Once upon a time, I was single. And yet I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone because I was a mother. I was navigating parenthood and at the same time re-entering the dating scene. During that time in my life, I was given a lot of advice. Well-meaning loved ones wanted me to be prepared. Dating can be brutal. Sometimes I asked for advice, while other times it was handed to me so swiftly I couldn’t decline.
Not long ago YourTango highlighted some of the worst dating advice. We all know what constitutes bad advice, but of course it’s all relative. Through it all, I learned a valuable lesson: this was my life. I was responsible for it. Which means I had to decide what was best for me (and my child). If I took some well-meaning advice and it flopped, I’d have to live with the repercussions.
And that’s when it clicked. At the end of the day, no matter how much advice I was given, I was going to do what I wanted, whether it was getting back with an ex or telling someone I just met I was a mom (so he could get a head-start on running if car seats cramped his style). At any rate, here is some advice that I think I would have loved to have been given when I first started dating:
Advice I Would Have Loved to Have Been Given While Dating 1 of 13
Here's some of the advice I would have loved to have received back when I was dating.
1. Don’t cook for him (unless you plan to keep it up) 2 of 13
Seriously, I hate cooking. And I made the mistake of listening to those who advised me this was the way to a man's heart. Why was it a mistake? Because I started something that I have long struggled to keep up. When we were dating, I would Google recipes and prepare special meals for my guy based on what he liked. My meals were more elaborate than the spaghetti and meatballs my toddler fancied. My husband doesn't complain thankfully, but I could have saved him from a big letdown by not trying so hard in the meal department. While I hope to step it up in the kitchen, right now my plate is way too full to go all out on a week night.
2. Talk (and gush) about being a mom 3 of 13
I was the girl who immediately upon meeting a guy declared that I was a parent. Why? Because to be honest I didn't have time. If a guy expressed interest in me in a romantic way I felt it was important for him to know I was a parent. If he couldn't see himself dating a woman with a child, this eliminated the need for him to even ask for my number. I get the reason for holding off. You don't have to tell everyone your story upon meeting them, but being a mother was the most important part of who I was. It guided my choices and impacted the amount of energy and time I had to give to another person.
3. Don’t worry about getting all dolled up 4 of 13
At least not all of the time. The best thing I did was let my husband see me as I am. No makeup, hair in its natural state and the sweatshirts that lingered from my high school days. He got to see me for me. I didn't feel like I always had to be "on" or look perfect. I was at a place where I was striving to be more comfortable in my own skin, and I wanted someone in my life that was a fan of my skin, even if it lacked blush and eyeliner.
4. Call him 5 of 13
Many of us ladies loved being pursued by our love interests, but that doesn't mean you can't call him, too. Sometimes it's nice to let him be on the receiving end of the telephone call. The same goes for planning a date. You can totally ask him if he wants to hang out!
5. Leave your car/house how it is 6 of 13
Car seat in the back? Cheerios on the floor? Hey, this is real life, and if he's rollin with you, then this is a chance for him to get a peek into what your real life looks like. For me, real life was an older car with toys, snacks, preschool craft projects, and college text books sprinkled throughout. My room wasn't just mine. It had a crib and baby toys everywhere. My daughter and I lived with my mom, and shared a bedroom.
When we are dating, many times people send their best representative (best version of themselves) and paint a picture of their life that doesn't fully reflect their reality. I wanted someone to fall in love with me and my reality.
Don’t hide your past 7 of 13
I'm not saying now is the time for a tell-all, but it's OK to share your story. I used to fear questions about my past and my past relationships. Despite the beautiful blessing I had been given in the form of a child, I was ashamed. Not of her (she was the best thing that ever happened to me!) but of my poor decision-making and lack of self-worth. My shame made those kinds of conversations grueling. I wish I was more comfortable talking about the hard parts of my history. My story, all of it was important, and sharing it allowed my future spouse a chance to really get to know the real me. A person who went through adversity but rather than perish — persevered.
7. Be honest about what you want 8 of 13
Why, oh why did I think that I shouldn't be vocal about my wants or needs? It's totally OK to ask for what you want or need. And there's no need to pretend like you don't want something when you do. The worst thing they can say is no. And then, well, you have a decision to make, don't you?
8. You have nothing to be afraid of 9 of 13
Two things could happen: things could work out, or they could come to an end almost as quickly as they began. But girlfriend, trust me when I tell you that you have nothing to fear. Don't you dare change who you are to try and keep him. Be you, and the person who is right for you will love you for the perfectly imperfect human being that you are. There is no need to fear being alone.
9. Be careful who you ask for advice 10 of 13
If you've just had your heart broken, you're going to have a different outlook on love than someone who's giddy in love. Be mindful of who you ask for advice because that advice could — and likely is — biased based on timing and experience. My advice? Don't listen to the girl who's just been broken up with.
10. Trust your gut (not mine) 11 of 13
I don't know about you, but I love being able to help a friend my giving good advice. The best advice I can give, though, is to encourage them to listen to their gut. Most often we know the right thing to do. The trouble is it isn't always what we want.
11. Have him hang out with you and your child 12 of 13
Dating with a child can be tricky. You have an extra person to think about, someone who runs the risk of getting hurt if things don't work out. Making the decision to introduce someone to your child takes a lot of careful thought. Even so, it's important for the person you are dating (in the event things are serious) to really understand what your reality looks like. Tantrums, sick babies, and school performances may be a big part of your reality. Don't be afraid to let him see that!
12. You’ll be fine 13 of 13
I get that this dating stuff can be a little scary, but don't worry. No matter what happens, you're going to be just fine. You both will be.
With that said, have any great love advice you’d like to share?
Photo Source: Personal Photos