Guest author Andy Boyd shares his thoughts and advice on dating as a single parent
Dating can be tricky for anyone, and especially so if you are a single parent. When you have a responsibility and commitment as large as having children, it can add extra pitfalls to the process of dating. If you are a single parent and are considering dipping your toe back into the world of dating, or have been trying and trying without much luck, this article is for you. In this guide, we will explore eight of the most common mistakes that single parents make while dating, and how you can avoid them.
1. Spending too much time on dating
When you are a single mum or dad dating, it can sometimes be difficult to avoid this from taking over your life. However, it is essential to make sure that you do not neglect other responsibilities such as your career, your friendships, and most importantly, your children.
Do not schedule multiple dates a week if you do not have time for this and be upfront with any dates about which times you will be unavailable. It can help to set aside a particular night each week—or each fortnight if you are busy—to go on dates. If a relationship becomes exclusive, meeting your date will become easier to arrange and navigate.
2. Not taking dating seriously
If you constantly find yourself cancelling dates because you simply can’t find the time for them in your busy schedule of work and looking after your children, it may not be the best idea for you to be trying dating at all. Even the most patient and understanding person probably wants to have an important role in your life if they are interested in dating you.
If you are struggling to find the time for dates, why not consider hiring a babysitter?
3. Hiding the fact you are a parent
One of the most unhelpful things that you can do in dating is to be dishonest. Being dishonest does not always mean directly lying, but it can also mean avoiding mentioning important topics such as whether or not you have children. If you are in your twenties, for example, a lot of people are likely to assume that you do not have children.
You can make it clear that you have children by adding this information to your online dating profile, or by mentioning it during or before a first date with someone. You should never hide important aspects of your life such as this from a partner or potential partner—if he is not interested, he is not right for you.
4. Only talking about your children
Although you do not want to hide the fact that you have children, you do not want to take things to the other extreme either. If you spend a whole date talking only about being a single mum or a single dad and no other topics, this is likely to push people away. Even if the person that you are on a date with also has children, they most likely want to get to know who you are as a complete person, not just as a parent. Be sure to mention your hobbies, interests, and passions outside of parenting.
5. Not spending time together without your children present
When you are getting to know somebody to work out if they are a potential partner, it is important to spend time with them with nobody else around; just the two of you. It is difficult to get to know each other on a deeper level if there are distractions such as children around. Your date almost certainly wants to spend time with you one-on-one before meeting any members of your family! Not to mention that there are probably a lot of adult activities that you and a partner may want to do together.
6. Rushing into a relationship too quickly
It is unfortunately common for single parents to rush into committed relationships a little too quickly. This can be for several reasons: perhaps they are feeling lonely after separating from the other parent of their children, perhaps they are finding it hard to find childcare for meeting their date regularly on their own, perhaps they are even looking for somebody to support them with the stressful task of raising the kids alone, or perhaps they are simply looking for a distraction from the stresses of being a parent.
When you are a parent, it can actually be even more important to take things slowly, as it is not just your life that a partner will become a part of! You should be confident that a new partner is right for you before introducing them to your children.
7. Choosing a partner that ignores or resents your children
As we mentioned earlier, someone that you are dating probably wants to get to know you as a person before getting to know your children. However, you should probably avoid partners who show no interest at all in your children. Think to the future—if you want to have a serious relationship and live with somebody, do you want a partner who won’t help out with childcare?
Some people may even resent the fact that you have children at all—in which case, you should steer well clear! A person like this may be resentful because they are insecure and want all of your attention to themselves. You should choose a partner who accepts every aspect of your life and what is important to you.
8. Ignoring how your children feel about your new partner
Let’s be honest; sometimes children will show dislike or distrust to people for very little reason. This is entirely natural. They may even resent the fact that a new partner has “replaced” their other parent, especially if your children are a little older or into their teenage years.
However, a genuine dislike or distrust that lasts a while is not to be ignored. It can be easy in the early stages of a relationship to get carried away and miss “red flags” that can be seen by others, including your children. If you are unsure, talk to your children (without your partner being present) and encourage them to be honest.
When finding the right person to join your family, it is not just your own feelings that need to be considered! Communication between everybody involved is important.
About the author – Andy Boyd:
Andy is a storyteller who loves good books and good jokes. In the rare moments he isn’t writing, you can find him jogging in the park or perfecting BBQ ribs. He is a contributing author at GoDates, and several other online magazines.