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by Karen Oliver, a single mom of 3 with a great sense of humour , takes her role as mother to heart and makes every day in her chaotic tribe purposeful. Follow her on twitter or facebook for quirks on her tell-it-all life.

I am most probably the worst, yet the best person to ask about dating and relationships as a single mom.  Worst because I am still single after many a failed relationship, and best because I have learnt some very hard lessons in my search for a life partner.

The truth is Love comes from within, it is not an external object which is to be found somewhere out there in the world.  It starts with real self love! If you cannot accept yourself for who you are exactly, now in this moment, then your love cannot extend to others.

When we open our hearts to love, we become vulnerable. It is therefore important to set some boundaries in this regard, not only to protect our own hearts, but more importantly to protect our kids.  Remember that their view of relationships starts at home. I have to admit that I have not been the example I always wanted to be for my kids. So finally at 38 and after  another abusive relationship last year I decided to play a more active role by doing the following:

Credit: selfishmum.co.uk

Credit: selfishmum.co.uk

1. REFLECTION: Reflecting on all of your relationships with specific focus on your failed relationships.  Determining the real issues and LETTING GO through forgiveness! The most challenging action for me was to forgive myself completely for allowing wrong people into my own and my kids’ lives.

2. VISION: Spend time dreaming of your perfect life partner.  Write down the qualities you need and want in a life partner, and very importantly, a role model for your kids.  It is necessary to distinguish between ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’.  This piece of paper (mine is a flipchart page stuck on my wall) is a living piece of paper. As your own outlook on relationships evolves, you can and must adjust this profile.

3. SEARCH AND FIND and DATING: Make the time and infiltrate the right networks. Remember that ‘dating’ is not a relationship. Real relationship ‘dating’ involves two people who get to know each other without the involvement of romantic intimacy or sex.  By bringing sex  into your ‘dating’ process too early, you are allowing it to drive your relationship, and the foundation of the solid relationship is tainted. Only involve your kids when you are sure that the dating process will evolve to a real relationship based on your ‘must have’ criteria.

4. DO NOT COMPROMISE THE MUST HAVE’S: or you will continue to draw in men who will be unreliable in offering you what you require as a woman and as a mother.  Understand that the blame will be all yours, resulting in more heart break, healing time and letting go.

I wish you all a very blessed time to reflect on your relationships, the impact this has had on your life as a single mom, as well as your kids’ view on relationships – it can have a profound effect on their future.

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