It’s no secret that I am a single mom, in the sense that I am the sole parent to my only wonderful child. It’s also no secret that I recently moved to a new house. What you might not know is that I’m not technically single. I have a wonderful boyfriend and he’s the reason I moved — so we could live together!
I have a lot of opinions about dating as a single mom, based on my own experiences both as a dating mom and a child of a dating mom. I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their lives. We all have different beliefs and values that influence how we “do life.” Anyone who is dating with children must put a lot of thought into their dating policies. What follows is what made the most sense for me.
While I haven’t adhered to all of the advice in this book, and some of it didn’t apply to me, I highly recommend Love Factually for Single Parents: [& Those Dating Them], by Duana Welch. I refer to this book often.
Making the Introduction
Long before moving in with a partner comes the step of introducing your children to them. There are many schools of thought on this:
- Do it immediately. If your kids and the person you’re dating don’t get along, or your romantic interest sucks with kids, why waste time finding that out?
- Date for at least 3 months.
- Wait as long as you can, ideally 6-12 months, and only introduce a person you’re in love with.
- Introduce the person you’re dating as soon as you know they’re serious about you.
- And probably a million others.
I have personally only introduced my child to men I could see a future with, and only after a several months. It doesn’t make sense to me to introduce a child to anyone who isn’t likely to be a fairly regular presence in their life.
How Long to Date Before Moving In
I have only moved in with one other man before the current boyfriend. It happened quickly, after only 9 months of dating. We stayed together for nearly 4 years, and even got engaged. It ended painfully, suffice it to say.
After that experience, I decided that I wouldn’t move in with someone until after we were engaged. I adopted this stance after reading Love Factually for Single Parents. There is some very convincing, data-driven information presented in the book which basically says moving in while you’re “just dating” is counter-productive if your goal is to get married.
I made it very clear from the beginning with my current boyfriend that I want to be married someday and I wouldn’t move in before getting engaged. We continued dating for a year with that understanding.
After a year, we talked more about getting engaged and living together. My boyfriend had never lived with anyone before and was terrified of getting engaged, moving in and then discovering living together was awful. I was certain that was not going to happen, having had the experience of living with someone before.
I stuck to my guns for a while, thinking he would get over his silly fear. Eventually, it became clear that he didn’t feel comfortable getting engaged before moving in and I didn’t feel comfortable moving in before getting engaged — we were at an impasse.
A big part of his fear came from the fact that someone close to him married before moving in, quickly found out her new husband was not who she thought he was, and it rapidly ended in divorce. It made more sense to me then. I can understand wanting to learn from mistakes.
Eventually, I decided that I didn’t want to let this issue mess up a perfectly good relationship. I agreed to move in, with the understanding that we’d get engaged in the near future.
Getting the Okay
After we decided our intent to move in together, the next and most important step was to make sure my kiddo was on board.
I had been having frequent conversations with my daughter, checking in about how she felt about my boyfriend. Did she like him, think he was nice, have fun with him, etc. I knew there were no issues there. But the previous painful experience happened to my daughter, too. So it was important to me to ensure that she was feeling comfortable with moving in with the current person. She agreed.
House hunting proceeded as usual. We found a lovely house in a great school district, which was the top priority.
We moved and immediately got stay-at-home orders. We’ve only lived together for two months, but it feels like a lot longer than that because we’ve been together nearly 100 percent of the time! Talk about trial-by-fire, right?
Well, I’m pleased to say it’s going wonderfully.