When you're in a long-term relationship, the idea of being single can sound dangerously appealing. This single mom quickly learned that the bright sides of being single aren't as bright as she hoped they'd be.

Almost 14 years into my previous relationship, I occasionally envied my single friends and their ability to test drive different partners. I'd only ever been with one guy. The idea of dating sounded appealing in a fantasy way. Now that dating is my reality, the luster has already worn off.

The vicarious dater

My married friends just forget how much dating actually sucks, or they last dated when dating was easy and soaked with booze. (See also: college.)

When I was married, I'd ask my single friends all about their dating lives. It sounded so glamorous to me. If I saw a hot guy at a bar I'd say, "Go talk to him!" (What I meant was maybe you should go sleep with him. And then tell me all about it.) I feel pretty bad about that now that I'm the single girl and many of my married friends have calmly advised me to sleep my troubles away. Or more specifically, sex my troubles away. It's not like anyone is trying to be rude. My married friends just forget how much dating actually sucks, or they last dated when dating was easy and soaked with booze. (See also: college.)

Reality bites

bottle of mouthwashMy first post-marriage kiss was awful. I had a cold and thought I was off the hook with the germs and all, but my date lumbered into a hug and went for a surprise kiss. It was like kissing a really enthusiastic golden retriever. I extracted myself and got in the car and laughed all the way home before using all the Listerine. (Then I delicately let him know the romance just wasn't there. Did you know you can do that by text now?) All I could think was that my mom had consoled me in my early days of divorce grief by reminding me that someday I'd know the joy of a first kiss again. Where were my butterflies? Where was the magic? So far dating was just mildly stressful, somewhat terrifying and a little bit gross.

I'm not that single

Yes, technically I'm single. But I feel like I'm followed by an entourage of responsibility and baggage. I have two kids that are with me all but four nights a month. I have emotional trauma related to my marriage and divorce. I have anxiety and an iffy body image. When my negative self-talk takes over like the worst radio show ever, it's easy to convince myself that no guy on the planet would want to be with me. Dating isn't the uncomplicated, fun thing I thought it would be. Plus, deep down I think what scares me the most is the idea of falling for a guy. Love is terrifying and my heart is very much an open wound.

Love is terrifying and my heart
is very much an open wound.

The bright side

I have a few friends who are my age, single and interested in having children. There's an element of urgency there that doesn't apply to me. When I go on dates, I don't have to think about the potential of starting a family. I can date without pressure, or at least try to. (Considering my superpower is over thinking things from the very start.) I'm happy to say that on the bright side, I've had far better dates than the one that ended in a tragic first kiss. Dating as a single mom might be more complicated than I ever imagined, but it's still an adventure. If anything, I'm collecting some pretty great stories.

Share with us!^ Do you fondly recall dating or was it a hassle? Leave a comment below!

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Topics: love life