Putting Yourself Out There: Dating Advice for the Single Parent

It took a long time to adjust to being single. Divorce is a loss that requires grieving, and in the meantime, you’re just trying to get through the day, maintain your career and keep your child or children healthy and happy.

If you are feeling like it’s time to get out and meet people, you are probably ready but also nervous about entering the complex world of dating again. Well, you’re not alone. It can feel so overwhelming just to try and meet someone, let alone all the new parameters that must line up for a relationship to work. And for some, that feat seems so impossible that it’s easier to be alone.

Don’t give up just yet! Remind yourself that there is plenty of happiness to be had out there in the big world, and while it may not take the form you imagine in your mind, you are worthy of love, mutual respect, intimacy and fun. Here are some things to think about when you are ready to start dating again, this time as a mom or dad.

 

Rethink that afternoon of fun. It’s tough to meet your match at the playground, so instead try some kid-friendly places. Museums, bookstores, county fairs, farmer’s markets, anywhere that adults hang out too.

 

Don’t rely exclusively on online dating. While it can be handy to comb profiles, and discover the deal breakers before you meet someone, there can be pitfalls to meeting someone through this method. You can get stuck in a loop where all you do is read about people, and it’s easy to mistake online chemistry for the real deal. We recommend Bumble, where women initiate the conversation (men say they also prefer this!) and Hinge that connects you to singles in your friend circle.

 

Meetup is great for low-stakes introductions. Alternative to online dating, there is a great site called Meetup that lets folks create events around activities: going to see standup comedy, hiking, or a book group. Some of them are specifically for singles, but there is a lot less pressure than a one-on-one coffee date. Even if you don’t meet your dream-come-true, you will still have a good time doing something you enjoy.

 

Be honest about the fact that you have kids. Some people fret about being parents, that this somehow takes them off the market permanently, but that’s not the world we live in anymore. Whether you meet someone at a party or online, be clear about your situation from the beginning. In fact, for many people, dating another single parent is the solution; they already know what to expect and if you both have split custody, you may be able to arrange your schedules so that you get regular doses of grownup time together.

 

Be honest with your kids too. It’s important that you level with your kids when you start dating, especially if they are older. You don’t’ want to send mixed or false signals – we’ll get to that in a second, but have a reasonable conversation that is age appropriate. You might say something like, ‘I’ve been feeling lonely and it is time for me to start meeting some new people.’ If your child asks a question about your date, respond simply, and explain that when you know you are serious about someone, you will introduce them.

 

Don’t do the intro too soon. As a single parent, you want to know that a prospective mate can interact well with your children — but making that introduction too quickly can set up your child (and you) for disappointment.

A savvy, single mom should wait a good chunk of time before introducing her kids to the potential boyfriend and do it in a casual setting like the park or a barbeque, not a birthday or holiday.

It can be hard to talk about committing to someone before your children have met your prospective partner, and that is something you will have to play by ear. What you want to avoid is introducing your kids to a string of casual dates.

So, one way around that is to introduce this person to your friends first. Get a bead on the potential by consulting with your friends and seeing if he or she gets along with your social group. These people know your kids well, and may have a sense of how well this potential mate will get along with your kids.

 

A side note here: If your friends see any red flags about your new gal or guy, listen. Divorced people in general have higher stakes when they meet someone, and you might be more vulnerable than you think. Don’t rush anything and really take your friends and family seriously if they caution you – they might see something you don’t.

Be open to the possibilities because this time around, there are more factors to contend with when building a relationship. Starting with friendship is always a good baseline where your take your time and remain communicative. There is a way to enjoy the process of meeting new people, even if you are an introvert, finding that special person might not be as difficult as you think.

 

 

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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