There’s an expression that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Here are five things your girlfriend who is a single mother won’t tell you that she will appreciate if you do, as you’re growing your relationship. Consider it dating and relationship advice for men dating single mothers, though it can be useful for most romantic partners.
Any serious relationship takes discipline, concentration and patience. It’s something, especially when kids are involved, that we inch our way into. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so read on to grow your emotional and spiritual wellness, and make Mama happy. Er, well, at least, happier.
It is first essential to acknowledge and bust the myth that single mothers with young children are not actively dating. And so it should be, because again a happy single mother with a partner who loves and respects her is a good thing. The September 2014 study undertaken by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University found, …”single parents of children younger than 5 date and are sexually active as often as singles without children — and more so than single parents of older children.”
“We know that on average, singles have relatively less sexual activity than coupled people — singles tend to have lower rates of sexual frequency likely because they have to first find a partner to have sex with,” says one of the researchers authoring the study, Justin R. Garcia.
Garcia continues, “And, for single parents, there is only so much time and so much energy to be used for a variety of competing demands in their life. Without the help of a partner, singles often have to divert more energy to parenting and so in theory one might think single parents would not be dating as much. But that’s not what we found.”
According to the Kinsey Institute,
“The authors described humans as ‘cooperative breeders’ because of the amount of care children require. From an evolutionary perspective, the single moms and dads — the study found no gender differences — may be looking for a partner to help with the kids but also to provide adult company.”
This leads to the first tip that your single Mom girlfriend won’t tell you: Let her know she’s a good mother. If it seems simple, it’s because it is. Says one mother friend of mine with a young daughter, “I think too often people focus on the ‘wrongs’ or ‘mistakes’ parents make or only talk about it when something negative has happened. They forget all the good. Reassurance is so important in co-parenting, from both sides. Reminding your partner how great they are doing is just as important, if not more.”
You can feel confident in your relationship with your girlfriend, next, when it’s getting to the point where she can complain about the kids and her family and she knows you will still treat her kids as if they were your own. It’s important to understand that she just needs to vent sometimes.
Third, demonstrate and enforce a standard of respect towards the single mother you’re dating. As another mother with three children under the age of 15 explains, “It validates my authority with the children. It warms me to feel cherished by my partner. It shows the children how to respect someone important to you.
Another mother whose children are now grown says, for her, it’s important to her that her significant other honor that she is their partner, not their “underling.”
Fourth on the list of tips for being in a romantic relationship with a single mother is to not forget dating should always be fun. It’s easy for a family to focus mainly on the children’s activities and needs but, like with any adult couple, things like date night are the life energy of a healthy relationship. Take time to do things together just the two of you alone that you enjoy, even if that means hiring a babysitter. Keep the surprises coming and remember, she’s not only a mother, she is a woman. From across the room, text her that she takes your breath away. Catch her glance sometimes to send a smile with a look.
Not every Mom feels comfortable with sitters when they’re single parents, because often single parents don’t have their children with them 100% of the time so ask, don’t assume. But do consider creative ways she can have time to recharge her batteries with a fun activity, even if it’s just a long walk outdoors to connect with nature and hold hands.
Last, once your relationship has grown close and trust has been built, try not to allow the children to triangulate (play co-parents against one another). Triangulation is a situation in which one family member will not communicate directly with another family member, but will communicate with a third family member, which can lead to the third family member becoming part of a triangle.
According to the Bowen Center founded by Dr. Murray Bowen, a triangle “is considered the building block or ‘molecule’ of larger emotional systems because a triangle is the smallest stable relationship system. A two-person system is unstable because it tolerates little tension before involving a third person. A triangle can contain much more tension without involving another person because the tension can shift around three relationships. If the tension is too high for one triangle to contain, it spreads to a series of ‘interlocking’ triangles. Spreading the tension can stabilize a system, but nothing gets resolved.”
It is healthier to encourage the child to go to the parent with whom they have a disagreement or conflict to sort it out directly with that parent.
In short, many of the concepts that contribute to healthy family relationships can be useful advice for dating and relationships with single parents. When there is harmony in any home with children, the children benefit.