What I Learnt About Dating As A Single Mother Of Two

How hard is it to re-enter the dating scene and find your sense of self after 20 years of marriage? One anonymous blogger found out...

single mother dating

by The Secret Socialite |
Published on

After watching my parents separate when I was four and then divorce very acrimoniously when I was ten, I vowed I would never get divorced. But even as I walked down the aisle, I had a strange foreboding that my marriage would not last. Indeed, history did repeat itself, however hard my husband and I tried to stay together. I was wracked with guilt when I finally decided to divorce him after eighteen years. I had two beautiful teenage daughters who were my entire world, and I felt terrible for breaking up the family unit and for shattering all they knew about stability and security. After all, it was not their fault their parents split, and they were bewildered, innocent bystanders.

My girls wanted me to build a new life and to find love again. But behind their smiles, I saw that they were also shell-shocked at how quickly their lives had changed. We had always done everything as a family of four, and suddenly, we were three. The safe cocoon that they had grown up in was no more. My main goal was to focus on the happiness of my children, to rebuild our new family, and to bathe them in love, as I had always done. I was always ultra close to my girls, but the divorce drew us even closer. We became each other's life raft.

My ex lost no time and threw himself into dating. Before the ink was dried on the divorce papers, news of a handsome new bachelor on the scene spread fast, and he had several women from our circle, and beyond, swarming around him and vying for his attentions. He quickly discovered the joys of swiping right, and after a couple of years out on the town, he met a young woman, only a few years older than the girls, who would become his wife. He had not been single for more than a week post our divorce.

I took a little longer to get back out on the dating scene. The prospect of meeting new men was, in theory, highly exciting; in practice, it was jolly daunting. Much had changed since I last dated twenty years ago. Back then, there were a lot of attractive, single men who also wanted to find a life partner. But I was naive and innocent. I didn’t realise that the man you marry is the most important decision of your life. I was a lot more flexible, and I didn’t know myself and life as well as I do now. Twenty years on, the choices were more limited; there were fewer interesting and available men and yet, somehow, I was a lot more demanding and a lot clearer about what I was looking for.

My biggest concern with dating was to balance my needs with those of my children. The girls always came first, and they knew that. So I would introduce new boyfriends early on, to ensure they got on. My daughters were always great judges of character, and they helped me dodge a few bullets. I was not looking for a stepfather for them. And I did not have the added pressure and complication of having to build the perfect blended family. It is hard enough to find a partner, let alone make sure all the different sets of children get on.

I don’t know what I would have done without the love and support of my girls. They offered me invaluable tips and advice. They taught me how to how to signal to a man that I was interested without chasing them, how to text without looking too keen, and how to disengage from men that were not right for me. After each date, we would have a raucous debrief. The girls also made me realise how much love I had at home. Most of all, they helped me to believe in myself and to hold out for The Real Thing.

It took me a while to realise that while I was successful in business, in my private life, I was very much part of a couple. I had to rebuild my identity as a single woman. I forced myself to go to events and parties on my own. Whilst my married girlfriends envied my freedom, I had so much freedom, it was dizzying. I dated so much, I wrote a book about my adventures, Naked in Mayfair, chronicling the fun, fun, fun I had trying to hide the pain lurking beneath. To my mind, being single meant that I wasn’t lovable. Eventually, dating in Mayfair was confirmation, if ever I needed it, that I had to make some changes. My girls persuaded me to see a therapist, who helped me release my sadness, and gain a sense of self and a zest for life again.

So what did I learn from all my post-divorce dating? Mostly I learnt that transitions take time and that you need to be patient. I learnt that you need to let go of the past in order to make space for the new. And slowly, with my girls as my two cheerleaders, I learnt to rebuild confidence in myself.

Naked in Mayfair by The Secret Socialite is published on Thursday 15th June by Whitefox: https://www.instagram.com/mayfairsecrets/

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