Don’t Panic, I’m Not on Tinder to Find My Kid’s New Dad

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Here’s what was going through my head when I signed up for Tinder: “Wow, I got my kiddo in bed. It’s 8 p.m. I’m kinda bored. I’ve already finished everything I’m interested in on Netflix.” I work with all women. Most of my friends are married moms doing the domestic thing at home with their hubbies and kids. Occasionally, it would be nice if at 8 p.m., I wasn’t getting dressed for bed, but getting dressed up to go out. As I uploaded flattering selfies and filled out my profile, at no point did I think, “I really hope that I marry the first guy who swipes right.”

First of all, my kid already has a dad, and he’s great, and nobody is trying to replace him. He and I make a great co-parenting team; we just didn’t make a super compatible couple.

And don’t get me wrong, single moms make amazing partners. We are badass masters of our little universes. There’s no reason not to marry us. We’re rockstars at balancing competing responsibilities and pulling off the impossible, making a home, paying bills, working, and studying, all while being incredible parents. We have a lot to offer, but our time is limited, our plates are full, and a relationship has to be very special for us to give it our all. Ultimately, we are protecting the most important things in our lives: our babies.

The one thing my single mom friends agree on is not cloth diapering, screen time, charter schools, gluten, nor the controversial uses for and benefits of coconut oil. It’s that our children are our first priority, and they always will be. If you’re doing the math, that means guys aren’t. Sorry, not sorry. In other words, there’s no need to fear that dating a single mom inevitably means an intense commitment off the bat. My relationships will always be casual until they aren’t, and then we’re having a different conversation.

I’m not saying I’m not open to the idea of finding my perfect match, but here’s the thing: My perfect match is somebody who can actually handle the responsibility of being part of my kid’s life, and I’m not going to know that about you until we’ve put in some serious time.

As a single mom who’s been around the block, I have dated someone I was very in love with, trusted completely, and saw a future with. I did end up introducing him to my child. They spent a lot of time together. When the relationship came to its natural end, I felt so conflicted about my decision to involve him in my child’s life. I cherished the memories that the three of us had together, and I loved that she was cared for by another great role model. But along with my own grief at the relationship ending, I also felt a profound sadness that she lost a man she trusted and loved too. Relationships are a huge risk we have to take as single moms, and after going through it already, I am more protective than ever. I will always take extreme care in allowing someone into her life.

When I swipe right, the main thing I’m looking for is some adults-only time. A chance to be myself without having to clean up anybody’s applesauce. I want to get to know somebody that I enjoy being around. I’d like to actually wear a pair of nice shoes, and not just because it’s somebody else’s wedding. I’d like to have a glass of wine without worrying about it spilling all over the couch when my three-year-old body-checks me for a bear hug. I’d like to see a movie that’s not rated G. Eating in a restaurant where nobody spills condiments or opens all the sugar packets sounds absolutely magical. I’d like to enjoy some me-time, some adult company, and some interesting conversation. And if I’m totally honest, I’d like to get some of my other single lady boxes checked. Just because I’m a mom now, doesn’t mean I’m dead inside. I still crave romance, kisses, and maybe even, *gasp!* to get laid. As long as it’s consensual and safe, why shouldn’t I?

Obviously, I don’t speak for all single moms. Every mom knows what works for her. You can trust her instincts. She probably has plenty of experience, as well as a great deal of maturity. Relationships with single moms can the most rewarding ever—whether they get serious or stay casual. So don’t automatically swipe left. Why no have fun and see where it goes? I can promise you it’ll never be boring.

Photo: Getty