Attention, Single Moms!

Ready, set… date! An expert reveals how divorced parents can get back out there and mingle.

By Chelsea Kaplan

here are plenty of reasons why single moms don’t jump back into the world of dating: Still feeling sad about the big breakup, not wanting to shift focus away from the kids, too much laundry to do, too exhausted… we know, we know. But that’s why we sat down with Betty Longerdan, the author of I’m Too Sexy for my Volvo: A Mom’s Guide to Staying Fabulous! for some advice on returning to the single life and finding success.

Why do you think many single moms are hesitant to start dating soon after a divorce?

Divorce can really blow your confidence and make you wonder if you’ll ever be successful in relationships again—even if your ex was totally responsible
You can’t stop living for your kids’ sake.
for everything wrong in your marriage. When I broke up with Mr. Wrong, I was so disgusted with myself for choosing somebody so obviously dysfunctional. I was terrified I’d go out and make the same mistake again. I also felt like I had been robbed of all my joy, so it took me a while to bounce back and feel like I had anything to offer.

There’s also the terminal guilt many single moms feel about doing anything good for themselves, anything that could possibly be construed as taking time, money or attention from the kids. This is usually compounded because you’ve already subjected your children to divorce. Some women stay on the sidelines for decades, proclaiming it’s better for their children to have their full attention. I think this is a pretty lame cop-out; you can’t stop living for your kids’ sake. They won’t appreciate it, and you don’t get any points for not having a love life.

So how can single moms get over their dating issues?

Sometimes, you just have to acknowledge that you’re going to feel guilty, and start dating anyway. My friend Ginger is the Teflon Mom for guilt—it just slides right off her! She has an absolutely clear sense of entitlement about having fun, and even though she’s a great, totally committed mom, she goes out with girlfriends at least once a week and stays out as late as she wants. Because she’s so happy and carefree, she attracts men like crazy. Whenever I feel myself sliding into the swamp of self-denial, I think WWGD — what would Ginger do? — and I readjust my attitude. It’s your job to get out there and get in the game, because you can’t win if you don’t play.

What are some of the best places single moms can meet men?

The good news is, you can meet guys anywhere—and when you least expect it. I met my husband at my 25th high-school reunion. And my friend Meredith, wanting to simply get in shape, took up walking five miles every morning, gradually started running, entered a road race and met her husband.
Your married friends are likely to be your best resource.
My friend Clarice met her husband at work — he was her boss — and my friend Liz met her husband when she ran into him, literally, in a car accident.

Generally, the most comfortable places for single moms to meet guys are casual venues that aren’t singles scenes. Starbucks is a great, low-key place to meet guys, as are bookstores. Other good ideas are social groups at church or temple and fitness centers. Gallery openings ensure you’ll have an automatic topic of discussion, and if you take an adult education course or can carve out time to volunteer in a cause you believe in, conversation and mutual interest will come naturally. Even museums have started throwing cocktail-and-jazz soirees that are a lot of fun.

Who are a single mom’s best allies in helping her get back on the singles scene and meet potential mates?

Your single girlfriends may be professional daters, but, if they were truly successful at dating, they wouldn’t be single, right? In fact, your married friends are likely to be your best resource as they’ll handle the introductions and invite you to events and dinner parties. The truth is, if you want to meet men, you have to get out there and let people know that you’re in the market. My friend Cheryl is responsible for introducing the people who now comprise three married couples and says each introduction was instigated when the woman told Cheryl exactly what she was looking for and asked for her help. Of course, there’s always help online. My friend Lori, who is beautiful, successful and a single mom, swears by for meeting eligible, successful African-American guys. My other friend Judy, with two grown daughters and a penchant for choosing losers, just met the best, most compatible — and employed! — guy she’s ever been with, online as well.

What are some immediate “make yourself desirable” steps you’d advise a single mom to take before beginning to date again?

I suggest you change the things in your life that make you feel like a frump and indulge in what makes you feel fabulous. For some women, this means a weekly mani-pedi and a new haircut—for others, it’s a slightly bigger investment. When my friend Suzette turned 40, for example, she went straight out, sold her Subaru and bought herself a Corvette in which she looks like a complete babe. When you’re a mom, a huge part of your life is about taking care of everybody else’s needs. Don’t forget to do the things that make you feel alive, alert and attractive. Follow your bliss, and kisses will come.

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor at Her work has been featured in Self, Men’s Health, New Woman, Bridal Guide, and The Mommy Times.
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