Dating + Boundaries as a Single Mom Boss - by Abby Herman for MotherHustle
“In the last 14 years, I’ve had several relationships. Some have been good–for a time–until the boundaries that should have been solid started to blur.”

Boundaries are one of those necessities of life, something that you don’t often realize you’re missing until someone has stepped so far past where they should be that you’re in panic mode.

This is something that often happens at work, with family and friends.

But as a single parent, it’s also something that happens when you’re courting a romantic partner.

When you have children, you’ll do anything to protect them. But when you’re a single mom, you eventually feel the pull of companionship. You crave spending time with another adult, specifically one for whom you have feelings.

You don’t ever plan to be single. At least I didn’t. But that’s the path the life led me down.

Raising a child in a two-parent house is difficult enough. It’s filled with laughs and tears, frustration and joy, a warm heart and anxiety. It’s challenging even in the best of times with your partner.

But when you’re single, you have all of that and the added stressor of having someone else in your life. Someone who’s not your child’s parent. Someone who also has all those challenges in his life, especially if he has children too.

And while I’m fully aware that you can make a choice to not have someone else in your life, it’s something that I’ve come to crave after divorcing in 2004.

That’s a long time to do this whole life thing alone.

Bringing another adult into your life when you have children requires finesse and care. It requires that you have boundaries firmly in place, boundaries that you can communicate to the other adult and to your children. You need to know what’s most important to you, knowing that

You are your child’s protector and advocate. You are also the parent, the adult.

As an adult, it is within your right to have companionship, to find love. Your child needs to understand that.

I also firmly believe that our children need to see their parents in relationships–for better or for worse–so they know how to behave and communicate in relationships when they’re adults.

In the last 14 years, I’ve had several relationships. Some have been good–for a time–until the boundaries that should have been solid started to blur.

I take full responsibility for that. I got excited about the relationship and I got lazy with my boundaries. Not only did I get hurt from letting those boundaries slack a bit, but the children involved got hurt–both mine and his. And that hurts everyone.

For you single moms out there who are just starting to get back out there, here’s my advice for setting up and sticking to your own boundaries:

  • Keep your child and your dating life as separate as possible, for as long as possible. Your child doesn’t need to know you’re dating until you feel ready to introduce them. That said, don’t spring this new love on your child. Go into it slowly.
  • Use caution when dating someone who is “geographically undesirable”–far enough away that seeing one another is a challenge, even when the kids aren’t in the picture. Trust me. It brings a whole new challenge to an already difficult situation.
  • Know your own values, and stick to them. Hard. Your love interest doesn’t need to share all the same values but if his values contradict yours, that’s an issue.
  • Dating after marriage is not easy. Take it slow and keep your expectations in check. It’s nothing at all like the carefree dating you remember. Nothing at all.

Boundaries are such an important part of dating again, and you need to have them for both your child and your love interest.

The more firm you are on your boundaries, and the better you communicate them, the better everyone will feel about this new chapter of your life. Take it from someone who has been there, done that. And still a work in progress.

MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!

When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram,YouTube and Facebook.




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