Dating Mistakes to Avoid as a Single Mom

By: Joanie Cox-Henry

As published in The Sun Sentinel

Entering the dating scene again as a mom can be a tricky and sometimes even dangerous business. South Florida Parenting magazine asked Miami-based life coach and divorce expert Debbie Martinez to share her advice for single moms on how to get dive back into the dating pool without drowning from frustration.

“My experience as a single mother on the dating scene has been extreme,” Martinez said. “The men I’ve come across have either been wanted a super fast commitment or none at all.”

When it comes to looking online for love, Martinez suggests using a lot of caution. “Never meet a person you met online in a private place and don’t give them a lot of personal information. You have no idea who these people really are,” Martinez said. “Online dating gives you a false sense of being familiar with that person, so by the time you meet them it almost feels like you’re going steady. I’ve seen some women get sucked into that.”

Being a parent can often make a woman even more vulnerable during the dating process. “When you’re a mom, everything magnifies by 10,” Martinez said. “You have this person or people you’re responsible for. Trust your intuition and don’t ignore red flags. If something doesn’t seem right about the person, it probably isn’t.”

And while sending or receiving personal photos can be fun and exciting in a new relationship, Martinez also advises women to be careful what images of themselves are floating around in cyberspace. “As a society, we’ve lowered our bar of standards,” Martinez said. “Many people will text a provocative photo of themselves or engage in ‘sexting.’ Do not accept ‘sexting’ behavior. If you want to be treated like a lady, you have to act like one. If a person ‘sexts’ you, slam the door on them. Anyone who does that is not interested in a committed relationship.”

Martinez also reminds single mothers on the dating scene to never take it personally if they don’t get called back or get asked for a second date. “You have to be very thick skinned when it comes to online dating,” Martinez said. “So many people are on there flirting that they often don’t take any of it seriously. They could be getting dozens of ‘winks’ a day on a dating site.”

Until the right one comes along, Martinez emphasizes to not stress out about it. “I’ve been divorced seven years and haven met ‘the one’ yet,” Martinez said. “If you’re all wrapped up in finding someone to date, then you’re not ready yet. Be happy where you are in life right now. Don’t ever settle and don’t ever make decisions out of fear. Do what makes you happy and stop worrying. In that process, someone will come along.”

Single mothers seeking a partner should also try to see the world and relationship through their potential partner’s eyes. “We don’t always take the time to understand the other person’s perspective,” Martinez said. “Many women expect a partner to commit 100 percent and be on board with the kids and the potential partner is asking themselves questions like, ‘Does she have a crazy ex-spouse?’ and ‘Will her kids like me?’ It’s really important to put that person at ease and not push the envelope too fast.”

Single mothers should also use their best judgement when it comes to the timeline in which a love interest meets their children. “While there’s no set time to introduce your children to someone you’re dating, it’s best to stay open with your kids and communicate with them,” Martinez said. “You don’t want a revolving door of partners meeting them but you also don’t want to live a secret life.”

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