If you're facing single motherhood – whether by divorce, choice or happenstance, you need support. All the freaking support you can get.
The key in this new phase of life is to be strategic in choosing who your support system is. I'm not saying ditch all your old friends, or be a snob. But maybe you do ditch some of your old friends and up the criteria for who you spend time with.
You're building a new life here, woman! Who you spend time with influence who that new person will be.
At the root of it, you need these people in your life. Maybe you find one person who embodies two or three of these roles. Up to you. And if you're falling short, fret not.
Millionaire Single Moms right over here, is our closed Facebook group where single moms can meet, hang out and keep it real. Rules include positive vibes, no male-bashing, and dreaming BIG! No income requirement.
Here are the types of people you need in your life right now:
1. A comrade.
Someone going through the exact same thing. Divorcing? Inseminating? Just got knocked up and gonna see it through? You need someone who is there, too. For networking purposes, if nothing else — share tips on lawyers, doctors, child support. For me, this is hands down my bestie Morghan, who I quote here, is a family lawyer. Our paths happened to coincide in infinite ways. We've done all kids of stuff together, include go through divorce, vacation and contemplate creating a blended family together.
2. A mother superior.
This is a mentor of sorts – – A woman who went through what you're going through and came out the other side being more or less who you want to be. I have a couple of these, including single mom bloggers Alaina Shearer of Ms. Single Mama and Honoree Corder of The Successful Single Mom – both of whom are wildly successful businesswomen and remarried happily.
3. The dude.
This is your single dad friend. I have several single dad friends, but the main jam is Marc. You need this friend because he is a man — a straight man who is going through the same thing you are, but with a penis. My friendship with Marc has proven invaluable for his perspective on dating and parenting, points of view that have made me a better girlfriend, parent and ex-wife.
Now, I don't know a lot of people at this stage of life who go out to bars and cruise dudes, though Morghan and I had a fun minute or two that involved some Jameson and firefighters and you can read about it here. Most of us set up respectful wine or dinner dates with fellows met online. In any case, you need someone to commiserate with — someone who will not judge you as being a filthy whore because you have sex with men who are not the father of your children, and also will not easily tire of your endless dating antics, because if you're lucky there will be many.
I've got a few of these (I like to circulate between several people, so as not to tire them of my tales). Several are single moms who live afar, and we catch up via IM after our kids are asleep. Others include my friends Betsy and Kris who have been married for a zillion years and think my dating life is hilarious and twisted and also hilarious. And then there is Sasha, who is 15 years older than me and married for the first time in her early 40s. This came after years working in the music industry and enjoying romance and her body in ways that not every woman does — but I do. “I can totally relate,” she says when I share without shame my latest dalliance. “When I was your age I.Could.Not.Get.Enough. You keep doing what you're doing.”
5. The local.
This mom may not be your besteset soulmate sister, but she lives nearby and that is a lot. This is a mom — better if there are three such moms – or more — who you can call when you're stuck at the office and need someone to snag your kid at the Boy Scout meeting. She's the one with whom you can coordinate childcare coverage for all those effing half and snow days at school, and will take your kids when you feel like you're on death's door with the flu, and she will not judge you when you call her every.single.day of spirit week and ask, “OK, what are we supposed to dress for today?”
Maybe you don't have a zillion things in common, but that doesn't mean that you don't have a glass of wine with her once in a while and gossip about the cute dads at the school or encourage your kids to be closer friends because that is what community and family is all about. And if you are really luck you will really come to love and like her, and even if one of you moves away, or gets married you will still be close forever – because you will always have that bond that is single motherhood. And even though you don't chose it or wish it on others, it is like war. Men who go through war together always cherish that time as precious and those friendships as their dearest, most brotherly. Because even though it is horrific and unspeakable, those difficulties are the stuff of life. That is when you are most alive. And the people who go through it with you are the only ones who understand.
Optional: A friend with benefits
Maybe you just want sex. Or a fun connection, a physical relationship—but none of the baggage of a full-on relationship.
Maybe you're enjoying something really great, but not sure how to define it.
Maybe a FWB is right for you.
What does ‘friends with benefits' mean?
I'm not fond of the term “friends with benefits.” I prefer, “Someone I'm sleeping with,” or “a lover.”
My terminology suggests what people have been doing since God created penises and vaginas: Enjoying each other sexually and romantically without any social commitments. When all parties are evolved adults, it can be a very satisfying arrangement. But it is rarely without its complications.
There are pros and cons of a friends-with-benefits relationship. But, lots and lots of pros.
To keep weirdness and heartbreak at bay, enjoy all the pros of such an arrangement, play by these rules:
Rules for friends with benefits
1. Understand what a lover is.
A friend with benefits, or a lover, by definition, is not your boyfriend or a possible husband. He is a lover. Your arrangement is between the two of you, for mutual enjoyment — whether physical, intellectual, emotional or all of the above. It is not a public relationship. Read this to learn how to find a boyfriend or husband.
2. Your kids, friends and family do not meet your FWB.
He is not a social media connection or mention. See above.
3. No sneaking men into the house when your kids are asleep.
Your kids are not morons. They hear weird noises in the night, sense a change in their home, feel your little and big lies. That teaches children to distrust their own instincts and feel unsafe in their own home.
4. A friend-with-benefits is not your support system.
Don't call him when your refrigerator breaks or you have a bad day at work. That is a boyfriend. That is not this guy.
5. Relationship rules do not apply to a FWB.
Texting the next day and remembering birthdays are not the domain of an affair. Nor is monogamy. You are not entitled to get pissy if these things do not transpire.
6. Have fun.
This is supposed to be a delightful arrangement. When it becomes abusive or tormented, get out.
7. Accept your friends with benefits relationship for what it is.
A lover is not someone you are trying to manipulate into a serious relationship. You mutually chose this arrangement because of any number of reasons: you have sexual chemistry but do not fit into one another's lives. Or,. you need one another's companionship but are both otherwise not interested in a serious commitment.
8. Just hooking up? Leave the door open to more.
This is something that you do within yourself (i.e. do not discuss it with him). But reasons to have a friend with benefits is that you do not have the emotional bandwidth to devote to another person, you are terrified of commitment, or one of you is otherwise entangled in another romantic situation. But people change. Life changes. Time and place have a way of doing a number on us. Be open to the possibility that you and this man could be more.
Because, yes: Guys who are friends with benefits develop feelings. Women, too.
Also: A friends-with-benefits relationship can last forever, beautiful in its entirety, exactly as-is.
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How to get a friend with benefits
How do you look for a lover when you don’t know what you want?
Last time I was dating more than 10 years ago, what I was looking for in a man was clear: the bazillion specifics and intangibles that would make a good husband and father.The list is roughly the same this time around, but the end game is not as obvious.
My kids and I have a great little thing going, and the thought of meshing my daily life with another adult seems potentially rife with disaster. After all, anyone who has been married can tell you that it’s the tiny travesties of dirty socks on the floor, improperly loaded dishwashers and wayward toothpaste caps that peck away at the majestic Redwood of romance. Before long all that is left is a wee toothpick of what may indeed be love, but one that could not prop up a tent made of Kleenex. Add to it the thought of various children, exes and emotional baggage and I come close to blacking out, closing out my OKCupid profile, and strapping on my chastity belt.
If a new husband is on your agenda, I suggest avoiding statistics on divorce rates for second marriages, and if you stumble upon figures for unions involving kids from previous relationships, avert your eyes. Sure, cohabitation is a natural step in a relationship, but could it ever work for me? What about co-parenting? Why not find something between miserable solitude and the Brady Bunch?
My most recent relationship was a big one for me, and my SMILF BFF can’t understand why it didn’t work out – especially when I share my reluctance to have a full-time, live-in lover. Larry and I had a great thing going. Like me, he’s divorced, a writer, and a smartass. He’s also a great dad, even though his kids are now college-age and he lives alone in a beautiful brownstone apartment in one of the city’s prettiest neighborhoods, about an hour away.
We had a routine that was made up of two distinct parts: once a week he’d spend an evening at my place with my kids. I’d cook dinner, and he’d toss them around the living room, read them Dr. Seuss and go along with the little projects kids often dream up. Once I found Helena and him – crayon in hand — drawing clothes on a piece of a paper, cutting them out with plastic scissors and taping them on her Barbie.
I loved seeing Larry with the kids – he clearly adored them, they him, and Larry and I were in love. Everyone loved everyone, but then it ended. Even though I never said it, I wanted more, and he couldn’t sign on to being a father figure to little kids again. But did I really want more? Or did I just want him to want more? Did I need him to beg to thrust himself into my life to prove his commitment? He was totally committed to me, he’d often say. And he was committed – this man loved and adored me in ways no one else ever has. If I made a list of all the things I’d hope someone would appreciate me, he had it covered – including my qualities as a mom.
But I think the parts of me that he appreciated most were those on display in the second part of our relationship – the weekends when my kids were with their dad and it was just the two of us. His brick-walled apartment was like our private getaway as we’d talk for hours over dinner at nearby bistros, spend long mornings in bed after which he’d make coffee and run out for fresh bagels. Things people do when they don’t have kids. And for 24 hours on the weekend, that is indeed who I was.
But the rest of the time I am a very full-time mom to two tiny children who need a whole lot of me. This is my life. I am my life. And I love my life more than I ever imagined I would. To be with me means being part of this life – doesn’t it?
Or can it be something else?
I recently heard from a single mom who was feeling down and lonely and dismayed by her dating prospects. “I want something just for me,” she said. She couldn’t yet fathom incorporating a man into her family life. But she is a woman who needs to be with a man. So am I. How can I make that work?
Of course, this can’t be all about me. What Larry didn’t say but what I sensed was that he wanted more, too. He’s an adult with hobbies and friends but when we were dating he spent a lot of time watching cable and talking on the phone with me. He was welcome to spend more time at my home, but he didn’t come. Instead, he waited patiently for the times we could be alone. Those were times I waited for, too.
Over the past couple of years I’ve written about all the fun I’ve had dating. I also wrote about a heartbreak or two. And a couple times I’ve found myself in relationships. For me, dating is simple. Sex is a carefree frolic on a spring day in the Alps. Relationships? Another story:
In bed I’m accepting. You’re nervous? Maybe worry you’re a little tubby around the waist? Quicker or slower or softer than you think things out to be? It’s all good. You’re human! I’m human! Let’s enjoy ourselves.
In relationships? I’m critical. If you have shitty table manners or talk too much about your years and years (and years and years) of therapy, your presence evokes impulses to shove the cloth napkin way, way, way down my own throat right there in the osteria, using the table knife to effectively lodge the linen in my esophagus and take me to the sweet release of the white light.
In bed I am patient. There is something — something delightful, wonderful, actually — about the process. Exploration and learning each other. The slow build and ever-promise of discovery.
Out of the sack? I’m inpatient. What’s the rush, you ask? Not sure. I feel vulnerable — insecure, I admit — if I am not confident in your feelings, like, yesterday.
When it comes to sex I don’t judge your history. You and your ex never did it? More pent-up lovin’ for me! Things were rote in your last relationship? Just a poor match — let’s kick it.
In dating, I revert to the maxim: people don’t change. Your behavior over the past 40 years is a great indicator of how you will moving forward. Fooled around on your wife — and every other woman you’ve dated? I accept that is who you are. All your girlfriends complained you weren’t romantic or attentive? I’m not going to be the exception.
In bed I have no issues asking for what I want. Or giving what you want, for that matter. The pleasure is really is all about the giving, and allowing to be given to.
In relationships, I can be passive-aggressive. I don’t try to be. It’s not that I set out to play games. No. It is just that when I’m annoyed or irritated or hurt or devastated I usually don’t trust those feelings. I tell myself that I am wrong and that my judgement is off. So I don’t express how I feel. But those feelings come out anyway, because that is what feelings do (that is what my therapist said, anyway).
Sex is fun and uncomplicated for me. Once in a while you stumble upon an outlier — someone really selfish or way too freaky for the general population. Otherwise, an occasional unilateral orgasm is totally fine. Sometimes a person is just exhausted and can’t keep up with the other tonight. I’ll get you next time — or trust you will get me.
Relationships do a number on me. Here goes: I tend towards anxious when I’m dating someone seriously. Worried I’m committing to the wrong person. Worried I like him more than he likes me. Concerned that somehow this one, too, is barreling down the road towards yet another heartbreak. No matter how wrong I know it is, I’ll keep score. Have at the mental ready all the thoughtful things I’ve done for you in the past month, or ways I showed I cared — and a long, long list of the slights and inconsiderations you’ve inflicted on me.
I’m clear that I need sex. In the past couple of years I’ve come to accept regular sex as a basic human need — right up there with exercise and love. Relationships? I’m can be super-lonely when I’m not in one. But when I am, I start singing the same blues that everyone does about how hard they are. And then when I really start to sing the blues, I’ll call him. And initiate the not-so hard part.
Friends with benefits FAQ
Let's get down to business. Need a friend with benefits? Here is what you need to know.
Where to find a friend with benefits?
Start with online dating sites. Here is the list of the best dating sites for single moms and dads, and where to get your needs met.
Of course, you might meet men at work, through friends, in your neighborhood, or on the subway (happened to me — super-hot Eastern European guy chatted me up on the downtown N where we started kissing and wound up dry humping against a pillar at the Harold Square station —in the middle of a weekday.)
Single dads can be a great addition to your schedule. Here is how to find, meet and date single dads.
At this stage of life I have been surprised to have several experiences with younger men — extremely attractive (no question objectively better looking than me), successful, charming guys who were surprisingly way, way into me. This post explains why young, hot guys dig older moms.
How to ask a guy to be friends with benefits
First, sleep with him. Make sure that you will get your needs met (because otherwise what's the point). Get a sense of whether it is satisfying for him, too.
Also, do you get the sense he wants more — a commitment, exclusivity, a full-life relationship? Any other needs that you cannot meet? Think twice about whether this guy is the right casual partner.
Then, be really honest. Some scripts:
“The sex is so hot. I want more! But can we have an honest conversation? I'm not interested in a boyfriend situation. This will have to be casual, and open. Would that work for you?”
How to end a friends with benefits situation
Again, be honest. Be kind, but direct. Just because there was no explicit commitment doesn't mean you are allowed to ghost him. Say:
“This has been so lovely, but I am ready for a serious relationship, so I'm pursuing that with someone else / this has come to an end for me / the connection isn't romantic for me any more.”
Do friends with benefits work?
Friends with benefits are just like any human relationship: It is can be beautiful and perfect until it's not. The key is to set boundaries, communicate, and be realistic.
How long does a friends with benefits arrangement usually last?
FWB can last a lifetime, for one evening, or anywhere in between. If you are hoping that a casual lover will become more, or worry that your buddy will take off, maybe you are catching the feels. TOTALLY NORMAL AND HEALTHY! Just check yourself, communicate your needs, and respect the relationship for what it is.
What does friends with benefits mean to a guy?
PSA: Both men and women have physical, sexual, romantic, intellectual, emotional and social needs. Men have been socialized to be more open to casual sexual relationships, but also fall in love, appreciate connection, commitment, monogamy and devotion — just like women.
Friends with benefits can be elegant and beautiful, or messy and dramatic, just like a long-term, monogamous marriage. In other words: If you want a simple formula for a romantic or sexual relationship, good luck!
How do you tell if your friend with benefits wants more?
I thought this passage in the short-story “Visitor” by Bryan Washington, was a very sweet yet direct way to address a want for a more serious relationship with his lover:
Later that night, at his place, Joel asked me what we were doing.
We stood barefoot in his kitchen, hunched over his counter, kneading dough. Immediately after fucking, I’d mentioned, offhand, that something sweet wouldn’t be a bad idea, and Joel had gone over to the pantry. Now he patted and stirred while I massaged. We dropped globs of sugary dough into the fryer beside us.
Cooking, I said.
I think, Joel said, that we’re doing more than that. And I think that you know it. And I think that we should talk about that.
We’re talking now, I said.
When Joel went silent, I looked up. The sizzling beside us was all I could hear.
I feel pretty good about you, he said, sighing. All things considered.
Noted, I said.
And I’d like to know if you feel the same. It would mean a lot to me to know that.
But what if I don’t feel what you feel, I asked.
Then nothing changes, Joel said. Except that I’d know.
O.K., I said, and what if I do?
Then I don’t know, Joel said. But you have to say it. I can’t know unless you tell me.
Neither of us said anything to that, until we noticed that the batter was smoking. We lifted three sweet pancakes from the pan to a bowl, and Joel immediately tossed one into his mouth—but not before tearing off a piece for me.
It burned me. It was delicious. We both reached for another.
Can friends with benefits fall in love?
100%, every day. Happened to me a few times. xoxo
Happy loving, ladies!
Updated. Originally published September 22, 2014.
How do I make new friends after divorce?
Recently a divorced mom IM'd me on Facebook: “I am having the hardest time finding successful single moms to connect with. Is this your experience? What's going on?”
On one hand, the few times I've sent out media feelers to find these very women to profile for various projects I faced the same challenge. I'm talking upper-middle class on-up — women in any industry but could clearly be held up as a shining example of building professional success while parenting unpartnered.
On the other hand: I bump into these women all the time. At professional events or while interviewing sources for business stories, one of us will bring up this blog and my brilliantly successful conversation companion will say: “Oh, I've been divorced for 15 years — raised my kids without a nickel of child support;” or, “I'm on my second marriage now. It was really hard, but you get through it,” or, “I'm going through a divorce. I'm not sure I can do this!”
I met one compadre last week — a high-level marketing exec who — in the pre-interview meet-and-greet — shared about her own divorce, singledom and remarriage. We had a nice dish about whether you can be feminist and also accept — or seek — alimony (“No way!” she said. “Those women are so entitled. I chose to downshift my career when my kids were young, and I could be earning more now — but that was my choice.”)
These women often have public profiles, are CEOs, entrepreneurs with 7-figure organizations, bankers, partners in management consultancies and the like. When they hear about my family status it frees them to share theirs — and the tone is generally matter-of-fact with a twinge of sisterhood relief- Finally! Someone who gets it! Because, like my colleague, I find these high-achieving women don't initiate a whole lot of chitchat about being a single mom.
The negative connotation that comes with “single mom” is certainly a factor. And this is likely heightened amongst this group. After all, if you are a wildly successful woman in her 40s or older (meaning you grew up when the cards were really stacked against women), you were likely really freaking brilliant from the start. You're used to being the smartest kid in the class and not failing. And whether it is productive or not, divorce usually leaves both parties feeling like they failed. That they're failures. This sense of shame is only heightened among these high-achieving women who are not used to anything but kicking ass.
Another reason: These women are indeed scarce. I don't need to tell you that women tail men when it comes income and professional rank across all high-earning professions, but the more money and education people have, the less likely they are to divorce. Single, professionally successful moms simply are outnumbered by their poorer counterparts.
But I sense that the most compelling reason these women do not lead with the fact that are — or were — single parents is that successful people don't dwell on obstacles. Instead of being someone like the women I mention in this post who used single motherhood as a first-line excuse to make bad decisions and miss goals, these successful single moms just power through. They let go of anger for their exes. They accepted that they would have to work more and spend less time with their kids than they originally planned. After the initial crisis of divorce they simply embraced their new families as whole and moved forward with grace — and success.
But I wonder: Isn't it terribly lonely to be one of these tight-lipped single moms, alone in her success and disappointments? Who do they talk to about the singular worries of single moms: The stress of dealing with exes, or burdening the financial brunt alone? What about the thrills and anguish of dating anew? This is a unique experience, single mothering.
No one sets out to be a single mom. No little girl in the whole world dreams about how awesome it will be to grow up and build a family by her lonesome in a charming yellow bungalow with a peony bush out front. This show you and I are on? This is Plan B (or maybe Plan K? Plan W?). And most of us ideally would not be single moms, but remarried or otherwise in a romantic partnership.
But here we are. It is what it is and we need each other. We want to know each other. Connect. Not just the really super-successful ones we can uphold and admire. Just a bunch of professional, educated women who happen to be not-married moms. It's perhaps the most human experience to crave community – to be around like-minded others. To feel accepted. Normal. Also: to learn from those who achieve more than us, and can lend a dose of aspiration.
Divorced and have no friends? How to make friends as a single mom
So this is a call to action: If you are a single mom and sense the presence of another in your vicinity — at the playground or school event or even the grocery store line — step up! Introduce yourself! Trust me: You have gobs to talk about! And if you are in the ranks of the very, very successful unmarried mothers — reach out, will ya? Maybe together we can share your story. It will inspire the rest of us, and maybe you will find companionship where you once did not.
Now look – no one expects you to wake up with this perfectly constructed roster of friends. That is why I created Millionaire Single Moms — An awesome new forum for professional single moms to hang out, dish on divorce, kids, sex, dating, money, career — and MEET EACH OTHER IN REAL LIFE. You need friends. Single mom friends. This is where it happens.
Jump in – share. It's 100% FREE.
Like a 24/7 support group and party. At the same time.
When to break up with your mom friends
Early in my divorce process, I had a single mom friend who had been divorced for 7 or 8 years. We work in the same industry, she was funny and cool, and we really hit it off. She commiserated with me as I went through all the hating and drama and blaming. The insane highs and lows that are inherent in the trauma that is divorce. Plus, like me, my single mom friend often had weekends free to hang out. She dated and loved sex! I was so grateful for her friendship! She got it! I was not alone!
But a year or so into my separation, I started to find my groove. Life calmed down. My kids and I found our new routine. My business started to really take off. I found myself in a relationship. Things weren't chaotic or horrible anymore. Things were pretty good. It looked like they would only get better.
My single mom friend? Still all drama, all the time. She had a good job in her field of choice. But her boss treated her like shit — and had for SIX YEARS. She complained constantly about this man. But when I asked what she was doing to change her work situation, or offered solutions, she systematically responded with excuses. While I was intoxicated by my new professional success and income — just as my child support and health benefits came to an abrupt end — she complained on and on (and on and on and on and on) about her ex's professional failures and her resentment for having to shoulder all the financial burden of raising their kids.
Listen to my Like a Mother episode on this:
When people remarked how great I looked — something I attribute to a deep, inner happiness — I noticed that my friend wasn't looking so good. She is a naturally beautiful woman, fit and with fantastic style. But her face was always drawn into an exaggerated, almost comical frown. She walked hunched over.
As I started to thrive in my new phase of life, I started to see my single mom friend as inherently miserable.
I just didn't want to hang out with her anymore.
I felt guilty about that. I mean, she was my friend, right?! You don't just ditch your friends! Plus, she is a single mom like me. We're supposed to stick together — right?
Well, no. WRONG.
I compared this friendship with my other single mom friend, Morghan, who I write about often here. Our single mom trajectories are parallel – we divorced around the same time and our kids, the same ages, have grown up together. I launched this blog around the same time she launched her own family law firm, and we have consistently supported one another in brainstorming business strategies, making connections and referrals, and appearing in each other's media efforts.
Morghan is killing it in business (just like me!) and we are so, so proud of each other.
Yes, we still gripe about our exes some times. Yes, clients and vendors and colleagues and KIDS can be a pain in the ass — and we tell each other about those annoyances.
But she is a single mom and she is not a victim, and therefore she is still my very close single mom friend.
She brings value and joy to my life.
My other single mom friend brought value and some joy, too. For a time. Then that friendship ran its course. It served me for a time, and then it didn't anymore.
We simply grew apart.
Since then I have connected with so many other friends. As I grow into my own joy — in my business, my service to others, my creative life, my mothering, my sexuality, my WOMANHOOD — I have found that magically, I have attracted so many other amazing people on similar paths.
Beautiful, dynamic single moms — some starting out on their amazing single mom journey, others already in their full power — and all phases in between!
Others are unmarried, childless women.
Unbelievable colleagues of all types.
Men who have been my colleagues, friends, lovers, boyfriends.
My own children, who are growing into optimistic, engaged and otherwise totally delightful humans whose point of view I cherish.
These are people I chose to spend time with. That matters. Who you surround yourself with matters. Science is on my side with this. If your friends smoke, you are more likely to smoke. If your friends are overweight, you are likely, too. Divorced? Your friends are next!
I have started to see people in one of two camps:
- Victims who give their power and ability to be happy away to others by blaming the world for their own shortcomings.
- Everyone else.
I just don't have time for victims. They are on a different course. That is fine, but I don't want to hang out with you. I don't want to do business with you, and I don't think you're a good influence for my kids.
And so I don't call my old friend. I see her around, and she is a nice and good person. I wish her the best. But she kills my mojo. Call me sensitive, I don't care. There are too many other awesome people who will are in my camp, living full lives and taking responsibility for their happiness.
If you have that toxic friend, that single mom friend — even if she is the only other single mom in your own town! — it is OK to distance yourself from her. You will be kind, but it may be painful for both of you. But doing so is a gift to yourself. By saying ‘no' to that friendship you are telling yourself: “I am a positive person who is capable great things, and manifesting my own greatness!”
You can't keep that truth alive if you spend energy on others who suck yours.
Even other single moms.
This is one of the reasons I created Millionaire Single Moms, my Facebook group of 1,000 moms who are DREAMING BIG for their lives, and are FORBIDDEN from whining or playing victim. These are my women! Some have huge corporate jobs, others are hustling as they start new businesses, others transitioning from staying home with their kids back into the workforce — and everything in between. But they are positive, smart, real and, generally so awesome.
Just today a new member wrote:
I was excited to see this group because, locally, all the single mom groups have very low expectations for themselves. They seem to be more about how they can get everything from everyone else instead of going out and getting it themselves. This is refreshing!
Today I give you permission to shed from your life toxic people. I also invite you to join our group of awesome people — Awesome single moms, to be exact!
Sometimes single moms and divorced women are excluded from couples' events
My social life is different now that I'm not married. When I was married, there were times I went out with my girlfriends, and there were times when my husband and I went out as a couple with other couples. Sometimes the two of us would go out with a single friend, or the two of us with a coupled friend who happened to be alone for the weekend – but that was unusual.
Since I've been divorced, the times I've been in a relationship came with couples activities.
Otherwise, my social life is mostly very much that of a single woman. While I have a few very close friends I've know for years where both the husband and wife and I all hang out together, my closest friends are mostly women, and we hang out as women — whether they are coupled or single.
With new or not-as-close relationships, I am rarely invited out to dinner with couples– or even groups of couples. There are lots of exceptions, but in general, it would be kind of weird. A married friend was recently relaying a situation in which she — a president at a big health care company — was being pressured by her boss to go out for dinner with his wife and her husband — a double date. She felt she had little in common with the stay-at-home mom, and her husband — a professional musician — would have little in common with her executive boss. The situation would be awkward, my friend worried, because she and her boss (whom she liked a lot) would have much more to chat about than she and the wife — or her husband and the boss.
In sum, friendships are expected to fall along gender lines. And when one of the parties does not have an opposite-sex gender in her party, the whole dynamic is whack.
I get that, but it is annoying. It hurts. For one, no one likes to feel excluded. Also, it drastically reduces my social network. I enjoy being friends with men just as much as women. And then it limits larger networks — while it is less weird to have a single friend at a family Halloween party, that single friend is simply less top-of-mind when the evites are sent out because she is not in on the couples dinner circuit. This trickles down to the kids, and it also affects business prospects since so much networking comes from our social lives.
I don't blame the married contingent for this situation — what is comfortable is simply comfortable, and when it comes to new or less-intimate friends, the sense of obligation is low for making single people feel welcome or included. This trend is also the result of consideration (“June would be fun to invite to tapas, but I worry she'd feel uncomfortable as the only single person among three couples.”). But again, no one likes to feel like they're not invited to the party.
This phenomena is a bit dated — and calls up the debate over whether straight men and women can be platonic friends. Single women intuitively understand that they must be extra careful not to spend too much time at any party hanging out with the married men — just as married people do. If my married executive friend and her boss spent an entire dinner in a rapt huddle discussing health care reform and office gossip while the other spouses were left picking at their skate and chitchatting about college admissions, it might make for two awkward drives home later. A single person spending time with married people can be an especially delicate dynamic.
But this will change.
At this stage of life — I am 37 — most marriages of my peers are relatively young. The reality is that half of all married people will divorce. Many of those who do will remarry. I will not be single forever — and you likely will not either (and trust me: when your married friends are thinking about divorce, you'll be the first to know). I often think to my grandparents who played bridge every week for more than 70 years with the same group of six couples they met in high school. That is special, in part, because marriages simply do not last that long anymore.
If you are feeling left out of your married friends' social circles, do this:
- Let them know, politely, that you would appreciate an invite. Give your friends the benefit of the doubt that your exclusion was not malicious, but instead the result of consideration or oblivion. “Sometimes I feel left out when I'm not invited out with couples. FYI, I would never feel weird in that situation.”
- Don't be entitled. After all, no one has an obligation to invite you to dinner.
- Don't take it personally. Who knows why you're not invited. Maybe it is because you're really annoying — not that you're single. Or maybe the dinner guests only have four of their good pinot noir glasses and are weird about stuff like that.
- Remember that it won't be like this forever. People split up, for better or worse. They also get remarried, die and stray. In other words, the cozy couples beach weekends are not likely to be a lifelong tradition from which you are not invited.
Finding a single mom friend who is also ambitious, open-minded about sex and dating, and shares your parenting style may be a tall order, especially if you live in a small community in a state not aligned with your politics.
That is one of the reasons I am so grateful for the technology that connects humans in ways unprecedented throughout history.
Bumble, the pro-woman dating app, has a friend-finder feature that women are using to make platonic female friendships.
My closed Facebook group Millionaire Single Moms is a community of positive, single mothers committed to supporting one another in dreaming big — and has sprung friendships on- and offline.
Originally published Feb. 19, 2015.
Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker,” her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.