It wasn’t so long ago that I gave a friend advice on dating after he came to me in despair with his head in his hands sighing “Where on earth am I going wrong with women!?” You see he’d recently been dumped by his on/off girlfriend of a few years – who he admitted he didn’t really find attractive when they were together – but felt absolutely devastated by when she left, possibly because it wasn’t his choice. They’d effectively poodled along in their relationship not treating each other right or being truly in love which resultantly ended once one of them found somebody better suited to them and it’s a situation that a lot of couples find themselves in; staying together for the sake of it until your head is turned.
She was a handful of years younger than him, made him pay for absolutely everything, constantly picked at his appearance and ultimately ridiculed him for not wanting a promotion at work or having any real purpose in life. So his answer to this was to go out partying with the intention to find meaningless hook-up’s with other younger women until eventually one of them becomes his girlfriend. How my eyes did roll! My advice was to seek a woman closer to his own age who had a similar lifestyle or complimentary interests to his own but he complained that most women his age already had children and he wasn’t prepared to date a single mother. Upon asking him why he bluntly stated “They’re too needy, they’ve let their bodies go, their ex’s are still in the picture and I don’t want to pay for somebody else’s child.” As a proud single mother it took all of my might to not slap him around the face fifteen times, friend or no friend.
Single Mothers Are Too Needy
What do you find needy about single mothers? I smiled patiently whilst mulling over the sleepless nights breastfeeding, changing nappies, burping windy babies and living like a zombie half always hungry half forever sleep deprived – my entire needs forgone for the wellbeing of my helpless babies who innocently couldn’t do anything for themselves so young. “Well…” he began, “if I want us to go on a night out she never can because she has a child.” Couldn’t you stay in? I suggested. “But staying in is boring.” Isn’t it the person that you’re with that makes it fun, not where you go? “But I want her to get dressed up and go out.” Why do you need to dress up? “To look good.” Who do you need to impress if you’re already seeing her? Surely a night in watching a movie would be something nice to do? “No, because her kid will want to join in and then we can’t ever be alone.” What about getting some snacks and watching a family film then, or waiting until after she puts her child to bed in the evening? “What’s the point in that, we can’t have sex or the kid will hear.” Dear God!
I personally don’t see tending to children makes a woman needy, nor do I think it gets in the way of dating. Quite the opposite in fact, and as a single parent it’s entirely obvious when dating if somebody simply wants to have sex with you or has the intention of actually becoming a part of a family. I spent 6yrs after my ex left with my two young children – one of which was a baby at the time – learning how to date again. Back when I was 19 and last single the world was a very different place to what it is today, dating meant instantly being boyfriend and girlfriend and couples were together with the intention of getting married, moving in and starting a family one day. Love was forever and lives were shared by growing up and growing old as a team. Yet by the age of 25 when I found myself heartbroken and alone the world of dating shocked me for how disposable love had become. Dating became ‘seeing how it goes’ which ultimately meant ‘sleeping around with as many people as possible until you get found out’.
Amusingly I discovered the term ‘fuckboy’ which is a guy who tells you everything you want to hear, is polite, well mannered, attentive, well dressed and complimentary… usually until he gets you into bed and then goes back to being the foul-mouthed, lazy slob that he is, still living at home with his parents and hating his life. Fuckboy’s have no interest in meaningful long-term relationships, responsibility or family they’re just boys who never grew up and forever date younger and younger until they eventually find a girl as immature as themselves – until she dumps him for a younger more successful boy rather than a man child. It’s all very tragic. Yet whilst I never introduced any fuckboy’s I ‘dated’ to my family some small part of me believed I could help, if not change them and make them see the error of their ways. Maybe I could have been the woman to help them grow up, establish responsibility and set goals and targets in life to achieve their potential? But no matter how much you do for somebody or how hard and tirelessly you try people have to want to change themselves, for themselves and by themselves for it to truly work. So I was happy weekend dating, away from my children whilst they had sleepovers with my parents and I managed to scramble together a handful of hours to remind myself that I’m still alive, still a woman and still have interests and desires of my own beyond that of cartoons, carrot sticks and children’s conversations.
That doesn’t make a woman needy though, having to look after others, it shows she’s independent and capable in life. He grunted as his childishness crept out “But if she doesn’t need a man then what use am I?” Masculinity challenged, ahh that old chestnut, I resisted the urge to fist pump female independence. What use do you usually serve? “I pay for everything.” He puffed out his chest whilst the anguish in his eyes told a darker story than his superficial generosity. That must be expensive… I held my breath. “It is.” We stared at each other as I chose my next words cautiously. Are you in debt? “Up to my eyeballs and it’s always getting worse.” He grimaced. Then maybe stop spending so much on dates? “But then they won’t like me….”
I’ve always paid my way in dating, going halves on everything with whoever I was with. Lunch? Let’s split it. Cinema? I’ll get it this time and you can get it the next. Only one boyfriend I had paid for everything when we were together because I was going through a very difficult time and he wanted to look after me. As a woman I felt like a failure to not be able to match his success, income or lifestyle at the time but he understood and didn’t make an issue of it. The first time he refused my payment when I took out my purse at the dinner table I was shocked that he wanted to cover the bill entirely himself where others had always gone half with me or even allowed me to pay it by myself when I offered. I was utterly taken aback and must have said thank you to him a least half a dozen times. The next time he did it a week or so later I was equally as flattered but embarrassingly insisted that I would get the next bill even though I knew it would be the equivalent of paying for a weeks groceries or a months phone bill for me. But the more he paid for me the more embarrassed I became and more of a failure I felt, to the point that my profuse thank you’s turned into a meek “thanks” without wanting to draw attention to the fact.
So I can entirely understand the shift in power and status when a fundamental action is challenged. Men are the strong, brave bread winners who pay for and protect women and women are the pretty, attentive, gracious home keepers who raise perfect children and cook and clean like a goddess. So what happens when a woman is fiercely independent, strong both physically and mentally and is adamant on paying her own way in life? It makes a man feel demasculinated, weak and somewhat a failure. Yet as a woman if equally feel unattractive if I’m not clean, get bloated on my period, dress frumpy on laundry day or the house is a mess with the children misbehaving – it feels like a direct reflection on myself and failure as a woman and mother. Yes, there’s more to life than just looking good or having a well paid job and perfect children, but when our roles are challenged or even reversed we feel a sense of unrest and it’s how we deal with that as a couple, or team, that determines how and if we can get past it. What works in my relationship now is showing weakness and strength, being open and honest and understanding of one another rather than pretending everything is perfect and ok and we’re coping fine when one of us is calm on the surface but struggling to tread water. There is no weakness in saying “I can’t afford that, I don’t enjoy that or let’s try another way.” All too often pride gets in the way and we’d sooner cut off our nose to spite our face than acknowledge a weakness or inability. It can’t go on forever without caving in, so bite the bullet and be honest and save yourself the heartache, stress and worry.
There are so many wonderful things that you can do together to save money, have quality time and enrich one anothers lifestyle. Personally I love having a partner that I can go to the gym with and for the sake of twenty pounds a month on a membership we can workout together as often as we choose day or night around the children. Not only does it make us both feel better about our bodies, physique, ability and energy levels but it keeps us in good health and prevents us from eating as much junk food or going out and getting drunk – both costly to your wallet as well as the waistline. You don’t have to workout at a gym to keep healthy as home weights, a skipping rope or even a pet dog can keep you just as active and motivated. Handmade picnics at the park and countryside can romantically replace expensive meals out, 2-for-1 cinema ticket deals, last minute holidays and up cycling arts and crafts are a lovely way to be creative together – we’ve spent many an afternoon painting, making and playing boardgames with a glass of wine for a treat. The better you live the better you sleep, the more rested you become, upbeat and relaxed with one another and the rest just clicks into place. It’s all about honesty, openness and the ability to be yourself whilst others can do the same.
Constantly paying for young girls just so they’ll stay with you will only end in misery. “But I find them attractive. I want to be with somebody I can be in love with.” Love isn’t visual, it’s in the heart, it’s in a personality, a kindness and wellbeing. What you’re attracted to in looks is just the surface and that will never last, time ages us and looks fade. You need somebody who you connect with emotionally, who you can be your true self around and who you don’t have to constantly impress or live a lifestyle that you can’t maintain. If she truly loves you she’ll be by your side regardless of what job you have, what car you drive or how big your house is. “But young girls never have any money.” Then date older. “But older women already have kids and they’ve let themselves go.” FML!
Single Mothers Aren’t Sexy
It seems ridiculous being vegan but I had the biggest addiction to dairy when I was pregnant with my daughter almost 11yrs ago. I’d take a 6pint bottle of full fat cold milk from the fridge and drink glass after glass everyday until the whole thing was gone – my cravings were insatiable. When we feel appetite, craving and hunger it’s not often something that we can explain, understand or justify, desire comes in many forms and addiction is something we must learn to live with rather than ignore and hope that it goes away. My milk-tanker pregnancy cravings thankfully gave way to the dairy free lifestyle that I now lead but at the time it was all that I could think about as a mother-to-be and I couldn’t rest until I had it. Needless to say I put on a lot of weight whilst pregnant because I over consumed on calories, I knew I didn’t need so much and that it wasn’t necessary but equally I enjoyed the indulgence whilst it lasted. I think every human is wired up to over indulge in the same way and reminiscing over our first love is one of those. If asked to picture our ideal partner we tend to think back to when we were teenagers and had the first sweet taste of love and attraction. We reminisce over how youthful, slim and energetic we used to be and complain over how old, out of shape and tired we have become. But that’s life! We all age, we all weather and we can’t possibly have the body of a teenager forever.
Perhaps you’re so obsessed with dating young attractive girls because you’re in denial about growing old yourself? I approached him tentatively yet with the affirmation of being a year older than him myself. “No. I just don’t find old women sexy.” But you’re almost thirty, you’re not a teenager anymore – to a teenager you’re welllllll old! “But I don’t feel it.” You look it! As do I. But age doesn’t make us ugly, age is just a number and physical attraction isn’t dependant on age. Hands down I feel the most attractive I’ve ever felt at the age of 30 than when I was ten or fifteen years younger. In my youth I always felt too chubby, unattractive, awkward and not good enough. It’s only since I’ve become a mother that I’ve found confidence in my own skin. Having faults and flaws has taught me that nobody is perfect so I have no need to beat myself up over my imperfections. I’ve found coping mechanisms to deal with insecurities, issues I never had as a teen but now face as I grow older and my body changes. Where I now have laughter lines and the threat of wrinkles I treat myself to a spot of botox or a facial to look fresher. The pregnancy stretch marks on my stomach, hips and thighs I’ve since covered with tattoos and body art that is incredibly meaningful to me and has transformed an area of skin that I absolutely loathed to something I now love. And the weight that I gained during pregnancy I’ve shifted and switched an unhealthy, toxic and irresponsible lifestyle before children for a strong, healthy, active nutritious regime as a woman. If anything I’m in the best shape of my life mentally, physically and emotionally because I’ve had children and because of my age.
At any age a person can gain weight, lose motivation or dislike their appearance. Being young doesn’t guarantee beauty just as being old doesn’t guarantee wealth. The lifestyle we lead today may be a million miles away from where we are tomorrow, so it’s an inaccurate measure to judge people based on these factors. Yes I had a great body before children but my lack of life experience made me shy and insecure and my heart was easily broken, as a woman I have a post-pregnancy body that I’ve worked extremely hard for, I feel confident in my own skin and am sexually liberated. If I could chose to be any age in life thus far I would undoubtedly pick right here and right now. It takes us years to appreciate what we had, years to mourn what we’ve lost and years to accept and understand what we still have but once you get there you soon realise that what matters most in a relationship isn’t looks or material possessions, it’s a meeting of minds, finding your soulmate and feeling at ease with one another. Pert buttocks, a slim stomach, full head of hair and pristine teeth will only ever give way to saggy skin, drooping bellies, baldness and dentures so why try to fight the inevitable in a partner? Why not accept we’re all individuals and there’s so much more to a person than purely their looks. In ten or twenty years time when all is said and done and the physical attraction fades I’m confident that my partner and I will still be laughing, loving and enjoying life together, him taping up my sagging breasts and me plucking his ear hair.
What makes a woman sexy? “Nice makeup, nice hair, a nice body.” You want her to look her best then? “Of course.” So what happens when she wipes off her makeup, take out her hair extensions or has a haircut and puts on a bit of weight? “Then she isn’t as sexy.” Does that matter to you? Would it make you leave her? “If I didn’t fancy her then I wouldn’t want to be with her.” Do you think you look your best all of the time? “I used to be slimmer and I’m getting some wrinkles, my hair is thinning a bit on top but I think I still look good.” So you’re allowed to get old but she’s not? “She shouldn’t let herself go.” Taking off makeup isn’t letting yourself go. I only do my hair and makeup when it’s a special occasion these days, it doesn’t have to be a part of everyday life, it doesn’t have to define you. Being comfortable in your appearance is what makes you feel attractive regardless of how you look or what you wear. In the blink of an eye I felt taken back to after my son was born and my ex found me sitting on the foot of the bed with my head in my hands close to tears. I was exhausted by life, forever pulled in every direction trying to please everyone but neglecting myself. I’d showered and was in my underwear about to get dressed to visit relatives for Sunday lunch but had nothing to wear, or rather nothing I felt comfortable in anymore. Despite it being a couple of months after giving birth and having lost the majority of my pregnancy weight my pre-pregnancy clothes were still slightly too small for me and my maternity wear was now miles too big. “Put on some more makeup, sort your hair out and make an effort then.” He stood over me without so much as an ounce of sympathy. “Once you lose this…” he pinched a handful of loose skin on my stomach which had folded into a roll as I sat helplessly looking up at him “… then you’ll look a lot better.” He concluded. But nobody else ever saw my body, so how would changing something I hide away improve my appearance or self confidence? How would caking my face in even more makeup take away the unhappiness I felt in my heart? The unhappiness resultantly wasn’t from my specific measurements, size or features but in the lack of love and respect from my ex. Even the most beautiful woman in the world can be made to feel ugly if she’s treated that way, so what hope do us normal girls have? How will we ever learn to love ourselves if others only ever love perfection that cannot last?
I’m thankful to say that my ex is an ex for a reason and oddly enough everyone I have dated since him has done nothing but sing my praises and compliment me on maintaining my body after having babies. And whilst the men I’d gone on to date or ‘see how it goes’ were all attractive and wonderful in their own special ways I failed to find somebody who ticked all of the boxes and captured my body, mind and soul… until now of course.
Perhaps you should love a girl for who she is at her most purest, raw and natural self and recognise that when she’s dressed up and looking glamourous that you’re only feeling lust towards her and not love? “But I’ve never found a girl attractive without makeup.” Then clearly you’ve yet to find love.
Single Mothers Carry Baggage Of Other Peoples Children
What’s wrong with a woman already having a child of her own? “It’s not mine.” So? “I don’t want to look after it, it’s not my place to tell it off? And it’s a constant reminder of her ex.” But she looks after her child with or without you there so you wouldn’t really have to look after them. You don’t need to tell the child off if she already disciplines them and everybody has ex’s – you’re not her first and she’s certainly not your first.
“If and when I become a dad I want it to my first time and her first time, something that we go through together.” Do you think you’ll be a good dad? “Yeh.” Do you have any experience? “No.” Do you think it will be easy? The night feeds and tiredness, changing messy nappies and taking them to school? “Well, she’d do all of that.” Why? “Because I’d be at work.” All day and all night? “I can’t go to work without sleep can I?” So if you expect your wife or girlfriend to do everything for the baby then what happens when she doesn’t know how to? “She’ll learn as she goes.” True, but don’t you think that’ll take a while to pick up? “Well the start is the hardest part and then you get used to it.” Maybe after the baby learns how to sleep in some kind of a routine and starts eating solid food instead of drinking milk. But then teething happens and they’re constantly inconsolable, then they go on to crawl and walk and that’s when they’re into absolutely everything and you can’t leave them alone for a second. That’s pretty hard to take on when you’re not used to having a baby and can’t cope without sleep. Don’t you think a woman who already has kids, who has already raised a baby would have more experience? Perhaps find it a little easier because she already knows what she’s doing? “Maybe.”
At the age of 19 when I discovered I was half way through a pregnancy whilst still taking the pill – hoorah for having a hormone imbalance – I had to face up to the stark reality of my endless evenings and lazy weekend mornings becoming a loop of sleeplessness and poop and it was anything but easy. Before I became a mother the only thing I had to concern myself with was pleasing myself, if I was hungry I ate (or starved myself to stay skinny), if I was tired I took a nap with a beauty mask on my face and cucumbers over my eyes and if I wanted to go out I could party until 6am, come home three days late and answer to nobody. My life was absolute freedom, irresponsibility and greed and I didn’t appreciate a single second of it because I’d never known any different.
I had zero experience of babies and zero interest in becoming a mother. My selfishness was a sign of my youth and sign of the times as my world revolved around me, me, me and always had done. But the moment my daughter was born and the midwife placed this tiny bundle of soft skin and big blue eyes into my arms my every want and desire evaporated and I become a devoted servant to such a tiny little princess. My appetite and rest at her command, I spent months in a zombified state tentatively attending to her every wince and whimper as she spit up milk onto my shoulder, made my nipples raw from breastfeeding and churned out nappy after nappy of homemade organic fruit puree I’d painstakingly peeled, sautéed and blended to feed to her lips one soft rubber teaspoon at a time. Everything I had was hers and everything I did was for her. I relinquished my right as a human to become her servant and never so much asked for a penny in return. The greed and selfishness that had dominated my life before children was replaced by unconditional love, relentless enthusiasm and the constant battle between trying to stay awake and trying to lull her to sleep, fed, dressed, cleaned and content.
By the time I had my second child at the age of 25yrs those life changing days of being a young mum in my teens allowed me to combine tending to a new baby with the ability to multitask. Rather than struggling to adjust to the shock of parenthood I breastfed my son whilst helping my daughter with her homework, cooked the dinner with the baby on my hip and rocked him to sleep in his pushchair with one foot whilst hopping along hoovering the lounge. Having a baby was a doddle second time round because of the experience and understanding I’d gathered from my first. It was more cost-effective, time efficient and easier to soothe a baby because I already had the skills that I needed. From wasting thousands of pounds on my first child with clothes she quickly grew out of or never wore, fancy equipment I never used and items that others kindly double-purchased as baby gifts the second time around I could easily identify what was necessary and what was wasteful and it didn’t cost me even half as much with my second baby – despite giving away all of my daughters baby things to charity rather than keeping them in the loft. I had nappy changing down to a fine art that no longer required an entire changing station and somebody to lift ankles for me as I mastered the art of changing a newborn on my lap on the back seat of the car in Tesco’s carpark. And bed times became somewhat of a breeze when I understood how to wind, soothe and settle in less than half the time which allowed me to get more sleep, have more energy and face the day ahead instead of always playing catchup and messing up. For me, having my second child was a doddle and the thought of having a third baby with my new partner isn’t something that I dread.
Relationships always take a hit when a baby comes along as the time together and attention shifts from one another as a couple to the bundle of joy you’ve created. The financial stress, sleepless nights and added responsibility make even the strongest of relationships waiver but in being better equipped, more skilled and knowledgable to make the transition of raising a baby as smooth as possible you stand the best chances of maintaining a relationship and growing together as a couple through your mutual adoration for a life you have created and a family that is meaningful. Much like your first day at a new job compared to your promotion three years down the line, you now know what to do, how to do it and can pretty much run your daily responsibilities in your sleep and the same goes for raising children. I’m going to put my neck on the line here and go so far as to say that having another baby with a new partner after being a single parent makes our relationship more likely to succeed than if we’d both have been first time parents, helpless, hopeless and unable to cope. I have faith in myself as a mother, hundreds of thousands of hours of parenting experience under my belt and the strength and stamina to know that I can get through it with peace, love and patience in my heart.
So what would happen if you have a baby with a young girl and she can’t cope? “Her parents would help her.” What if she lives too far from her parents or doesn’t see them often? “She’d have friends and neighbours.” In the middle of the night? What if, God forbid, she had post-natal depression and couldn’t deal with being a mother, what if she decided to leave and left you to raise the baby? “That would never happen?” Why? “Because women don’t walk out on a family, only men do.” Oh dear…
Single Mothers Always Moan
“They only ever go on about how hard their life is.” Maybe it is hard? Taking care of a house, children and working isn’t easy, especially when most fail to take care of themselves or have never had to. “Yeh but you don’t have to moan about it all the time and bring other people down.” You always moan to me about how much you hate your job though. “That’s because my boss is an idiot.” Then work somewhere else? “No, I don’t know how to, and I’m settled where I am and I know what I’m doing.” So you’ll stay somewhere where you’re unhappy? “I’m not totally unhappy, but yeh, I guess it could be better.” So you know it’s not right and you deserve better, perhaps a boss who isn’t an idiot and appreciates what you do for him? “I guess.” Surely, in that respect, a woman understanding when she deserves better and knowing the difference between being treated with love and respect or used and abused is equally important? It appears the cat had got his tongue as he looked at me dumbfounded. So recognising misjustice or ill-treatment and not standing for it is the right thing to do in any scenario, whether its your boss taking liberties or your partner being a narcissistic abuser? Still he sat in silence.
If you left your job where your boss doesn’t appreciate you, do you think you’d look for a job that is better paid with more favourable working conditions or something far more challenging with less pay? “That’s obvious, the one with the most money, you wouldn’t want to be worse off would you.” Do you think a mother supporting her children alone would make the same choice as you? “Of course, she’s got to earn enough to feed her kids.” So in a relationship do you think that a single mum would want to go from dating an ‘idiot’ who didn’t treat her right to somebody who is far worse? “No.”
You see, somebody who realises their worth, values themselves as a person and has the ability to accept, understand and care for others regardless of how they look or what they have, to me, is the most balanced, wholesome, reliable and trust-worthy partner you could ever wish for. He changed my mind from his apparent personal dislike for dating single mothers to an obvious inability to date women with children because it became clear to me that no self-respecting female would ever settle for a self-centred, selfish and shallow man who had got himself into mounting debt over young irresponsible girls who always replaced him in a heartbeat without shedding a tear or ever looking back.
As fond as I am of him as a friend, as a man he absolutely sucks and reminds me of everything that is wrong in this world. How terrible it is to live in a day and age where couples rarely grow old together, rarely stay faithful and children rarely grow up with both parents present in a loving family home. It reminds me to hold onto what is good and pure, to love and learn and grow at every opportunity possible and to raise my children as a strong independent woman bringing about the change that I wish to see in this world. I take pride in teaching my son how to be a gentleman, how to show emotion, communicate freely and honour and respect women. Likewise, I raise my daughter to work hard at her education, to be capable and able to accept her body, mind and soul and not to dwell on such temporary measures as appearance, weight or size. I encourage her to experiment with her own style, wear whatever makes her feel most comfortable and pursue her dreams.
Have you ever found love whilst chasing young girls? “No. Well, I don’t think so.” But you won’t ever change or consider dating a single mum? “No, it’s not for me.” It seems absurd repeating the same unsuccessful behaviours time and time again whilst expecting to achieve a different outcome; but on the other hand he’s saved a whole lot of decent, beautiful, kind and considerate women the heartache of ever meeting him! I’m going to have to agree with my friend on this one, he should never ever date a single mum…