Why “Nothing personal, but I don’t want to date a single mom” is totally personal

Way back at the beginning of my single mom dating shenanigans I fell in love with an older man. My kids were 1 and 3, his were in college. A few months in, I broke it off over a boozy Italian dinner. “Face it,” I said. “You don't want to be running around with little kids again.”

He agreed.

Old story: We kept sleeping with each other, he decided he wanted to try dating a mom for real, and a year later broke it off for reals because he didn't want to date a mom. For a whole bunch of reasons, that breakup was terribly painful for me, and it took me so many months (many of which I admittedly kept sleeping with him. Sue me.) to get over it.

“You're so wonderful, it has nothing to do with you,” he'd say over and over. “It's just that life got in the way.”

“I don't want to date a mom”

I clung desperately to those words for a very long time. But those words are bullshit (even if it was good of him to employ them). Rejecting me because I have children has every single thing to do with me. I am a mom. My motherhood is not a separate island off the coastline of myself. It is part of me. Arguably the very best part of me. I am a mother, exactly as I said I as when I met you online/the office/Starbucks/swing dancing/trashed at your cousin's wedding.

I've bumped into that same floundering position on dating me, a single mom, several times. “I thought I didn't want to date women with kids, but your OKCupid profile was irresistible,” he'll say. What he doesn't say, but what is implied is: “What the hell. I'll give this a try and if I don't like it, I'm outta here!”

Related: What are the best online dating sites for single parents?

Could I change his mind about dating moms?

I try not to be bitter. We're all human. Can I really fault a guy for liking me so much he goes against his instincts that tell him he's not fit for blended family life? I've got a healthy ego. I'd love to be the one to change his mind!

Yet it's pretty silly that we treat the intersect of romance and children as such an exotic unknown, one worthy of tip-toe trepidation. After all, it's not like I'm raising feral unicorns in my attic, or foster-parenting gnomes. I am a human mother raising human children, the most fundamental essence of humanity, familiar to all, including every single man on OKCupid, who, presumably, was once a child himself.

Related: 9 reasons dating and sex are better as a single mom

On the flip side, I do think it is possible to change a guy's mind (though I don't suggest banking on it). A few years ago I had a mini-session with dating coach Kavita Patel, who stands out among her peers as a remarkable insight into dating and relationships overall, and has an intuitive power that is slightly freaky. In telling her about my dating, I said: “If a guy isn't into single moms, that's fine with me. I'm not interested in changing anyone's mind!”

Obvious, right? She disagreed: “Sometimes a guy has to see you with your children. Then he can be open to dating a woman with a family.”

In this post, a cute, young dating coach explained why so many of his successful male clients are interested in dating single moms.

Dating a man who appreciates your motherhood

Because she got so much right about me, I could never let that advice go.

Last year for a few months I dated a man who was in his early 40s, divorced but with no kids. We were a mismatch for zillions of reasons, but of anyone I've ever been involved with, he appreciated my motherhood more than any other man.

He also admitted to discounting a relationship with a single mom before crossing my path. One day a few months in he told me he'd watched some Facebook videos of my kids in which I was audible in the background. “You're so natural and honest with them. You're an awesome mom,” he said in an uncharacteristically vulnerable moment. “I adore you.”

Which is exactly what every single single mom wants to hear very most of all.

Fast-forward to today, and I am in a 3-year relationship with a dad who loves that I am a mom, enjoys long days with me and my two kids, running between soccer games and theater practice and sleepover drop-offs and the rest — more than I do myself, often. He's hot, successful and my friends join me in thinking I won the jackpot.

When, a year or so in, we had a big relationship talk, and voices went low as two middle-aged people who have been through the ringer each made our best efforts to put baggage aside and be vulnerable in our needs, he held my hand across the dining room table as my kids slept in a room adjacent, looked me in the eye, and said:

“I just want us all to be a family.”

Problems dating a single mom: what you need to know

Ladies, here is a huge favor I will do for you:

I will save you the horrors you will find should you google “date a single mom” on the Internet. There are a lot of sexist assholes out there, and you don't need to know what they think.

I will save you from your fears that no good guy wants to date a single mom. Not only have I dated a lot of amazing men who either don't care that I'm a mom, or love the fact that I am one, I also have met and know of thousands and thousands of women who are also mothers who have found love, fun, companionship and partnership after becoming a mom.

But what do the haters say? All those asswipes who swear off single moms? I will share here to save you the trouble of sorting through that toxicity, and assure you that you don't have to worry.

These misogynists claim single moms only want a sugar daddy to pay their bills.

We are all gold diggers.

Primed to attract men, use them for their money and maybe sperm, then dump them.

We will never make time for our man — kids always come first (how and why not to make that mistake in this post).

Used-up, damaged goods, and the like.

You know, stuff that children say when their feelings got hurt and they are too underdeveloped to manage their feelings. So they lash out.

Nothing that an evolved woman has to worry about.

Carry on, you find thing.

Ever thought about online therapy? Way cheaper, convenient, private by text, voice or video counseling — perfect for single moms. Top online therapy sites — which is the best?

Where to find quality men to date as a single mom

Dating sites for single moms

Here is my list of the best dating sites and apps for single moms.

Elite Singles is especially geared towards people who are educated professionals, looking for serious relationships.

Online dating course

Unsure of how dating works in 2019 — with apps, texting, sexting, dick pics?

Worried about flaunting your new mom bod on the market?

That is why I developed the bestselling video course, Get Back Into Dating AGAIN for Single Moms.

This video course takes you step-by-step to work through your fears, hopes, create a dating site and get your sexy on.

Guaranteed to get you on one quality, positive date!

Matchmaker sites for single parents

There is a reason matchmakers have been in use since the dawn of human sexuality — they work!

Matchmakers tend to be very expensive, with no guarantees. It's Just Lunch is different.

I did a lot of research on It's Just Lunch, and went through the onboarding process, which you can listen to in audio, and read the transcript. I am so impressed — if I weren't in a serious relationship, I'd 100% use this service.

Here is a deep review of It's Just Lunch, which is the largest matchmaking service in the world, and searches its network of literally millions of singles to find you quality dates. Here is what I like about it:

  • Guaranteed number of dates. They quote you a custom price that includes a fixed number of dates over a certain period of time (you can pause your engagement with penalty for any reason — including finding love 😍).
  • Both parties pay and invest in the service — so everyone is equally invested in finding a quality relationship (and can afford the service)
  • 2 free one-on-one personal dating coaching sessions
  • Daters tend to be in their 40s and older, so lots of successful men who have kids and are open to moms with kids and successful careers
  • You are assigned a designated matchmaker who goes through rigorous training, and has years of experience — so their intuition is high!
  • It's Just Lunch is 28 years old, reports 3 million first dates (!) and thousands of relationships and marriages

In this post I lay out the pros and cons of matchmaking experiences, and you can hear for yourself as I go through what you can expect in your first experience with an It's Just Lunch dating specialist.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.


  1. danny on June 29, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    I have no interest in dating a single mom. As a single guy with no children, why should I deal with the responsibility of raising someone else’s kids. If they are older and independent that is another story,

  2. John Kyle on January 16, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    There are many great women out there who are not divorced mothers or never married mothers. I choose to be with them, and wish best of luck to the others.

  3. Bob on January 16, 2019 at 1:29 am

    I stumbled upon this post by accident, searching for others who have dated single mothers. My perspective: it’s definitely a mixed bag. As a guy who has no kids and has not been married, it is a hassle dealing with single mothers. I’m invited to school presentations and events that I really don’t want to attend, and I’m expected to be cognisant of issues regarding sitters and arranging child care. So yes, single mothers do have the deck stacked against them when they date people without kids. That said, hands down, some of the best sex I’ve EVER had has been with single moms. No idea why. I mean, they will do things that childless women run from. They are also fine meeting for a 30 minute quickie between scheduled items. I’m a busy guy, this is fine by me. All of this said, I’m not looking to rope myself into a serious relationship with a woman who has kids. I know I will always come last, I know schedules will always be constrained, and I know that I’ll be expected to participate in events I have no desire to participate in. Look, if I wanted kids, I would have had them, lord knows I’ve had plenty of chances.

    I suppose some may ask the question, why date women with children? Well, sometimes you find someone attractive and realize later they have kids. Sometimes they truly get it and isolate their dating life from their family. But honestly, the mind blowing sex is ever so hard to turn down. 3somes, ropes, spanking, public sex, making movies, kink you rarely encounter in the wild, these have all been made possible by single moms. On that note, I should rest, as one of the single moms I’m dating is waking me up in a most pleasant way, after she drops her kids off at school. Guys, give single mom’s a try, your knees will thank you.

  4. Izzy on August 2, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    I don’t doubt that many men have had terrible experiences dating single mothers, just as many woman have had terrible experiences dating single fathers. But we’re not all terrible, and the men who choose to love us and our children are most definitely not “beta” (gawd, I hate those terms). In fact the ones I have met are men who are so confident and secure that they have the capacity to love their step-children as fiercely as if they were their own.

    I am lucky enough to have met one of those men.

    And what do I bring to the table for him?

    Well, he tells me I’m intelligent, spontaneous and fun, beautiful, uninhibited in bed, positive even when life is hard, and that I challenge him and make him a better person. I have a university degree, work full-time at a well paying job with great benefits, I own a home, have a pension, investments, my vehicle is paid off, and I refused child support from my ex. We split childcare costs 50/50, but that’s it. My boyfriend is equally smart financially, but I would never expect him to pay for my children’s education, or dental work, sports equipment, etc.

    My kids come first, but only because they are still little and need me to survive at this point. I value his opinion on parenting matters and now that we’ve (just recently) moved in together I now consider us a team raising these two boys together. We may have different roles and responsibilities (e.g. I’m the disciplinarian, he rough houses with them in a way I can’t), but we are each a valued member of the family and all of our needs matter.

    Things are definitely not perfect, and we of course have disagreements and miscommunication, but our friends and families both think we have bettered the other’s life.

    So while there are many nightmare stories of dating single parents, there also are happy stories too. Some of us make great partners, I promise.

  5. Annette on June 17, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    I married my first husband as a virgin and divorced 15 years later. My only other relationship since then has been with a man who pursued me relentlessly for over a year and then started resenting my single motherhood. This was despite my continuously telling him it wouldn’t I will be very busy with my children and less available than a childless single young woman.
    Unsurprisingly, I ended the relationship within 6 weeks and vowed never to date or marry until my children are independent. By independent I don’t mean I plan on raising irresponsible man-children who rely on me for everything (which is what most men are raised to become these days) but rather, I expect them to be fully functioning self-reliant human beings by their late teens.

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