I am a single mother.
And while I love being a mother, the single part is definitely a challenge. I've spent the last four years adjusting to the single parent side of my divorce, but I haven't done much to address the single woman side of post-divorce life. I'm hoping to change all that, but the mere thought of entering the dating world in earnest is scary as can be. I know the rules have changed. I'm 11 years older, and I have two precious children to think about.
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If I'm gonna do this, I need some advice. So I'm turning to seasoned dating coaches, Julianne Cantarella, MSW, The Courtship Coach, and Elisabeth Lamotte, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert, to figure out the biggest dating mistakes single moms make and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Waiting too long to start dating again. "Re-entering the dating world is easier when you haven't been alone for too long," says Cantarella. "Once you've taken the time to recover from your divorce, you might want to try getting your feet wet. I've seen clients get overly comfortable being single, so when they re-enter the dating world it brings on a whole set of complexities. Like being 'set in their ways,' which makes it even more difficult to be open to someone new to share their lives with," Cantarella says.
Single Mom Smart Move: Start out slowly, Cantarella says. One safe, effective and time-efficient way to start out is to trying online dating. Here, you're in control. You are able to set the pace and decide who is right for you.
Mistake #2: Being exclusive too soon. "As a dating coach I encourage my clients to cast a wide net and date more than one person until talk of exclusivity arises," Cantarella says.
"I've found that because my divorced clients come from long-term monogamous relationships, they feel they shouldn't date more than one person at a time," Cantarella adds. Dating more than one person allows you to compare and contrast and see who rises to the top. It also gives you the opportunity to date until you're ready to commit, without becoming completely absorbed by one person, she adds.
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Single Mom Smart Move: The idea of monogamy should be introduced in a committed relationship, not forced on one. You should date more than one person, so that you have an opportunity to see who is an ideal match for you. Also, never assume that you are in a committed relationship until you have discussed it with the person you are dating.
Mistake #3: Dating too soon. There aren't always hard and fast rules regarding when to start dating. The circumstances surrounding your divorce or even the state of your marriage pre-divorce may play a part in whether a woman is emotionally ready to date. LaMotte recommends that newly separated women give themselves a full year to get used to being single before they begin to date.