Relationships


How to navigate the dating scene as a single parent



This is a complex subject and I can't do it justice here but I offer some thoughts. Dating single parents should not be the problem it is and things are starting to move in the right direction at last. Being a single mother or father has never been easy when looking for a new partner. You are seen to be carrying a lot of baggage that a single person doesn't really have to take onboard if there are lots of single people around without children. That's the basic truth. In other words you are second choice to someone without kids in the largest section of single groups.

To be realistic, a proportion of eligible people are lost to you if you have children, for many reasons. For a start you will not trust everyone you meet and will have some specific criteria your new partner must match with for the safety of your family. Then some people will not want to have children for personal reasons and so they would not make suitable partners. Then others just wouldn't be suited to your family environment, maybe through career or outlook. Also worth noting is that many people do look for people with children for a variety of reasons, maybe because they have children too.

Yet its important to remember that we can easily see single people as having the whole singles market to themselves when in fact there are limitations on all of us. We may be short, or bald, or fat or thin or many things that some people don't want. In which case no one has it easy in the dating game.

The main problem with being a single parent attempting to date is one of image. Not your image of yourself, the image that other people have of you. You may not be a Valium-chomping, shopping bag- carrying, crying baby-cradling single mum, but its possible that others see that image in their head. Tag that along side the thoughts of a ready-made family with instant serious responsibilities and one can see where the problems may lay.

The fact is, being a single parent is a lonely business. Your social life is very restricted unless your ex has a lot of regular responsibility and custody of the children. You tend to stay in in the evenings and tend to your children as more than you do to your own needs. Soon enough you have become isolated and when you feel ready to date, its tricky to know where to begin. Worst still even if you do get a night out occasionally will you be able to meet anyone who wants to date you when you have children. And will you want to date them?

I went to see About a Boy last year starring Hugh Grant and I could identify with his character in that there are many single mums I know who are desperate to find a nice guy to date. But that doesn't mean to say it is easy pickings for any man that strolls along. I have found single parents have very definite views about who they would like to meet and who would fit into their lives. Being available simply isn't enough.

Many of my friends are single parents and the most common complaint is that people don't seem to be interested in them once they admit they have children who live at home. It's almost like it is too much hassle for a prospective date. However my single parents friends are the most caring, organized, gentle and forward looking people I have ever met. Most have weekends free due to their ex partners having access rights and so it is not as if parents are tied as a single person may believe. Some of my friends though pointed out that they have met single potentials who don't really understand that they have parental responsibilities and there is a fair amount of criticism of single people not having the necessary levels of understanding. The fact is, if you date a single parents you do need to make adjustments.

I asked a few single male friends of mine what they thought and they said they would not discount single parents if the number of children was manageable. What they meant was that if you have one or two children that appears to be the acceptable level of take-on future responsibility. However one of my lovely single female friends has 4 children and she felt that that was somewhat off-putting for many prospective partners. She went on to say that she now viewed having a relationship would happen once her children grew up but not before.

The focus should be on you as a person and your domestic situation shouldn't matter. This may reveal why some single parents feel it is necessary to conceal their domestic situation until a little way down the line. "It's not like I am lying, it is just that I am not going to be too specific" said one female friend. Revealing that you have a child later on once you have hooked your mate doesn't appear to cause too many problems but I would be very cautious of that approach as it smacks of deceit and trying to hook someone.

With the deterioration of marriage in modern society and more people living together it is a major fact of life that there are a lot of single parents out there. They have already demonstrated their domestic skills, their fertility, their organizational abilities and their ability to cope under pressure. Therefore you can argue that a single parent is almost top pick amongst out ever increasing pool of singles. Single parents have a lot going for them and I often now believe it is simply a case of overcoming the initial years of isolation and getting back into the dating game with a degree of confidence.

Things to feel good about:

Coping as a single parent is a huge skill

You have proven your domestic abilities

You have proven your organizational responsibilities

You are a great home maker

You are a great mother or father

You are caring, kind and responsible

Single people often desire to be like you

The Internet has revolutionized dating from home. Now you can chat with people you like 24 hours a day and build up a relationship online before meeting when appropriate. Furthermore you can select what type of people you would like to meet through the online search facilities so that you can zoom in on the kind of person who would fit in with your parental lifestyle. Things are looking up.

Make dating easier for yourself with these tips:

If you are finding meeting people difficult think about the inherent safety of using an Internet dating agency like LoveBrowser.com. You can chat safely from home and make new friends.

Do decide what your dating goals are. If the date is for company and fun enjoy yourself. If you are looking at your date from the point of view of prospective father or mother then be clear about that

Do ask lots of questions and be straight up about having children. Never pretend you don't just so that you can get a date.

If your children are old enough to understand, do tell them that you are dating.

Take your time before introducing a prospective new family member but make sure that you do keep your kids well informed

Do stick to your dating criteria and don't be swayed just because you are having a good time.

Don't forget that if your date doesn't have children they don't necessarily want to chat about yours constantly. That's natural.

Don't talk about your children in detail until you are very comfortable with the person you are dating.

If someone cannot grasp your role as mother or father and the commitments that entails, dump them swiftly.

Make sure that your prospective partner understands the shared responsibilities of being part of your family

If you find that your date doesn't take to your children you have probably been dating the wrong person for you.

If you don't want further children later be clear from the outset. If you have 2 children and you are 39, enough may be enough.

Do allow your children to have a view of your date but do not let their views influence your own judgment. A child may be jealous of losing attention.