Single Moms' Guide to Dating
Getting Out There
Even if more divorced women ease into the dating pool rather than jump in with two feet, the fact remains that the majority of them will eventually remarry, most within three years of their divorce. But no matter how long it takes them to feel ready to date again, once they do, all women face similar hurdles. Divorced moms need to negotiate three major areas before they start dating again, says Martine Byer, a therapist in New York City and coauthor of Sex & the Single Parent (Perigee, 2002). First is pacing: When do you begin dating, and how do you fold someone special into your life? Next is balance: How do you weigh your needs versus those of your children? There's also the question of boundaries: How much information should you give your child about your dating life? In addition to the major issues, the "smaller" pragmatic hurdles to dating as a mom can be formidable. "The biggest issue for divorced moms is time," says sociologist Pepper Schwartz, of Seattle, herself a divorced -- and dating -- mom. "They put work, children, and everyone else's time before their own, and that leaves little room for a social life. Plus, especially if they have a bad relationship with their ex, there's the difficulty of coordinating custody schedules. The idea of a spontaneous date goes right out the window."
On the upside, many divorced and dating moms say they feel more confident the second time around. They're not as eager to prove that they can get married or that someone will love them. And they already know that they have the strength and abilities to be a good parent. While some want to remarry and have more children, most say they're happy with the number of kids they already have and can date without worrying about their biological clock. That old sense of urgency is replaced by the freedom to choose. And some, particularly those emerging from a bad marriage, simply enjoy the fun of being single. Susan Newman, a social psychologist at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, says that in her experience, divorced mothers who date are happier, calmer, and less frustrated than other unmarried women.