Tag Archives: dating as a single mom

Dating a Single Mom: What NOT To Do


So you’ve got your eye on a hot, single mom? Maybe this is new territory for you? Or, perhaps you’ve dated another single mom, so you think you’ve got this down. I’ve got news for you. There is no one-size-fits all model of woman, mother, or single mom for that matter. Just like you don’t want us to make assumptions about you, don’t make assumptions about any of us. I’ve been a full-time single mother for nearly seven years. I have a 7-year-old and a 14-year-old whose father lives abroad. My boys have only met one man in 7 years, as I’m VERY picky about who comes into their lives. I’ve only dated 3 men, all were friends first. With that said, I do go on dates. Over the years, girlfriends have turned to me for advice. The other day, when I was sharing why I broke off a date because he didn’t confirm for Saturday until Friday at 8 p.m.—while also asking me to drive to him—my newly separated girlfriend laughed and said I had high standards. Well, I’ve learned the hard way. If he was someone who thought I was special and cared about how my life works, he would have confirmed earlier, so I could hire a sitter, and then driven to me. (I will likely be spending more money than he will, at $18/hour for a sitter, and shouldn’t be asked to drive 30 minutes each way to see him.)

I’ve learned that saying no to an inconsiderate man, is saying yes to me, and making room for a thoughtful one to come in. My girlfriend made a good point, however. Some men may not be very aware. Even some divorced dads have little idea about the life of a full-time single mom. My Saturday night date that I cancelled, had kids in college, knew I was a single mom, so I assumed he’d be more considerate. But perhaps his ex-wife had done the lion share of parenting? Who knows. And some men, who have never had children, or who share custody of children with an ex nearby, may be good guys, but could benefit from a road map to win the heart of a single mom. Perhaps you are a good guy, who falls in one of the above categories. If so, this is for you.

If you’ve got your eye on a special single mom, DON’T do any of the following:

  • Assume she is desperate and lonely.
  • Always call her the day of—or the night before—to make a date.
  • Assume, since she looks hot in a bikini on the beach, or might have smiled at you while in said bikini, or while working out at the gym, that it’s OK to knock on her door late at night to surprise her with the gift of becoming friends with benefits.
  • Friend her, hang out with her, find out the schedule of when her ex-husband has the kids, and then wait (sometimes months) to ask her out until the day the kids are off with their dad.
  • Ignore her when she has the kids back, and then suddenly appear again when kiddos are gone. This strategy works! She feels how special she is to you.
  • IF she agrees to go out with you for the first time when kids are with their dad, assume she will have sex with you. Go ahead, tell her you love her. Pressure her too.
    (Just don’t be surprised if she gives you a kiss goodbye and waits to see if your ‘love’ lasts until next week, when she has her kids again.)
  • IF you are the lucky man that she actually starts dating on the rare week her kids are with their father, FREAK OUT the following week. Go radio silent and don’t call or text for weeks after the kids return. Assume she’s planning your marriage and father-and-kid nights for you. (Um, NOT Likely.)
  • But maybe you’re ready for those father-and-son nights? Maybe you already know her and her kids, because you were friends first, and you’re ready? Hmmm…Go ahead and Pressure her to let you hang out with the family the week you start dating. She didn’t really mean what she said about not introducing anyone to the kids right away. Right? Not YOU. YOU are different. Therefore, ignore her wishes and show up during the week with pizza and start rough housing with her kids while she’s at the gym or in the shower. How could you hurt her or them, right? Not YOU. What did she say about her ex-husband being a really great guy…until he suddenly wasn’t? She isn’t really scared about starting a relationship. Aren’t all single moms desperate to re-marry? She’ll be fine. Right? (Wrong. Start listening more and stop projecting and assuming.)
  • Disrespect her time with her children. You like her, right? She’s sexy. She’s smart. She’s funny. She must be a strong and caring mother, too. You’re crazy about her. So text her ALL the time. Seriously, who cares if she told you that during the week between 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. she focusses on her kids. You’re more important, right? She’d rather talk with YOU and ignore her kids and not continue with her routine, of, what was it anyway? Oh yeah, dinner, homework, bath, book, bed. Who cares about all of that anyway? After a few dates, YOU and YOUR NEEDS are more important.
  • Ask her to text nude pics to you. Text her during the week between 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. too, so one of her kids might see your note. That’s HOT.
  • Send her a nude pic, or start sexting. This ALWAYS works—especially during dinnertime, during the school week.
  • Get mad when she doesn’t get back to you right away. Who does she think she is?!
  • Become overly needy, pushy and nagging. She should drop everything, put on a short skirt and heels, hire a sitter, at last notice, and RUSH out to service you! F those kids anyway. Right?! That’s the message you need to send her.

Hopefully, you can’t relate to any of the above. In my humble opinion, there is a huge misconception about dating single moms. The cool thing about dating a strong, independent single mom, is that most of us aren’t clingy. Most of us have our act together. We are focussed on our kids and our careers. We have likely broken away from a destructive or unhealthy relationship and know what we want. We want love, compassion, kindness, a good listener and some FUN. Yes, we like to have fun too—even if we have to plan it ahead of time. If she thinks you are special, she will make time for you. If you ask her to pop out on a Wed. night to go to a concert, that night, and then disrespect her when she can’t go—she isn’t the gal for you. Go date someone 15 years younger without kids…But remember, younger women without children usually WANT to have kids some day. While the independent single mom wants to get to know you slowly without bringing you into the fold of her children—that younger woman may pressure you for more time, marriage and kids before she’s 30. So figure out what you want. And if you want a single mom, tell her why. Why is SHE special? And not because she looks good in a bikini. Tell her what you see in her. She is so busy taking care of her kids, taking care of their needs and raising their self esteem, (and might have an ex who doesn’t appreciate her), that hearing a kind word will make her love for you grow exponentially. Wait for her to let you in. Let it be on her terms. If she lets you in right away, (which I’ve only done once) that doesn’t mean she wants to marry you. She just feels something amazing, instinctually trusts you and sees good in you—and you are a very lucky man. If she needs a few months before introducing you to the kids or before sleeping with you, remember, she’s been hurt. She needs to trust you. If you win her trust and are kind and considerate, she will love you with so much joy and gratitude you will feel like you’ve won the lottery. The independent single mom usually knows what’s important in life: kindness, laughter, compassion, joy. She doesn’t care if you take her to a fancy restaurant. She isn’t demanding. A kind word, a picnic, a back rub and she’s BEYOND happy. She’ll like you for you. She’s very picky. She’s not looking for an exorbitant bank account. She’s looking for something harder to achieve. She’s looking for a good man. She may even inspire you to be a better man.

So, hang in there.  She’s worth it.

Dating and the Wisdom of a Dog

Libby in Malibu, 1999

Last night I had a marvelous dream. Charles Kuralt  was interviewing me for a Sunday Morning feature about my dog Libby. Now Libby has been dead four years, but she came back to life last night in my dreams. My sweet Weimaraner was licking my face and charming Mr. Kuralt who was asking me how rescuing Libby from the TN mountains eventually rescued me. And it’s true. I was restless and lost before Libby grounded me. Of course, you may be wondering right now how my story about my sweet dog has anything to do with venturing into the dating world as a newly single mom—but just hang in there. I’ll get to that connection in a minute.

In my dream, I am standing in a field with Mr. Kuralt in the early morning dawn as we watch Libby run majestically after balls. I tell him my story  about moving from New York City to edit a small magazine in Atlanta and how I had to leave the full-bred Weimaraner I adopted with my ex-boyfriend, back in the city. Against the wishes of family members who had witnessed me moving from town to town for newspaper jobs and graduate school—and who didn’t think I had the ability to care for an animal or the stamina to stay in one place long enough to care for another creature—I put in my application to adopt a rescue dog with the Southeastern Weimaraner Society. Within a week, I was introduced to Libby: a petite Weim who had been beaten and left in a snow bank in the Tennessee mountains—most likely by hunters disappointed in her lack of hunting skills and skittish manner. I walked into the rescue society, sat down on a chair, and within moments, a shy Libby tentatively walked over and put her head on my knee. With all of the hyper and happy Weimaraners jumping around in the back yard and some in the house, I looked at this wounded animal, who was so skinny you could see her ribs, and that was it. She had claimed my heart. A few weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, (the same holiday, coincidentally, that both my sons were later conceived) I adopted my first child in 1997.

Libby was extremely skittish and frightened of loud noises. I had to earn her trust and to work with several trainers just to get her to go to the park with me. She would walk down the street with her tail tucked under, ears back, legs crouched low, as if she was just waiting for another loud blast or skate boarder to send her running back home.

As you can imagine, the first year with her was quite challenging. Just when she seemed to be getting better, something would happen that would send her into a tailspin and she’d break free from her lead and run full speed—sometimes into the street towards on-coming traffic—with me screaming and running after her. And the things that really sent her off were usually just big men, wearing hats and boots, who naively walked over to pat her. She was incredibly beautiful and everyone wanted to meet her when we were out on a walk. Sadly, she was terrified of a certain type of man, which I began to think must remind her of of the hunters who had abused her. The type of man that scared her most were tall, big, boisterous, and usually wearing boots and hats. I began to stay clear of men like this too, just out of habit from our walks.

So, when I entered the dating world back in 1997, after my move from Manhattan, it became clear, early on, that certain men just wouldn’t do. As I mentioned, if a large boisterous man who clomped when he walked, even tried to approach my door, she would run in circles barking with her tail under until I finally put her into her crate to calm down. But it was always the same. The men who threw their keys down loudly or didn’t take their shoes off or who came into the house talking loudly and who didn’t make an effort to help calm her down: didn’t last very long. And the ones that would later make fun of her when she was put into her crate, who would agonize her and tease her by stomping loudly or banging on the crate while laughing, were the worst. I knew instantly they HAD TO GO.  Can you even imagine doing that to an abused animal? That’s the type of boy who would bully awkward or disabled children on the playground in elementary school. And you would be surprised by just how many men did that sort of thing to Libby while laughing and then later saying to me: “How in the world can you put up with such a crazy dog?”

I’d be thinking, “How can I put up with You?!”

I mean think about it. Sure, I had a special needs dog who had been abused and required much TLC, but she turned out to be the most loyal and kind friend I’ve ever known. (Read this article I published about how Libby literally saved my life.)

After a few months of watching her, that first year, it was clear that she had a six sense about men. Libby could smell kindness or cruelty in a person—which is a critical ability to have when you are venturing into the dating world. I wish more single moms had her keen sense. She was insanely smart. She wasn’t a Lab you could bribe with a dog biscuit. No, you had to BE a certain kind of person for Libby to love you.

I remember learning much about the character of family friends over the years by watching how they interacted with Libby.

For instance, on the day that I was throwing a party, a new friend won me over by laying down under my desk for almost an hour so that Libby would come over and lay down beside him. He kept rubbing her ears and calming her down as I rushed around the apartment putting things together for the party.

Another friend of a friend completely surprised me by his kindness. Every time he’d see Libby, he’d lie down on the floor near her and put a tennis ball under his chin. He’d smile and giggle as Libby would shake all over and inch closer and closer to him, as she so desperately wanted the tennis ball. After a few times of this, with her timidly taking the ball out from under his chin and running away, the two became fast friends.

It became a joke with me and my girlfriends: Want to know if you have a nice guy? Put him through the Libby Test. (Looking back, I can see how single moms, especially, could really have benefitted from this.) Since Libby is no longer here with us, here’s a condensed list of what I have learned from her.  To find a kind man, who has a chance of developing love for your children, as well as you, stay clear of men who:

  • are boisterous.
  • are aggressive.
  • wear baseball hats indoors.
  • interrupt you.
  • are impatient.
  • make fun of, or taunt, anyone who has been abused or is disabled.
  • hunt birds.
  • clomp loudly when they walk.
  • make sudden and unexpected moves.
  • yell or shout commands.
  • hit you (or children) when you (or they) misbehave and are already scared.
  • drink too much.
  • are very tall and/or very big. (hmmm…maybe there could be an exception here!)
  • break things or bump into furniture often.
  • have an anxious temperament.
  • whose legs bob up and down impatiently when they sit at a dinner table.
  • run their hands through their hair over and over again.
  • often clear their throats in a passive aggressive and loud way.
  • listen to rap or metal rock at loud volume.
  • wear large pinky rings that bang against table tops.
  • drive recklessly or approach turns quickly—causing anyone in the back to slam against a window.
  • have dramatic mood swings.
  • don’t play ball.
  • don’t give belly rubs or back scratches.
  • are always on the computer or iphone, so one hand isn’t free for those belly rubs or back scratches.
  • don’t cook or share home-cooked meals (especially those including bacon).
  • don’t bring home or play with toys.
  • don’t ever go on morning or early evening strolls.
  • don’t understand the value of long, slow car rides with the windows down.
  • don’t like to snuggle while watching movies.

What do you think? Was Libby on the right tract?

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Men ARE Rats: There’s Scientific Proof!

Scientists who examine rodent sexual behavior have found that male rats and human men have similar behavioral characteristics when it comes to sex and the need for variety. But to be completely fair, at least one study implies that some women have much in common with their female rodent counterparts as well—and that’s a good thing.

I’ll explain. Eight months ago I read the Scientific American article “A Tale of Two Rodents”. Interestingly, over the past eight months, the studies reported in this article keep popping into my mind when interviewing experts on human sexual behavior. This was especially true during my recent interview with Eric Anderson, Ph.D.—whose research and book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love and the Reality of Cheating, shows that men crave variety in the bedroom to the point of having extreme difficulty with monogamy. During my interviews with Pat Allen, Ph.D., I thought of the rodent article yet again when the leading relationships expert and best selling author pointed out, that while men aren’t built for monogamy, women repeatedly fall for dishonest and selfish guys after they have sex prematurely, and are blindly bonded due to a rush of oxytocin. (See an interview with her here.)

Here’s why the Scientific American article keeps percolating in my mind. One study in the article revealed that when a male rat and his mate were put into a cell together, the male rat was extremely amorous in the beginning and initiated sex multiple times a day. In fact, the male rat often sang during sex and seemed to keep going for a long time. (The results of this study were shown to college students that apparently became very interested during this period!) After a while with the same female rat, the love making  sessions became shorter and less frequent. After one particularly short love making session, with the male rat becoming listless afterwards, the researchers put a new female rat in the room. Suddenly, as one might imagine, the dynamic shifted and the once tired rat transformed into a sexual dynamo—but with his new love interest.

Another provocative study reported in the article was of female rats (presumably with gps locators on them) who would walk many city blocks thwarting the advances of male rats. In fact, Kelly Lambert, Ph.D., concluded: “Rodent females are choosy, traveling up to seven city blocks—a long way for a rat—to find a male who meets her standards. She sniffs out his biological germ-fighting arsenal.” Basically, she’s looking for a male with the “right” smell. (Old Darwin obviously knew a thing or two about this type of selection.) Females in this study waited to mate until they found a male that smelled healthy enough to give her healthy children.

I remember reading this article in the waiting room of my son’s therapist’s office and just busting out laughing. Basically, it proves what a lot of cynical people already espouse: men, at their most base (rodent) level, will take sex any way they can get it and variety is the spice of life. Women, however, know they can get pregnant and need to be sure their man is healthy and kind. He has to have the attributes she’s looking for to give her healthy children if she gets pregnant, and be kind enough not run away and help take care of the children when they arrive.

Why, then, aren’t all of us females as strong-willed and as savvy as that female rat who hiked seven city blocks? Why can’t we all thwart the advances of those smelly bad boys?

Of course, we humans have complicated the issue a bit, haven’t we? We’re all looking for our soul mates—well, some of us anyway—and think we’ll find them on the internet or at bars. And we just might. But the key for women to be successful with our rat-sniffing abilities, according to some experts, is to keep alcohol and drugs out of the picture and NOT to have sex too soon. Dr. Allen explained to me during private sessions, when I was grappling with my ex’s infidelity, that men and women are just built differently. Not all men will cheat—but they want to. Finding the men who actually won’t disrespect their wives, takes a bit of effort. Women, however, have built-in radar called intuition that lets us know when a man is kind at his core. We also know instinctively when they aren’t. We lose this radar, however, when we drink or have sex too soon in a relationship—blinding us from acknowledging blatant red flags and putting us in line for future heartache.

I imagine that Dr. Anderson might look at these rodent studies as further proof that human beings need to re-evaluate how we perceive relationships and our expectations for monogamy. What do you think? Are we really just rats at the core? At the end of the day, will you, as a single mom, walk the metaphoric seven city blocks until you find a man that sniffs of kindness who will love you AND your children? I’m sure many of you are nodding saying, you bet. But years down the line, once you have the right man, will you be willing to let another female into the room to give your kind, nice-smelling man a bit of the variety that he craves? That’s a hard one to even consider isn’t it? I think I’ll leave that scenario to the rats for now.

“despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage
tell me I’m the only one
tell me there’s no other one
despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage”
~ Smashing Pumpkins

Rooftop Party or Park with my Boys … Decisions, Decisions!

Last week I was actually invited to a party at The Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. (How I managed that, I’m still not sure!) It was perfect timing as I’d been dying to go out and dance for a long time. I remember going to The Standard years ago and how cool the rooftop bar is, the music, the swinging chairs, the mojitos. Well, as you can imagine, I’m not exactly going to The Standard much anymore. But I could picture it like a siren’s call: a nice warm late summer evening, a sleeveless top, tan shoulders, my sexy jeans, heels, a simmering breeze, some thumping Euro Trash music. I visualized myself there and I mustered up the courage to even call a few babysitters. As the day wore on, however, I wondered if I really wanted to go to this party. None of my girlfriends were free, so I’d have to go solo. And sure, I’d like to meet someone, or just dress up and flirt a bit. But anyone I might meet at The Standard would likely have NO idea that nights out during the week for me are extremely rare. I doubt that I’d meet a man at The Standard who wouldn’t be intimidated by the fact that I have two children at home, or that I need to be back by midnight for the sitter. In fact, the only way I’d go to that party is if one of my girlfriends were available and I could just dance, sip a mojito, and enjoy the view. Besides, I just ended my first relationship since my husband. One year after my husband asked for a divorce, I began to date a man. He was the first person I had kissed besides my husband in over 13 years! It was too intense, too wonderful, at times too horrible, too gut-wrenching, too wonderful again and all-consuming. At the end of the day, sadly, loving him hurt too much. Enough said.

So now, a month later, I’m wondering: should I even try to date again?? My boys have been through a lot and I should focus on them right now. So, with that in mind, I hung up my strappy top, my sexy jeans and put away my heels for a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers. I made a picnic dinner, picked up my boys and one of their friends and headed to a local park for an evening playdate/picnic. It was definitely the best decision! No, there was no flirting, no lights, no dancing or mojitos—but my boys had a blast. (And, if you read my post about being haunted by playgrounds, there’s no reason to be in the evening. It’s chock full of dads and working moms who are getting some intense playtime in with their kids after work.)

We lucked into a pick-up baseball game too. While that may be no-big-deal to some kids, it was a huge deal to my nine-year-old William. William has actually never had a baseball lesson before. I could tell by the way this man positioned William and told him how to hold the bat, place his feet, and swing at a certain angle, that he knew what he was doing. I found out later that he’s the baseball coach for a local high school. William was SO excited when he hit a double and coach Mike encouraged him to take up baseball this year. And I was really happy to see this dad in action. (No, he’s not single!) It’s just refreshing to see a dad play intently with his kids. He didn’t pull out his blackberry or his iphone once. He wasn’t holding a beer and talking with another friend while the kids ran around. And his eyes didn’t glaze over while his children talked to him. (All scenes I see often.) No, this guy was playing with all three of his boys and now with William and Coco too. He was hands-on in helping them with the game and with conflicts. I could tell that he’s like this with his kids all the time. He reminded me a bit of my brother-in-law in North Carolina who’s a teacher, coach and a wonderful father. I always chalked up seeing men like that as rare in Los Angeles. You might even say that watching this man renewed my faith a bit about living in Southern California. Maybe there are a few good men here? It’s clear to me that there are some who put their families and their kids first. But it’s also clear to me that I’m not likely to meet a man such as this on a Wednesday night rooftop deck party at The Standard.