Q. I’m a 23-year-old single mother and I have a 3-year-old daughter. Her father and I were just not working out. Of course, I desperately wished that he’d showed me his true colors before I got pregnant and decided to keep the baby. I’ve been single for about a year and a half now and I want to date, but I find it very hard. Guys lose interest in me quickly once I mention that I have a kid.
This has honestly made me lose hope in ever finding a man. I am tired of being rejected over and over again, to a point where I am starting to believe that I’ll be single for many, many years. Although it’s only been a year and I am probably wrong about not finding someone eventually, that’s how I’ve been feeling since I put myself out there. My single, childless friends, of course, can’t understand me when I express how dating is hard for me. I just feel alone and hopeless right now.
A. “Although it’s only been a year and I am probably wrong about not finding someone eventually...”
Yes, that’s the reality. I know it’s lonely and scary right now, but your dating life will evolve. You’ll also change, and you might feel less of a need to look for a partner at certain points in your life. If you can sit with these uncomfortable feelings for a bit, they might become less overwhelming.
Some things to consider:
1. There’s no reason to prove that your dating life can be normal again. It will be very different, no matter what, because you have a child who depends on you. Instead of comparing yourself to friends or anyone else, think of your needs and what a good partner for you might look like.
2. Please remember that it’s a pandemic. Dating hasn’t been easy for other reasons too. Some people are just getting back out there. Others are easily overwhelmed for their own reasons right now.
3. You’ve been raising a very small child. As your kid grows, there might be more space to have help, keep friends around, date, etc.
4. You’re not like everyone else. Your life is different. But you’re also having very cool experiences and bonding with a small human. It’s not all about losses here. Please focus on what you’ve gained.
Remove the pressure and remember you’re young. Many 23-year-olds are dating around, not committing to anyone in particular. They write in telling me they can’t find the right significant others, and that sometimes it’s difficult to find companionship. Your life is unique, but your peers are also finding their way.
At 23, most of the men in your age group are too young for fatherhood, so I get why they disappear. Try looking for men who are a bit older; they may have a different attitude. Take it slowly with a new man — your child is most important so don’t introduce everyone you date to them. Good luck.
“Guys lose interest in me quickly once I mention that I have a kid.” You’d rather they lose interest slowly and waste your time? It won’t be a dealbreaker for every guy but you’re better off finding out right away if it is.
I can imagine not a lot of guys in their early 20s are eager to take on the extra commitment of a child. In a way it is a bit of a blessing for you because it weeds guys out for you. Try changing your approach. You are not the same as your childless friends. Get involved in activities with your daughter and be open to meeting someone in that way. I’m guessing there are a lot of single dads out there as well.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.