Dating is a game without any hard and fast rules. The dynamics of the game vary among individuals, cultures and circumstances.

When dating, the success or otherwise of the relationship depends on how the two people involved can harness the various dynamics and make them work in their favour.

In dating a single mother, there are few things to take into cognisance if you desire a successful relationship.

Below are some tips on how to successfully date a single mum.

The Game is Different

The first rule to dating a single mother is understanding her situation. She doesn’t have as much time as a single lady would. There will be times she will come to you exhausted from taking care of her kid(s). She also knows exactly what she wants or doesn’t want and that will tend to make her more direct in a relationship. While some Nigerian men may see this trait as desperate ( and it’s a possibility in some cases ), this can be an attractive one. You will be courting a woman who knows her mind, knows exactly who and what she spends her time on and is decisive. So if she’s dividing her time with you, she wants to be there.

Her Children will Always be Number One

The single mother will always put her children first (expect in the rare cases). You cannot be dating a single mum and gauge her love for you versus her love for her children. While in a relationship with a woman with no children you can gauge how much she’s into you by how much time she spends with you both offline and online, the same can’t be said for a single mum. She has to provide for her kids, be there for school plays, help with homework after school so even after she is back from work she has to attend to them. This does not mean you are not a priority, that is just how it is.

Instead of building resentment for what she shares with her children, look for the other ways she shows her love for you. Does she still manage to check in over the phone with you after a hard day’s work? Does she make you feel special by dropping off a meal she made? Does she ensure the times you do spend together are extra special? Is the sex extra good? These are all ways you can know while she may not spend much time with you, she definitely has much love for you.

You are not her children’s Father

Allow your relationship with her kids to develop naturally. You are not a replacement father or even a step dad (if you are not yet married). Talk to her openly and ask her how involved she wants you to be. Do not try to buy her love by buying gifts for the kids and showing them extra love. Talking about it will help you and her so there is no confusion. It is also not advisable to want to be ‘too much’ in the kid’s life ‘too fast’ as you don’t yet know that you are going to be in their lives for the long haul.

Let Your Girlfriend Discipline Her Own Children

Never disciple her child/children! This doesn’t mean you are to silently endure any disrespect or infractions from them. Instead of openly scolding the child or spanking, report the issue to her. Let her lead in how her kids will be disciplined. The only time you discipline her kid is when she directly gives you the go ahead to do so.

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Do not be a biased Referee

Stay clear of issues with her and her ex. You can listen and offer general advice but do not ‘bad-mouth’ him. She may be giving you the story from her own point of view so always assume you don’t know the entire story. You can offer support without being biased. Your go to attitude with matters concerning her child/children’s dad is politeness, good advice and encouragement. If there’s tension with her ex, let your girlfriend handle it. Do not act like you want to fight him for her. Never contact her ex on her behalf expect in dire circumstances (extreme ill-health, etc). If they are in court battling over custody, don’t get involved.

Take it Easy

Do not be in a hurry to make big gestures. Give the relationship time to develop. Moving in, getting engaged should be done after careful thought and after enough time has passed. She needs time to develop trust for you before you take it to the next level. It goes without saying, if you aren’t looking for something serious, let her know that as well. Don’t play with the feelings of a single mum.

Prove Yourself

Dating a single mum is especially tricky because of others who came before you. There is always a story with regards to her baby daddy and in most cases the man may have ‘disappointed’ her. You have to work extra hard to gain her trust where she’s comfortable with the menfolk again. Be responsible to her without being responsible for her.

Be an emotional support

As a single mum, she is under a tremendous amount of pressure to provide for her child financially and emotionally. You need to be the one safe place where she can ‘offload’. Be the one who listens to the things she’s going through without trying to “solve” every problem for her. She doesn’t need management, she needs a listening ear and understanding. She is most likely a strong woman as most single mums are and she will work out her issues in time. You can wade in only when it’s clear that’s what she needs from you at that time. Offering support and encouragement along the way will help you build a stronger bond together.

Listen to Your Intuition

You’re the only one who can know whether dating a single mum is right for you or not. She should not be just an ‘experiment’. Don’t get caught up in listening to family members or friends who will try to discourage you or suggest that she’s just looking for a father figure. You will know if this is true or not when you pay attention to her and not them.

Dating a single mum is definitely a herculean task but one that has great benefits. She’s no different from any other woman, she just happens to have kids. You however, have to be sure you want to be with her with that as a factor in the relationship.