Dating as a 30-something single mum

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Today’s post is a guest post from Jude Peppis-Clay.

Jude is a 30-something single mum blogger who writes about raising her young son, co-parenting and relationships of every shape and size. 
Visit her here:
https://gluingcheese.co.uk
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https://twitter.com/GluingCheese
https://www.instagram.com/gluingcheese/

When I rejoined the dating game as a 30 something single mum having left my husband of nearly 10 years I didn’t expect it to be easy. Times have obviously changed and I had witnessed that a little when living vicariously through my friends and their perks and pitfalls of online dating. I was warned that it’s not as easy to meet someone anymore as it was back when I was a single 20-something.

They weren’t wrong.

Nothing could have prepared me for the not-so-romantic onslaught which lay ahead of me. I didn’t think it would be like the olden days when meeting someone, usually in a bar, was pretty straight-forward. But the dating game of 2019 is much more complicated than I ever could have imagined, especially as a single parent. 

Here’s why.

Scraping the barrel?

The old adage that all the good ones are taken is, in my experience, very sadly true. More than once, it’s felt like I am cavorting on the metaphorical scrapheap of dating. I appreciate I have not dated ALL of the men (although it sometimes feels like it!) but from my somewhat plentiful experience, there’s a flaw or five with most of the men who have crossed my dating path in the last couple of years. Some of them can be handily categorised:

We all know about the ones who ghost – you message and/or meet up a few times before they disappear off the face of the Earth. That’s happened to me. Loads.

There’s the one who told me via text after date three that he had a problem with single mums.

There’s the one who displayed all the signs of being an emotional abuser … after one date.

There’s the one who stood me up on a Saturday afternoon then claimed it was because his dog was unwell.

There was the one who literally ran for a train which didn’t exist to get away from me halfway through a first date.

Ah, there was the good egg who broke my heart. The dating game is all well and good until someone catches the feels and it’s not reciprocated.

I could go on … but you get the picture. The frogs have definitely outweighed the princes by a startling ratio. And the only way to find that out is to go there and come straight back.

Family friendly

When I first became a single mum, I thought that dating a single dad would be a great idea. It would be the perfect way to connect with someone who I would undoubtedly have a lot in common with. We could swap stories about raising small people, share the dramas of co-parenting and he probably wouldn’t mind talking about stuff like potty training over dinner.

That great theory didn’t quite go to plan. What I actually ended up with is an impossibility to align schedules when trying to match up what evenings and weekends we didn’t both have little people to keep alive. So, it made it double-hard to actually find time to meet up more than once a fortnight. It’s definitely difficult to keep a spark going in those early stages when it’s like meeting a similarly harassed stranger again and again – a lesson I learned the hard way.

So, single non-dads were the next avenue to explore but, alas, that didn’t work either. Why? They want to see you more than once a week too even though it is pretty much impossible to do so. They also don’t always understand why you can’t head out for a cheeky Nando’s at the drop of a hat – whether you have the kid with you on that day or not. Life demands military precision at all times so, sorry, I have to do my food shop tonight instead. 

I think the best option here is to stick with the single dads. Yes, it may mean booking some time together up to six weeks in advance but at least they understand the reason why. And they could be handy for playdates in the future. 

Stereotypical stigma

Single mums have long had a tarnished reputation. The media has done much damage to fuel this negative image by portraying us as desperate and needy. A simple Google search pulls up pages and pages of results about dating single mums or how to help flailing single mums. Yes, the tide is changing and there are much more positive representations of empowered and independent single mums emerging – thankfully! However, shaking off that negative stigma won’t happen overnight. And it’s probably the reason so many chats in my online dating app end abruptly as soon as I mention my offspring. 

Or, on the flip side, that desperation label could well rack up those dating app matches but not necessarily with the sort of person who would be interested in more than Netflix and chill. Either way, it makes finding a non-douchebag to actually have a proper ‘relationship’ with a herculean task. 

Happily ever after?

I left my son’s dad. The relationship wasn’t working for both of us and I wanted more from life and, most importantly, from love. The man I left behind wasn’t bad really but he didn’t tick all the boxes for me. There was not enough between us for me to be confident that we would end up growing old together. So, I am searching for someone who ticks all of those boxes (plus more!) and someone who will sit next to me as we get old, grey and wrinkled. So, sorry to whoever I date, the yardstick is pretty high on what I am looking for and I won’t settle for anything less. Tough customer aren’t I … 

I haven’t signed up to second dates with lots of people for possibly superficial or shallow reasons. Most of the time those dates go OK, but if they aren’t pretty much perfect, the spark isn’t there almost straight away or there’s a certain level of awkward then I won’t be coming back for more. Yes, that may be a foolish way to play the game but it’s the only way that I am really happy to participate. I want the moon on a stick, basically. I know it exists so why settle for anything less? If I was going to settle, I would have stayed in my marriage. That would have been the easy way to do life. That is especially the case when it comes to co-parenting and all the practical and emotional turmoil which goes with it. But, we all want to find The One and I am certainly no exception.

Back to basics

Even though I have been single for two years now and done my fair share of swiping left or right, I haven’t gained many more notches on my bedpost. I have had a few moments of madness but I have deliberately kept my feet on the ground on plenty of occasions too. Unsolicited pictures haven’t landed in my inbox too many times – and what a relief that is. I wouldn’t reciprocate in any case.

One of the reasons for this is common decency … the other is body confidence. The breakdown of my family was a wonderful diet and I dropped the last few pounds of baby weight which had previously refused to budge through to stress and anxiety. However, that unintentional diet also took the last of my boobs, which had already been through the wars thanks to breastfeeding. My stomach also has a c-section scar across it and the skin there will never be as taut as it used to be. To a non-parent, that’s quite something to see. Although I am fortunate and I know my body is pretty much OK, showing it to others still takes some guts. But, I may be putting the cart before the horse here anyway!

Dating isn’t easy for anyone in today’s society. No matter your age, location, marital or parental status, finding someone nice who you fancy and enjoy spending time with is like finding a needle in a haystack. But, it would appear to be much more difficult for the single parent – or that’s how it feels for me, at least.

Maybe I will just stick with my number one man instead – my son. He’s as good as it gets and more anyway. Actually, that’s not true. The good guys are out there – I am not tarnishing them all with the same dirty brush. And the wait will make it all worthwhile when I find someone who wants to Netflix and chill … and actually do that. 

If you’d like to contribute a guest blog on parenting, pregnancy, or perhaps you have a recipe or tip that’s too good not to share – contact me on jenny@midwifeandlife.com

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August 12, 2019
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