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by Kathy Foust

I suppose we all knew this post was in the future somewhere. After all, the term "single mom" kind of insinuates that dating  might be a social option. For some anyhow. I've never really been much of a dater. I mean, it's not unusual for me to get asked out if I do actually socialize with men. But, working and schooling at home mean..well, lots of time at home.

I did the Internet dating thing, but that's kind of like dating a dual personality. There is the person online who is probably who the person is deep down, but that person doesn't expose you to the bad habits and day to day trials that they do in real life. I'm not saying that it can't be done successfully. I'm just saying that I care for meeting a guy online even less than I care to run out and try to get a date. But hey, if that's your style there are some decent free online dating sites out there.

The problem is that I have become a bit jaded and too comfortable for my own good. I don't actually mind being alone and I certainly prefer it to constant lover spats. I do think there are certain things we single moms need to do before we leap back into the dating world.

Take inventory of your life. Do you like your life? Hate it? Doing anything to change it? Do you have goals? Will you allow yourself to put those goals on the backburner for someone? These are the things I ask myself.  It's too easy to get caught up in the idea of being in love and think you have to sacrifice things for that. Really, you shouldn't. Maybe if your goals are in conflict with someone else's..then maybe that someone else isn't for you and that's cool. That's okay even. What's the hurry? Sure you aren't getting any younger, but neither is anybody else!

Have a plan for the kids. See, we moms get all hopeful and we're all proud of our kids, so there's that temptation tampered with fear to just hold your child out like a trophy signifying something you did right. I talk to my son about things like that. I kind of try to slowly prepare him. And, to be honest he's not real impressed with the results of my dating skills so far. Here's a red flag: If your child dislikes or fears the man on sight, you might want to think about that.

Try to actually read the signs. Okay, sometimes after a relationship I'll look back and wonder how the hell I got here. Then, thinking back I can see the signs. Most of the time I'm amazed at how obvious they were. You know, they start as small signs, little things that just bug me a bit, then they move on to the guys with the airport beacons trying to guide me to the right lane. And what do I do? Well, I don't even make it to the airport grounds. Hell no! I go straight for the desert. Crash. Burn. Reflect. Hang head in shame. Yep, that pretty much sums up my dating career.

So, my plan is really to have a plan. I like to do certain things and I like to think a certain way. The way I think and the things I do are what makes me feel good about me. If I have to be someone else, I may as well be somewhere else because life is going to be hell. Heck, maybe I'll meet my next date at the door with unplucked eyebrows, a stained tshirt and sweats and my hair in a ball cap. I won't clean the house and I'll nuke him something for dinner. Then I can tell him later that this is the worst case scenario. He can accept it knowing he has something better to look forward to at some point or he can move on. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme!

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