As a single mom, navigating a relationship with a man who has no children can be tricky.
Because this is a unique dynamic that can bring an equally unique set of challenges.
And whether these challenges can be worked through, is a huge factor in deciding whether a relationship will work out.
But let me tell you something:
As a single mom myself who has dated many childless men, but is now in a happy marriage, there are a few things I became more aware of that helped me find the one – and make it work with him.
If you keep these 10 things in mind, you too can know what to avoid and what to practice… and eventually build a beautiful, integrated family with the right man. If that’s your goal, of course.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
1) Be transparent from the start
I’ve made the mistake before of not wanting to scare a man off too early on and wasn’t completely transparent about my situation.
But, this really complicated things down the line.
Each of the responsibilities that came with dating me was revealed to him one by one – and each time it came as a surprise, and an obstacle for him to accept.
Once you see a potential future with someone you’re dating, it’s very important to be transparent with them early on about what it means to raise a child.
That includes the duties, time commitment, responsibility, your values as a parent, and even the finances.
It’s also a good idea to discuss if your child has any special needs early on.
That doesn’t mean he has to take on all of the responsibilities – that’s for him to decide. But it helps to be completely honest about all of this from the get-go, so he can decide if he’s open to it.
If learning the realities of being with you and your child makes him want to exit, then that’s absolutely for the best.
The sooner you know if he’s up for it all, the better!
2) Expect a period of adjustment
If you’ve put it all on the table, and he’s agreed to the unique implications of a relationship with you… fantastic!
Now, before introducing your partner to your kid(s), remember that allowing time for all parties to adjust to a new dynamic is very important.
There’s no better outcome than if they connect immediately.
But a lot of the time, their relationship may not gel right away. It may take weeks, months, and sometimes even years.
Once they meet, your relationship with him may also shift and change with the added child dynamic and there may be things to work out between you.
Just know this:
It’s completely normal!
Give both him and your child space and time to figure out how they can fit into each other’s lives. Remember, building a relationship takes time.
As long he is willing and patient as they both warm up to the change, your new partner is doing his best in the situation.
3) Always respect your child’s needs
This one’s really important!
Make sure to stay mindful of any signs that your child may need space or a slower pace of introduction.
You might have a beautiful vision in your head that they’ll get along great and sometimes try to speed up the process without realizing it.
By listening to any verbal and non-verbal cues that they show, you will create more trust in the dynamic overall.
So make sure to notice how your child is feeling and respect their boundaries.
The right man will understand!
4) Respect your partner’s feelings and needs
Absolutely, your child’s needs might come first.
But it’s also important to make sure you’re listening to your new partner’s feelings and needs.
Why is this so important?
Because being in a relationship with a child is very different from a childless relationship. It may be completely new territory for him.
It comes with additional responsibilities that he may need extra support to adjust to – especially if he’s not used to being around children.
So make sure to address any of his potential concerns around it, support him where necessary, and allow him to feel things out at his own pace.
As long as he remains open to building that relationship, everything is as good as it can be.
On the other hand:
If you notice that he doesn’t show more openness to getting to know your child over time, it may be time to read the next point.
5) Zoom out to the long-term
If you feel you’re getting along well, but…
It’s been a while, and his compatibility with your child isn’t improving or even problematic, consider your long-term compatibility.
To put it simply:
Your child is with you forever. It’s important that their relationship doesn’t have a negative effect on your child or your partner.
So ask yourself the difficult questions:
Do I see myself and my child in a harmonious family dynamic with this person in five or ten years?
If the answer is no, there may be someone out there who is more compatible.
6) It’s important to set boundaries
To avoid any conflict around individual and combined parenting, it helps to set boundaries early on.
Having honest discussions about the alone time you need with your child, discipline, or decision-making will be a necessity in building your relationship.
For example, if you prefer for you to be the sole disciplinarian in the relationship, make your boundaries clear.
Or, if you would like him to help you with discipline but prefer for him to do so in a very specific way, make sure you share this.
It will help you avoid a lot of arguments, trust me.
7) Time management
Another thing that will help to avoid a lot of arguments is creating a structure for your time and availability, and being open about that with him.
This could look like time for yourself, time for you and your partner, for you and your child, and for all of you together.
It can be unsexy to ‘schedule’ your time like this, especially when your schedule is so busy as a mom and you can only get moments in between.
But gone are the carefree, go-with-the-flow days of meeting up at the last minute.
I mean, you could try it.
But in my experience, it will often lead to unmet expectations on both sides.
By creating a schedule, you can make sure everyone’s needs are met, including your own.
8) Build a support system
This will really help you if the last point made you wonder… “How?! I barely have time as it is!”
With the help of trusted friends, family, or helpers – that’s how!
As you invest more time in your relationship, it really, really helps to have people who can support you with other responsibilities like housework or child duties.
So turn to your community to help you when you feel overloaded by the added time that comes with building a new relationship.
9) Be adaptable to change
If you’re serious about a new relationship, there are bound to be changes to your routine, lifestyle, and priorities.
It’s important to remain adaptable to the changes as they come.
This may involve changes that need to be made to:
- How much free time you have
- Your day-to-day routine
- Your child’s routine
- Your living setup
- Your priorities
- Financial changes
So remember to have patience with yourself as you navigate any adjustments as you decide to make your relationship serious.
Changing your dynamic in this way takes emotional, mental, and logistical flexibility!
10) Communicate openly
Last but not least…
It’s vital to maintain open communication with your partner and with your child throughout this process.
Any emotions that come up, for anyone, are best discussed openly rather than held on to.
Holding onto suppressed feelings risks it becoming resentment… And resentment is the last thing you want in this situation because it can easily sabotage everything you’ve built later down the line.
And the good news?
It’s easily avoidable by practicing open communication and discussing any issues as soon as they come up.
So there you have it:
The 10 things to know if you’re a single mom dating a childless man.
Maybe you already knew some of these, and perhaps you learned some new things from my lived experience.
Please approach all of my suggestions with what’s best for your unique situation. There is no universal answer that suits everybody.
All of our circumstances are different!
But whatever your situation may be, just remember these two things:
First, never compromise what you and your child both deserve.
And second, patience is key.