Helpful tips for single parents who want to get back into dating.
Single parents often contemplate dating again at some point but approach the idea with hesitance. Dating as a single parent presents more hurdles, such as deciding if, and when, to introduce your children, or even simply finding the time or childcare to allow yourself the opportunity. But many stresses of single parenthood can be counterbalanced by some love, support, and romance. Chances are you may find pursuing love again to be rewarding.
Dating as a parent doesn’t have to be so daunting. If you are open to the idea of a romantic relationship, but are hesitant to actively date, continue reading for some tips on how to re-enter the dating scene after a long pause.
Make a list of your must-have qualities
When you head back into single parent dating, try making a list of your non-negotiable, must-have qualities in a partner. When people return to the dating scene after a long break, they have the tendency to view new potential partners through “rose-coloured glasses,” and fall in love with potential, rather than reality. This is completely normal because a new partner is exciting! But that excitement allows you to tolerate things you normally may not. Make a list and stick to it! It’s also a great idea to eventually get second opinions about your date from friends or family. Normally, those closest to you can view things from a more objective point of view. They might be able to judge better than you if your love interest is compatible because they’re not swayed by attraction or charisma. This list should ideally be a list of personality and practical traits, rather than physical preferences.
Do something for yourself
You may find yourself needing a confidence boost when you re-enter the dating scene. Put yourself first and invest in something that will bring you confidence so that you can put your best self forward when dating. Popular options are updating your wardrobe or trying a new fitness routine or challenge—when you look your best, you may also feel your best! Furthermore, you can tackle any lingering insecurities like wrinkles, blemishes, or male pattern baldness. Dating is all about confidence, so upgrading your look and dealing with your insecurities is a great way to boost your self-esteem. If you are not sure where to start with self-care, consider asking an honest friend for advice!
Let people know you have children
Be open and honest. Lying to your date about being a parent is a big dating mistake that could lead to trust issues. It’s best to be open about your lifestyle from the beginning. For example, if you mention that you are a parent in your dating profile, you will immediately eliminate people that are not serious or open to the idea of kids in their life. This saves you a lot of time, effort, and potential heartbreak. If it limits your matches or causes dating to take a little more time, then so be it! Your matches will be so much more compatible the more you reveal about yourself upfront.
Have a plan for introducing your kids
This is often the biggest source of dating stress for single parents, especially those of younger children who may fear abandonment. Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s difficult to offer blanket advice that’s appropriate for every single parent family. Some people decide to introduce dates right away to their children and be very open and honest with them, while others decide to not introduce a date until it becomes a relationship they envision with more permanence. There are many ways to come to a decision about introducing your children while dating, but whatever you are considering, it’s best to have a plan that you can depend on so that it relieves any ruminating thoughts about how dating may affect your children.
Let your friends and family know
For many, it’s a big step to put yourself out there again. It can feel awkward since you may feel you don’t fit in with the dating scene anymore or you’ve been far removed for so long. But letting your friends and family know you’re open to trying dating again can give them the opportunity to keep their eyes out for potential matches in their circle of acquaintances. The reason this is so important is that even though dating apps or websites are the starting point for most people, dating through mutual acquaintances feels more natural and is less intimidating than with a stranger. Ask your friends or family to look out for potential matches for you or invite you to happy hour with their friends or colleagues. This is a very comfortable and fun way to gradually step your way back into dating and meeting new people.
Try a video date
On the other hand, there are many benefits to online dating for single parents, especially during a pandemic. You can vet a person by talking to them before committing to a first date, and thanks to technology and COVID, video calls before a first date have become extremely common. A video call is a great idea because it takes the pressure off single parents who may require a babysitter for a night out, plus it is a low cost and low effort way to get back out there. Finally, it is much easier to leave a date you don’t like after a polite exchange on the screen, than during drinks, or even a meal out.
Continue to make time for friends
Being a single parent is a lot to juggle, but avoid letting your friendships fall to the wayside, even if you just connect with your friends via text or phone call. It’s so important to continue your friendships while dating. Friends can provide a lot of relief and support for you. They may even be able to offer valuable dating advice or offer to watch your children so you can go on a date. Good friendships also allow you to not become so attached to a partner because you have support in another area of your life.
Dating is a process that should be enjoyed. Many singles tend to jump into dating with the end goal of a relationship in mind, but dating can take some time so you might as well enjoy the process of meeting new people and learning new things. It is an experience, after all, so remain patient, enjoy it, learn from your dating mistakes, and wait for that special someone that is, no doubt, out there for you.
No matter how much you love your kids, single parenthood is tough. Allow yourself a break from parenting every once in a while. Finding romance can be an extremely fulfilling endeavour, and a supportive partner will ultimately alleviate the difficulties and stresses of single parenthood and bring much joy to your life. And don’t worry if you feel uncertain or anxious at the thought of dating again – it’s completely normal.