Few of us head out into the world with the plan of dating, falling in love, having a child (or children) and expect to wake up one day to find yourself right back in the dating pool. But for many divorced singles that’s exactly the case. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2017, the second most common family arrangement is children living with a single mother. That’s approximately 10 million single women parenting alone in the U.S.
For some it is a nightmare come true, while for others just another challenge in life you must overcome. No matter which side of that fence you fall on, re-entering the dating world as a single parent comes with challenges for sure. But with the right mindset and tools it can become not only a pleasant experience, but a rewarding one.
1. Date with the (right) mindset.
Dating all starts with knowing and loving yourself first. So before you get back into the dating world, make sure that you are ready. Do the work on yourself.
This may mean attacking the self-help aisle at the bookstore or just doing some research on moving on after a divorce or dating with kids. Knowledge is power here so take the time to know everything you can about yourself and the brave new dating world you are entering.
2. Communicate with your children.
Depending on how old your children are this communication rule may vary, but the important thing to remember about dating with children is that you shouldn’t hide anything from them.
Obviously some children can handle more information than others so the key is to know your child and decide how best to communicate your current dating plan with them. Your job as a parent is to control the message so you don’t want to have your child learn about your dating life in a way that makes them uncomfortable or to lose their trust because you kept things from them.
On the flip side, your kids do not run your life, you do, so don’t overshare or allow your children to be the ones to drive your decision making.
3. Arrange the first meeting with care..
The old saying, “Timing is everything,” is even more important when it comes to dating as a single parent. Introducing a prospective partner too soon or at the wrong moment is bound to create problems.
Far too many single parents decide to make this introduction without actually thinking it all through. When you do feel the timing is right make sure to talk with your date and get their feedback. Consider all the best options for making the introduction a success.
4. Set boundaries.
Having clearly defined boundaries that you’re willing to stick with can make or break your dating life. All dating is hard, but dating as a single parent can be even more challenging.
Boundaries are there to help you balance your time correctly and to protect you and your child from getting into harm’s way. Your boundaries may include things such as only meeting dates at neutral locations or only dating on weekends or never staying out past a certain hour of the night.
Whatever the boundaries you set, you must stick with them.
Reassess your non-negotiables.
If you were someone who knew and understood their non-negotiables when you were sans child, but han’ taken the time to reassess them, now’s the time.
By understanding all of the non-negotiable core values that your partner and your relationship must have for the relationship to succeed you’ll have a better idea of what will and won’t work for you. This allows you to better identify people who may be great, but not great for you. (And hopefully know when you’ve found someone amazing too!)
Take the time to learn yours today. You’ll be on your way to finding and maintain the relationship you have always wanted and always deserved.
Amie is a Master Certified Relationship Coach and published author. Her mission is to help singles find lasting love by conscious dating. Her dedication has led her to be named one of LA’s Best Dating Coaches. She has been featured in a variety of media outlets including the CBS Network, Fox 5 News, People Entertainment Weekly Channel, ATTN:, and Martha Stewart Weddings. Her greatest accomplishments are seeing the singles she works with find lasting love, get married, and create their own family. Grab her free e-book, “5 Dating Traps Keeping You Single.”.”