Getting back into dating after baby can be tough — and complicated — but you deserve a shot at love, Mama! Just be on the look out for these red flags.
I’m a single mom, and it took me a solid three years to go on a date after my son was born. It’s funny how, when you’re a mom, dating isn’t just about you — it’s about your child. Whether each man I date knows it or not, I’m testing him from day one. Does he like kids? Will he be more into his BMW than me? Are his boys his priority?
So while dating should be fun, exciting and a break from the tough parts of single motherhood, don’t waste your time with anyone on this list.
1. Sugar Daddy
This is the guy that tells you about his yearly bonus, designer suits and finds a way to ease the topic of money into every conversation. According to Leah Klungness, PhD, psychologist and coauthor of The Complete Single Mother, guys who love to flash a big wad of cash and talk nonstop about their jobs reveal their life priorities. “It’s all about things,” Klungness says. In other words: He’s not looking to settle down or meet your kid anytime soon. “He’s insecure and desperately needs to demonstrate control,” she adds. So what if he ordered an $80 bottle of wine at dinner and drives a nice car? If he didn’t compliment your dress or ask about your day, he’s not the one.
2. Text-Only Guy
Texting is an easy way to communicate a quick hello or an “I’m running late,” but face it, dating as a single mom is different than dating as a single woman. You likely can’t drop everything for a date, or sleepover midweek, so this means you really need to keep the communication flowing to compensate for the lack of face time. If he’s not down to chat for 20 minutes on the phone or Skype after your baby is asleep, he’s not dating material for you.
3. Deadbeat Dad
You may know how crazy it can be to coordinate with an ex when it comes to visitation and finances. So you might be tempted to let it slide if a guy doesn’t see his kids often “because his ex is crazy” or he “wasn’t ready to be a dad.” But don’t.
“The blame game antics are lame cover-ups,” Klungness says. “His choice to abandon his kids — emotionally or financially — should be an instant deal breaker.” You don’t want his baggage in your life.
4. Party Animal
Yep, single moms have every right to let their hair down and have a good time. But having a hangover and caring for a baby don’t mix. If your man thinks the ideal date is all-night clubbing with bottle service, he’s not going to be up for diaper changing at 5 a.m. Enough said.
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5. Home Turfer
At first, you unconsciously like escaping your world to hang out in his. (The baby is with grandma and you’re getting a break from the single mommy routine!) But if he’s constantly refusing to come to your neck of the woods, that’s a sign something’s not quite right.
“If making the effort to get together with you on your turf doesn’t interest him, then he’s just not that into you and is likely seeing other women,” Klungness warns.
Your one-date-wonder wants to meet your kid already? This may be his awkward way of letting you know that he’s fine with your single mom status, but don’t feel pressure to force this meeting. “Make it clear it’s 100 percent your call when or if your kid meets him,” Klungness advises. “If he has a problem with that, cut him loose!”
7. Mr. ADD
When you go out on a date, you don’t want to deal with someone who’s constantly making lame jokes with the waitress, or who can’t take his eyes off the basketball game on TV or the pretty woman at the bar. Find someone who has a bigger attention span than your toddler does. “Your two year-old will grow up and grow out of the short attention phase,” Klungness says. “This is not just a phase for this guy. He’s letting you know, loud and clear, that you’re barely on his radar.”
8. Issues Man
He’s depressed and won’t see a doctor. He downs three Manhattans before the appetizers arrive. You found a bottle of painkillers in his medicine cabinet, but he’s not hurt and hasn’t been anytime recently. He’s asked you for money. The most important reason not to date someone with serious issues is that you won’t want him around your child. The other reason is that his problem will get in the way of his relationship with you. You can’t fix him, so wish him well and run away, Mama.
9. Over-the-Top Mama’s Boy
If he drops everything to change a lightbulb at his mom’s house and takes her calls when you’re in bed together (ew), there may be a good reason. “Is she in poor health? Recently widowed? Emotionally unstable?” Klungness asks. “Remember — guys that treat their moms well are usually keepers.” But if there’s no good reason for him to be attached to Mom’s apron strings, you should probably rethink the relationship because you’re not his main squeeze — his mom is.
10. Your Neighbor
He’s hot, single, nice to your kid and gave you an emergency cup of milk once. It’s tempting and seemingly easy to, well, get it on with the guy next door, but don’t do it if you’re not serious about him. If it ends badly, he’ll still be your neighbor, which means he’ll be in your life — and your kid’s. Your child won’t understand why it’s suddenly weird for him to play catch with the neighbor or why you hide when you see his new girlfriend pull into the driveway.
Christine Coppa is a single, dating mom. Recently, a sweet guy bought her kid an ice cream and spent the day at the park with them. She’s hopeful.