He Wants to Date Other Women Because I’m a Busy Single Mom

Hi Evan, I have been reading your blog for a while now, and am appreciative of the insights I’ve learned. I am working towards balancing a dating life while raising two amazing daughters. I have a full time career and a fairly active social life. I recently met a wonderful man online who similar to me has been divorced and has children. He typically has dated women without children as he found it was less complex. We went out four times in one month, and in between there was a strong connection we both verbalized and confirmed experiencing. I was surprised by his uncharacteristic request to date other women as he felt once a week wasn’t enough time to build momentum between us.

I told him I was happy to have met him and that we shared a connection, but wouldn’t be open to the idea of other people and cut things off. Intellectually, I feel I’ve made the right choice. However, I understand my lack of availability may be a big issue for anyone. My heart is having second thoughts and wondering if I should have been open to the consideration of getting to know him better while being open to meeting others? Is that healthy? I’ve dated a good amount of men, and on many levels he seemed wonderful. The “dating other people” bit threw me for a loop and hoping you might share your thoughts.

Thanks Evan. –Single Mom

Thanks for your question, Single Mom, because it’s a great reminder that sometimes a strong connection isn’t always enough to get a relationship off the ground.

There are a few things that I could stand to know about you that would give me more clarity on your situation – namely, your age, his age, and the ages of your respective children. Without that, I’m sort of flying blind here.

If a man is really young, he’s probably used to dating women without children, who are, by definition, a lot more available.

Because there’s a big difference between a 32-year-old man and a 57-year-old man.
And there’s a big difference between a 1-year-old and a 16-year-old child.

If a man is really young, he’s probably used to dating women without children, who are, by definition, a lot more available. Why should he settle down with a woman who can only give him one night a week when he can have a girlfriend who can give him three or four nights? That’s right: he shouldn’t.

And if either of you are raising young ones, they’re a lot more all-consuming than if you’ve got high-schoolers who can largely take care of themselves.

These circumstances will dictate a lot, whether you like it or not.

So the real question isn’t about this guy, per se. He’s just a placeholder for all men that you’re going to encounter as a single mom.

To figure out what to do the next time you meet a wonderful man, let’s backtrack:

Was this guy wrong for wanting a woman who’s more available? No.

Were you wrong for refusing to accept his open-relationship terms? No.

As such, there’s no cause for you to agonize or lament what went down. He did what was right for him. You did what was right for you.

Ultimately, he’ll find the childless girlfriend who can give him more time.

And you’ll find the single dad who understands your predicament and embraces it.

Doesn’t that feel a lot better than worrying that you let some guy get away?

I sure hope so.

P.S. If EVERY guy feels that you don’t have enough time for him between work, kids, hobbies, friends, family and your “active” social life, then yes, maybe you need to make a few cutbacks. But that’s another conversation for another day.

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  1. 61

    @ Joe:

    You would think so, wouldn’t you? I often considered putting in my dating profile, that I didn’t want kids, but I read some blog that said you don’t need to reveal a ton, in your profile, let some of that info be discussed, once contact is established.  So if I am single again, maybe I will end up just saying, “Hey, no kids and don’t want kids, FYI.”  But who knows.  There might be guys who say that I come across as “too aggressive.”  I dunno.  I’m just glad to be off that merry go round, it was wearing me out!!!  I couldn’t seem to win, for losing! 

  2. 62

    I think it comes back to “he’s just not that into you” and you didn’t do anything wrong. I just started dating online 6 weeks ago, but I’ve been studying Evan’s advice for over a year. I gave a guy a chance even though he only had his high school and I had my masters (and I thought that was important). I really like the arts and I was worried we wouldn’t have the same interests. Turns out he loves to draw, he’s been to way more plays than I ever have and he likes music festivals. We can talk to each other easily. He treats me with respect. He’s also over the moon about me. According to Evan’s criteria on what makes a great boyfriend, my guy is right at the top. I am going to keep a rein on the relationship since it’s only been three dates. I want to make sure he’s not putting me on a pedestal and that he sees and accepts my imperfections before I agree to be his girlfriend (yes he asked) and let myself fall head over heels for him. He also asked if he could take me out this Saturday and offered to help pay for the babysitter. I have my child half-time so I’m free a couple weeknights and every other weekend. I was so touched. It costs as much as a beautiful bouquet of flowers, but it’s so much more thoughtful. It tells me that he understands that my resources (time and money) are limited, and he’s willing to do whatever he can to make it possible for us to spend more time together. But he also asked me extensively which flowers I like, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to get those on a regular basis! 😉

    And if I do become his girlfriend, I’ll be the best darned girlfriend ever! How could I not, when he’s setting the bar so high?

  3. 63

    @ Ruby (#60):

    Once again, we don’t know his circumstances. If he wanted to have more custody of his kids but the court and/or his wife nixed that, why should he have much tolerance for a woman who has her kids most of the time? If anything, I would expect resentment.

  4. 64

    Joe #63

    But even if he would like to spend more time with his own kids, he should appreciate that someone has to spend the lion’s share of time taking care of them.

  5. 65

    Yes, I get all that, but what I’m saying is it’s possible that he resents his own wife for getting more custody, and therefore projects that same kind of attitude on other women with >50% custody. “If she wanted the most custody of her kids, it’s her problem if she doesn’t have as much free time as I do.”

  6. 66

    Joe #65

    If the BF is projecting his resentments about his ex-wife onto the OP (and all of this is pure conjecture), I’d say that’s pretty unfair to Single Mom, and she’s well rid of him.

  7. 67
    Saint Stephen

    @Ruby (#66)

    Assuming joe’s conjecture were true; i’ll say it is equally unfair that the single dad doesn’t get to spend as much time as he wants/wishes with his kids. Sometimes you gotta look at both side of the coin.

  8. 68

    St Stephen

    But Single Mom isn’t responsible for the BF having custody or not, so why resent her? She isn’t the one keeping him from having greater custody.

  9. 69

    A lot of women would never accept joint custody.

  10. 70

    Kids are a good reason to NOT get involved – if you aren’t looking to be a parent again. My kids are old. Not looking to get more. If you are looking for casual, I’m your man. Looking for a father figure for your kids, I’ll pass, thank you very much.

  11. 71

    FYI- Joint custody is the norm in divorce, The actual visitation schedule is where the problem lies and child support is tied into this schedule.

  12. 72

    I believe this guy wanted his cake and to eat it too. You did yourself a Big favour. Your children are your number one. You will receive more loyalty and unconditional love from them than any man. If a man after ONE month of dating starts trying to introduce an open relationship, you know you’re dealing with a womaniser. He hasn’t given you or any budding relationship a chance. Ironic he tries to turn the tables to blame you, how much time YOU have to give. A good man will wait, put in time and be around for you. How would you ever feel special when, after meeting you, he wanted to keep dating others?

    I have a 19 year old and 12 year old, I have reared. I have lived alone with them since my divorce 11 years ago, as I don’t believe in living together with a partner before marriage. Your situation as a single mother, though difficult is something to be grateful for, because you will ‘smoke out’ the bad guys fairly fast. Things will progress more slowly, the man in your life will have to commit to time with you. He knows it will take longer, so his interest in you will be genuine.

    When I was younger I jumped into relationships as if I didn’t matter at all. I am sorry about that!!! Now I have such value on myself, my lovely family and my time. The two men I dated, one after the other, in the past decade have been top quality. One relationship wasn’t meant to be, his health failed unfortunately. But I met another man through charity work, again older than me by over a decade. We will be getting married next year and my son and daughter get along so well with him. They were terribly upset when the first man I was engaged to passed away, they loved him so much. I have had years of being alone and not dating, grieving my divorce, then grieving my fiancee. It is not easy, but I have no regrets I put my children first all the time and took relationships very slowly. It takes a lot of dedication. You do not need to turf your children out to your ex partner, to your friends, or acquaintances. The right man will come along, hold your head up, be proud of yourself. You need to be well rested and tuned into your beautiful girls firstly. A quality man will respect you all the more for that, rather than feeling you are ‘less than’ those single girls without children.

    In life the only real thing that keeps a man away from the woman he loves, is death. Run as far as you can from a man who is like a kid in a candy store and wants ALL the women at the same time. You are worth more than that type of cad.

  13. 73

    I must agree with KatieKazoo on this.  I have an incredibly strong bond with my children and it’s not easy to let someone become part of the tribe.  It has only happened once in 9 years.  You’re not loosing anything by letting this guy go.

  14. 74
    Love ability

    Hi, I was sensing that you second guessed yourself. Especially because of the way he worded it by saying he wanted to see other people.  I have no understanding on why he would have said that, as that is the premise of dating that you are out there meeting people until the man brings up the exclusivity talk, or it ends. I think he was behind candid telling you that he isn’t used to dating single mums and if he needed a little more time to access is reasonable, however you know yourself and if that felt like too big a risk or made you feel too vulnerable you 100% did the right thing. If on seconds thoughts as i am reading he had wonderful qualities you are also 100% in your rightyo contact him and let him know that you regret your stance of instant protection instead of building a relationship on negotiation. Then start the fun of exploring a way to make it work for both of you, possible examples, any chance of catching up at lunch times, more phone calls, or even the simple assurance of as this develops a bit more I will carve out more time for you. Goodluck by the way I am in admiration of you, being a single mum, career and desiring a balanced dating life.

  15. 75

    Why would any man want to date a woman with kids that is only willing to give him one night a week?  Why should the man sacrifice what is important to him?  Admit it, you didn’t make him a priority, he sensed that and renegotiated the terms and now you have remorse.  I’m really tired of women that insist that I make allowances for their previous reproductive decisions.  Your lack of availability, whatever the reason, is a significant detriment in the whole boy-girl marketplace.  If you are not willing to somehow make up for that, then you will have this same result time after time.

  16. 76

    @Starthrower #73
    I don’t know star – she may be “protecting” herself, but we don’t know she isn’t losing anything – she may in fact be losing out on someone who would be very good for her. We just can’t say.
    It’s quite surprising to hear how many women are complaining that this guy left because he wanted MORE time with her! So many other posts are about not getting enough time with a guy (“he only wants to see me once a month”).
    She has obligations (single mom, “fairly active social life“). It sounds like she was unwilling to trade some of that social life to make time to see him more often. While that’s her call to make, it was his call to make whether to continue seeing her only once a week.
    Apparently they were in two different tracks. He didn’t see having one date a week with her as being sufficient, she wasn’t willing to make space in her “fairly active social life” for him. Sounds like he was pretty clearly interested – “he felt once a week wasn’t enough time to build momentum between us.”
    Since he couldn’t be sure this would move forward (she was balking at seeing him more often), he chose to look for other opportunities.
    How often has Evan said a man who is interested will show it by wanting to see you more? Sounds like he was pretty clear and she wasn’t that interested.
    So she protected her “fairly active social life“, but lost the opportunity to see what kind of relationship she could’ve had with someone who was clearly interested.

  17. 77

    And if her social life is more important to her than the relationship was, then she made the right decision  As someone who was married for 12 years and didn’t really have any social life – my ex was a very unsocial person – I have spent most of the last 10 years of being single nurturing my non-romantic relationships and getting my education.  That is where I was at.  I never expected some guy just to deal with it and ignore his needs.  Dating has not even been that much of a priority for me because I wanted to do those other things.  Let the guy go to do whatever with as many women as he wants.  Sometimes people have different timing.

  18. 78

    Agreed Star – pretty much the point I was making, you’re just more succinct. Why weren’t you the first commenter with this statement? LOL
    Thing is she doesn’t seem to realize/understand it.

  19. 79

    My gut reaction to this was NEXT.  He was honest about his needs.  Maybe he doesn’t want to be a father to your children, however sweet and well educated etc. they are (if he met them at all).
    A friend this evening came over and has a child of her own aged 9.  She has met a man and they’re in love.  He wants a child.  She does not.  We were speaking between women – and I just said, that could be a real deal breaker.  If you say right out the truth that you don’t want children, he has every right to leave.
    This is not meant to be a harsh comment – more a reality check.  Been there as a single parent and know the situation too.
    Maybe you’ll have to wait until the kids are older for romance? (Nothing stopping you going out dating though!)

  20. 80

    The man she finds will be old, fat, bald and ugly. With hair on his back and hunched shoulders. She needs to just quit and give it up. She won’t find anyone handsome, she’ll have to settle for a monster, just like the rest of us women (both those with children & without).

    1. 80.1

      Well, only if you have a long checklist and are unwilling to compromise sufficiently.
      Look, I’m a guy who’s had a too-explicit checklist, and finally learned to reduce my “absolutes” to a few essentials. It completely changed my dating life, and I finally started meeting women who I really enjoyed my time with (instead of the all-passion/no stability types).
      Evan’s advice works for both genders – if you will only accept the moon, you’ll end up with nothing.

  21. 81

    most the time having no time is a excuse, i’m currently dating a single mom have no kids of my own been with her 10 months an she only made time for me once after i agreed to once a week an somehow that once a week faded to sorry my son kept me too busy, or sorry my son was driving me nut, or sorry my son was so bad depressed me. Moral of that is a single parent who wants to date will find time for someone else or they will always come up with a excuse. Which is why I ben doing our normal txt cause she don’t even have time to talk because her son she claims personally i’m betting theres more then one of us guys going for her attention or she just stringing along so she can say she got a boyfriend though her son is 20 though is special needs but has had her sister come babysit him in the begining now thats not the case as we spent newyears eve. an new years day at my pad an out an about but now she has no time so kid or not no time is always going to be a excuse for some people an others will find the time for you o don’t settle for anyone putting you off like that. I am happy her son is number 1 to her i don’t mind being number 2 cause her kid should come first but when you put someone off so long eventually they won’t have time for you. Please becareful guys  an gals if you single parents really want to date better clear some time 1st cause if you aint got the time someone else will just like told my now ex yesterday i got no more time for you so don’t do this because like some stated if you put kid constantly 1st they will grow up expecting it an you will probably grow old , lonely an miserable but look at bright side you’ll still have your kid till they marry an have no time for you either or they put you in a retirement home to make time for their special someone. I also raised a daughter 5 years by myself still had time to date more then once a week till I was told she wasn’t mine got blood test an after results to her grandma’s house she went on her mom’s side though i check on her on occassion now i got nothing but time.

  22. 82

    Dating people with kids for someone that does not have kids can be a difficult adjustment but this guy has kids and I would presume he would be more understanding.  I mean how often does he see his kids?   Dads that don’t see their kids often enough concern me too.  I think take the kids out of the picture and what Evan says the two of you are just not compatible at this time in your lives.  Maybe if your kids were grown you would be.  And if she is truly a single mom with an absent father getting a way once a week is a big deal.  I’ve dates men with no kids who only wanted to see me once a week.  That’s just not enough for me but it was for him.

  23. 83
    bob smith

    This is the textbook complaint about why it’s risky to date single moms. When she’s putting herself out there, she’ll tell you about her “amazing” kids. The thing is, I’m not interested in dating your amazing kids. I’m interested in dating you. But if you don’t have the time and you can’t make the time for a relationship, the whole thing is pointless–which is why guys don’t want to date you. I would rather live in a monastery than get involved with a single mom.

  24. 84
    Me, Myself & I

    Interestingly, I’m a busy single mom, looking for an older man (in his 50s +) who either has older teens or kids that have already moved out.  For the SAME reason.  He has more time to be flexible than I do.  If we are both juggling 7 year olds, then time becomes constraint .  Not to mention – if kids are out of the house, then the awkwardness of blended families isn’t as pronounced. (I know, I’ve been a step parent)

  25. 85

    My boyfriend has joint custody of two young kids, and I live about 3 1/2 hours away, so I only get to see him every other weekend, give or take.  I rearrange my schedule to be free when he has time.  It hasn’t felt to us like too little to form a relationship – it’s a bit frustrating but he is certainly worth it.  I don’t see his kids as drama – they are interesting personalities that he is raising to be genuinely decent human beings.  If he had to choose between me and his kids, I know I’d lose without hesitation, but I’d have a hard time respecting him if he were a less committed father.  He commented last time I was down that some of his local friends have hardly seen him in the past year because he’s given so much of his free time to me – a sacrifice I hadn’t even realized he was making.  So I’m not going to argue that dating while parenting is easy, and certainly potential dates are within their rights to pass on someone who doesn’t have “enough” time to give, but I’m really grateful to all of those women who passed and left him single for me.

  26. 86

    I’m a recently divorced dad with a 12 year old daughter doing what I vowed I would never do: I’m dating a single mom.  Having done so for 5 months now, I can’t imagine any other way would work long term.

    Of course my lady is very busy with her job and her kids but I find that this makes her time with me much more intense because she really looks forward to spending that alone time together.  She puts me on the calendar and shows up ready and excited to be with me, whether that means going to a concert or just staying in.  Like the dude above, I needed more time than once a week for a few hours but I did start out like him.  After about a month she agreed more time would be great and she now sees me once a week plus every other weekend.

    Of course, I could have asked to see other people but I didn’t want to.  I like this woman a lot and want to build something with her and seeing other women won’t help me do that.  I told my lady that she agreed to open more time for us (not for me but for us).  I think communication is key in these relationships along with patience.  Childless women are certainly easier in this regard – they have more time for me but they will never get it because they don’t have children.  And of course, many of them will want their own children at some point so dating them tends to raise other issues.  So other single dads should ask whether they are ready to raise another child from scratch.

    I will admit that childless guys have less to gain here over dating childless women.  However, I will say this:  single moms have a way of focusing intensely on the important people in their lives because time is so precious and this can be extremely exciting.  I know that if we stay together and build something long term that we will have a strong foundation built on significant points of common ground that will make our relationship very strong over the long haul.  I think a single mom will love and appreciate you like no other because they know that dating them is work compared to other women but if you hang in there they will make it very worthwhile:  the intensity they bring is very addictive – they will adore you like no other, make love to you passionately and connect with you strongly because they understand your situation and you understand theirs.

    Anyways, I’m not ragging on the guy above but I think in general that single moms are an undiscovered treasure and we divorced dads should be looking more closely at them as potential dates and partners.


  27. 87

    Sorry Evan but I think if a guy likes you he should first try to make it work and see if you can get around the ‘time’ issue not bring up dating others. If someone likes you enough he can wait a little. I think it is unacceptable and actually he is not worth dating.

  28. 88

    Just stumbled upon this article cause I started talking to/dating a woman with a w year old. It’s been about a month and we’ve only been on 2 dates! During that time i was conpletely understanding and gave her more leeway then i would a single childless women then she suddenly told me that she wasnt ready for a relationship csuse she doesnt have the time to commit to someone. I never even brought up a relationship, we were still in the casual dating phase. Anyway, I said I understood and told her to take care. Two weeks of no contact later, she texts me and asks if we could still talk and hang out as friends and potentially have it grow into more  cause she misses me. I think she is really nice but the situation sounds like a terrible deal on my end. So I told her I can’t offer her friendship and she responded “even after how honest I’m being?”

    The thing I’ve learned from this (first time attempting to date a single mother) is precisely what many people have already said. You are essentially a slave to what they want and the time they do have. What she is looking for is someone that she can talk to and hang out with when it is convenient to her. She wants someone to fill in the gaps and have companionship when it’s convenient for her. For me, I am supposed to be okay with that arrangement and be an obedient little dog who just sits and waits for her to have time. By her own admission she doesn’t have the time it takes to date yet she still wants me to understand and stick around and was offended when I told her I wasn’t ok with it.

    Im a nice guy who would give 100% effort to any woman I am with. She’s seems like a really great woman but why should/would I settle for someone who can’t give me the same? Having a child doesn’t make her a bad person but it creates an unbalanced dynamic and I shouldn’t be seen as a mean person that doesn’t understand her situation just because I don’t want that for myself.

  29. 89

    It is an unbalanced dynamic. Is it unfair it depends on your view on the situation. I met a single mom that didnt have any time for me. She had kids, job and school. She looked at it as if you want to be with me this is what time I have. Last minute cancellations, 3 or 4 days it took her to get back to me… I understood it but it wasnt for me. Seeing somone every 3 weeks for a day just didnt cut it. I hardly really knew if we were dating or if we were just casual.

  30. 90

    Im a single nice guy and I tried seeing a single mom. She had no time at all. We went weeks without talking to each other and a month without seeing each other on a couple of different occasions. She was very nice when we were together but she didn’t have any time. It was like restarting the relationship and she was busy all the time. I hadn’t seen her in 3 weeks and hadn’t heard from her in a week because she was so busy. She was out with her friends drinking. She had time for her friends but not me. It wasn’t worth it and I had no idea where we stood half the time.

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