Dating is complicated no matter what your history is with relationships. However, when you’re a single parent, the complications basically double. There’s the emotional baggage that comes with past relationships or divorce, and, then, of course, there’s your children to consider. It’s normal for single parents to feel guilt or shame when they reenter the dating world.
Even though dating as a single parent can be complicated, here are some tips to keep it simple:
1. Be Open About Being a Parent
While the stigma surrounding single parents might be enough for you to reconsider mentioning your children on your dating profile or on dates, don’t. Being a parent is as much a part of your identity as your hobbies or job, if not more so. Your role as a parent has defined you, and while it’s not all you have to bring to a relationship, it’s certainly important to mention. Besides, being honest about your children will filter the people who aren’t worth your time.
2. Don’t Defend, Celebrate
It’s easy to fall into the trap of explaining or defending being a single parent. You might even feel shame about your situation. But it’s important to remember that you don’t owe any explanations or apologies, especially in the early stages of dating. Besides, shunning yourself isn’t attractive. You know what is? Celebrating yourself, being proud of who you are, what you’ve been through, and all that you have—including, and most especially, your children. You love being a parent, so don’t be afraid to show that side. Those who are into you, will be into it. And those who aren’t? Well, who needs them anyway.
3. Don’t Listen to the Debbie Downers
Dating often brings out the love experts in all of us, including our friends and family who are all too happy to give unsolicited advice. Single parents tend to receive a lot of it, especially the negative stuff. People are prone to tell you that it’s too hard for single parents to find a good partner who will want both you and your children. You’ll hear the word baggage being tossed around.
If people pass judgment on your dating life, ignore them and politely tell them to butt out of your business. Don’t let anyone’s opinions influence your behavior. If you want to date, then date.
4. Don’t Feel Guilty for Wanting to Date
It’s easy for single parents to feel guilty for wanting some grownup time, but it’s vital to honor your needs. You’re not doing anything wrong by wanting to meet someone. You might be a parent but you’re also a warm-blooded human who needs connection and intimacy. It’s okay to flirt and enjoy some adult company.
5. Take Your Time
Looking for love should be fun so enjoy the process. Don’t put yourself under pressure to find someone quickly. Likewise, don’t be quick to turn your dates into something serious, and that includes introducing a date to your children. Introducing a new person to your children is an important step, and shouldn’t be done until you, your children, and your partner, are ready for it. In fact, don’t even think about what your kids will think of your partner. Instead, find the fun in dating. Trust that you know who’s right for you and your family, and don’t be afraid to date around.
Dating is stressful for anyone. This goes double for single parents. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the process, especially if you’re on the hunt for a co-parent. Remember you don’t necessarily need a co-parent; you need a partner. When you start seeing dating as something fun and healthy, not a means of filling a void, you’ll find yourself closer to finding the love that’s right for you and your family.