Dating for the single mom
May 4, 2021 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I want to date again. I have some questions about how this might work as a 40-something with a kid. It's been awhile :-)

The details:

- My son is four years old. He's an only child. He's a generally calm, well-behaved kid. He is young enough to bond with someone else.

- His father is deceased. I am not sure if this is a selling point (no sharing custody with someone) or a drawback (no elsewhere for child to go).

- I have two sets of parents and am still involved with my late husband's family. The pro: they are very supportive. The con: three mother-in-laws.

- I am a professional with a decent job. I have a good, albeit rented, home. I have my shi-- together and would be seeking same.

The last time I dated was probably 15 years ago. I was a different person then. My life was different then. I am not sure where to begin this time.
posted by ficbot to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best way to date is, and always has been, someone you know naturally through mutual friends or hobbies.

Second to that, I've lately found hinge and bumble to both be relatively-slightly-better-than-other-options. Have photos of you having fun, not filtered selfies that only show your face. Be up front with how you have kids, father isn't in the picture at all, but you're excited to date and chat when they are with a sitter, etc.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:36 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]

You sound great. I hear only pros and no cons.
Put your open heart and intention out there and see where it leads!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:47 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]

The last time I was dating, your son would have been no obstacle, other things being equal. There are a lot of divorced/widowed dads out there who understand your situation. I would foresee a lot of evenings with video, and the child going to bed at some point. You'll need some kind of sitter arrangement (not mentioned in your question).
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:47 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

He is young enough to bond with someone else.

Just noticed this. Any "bonding" will take place in its own way and in its own time. I suggest you resist forming any specific expectation of what kind of "bonding" must take place. I'll leave it at that, since the details will depend on you, the guy, and the boy.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:52 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]

Time for dating is your biggest challenge. In particular, time for randomly meeting singles you'd want to date while doing activities that interest you. So, you'll likely end up on an app like bbqturtle mentioned, Hinge seems to be the latest thing.

Of course be up front about your son, but give half a year or so to get to know someone before bringing him into the mix. As a single guy who wanted a family, this would be a pro for me. It would be strong con for others. But you are just looking for one person.

The rest of it is just who you are stuff. You have a good life and yourself together. That's all attractive. I don't think you need to worry to much about the other details. How spicy you each like your food, or something equally minor, will likely quickly become a bigger discussion point with any future partner.
posted by meinvt at 9:15 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I don't have too much help but just wanted to offer some words of encouragement. One good thing about being on apps (if that's the route you choose) at our age is that if you are employed, can spell simple words, and are not presently in prison, you're already ahead of the game, and if you're an intelligent and together professional like you sound, your market value is sky high. Have fun, and watch out for fish pics :)
posted by ftm at 9:55 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

It makes me sad that you're trying to rank yourself, and trying to figure out if things about you are good or bad, about whether you'd be seen as a catch or someone with too much baggage (something like that?). These are just the truths in your life. It also seems like you have gone from "wanting to date" to "three mothers-in-law" very quickly!

Men who are confident and secure should not be threatened by you having a relationship with your son's grandparents. The situation seems like a good, supportive one, healthy for you and your son. There may be some extra complications to navigate, of course. I married a widower, and so I have been on the other side of this, and it's different (as you know) from being divorced (like, you probably have photos of your husband in your house, not just in your son's room, which would be pretty surprising in a divorce situation!). Yet, I suspect any man you are dating, in his 40s (right?), will also have some history: an ex-wife and shared custody, or perhaps may be a widower. No one gets to their 40s without also having had involvements with other people, so you might also have to learn to navigate dating someone with their own complicated situation.

I think the only weirdness will be that some men might not have interacted with many same-age widows, so they might be awkward about that (my ex-husband was in his 30s when his first wife died, and it's an uncommon enough situation that other folks that age just didn't really know how to deal with the death of a peer).

So, I'm not totally sure what your question is. When you say you aren't sure where to begin, do you mean should you go on dating apps? Sure, if you want! But otherwise, I don't really know what you are asking. You sound like you have a lot going for you, and this is an exciting time! I'd say to go out with lots of interesting men, and see how it goes.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:25 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

His father is deceased. I am not sure if this is a selling point (no sharing custody with someone) or a drawback (no elsewhere for child to go).

This is neither a selling point nor a drawback, it is simply the fact of the situation. I think you can withdraw this from any sort of mental calculations you might be doing.
posted by McNulty at 7:42 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I’m starting to date. My ex is not dead but we share our almost 3 year old 50/50.

In my experience men seem to give no fucks that I have a kid. But if they did, they just wouldn’t date me and problem solved. Anybody I go out with isn’t going to meet him for a long time anyway.

You sound great. Good luck.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:34 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

I met my partner when my son was nearly 6, it's worked out really well, so my advice is please don't stress about having to meet someone at a certain time for this or that reason. I dated someone else when my son was younger and they just didn't click (we did very low stakes meetings like "oh my friend is at the park too", after several months). When it's the right person (of course after taking your time to get to know each other without your child present), it will feel right regardless of everyone's age and timeline. I'd assumed I would meet someone older who had kids, I ended up partnering with someone very close in age and with no kids, but who was ready to spend time with my son and ready for less of a bachelor lifestyle and I'm glad I didn't write them off.

One positive is that if you're dating another working professional, possibly with a child(ren) themselves, is that they should be very understanding of your time constraints. That was the biggest thing for me, is that sometimes I didn't have the energy to go on a date, or your kid is sick and you can't be away from them. If someone can't handle that they aren't going to be a fit.

I saw online dating as a marathon not a sprint, I went through periods where I just couldn't handle the extra work of swiping and messaging and awkward first meetings, but I resolved to keep going (sometimes after deleting the apps for a real break). I would have liked meeting someone through shared interests but frankly I didn't have any when my son was younger and I was living in a smaller dating pool so almost everyone single was online anyway.
posted by lafemma at 8:31 AM on May 5

Be up front with how you have kids, father isn't in the picture at all, but you're excited to date and chat when they are with a sitter, etc.

Don't do this. I would not put this information in a publicly available profile. You want someone who is open to having a child around and who would be a good influence on them and supportive of your parenting. You don't want someone who is specifically looking for single mothers and children with no father figure. Trust me on this one.

I have had multiple satisfying, enjoyable relationships post-kid. However, you should know that creeps, users, and abusive people do target single mothers and their children because single mothers are seen as desperate, vulnerable, helpless, etc. It's really disgusting but it happens. The fact that you have a kid is a first date conversation, after you've already established that you have a connection with them, they're cute, etc.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:29 AM on May 5

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