly involved too soon.

Recognize That It's Different

When dating a single mom, it's important that you adjust your expectations. In other relationships, you may have been able to gauge a woman’s feelings for you by how much time and energy she put into your relationship.

When you’re dating a single mom, this isn’t necessarily the case. She may not have the time to see you as often as you'd both like. A mom's time is limited, and much of her energy goes toward taking care of her kids. You'll need to look for other expressions of her feelings for you.

Another difference is that many single moms are much more clear about what they want in life, and that can eliminate a lot of mystery and become an attractive quality in a relationship.

Accept That Her Children Are Her First Priority

For a single mom, her kids likely come first. It's important to understand and accept this fact. A mom's devotion to her children is admirable and embracing this can help enrich the relationship and prevent you from becoming jealous, which will only harm your relationship.

Take It Slow

Don’t try to be too much too soon to either your girlfriend or her children. If you’re not sure about how involved you want to be with the kids, be open and honest about that. At the same time, it’s important that you don’t begin to take on a role that you can’t maintain for the long haul.

It’s important to give your relationship time to develop. Don’t rush into becoming a "father figure," moving in together, or getting engaged. Instead, take it slow and focus on developing trust before you take your relationship to the next level.

Be Honest and Upfront

Are you looking to hook-up or interested in a long-term girlfriend? Is marriage a possibility? Do you see yourself co-raising kids? Most single moms want to know what type of commitment you're looking for from them, and how much you're willing to commit in return. Whatever the case, it's best to be honest and upfront as you start dating.

Offer Emotional Support

As a single mom, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to provide for your children financially and emotionally. Be the kind of partner who can listen without trying to solve every problem for her. She will work it out in time. Offering support and encouragement will help you build a stronger bond.

Be Trustworthy

As a single mother, your girlfriend may have experienced situations previously where she depended on someone who was not trustworthy. Set yourself apart by being someone she can trust. Be responsible to her without being responsible for her.

Stay Flexible

Single moms have a lot of responsibilities. Between working and caring for their children, they have limited availability, which can sometimes make it hard to schedule (and keep) dates. If a sitter cancels at the last-minute or a child gets sick, they may run late or need to cancel. Being a single mom also makes it hard to go on a spontaneous date, since childcare is always a top priority.

If you decide to date a single mom, you will need to be willing to be flexible and temper your disappointment.

Do Not Discipline Her Children

If she has introduced you to her kids, it means that she's serious about your relationship. Still, unless she specifically asks for your support, disciplining her kids will likely remain off-limits.

When you’re dating a single mom, let her handle 100% of the kids’ discipline. If you have concerns about the kids’ behavior, talk with your girlfriend about it privately. Never attempt to handle the issue yourself without discussing it with them first.

If you have significant concerns about their approach to discipline, autonomy, or family dynamics, the relationship might not be the best fit for you, especially if you hope to one day get married or have children of their own.

Don't Pass Judgement

It's easy to come in from the outside and judge another person's parenting choices, but this behavior will not be welcomed or healthy for your relationship. Instead, do your best to acknowledge that being a single parent is very difficult and do your best to view her choices and lifestyle from a place of helpfulness, compassion, restraint, and curiosity.

A Word From Verywell

You’re the only one who can know whether dating a single mom is right for you. Don’t get caught up in listening to family members or friends who will try to discourage you or suggest that she’s just looking for a stepparent figure. This is rarely the case. A single mom is so much more than just a mom, she is an adult with personal needs of her own. Pay attention to the woman you know and the relationship you’re building together.

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