Dating is weird. It’s like a job interview, but way-way worse. We create profiles and pre-screen our coffee dates. We have expectations, and seldom are they met –if his height is listed in his bio… he’s probably lying-. If you’re 20 and dating in college, great. If you’re dating as a recent divorcee with two pre-teens at home, great. If you’re a serial tender-dater who just can’t seem to stop, that’s great too. Because with all the unspoken rules and grey areas of dating I don’t think anyone actually knows what the heck they’re doing. I’m a 23 year old single mom, and dating is just as weird and grey.
I have wanted to talk about dating and relationships as a 20-something single mom for a long time. I just haven’t found my footing. Or the guts. I will share on this topic often, as it has been a large part of my life over the last 4.5 years and I believe I have made plenty of share worthy mistakes. I have also experienced a lot of personal growth and self-discovery dating as a single mom. So let’s do this.
- Listening to too many people.
I allowed everyone and their mama to dump dating advice on me. It only caused chaos and confusion. Even receiving advice from the wisest of people has its limits. Too many hands, voices, experiences and nudges from too many people is just TOO MUCH. Narrow it down. Pick a few people to place in your corner and allow them to be a reasoning voice in your world. But also be a gown-up. Most of the time our gut is on to something. We just rarely choose to follow-through. I’ve dated men that I was practically talked into being with. I’ve also dated men that everyone in my life despised. I didn’t follow my gut on either of those relationships, and I wish I had. In this case; it’s okay to have selective hearing.
- Comparing yourself to your newly married, baby-having, home-buying friends.
Just because your friends from high school are announcing pregnancies, or purchasing their first homes does not mean you’re behind. In the past I would find myself trying to keep pace with my friends relationships. Seeing an engagement announcement of a friend would not bring me happiness for my friend, it would ignite fear in me of never having that experience for myself. When you’re dating with fear as the driving force, you will never find what you’re looking for.
- Don’t post about it.
Don’t publicly celebrate your 3 month anniversary. Don’t write 3 paragraphs on Instagram about your un-dying, earth shattering love for your man. Now. If you feel these ways, that’s great! Feel all the feelings and embrace the relationship you’re in. However, do you really need to share every detail of it online? I think there is an agenda nowadays that if you aren’t posting about, you aren’t happy about it. This is simply not true! There is absolutely such a thing as oversharing. Protect your relationship from too many people becoming involved, and from the dangers of comparison.
- It’s perfectly normal to be single.
It’s in our nature to follow patterns and formulas. There is an undercurrent everyone is supposed to follow. The first time you step outside of that, or get the steps mixed up; it can feel like chaos. I wasn’t “suppose” to get pregnant outside of marriage at the age of 18. But I did. My daughter will start kindergarten before I start college classes. There may be a suggested way to do things, but its unlikely life will unfold in that way. Accepting my singleness as a parent, and even just as a 20-something was difficult. It’s okay to do things backwards, just stop giving yourself such a hard time.