Entering the Dating World as a Single Mum | My Experience

Dating is a funny old thing at the best of times but for single parents, the thought of it can be very daunting. I remember after having my son, I had absolutely no interest in meeting someone else any time soon and in all honesty, part of me thought after having a child, I'd never meet anyone that I'd want to spend the rest of my life with. Arthur became my entire world and I didn't need to be anything or anyone but his mummy. I felt like that for a whole year...and then something changed.

Can you really meet someone on a dating app?

After making a big move across the country to start a new life with Arthur, my parents and my brother, I thought I'd dip my toe into the world of online dating. I wasn't desperate to meet anyone or be in a relationship. I just felt like I was ready to be 'me' again, as well as Arthur's mummy. To be honest, I didn't have a whole lot of hope when I downloaded the first dating app on my phone. It was Tinder. How could I possibly meet anyone on an app like that? But I put my reservations aside and thought the swiping would be a bit of fun and any conversations that came from it could be a laugh.

And I was right - the swiping bit was fun. Getting matches was fun. But genuine, captivating conversations were few and far between. There was no one I was even slightly interested in, until this one match appeared. For some reason, I decided to message first and after braving a simple (and let's face it, rather boring) 'hi' (complete with smiley face), a whole conversation developed from there. We talked about anything and everything. Conversations became daily and a Whatsapp message from him was often the highlight of my day. I couldn't wait to meet him but I was hanging on for him to make the suggestion. A few weeks passed and we finally made plans to meet up. There was one cancelled date (thanks to an unexpected snowfall and possibly because it was Friday 13th) and then our first date, our second, our third and well, it's been a year and half now and along with Arthur, he's my entire world.

Don't get me wrong, I know I was pretty damn lucky. My other half was the first person I really 'connected' with and the only person I met up with. Believers in fate would say it was meant to be and I'd be inclined to agree. All the events that unfolded would lead me to assume that my entire move happened for the very reason of us becoming a family. But before I get too soppy, the point I really want to make is that yes as a single mum the thought of dating again can be daunting but if you don't try (when you feel ready to) you could miss out on something wonderful.

My tips on entering the dating world as a single parent

Don't let preconceptions of dating apps put you off:
We all know there's gonna be a few creeps on there but there is also likely to be genuine people that are looking for the very same thing as you. Getting out and meeting people can be difficult as a single parent and these apps make it that little bit easier. It's also the 'norm' these days to meet people on apps like Tinder, so don't feel any sort of shame about it!

Don't rush into meeting up
If you're not ready to meet up with someone, don't do it! Play by your own rules. I really love that we spent weeks just messaging each other, before we actually met in person. By the time we met, I felt like we already knew a fair bit about each other and although extremely nervous, there was a sense of familiarity there.

Be honest about your child / children
It's hard to say whether or not you should say that you're a mum or dad on your dating profile. I don't think I did...but it was one of the first things we spoke about - after all Arthur is the most important person in my life and there was no way I'd ever pretend he didn't exist. If they're not cool with it, they're not the person for you! Thankfully, with my other half, it was made clear from the beginning that me being a mum wasn't going to be a problem at all.

Organise dates that are just for you two first
Every situation is different and childcare isn't always an option for some single parents but I was lucky that my mum was happy to babysit for me, so that I could go on a few dates with my partner, without having to worry about Arthur or take him along with me. I think it's good to get to know the other person and allow them to get to know you, before they get to know your child. It's up to you to decide when they meet your child but you've got to be ready, they've got to be ready and most importantly your child has got to be ready. I guess I was lucky that Arthur was so young, so it wasn't a big deal like it may be with an older child.

My (now) partner met Arthur very briefly on our third date but I believe it was a few weeks before we actually all went out together in the daytime. It's funny though because when we did, it felt completely natural and has done ever since.

Meet in a safe place
I know this may sound silly but at the end of the day, it's better to be safe than sorry right? For our first date, he actually drove all the way to the pub, where I was living at the time. I met him in the carpark outside (complete with CCTV hahaha) and we went to another pub in the same village for our first date. Obviously I knew he was who he said he was already and didn't have any worries whatsoever but at the end of the day, you are your little person's whole world, so you need to make sure you keep yourself safe!

Your child is a bonus not baggage
I hate when children are referred to as baggage, so much so that I get angry tears! Thankfully that's never a word that has been used towards Arthur. He has ALWAYS been valued and treated as a bonus. My other half loves him and they have the most incredible bond.

Do not worry about your 'mummy tummy'
I wasn't going to share this one because it might be a little TMI but hey-ho. Mums, however you've given birth your body is going to show some signs of it. It's the most natural thing in the world to have stretch marks, a bit of saggy skin from a massively overstretched bump and a few wobbles here and there. I'm not asking anyone to love their mummy tummy or celebrate their stretch marks (it's completely up to you how you feel about yourself) but do not let it put you off dating because 'your hangups' may be a big deal to you but they're very unlikely going to be given a second thought by the person you're dating. When you're ready for the other person to see them, you should really be comfortable enough with them anyway not to give them a second thought yourself. I know I didn't!

So there are just a few of my tips for single parents entering the dating world. They're nothing revolutionary but I wanted to share my own personal experience because it's something I've not really talked about before now. I often see single parents on social media worrying about these sort of things and feeling alone in it, when really, there's lots of us out here that are or have been in the same situation!

If you have also experienced the world of dating as a single parent, I'd love you to share your story or your tips for others! You can comment below or tweet me @meganjane03.

Megan x
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