The following was adapted from an article by “Zen King” on the Happy Bachelor’s Forum. It has been edited for punctuation and clarity.
I thought I would set down a “rough guide” for men thinking about starting a relationship with a single mom, explaining some of the ramifications of dating and entering into a deeper relationship with a single mom. Of course this guide does not apply to all women, or all men; but, it will list the main problems, as I have observed them, through the years.
Contrary to popular media-myth, I have yet to meet a single mom who was the career driven, carefree, balanced, happy, “doing it all” type, as is often portrayed in media outlets. The reality, as I have seen it, is usually a stressed out, overworked, debt-stricken woman, who really had no idea that children cost so much in time, effort and money. Their careers are on hold as they need to balance their child with sickness, school activities, etc., versus moving up whatever career ladder they are on. Most single moms are raising their children with help of an extended family member (usually their mom), a bevy of friends, and other single moms they find in support groups. It’s not a pretty picture.
Somewhere along the way, usually quite quickly, they come up with the idea that they need a “partner” to help them in their new enterprise of having a child, and the sooner they can get one the better. Realizing they have a bit of a disadvantage, with having a child in the dating scene, they resort to several well known strategies to get a man interested.
One of the most common strategies is to engage men who do not have children of their own. This allows the woman to portray raising a kid as easy. It seems that there will always be a balance, between her relationship with her partner, and her relationship with her child. Sometimes these single moms will portray themselves as helpless victims. The single mom will let you know that she has been victimized by an evil and absent father, husband, boyfriend, etc.. Such women need saving, and she appeals to your noble instincts, by demonstrating that you can save her. Another popular scheme of the single mom is to make herself look accomplished. She does this by extending her debt to ridiculous levels, in furtherance of the illusion that she is all right, and that she doesn’t really need a partner. There are quite a few more strategies, but like I said, this is a rough guide.
One of the favorite tactics of the single mom is to involve the child with the prospective partner almost right away, and to foster a relationship between the man and her child. This allows a lot of leverage, on several levels, as time goes by. It allows for huge amount of guilt and shame, if the man wants to break off the relationship. It allows for a bonding to take place that is hard to shuck off. You will hear phrases such as:
Any man who loves me must love my children!
This tactic is designed to appeal to a mans sense of chivalry and protection. This hopefully facilitates a sense of belonging together, and in the end, marriage.
Most single men are unaware of what is going on when they start to date a single mom. It seems that the child is around, but it is pleasant. It appears that there is a clear distinction between adult and child time. It seems actually, for most men, not a bad time at all. This allows the single mom to get the man closer and farther into the relationship.
What is really going on is a shit-load of help from the single mom’s friends, family, agencies, etc. While you think you’ve found your unicorn, there are tons of babysitting services, tips on dating, comparing notes and plans, all flowing back and forth between an army of people, employed to deceive you. No matter what you see, as a man, there is something else going on. It is theatre. Never forget this. Her plan is to eventually get a partner, one way or another. You are the prize, and she is going to earn it.
One trait that seems to come to the forefront, with most men who are dating single moms, is just how wonderful a woman this single mom is. Most men cannot for the life of them figure out why another man would abandon a woman like her. It has been stated that single moms are more caring, compassionate, great lovers, excellent cooks, laugh at all your jokes etc they seem to be ideal mates.
This playacting is a well planned and orchestrated tactic to get a man into a relationship. I don’t know how many men have loudly complained that after marriage they were suddenly now doing most of the cooking, cleaning, and repairing around the house with zero time like they had before. I don’t know how many have said it was like night and day after they moved in. The kind compassionate woman the men met had some how now been replaced by a truly different woman, it was like another personality type than the one they married. In short, a single mom knows she has to work harder to get a man, and she will work harder; but, for many, the act cannot last that long, and the real woman reveals herself. Usually this occurs immediately after marriage.
A lot of men go for it, and marry their single mom. These men and do not realize some of the problems they will encounter. Here is a short list of several common problems that begin to creep up:
- Being a “partner” means you get to pay for half (if not more) of everything, not just for you, but for the child.
- I have noticed after marriage a single mom works at dizzying speed to make sure her new husband’s name is on all of the bills.
- She also will usually demand money also for a huge amount of her child’s expenses. It is also expressed as a part of “loving her and showing it”. I have seen men putting money away for college for a kid that is not his. Buying ridiculous amounts of brand name clothes, expensive homes etc all in an effort to be in a so-called “family”.
The Family you just got into is by invitation only. In most traditional marriages that produce children, the man, woman and child or children make up he basic family unit. In being a step- parent you are not the basic unit. The mother and child together are the basic unit. You are invited in and can be un-invited whenever mom feels it to be so. No matter what is said or mentioned before marriage, you will never come before her child. You will always be in a family and relationship where you come second, maybe third.
No matter what you think her ex is going to be there forever. In just about every case the child’s father does not seem to be in the picture during the dating and courtship stage but seems to suddenly show up after. The reality is he was always there, your partner just never mentioned it. The father will most naturally want to have a relationship with his child and he is going to be quite involved most of the time. Just about every time you will be dragged into the endless bickering and fights they have and you will not be liked by him “its only natural remember” also be sure to take into account the grandparents, uncles and aunts and all the family functions you will be attending with him, his child, his ex (your partner) and his side of the family. Get used to being uncomfortable.
Her kid will most likely not like you very much. Let’s face it you’re sleeping with their mom and most of the time the child will see you as a roadblock to his parents getting back together. Most likely the mom has made you the giver of discipline in the relationship, being the man and all which results in the kid hating you. Or after watching the child run amok for weeks after you arrive you change junior’s schedule to include some discipline and then you also hated even more. An amazing amount of men involved with single mothers report how the child hates them, but he can keep buying gifts to try to win their affection. Some call it the ATM effect of diminishing returns.
All that time you had together with your new love will end after marriage. The number one job of a single mom is simply to be a mom. She is not a party girl, hiker, camper, biker, clubber etc. Just be prepared for a frontal assault on your time and money after marriage. You will find your weekdays taken up with homework, PTA meetings, suppers at home, and early bed times. Weekends will be the time for the child’s extra-curricular activities and other activities. If a single man is wondering what happens ask any father of children how their time is spent, it will not be on hobbies. You will hear endlessly the phrase “we are a family now and this is what a family does” of course your idea on family will differ, but it is her family and she will make the choices.
You will wonder what happened to all your money. Most men involved with a single mom report that their money seems to dry up. Children are expensive and expensive like most men have no idea. Between school supplies, clothing, vast amounts of food, babysitters if you ever want to go out, medications, fees, sports, supplies, toys and such; well, there will be little left.
As a footnote there is also another ploy by some single moms that men also forget about. The child’s father is paying for a lot of these things. Quite a few men have reported that their wife or girlfriend was getting them to pay for such things as sport fees, equipment, university funds, school supplies and such but at the same time getting the child’s father to pay for these things also. Double billing, also called fraud, is quite common but it does allow the single mom to have almost zero expenses for her child as two men are now paying for junior. Another ploy that is quite horrific was a man whose wife owned a home and he moved in with her and her child. Although he fixed it up, paid half the mortgage and expenses- she had willed the home to her children. When confronted she said since she would be dead she did not care if he had a home or not, her child came first. So be careful with matters of money. Very careful.
You will never really be accepted. I have observed time and time again the heartbreak of a step parent as the child gets older. After putting them through school, providing a place to live, food, getting the child all kinds of gifts and honestly really caring about the child and such I keep hearing this one story over and over. The time comes for a grad or a wedding, the step parent thinks he might be lauded for his sacrifices but instead is shunted to a back seat or not invited as the child invites mom and dad to the party; and thanks them for all their love and work. Usually there is not even an acknowledgment of effort.
You will now be part of the single moms network. Be prepared to help out all her buddies as they helped her out. Endless weekends and nights of babysitting the other single moms kids so that they too may date and get a man. You will also discover why 75% of all people in jail come from single mother households. Try not to have any expensive items around.
Now that the single mom is now married she will need to impress her single mom friends with her new found happiness. Her happiness will usually include a new home in a good neighborhood, new clothing, new items for the home, new car etc; there is an unwritten law it seems among a lot of single moms that they compete ruthlessly with their friends. If she does get married she needs to show them her new found prestige. Be prepared for huge new expenses.
You will have no time for errors. A lot of single men get involved with the single mom and her kids when the child is a bit older. Being inexperienced with children becomes a huge burden as the single man has no time to learn parenting skills; and mistakes are not readily forgiven nor forgotten when a kid is 4 compared to 14.
You may think it ends, but it never does. I know many men whose single mom wife promised them a completely different life after junior turned 18 or so. At the beginning of the relationship it looked like just a few years and then total privacy and freedom. Then years later they found out that junior is going to go to university for 6 years after taking a gap year off and not worry about a job as he will live at home. After that the story usually is that the child gets married and has kids and needs a ton of babysitting services. The dream of trips abroad, moving to a nicer place etc. evaporates for most men. They just wind up being early grandparents. The other option that happens a lot is the girls have children early and stay at home. Not only is the man taking care of his wife’s child he also has to care for her grandchild now!
You will have nothing to show for it. In the end when most men have their own children the work and effort is well worth it. The men did their best and raised a family, continued a line, get grandchildren etc. As a step-parent you have contributed as much but you have nothing. Nobody carries on your name and most men realize they are not even ever thanked for their sacrifice.
The legalities can kill you. There have been numerous cases where a man has divorced or left a single mom and then found himself liable financially for her child. Although not the father he will be responsible for child payments, extra fees and most certainly university far after they are 18 check the laws out, it’s a raw deal. Couple that with some alimony and you get the whole effect of being a divorced and homeless dad with not one child of your own.
In the end women have asked for their freedom to make their own choices now for decades. I would advise all single men to let single moms make their choice of having a child by themselves and then live with it. Don’t involve yourself with these women under any circumstances. It can be in many ways, the death of a man.
Well it’s a rough guide and you were warned.