Let me be honest. It’s not going to be easy for you. The Indian mentality still carries a lot of prejudice towards single mothers. If you became a single mother by divorce, you’re going to be in for a season full of nasty comments; if you are a widow, people are going to shower you with unneeded sympathy. So, whatever you plan to do, first define your space. You need a space of your own – be it at home, at the grocery store or even the coffee shop. You need that little imaginary zone where you don’t have to worry about what others may think.
Getting back into the dating scene may be awkward, but, once you’re in, you’ll start to enjoy it again, albeit with some hesitations. We at BharatMoms have compiled some helpful tips (provided by our mom community) so that getting your groove back is easier for you:
Go online and offline
Online dating has become a bit of a sham. First, OkCupid wouldn’t find the right match for you and now, Tinder is making things worse. My recently separated friend was surprised at the number of men she had chatted with and how everyone came around to the same topic: sex. But, despite its flaws, online dating has its perks. There are some really nice guys out there. But, if you fear the online world, just unplug go out. Go anywhere… the cafe, the mall, a pub, workplace, etc. and wear a welcoming smile. You’ll attract a lot of men, out of whom, you can pick the best ones.
Timing is supercilious
When is the right time to start dating? Am I doing it early or am I waiting too long? There’s always been a cloud over timing. To be frank, there is no right or wrong time. You start dating when you feel lonely and need the companionship of a person belonging either to the opposite or same sex. If the whole idea of having a nice and quiet dinner with a gentleman caller excites you, then that’s what you should do. Many single moms prefer to stay at home and watch TV until they feel alright. They just aren’t ready. Getting over marriage isn’t easy no matter what your husband may have done. You’ll be the best person to know when YOU are ready. Don’t be pressured by anything or anyone else.
Have a little patience
As a mother, one of the biggest qualities that you’ll have to get acquainted to, is patience. It’s best if you use some of that while finding a man, and even when you’ve found one. Relationships can feel like a breath of fresh air and while they may leave you reinvigorated and wanting more, you need to remain patient and ensure that things don’t speed up easily. Just take a few steps back, breathe and give yourself some time to think about this new man in your life. If you feel that this relationship can go the distance, then keeping it slow won’t really hurt anyone. Don’t become intimate too soon. It’s natural to feel like you’re unmarried and in your early 20s, when you start dating again. But the bedroom is not often the best place to start a new relationship. A lot of us mistake passion to be love and get stuck in the vortex of a bad relationship. So, make it a point that your gentleman caller knows that you are keeping things slow. If he waits and invests time in you, you’ll have a winner in your hands.
The rebound is never a long-term relationship
Rebound relationships are generally the first relationship you get into after a separation. These are more or less, short-lasting flings. You’ve just got out of a long and committed relationship and now you just want to feel that freedom by getting into a mostly physical relationship with perhaps someone you’ve wanted to while you were married, or the first person who approaches you. Even if your rebound has actually lasted more than three months and you and your new partner are seeing eye-to-eye on a lot of things, you must always sit down and have a talk. Remember, the first person you date isn’t always the best of them. You have your freedom. So, unless you’re really comfortable, don’t stop with the rebound. Go beyond it.
Remember that you have a life of your own
When in a relationship, the partner can also make you feel like you don’t have a life on your own and that you share his life. Here’s the thing: you already have a life of your own – a single mother. And, being a single mother is actually something even a superhero cannot come close to handling. There’s one more thing you must remember: “You are entitled to your life.” So, if you want to experience the world before settling down again, go ahead and do it. After all, it’s your life.
Get over the guilt
A week or two into dating, you will feel a knot in your stomach and this will be associated with feelings of guilt on what you’re doing. You arrive at the restaurant for your date but then realise that you don’t want to be there and feel guilty for not being with your kids. Everyone goes through that kind of feeling. It’s hard being a single mom and the last thing you should deal with, is guilt. Don’t feel guilty about dating. You have a life of your own and what you’re doing is finding companionship. So, don’t be worried about your kids all the time. Spare some thought for yourself.
It’s okay for family to come first
My cousin went out on a date a few months after her divorce came through. The guy she dated apparently asked her to go to Pondicherry for the weekend. While my cousin really liked him, she realised that she also had to take her daughter to the doctor. When her date told her that anyone can take her daughter to the doctor and that she can easily delegate tasks to others, she felt uncomfortable. She didn’t want to miss out on quality mom-daughter time, but she was also really into this guy. In these situations, you often don’t know what to say or do. She took the high road and told him that her family comes first. They never saw each other again. Family should always be your first priority. So, let your partner know that loud and clear.
Lock those loose lips
When you had a new boyfriend, you often get a magical and exciting feeling and you want to share it with almost everyone you know. But, when you’re a single mom, you should remember to practise the art of silence. Being discreet about your relationship until he is the right one can be really helpful. Sharing this information with your closest and most trustworthy allies will do. But, don’t go telling everyone. Do not also bring your partners home to meet your kid(s) right around the early stages of your date. It’s better that you feel very comfortable on choosing the right time to meet your kid(s). While I ask you to maintain silence, if you’re confronted by someone about your relationship, be honest. Don’t lie to them about the man in question. Simply, be open and honest.
Focus on what’s happening right in front of you
My aforementioned cousin had this problem. Whenever she went out with someone, she would often send a number of texts asking if her daughter is doing well and isn’t causing any trouble. I once pulled her aside and gave her some valuable advice – focus on what’s happening right in front of you. If you’re at home with your kid, then focus on your kid. But, if you’re out on a date, focus on the date. Dating isn’t a one-way deal. It’s not just the man who has to make you feel special. You too need to give him attention in return so that he feels special too. Also, don’t talk too much about your kids while you’re on a date, unless he asks you about them.
Remember that you are the parent
If your partner is coming over to your house, do not expect him to become a parent. So, asking him to discipline your child or put them to bed or even clean up their mess isn’t right. Some men volunteer to do things, but in most cases, they say it just to be nice. So, don’t take their word up and make them do parenting chores. One more thing, if you’re going to have your partner do some parenting tasks, your kids might not like that very much and can resent both you and your partner for that.
Breakups are completely natural
Most women beat themselves up (figuratively speaking) after a breakup. They analyse things over and over. Thing is, it’s completely natural. A breakup can be very hard on you if you invest a lot of time in your relationship. If your kids were involved with this man, it can also be very hard for them. But, it will also help both you and them learn that the end of a relationship and a change to something new can happen many times and is a part of life. If your kids are upset, it’s best to sit down and have a chat with them. Listen to what they say, answer their questions reasonably and give both them and yourself some time before you get back into the dating scene again.
Finding someone special is never easy. There’s going to be a lot of guilt, awkwardness, melodrama and pain. You can get burnt many times as long as you are able to get back on your feet. You’ve definitely felt that feeling when you met someone special before and you know how glorious it felt. Which is why, you should be optimistic about dating again. While it does take a lot of time and energy, it truly is worth it.