Dating As A Single Parent

by Puja Gokarn
Being a parent is a tough job. But for single parents, it's twice the work and twice the tears. There’s a constant struggle to find some sort of balance. So what happens when you decide to jump back into the dating game? Fear not! We've compiled a list of expert tips from relationship coaches and authors on the subject. Here are some basic guidelines that will help you avoid the most common mistakes that haunt single parents.  

1. Be Honest About Your Needs: Relationship coach and owner of Maze Of Love, Chris Amrstrong believes that single parents must first assess what they want. "I think the very first thing single parents must do is decide what their needs are. By needs, I am talking about non-negotiables. In this, are they looking for a relationship, are they looking to date around or are they specifically looking for sex. None of these are bad needs unless they are not clear to the single parent or the people they might meet" says Armstrong. Being honest will help everyone involved avoid awkward situations and unnecessary heartbreak.
2. Date Someone Who Gets Your Life: Not many people will get how complicated your life is as a single parent. After juggling logistics, coordinating pick up and drop off, managing play dates and school lunches, it’s fine if all you want to do during the limited time you have alone is catch a quick bite or vegetate at home with take out. Date someone who understands this. Tara Ellison, author of Synchronized Breathing, a book about what life is like post-divorce, soon realized that dating had a different set of rules post divorce. “Dating as a mother demands a new level of maturity. The margin for error you once enjoyed pre-motherhood has radically diminished, and you now have one or more little people depending on you not to screw it up again” she says, in her Huffington Post article The Single Mother’s Guide To Dating.
3. Telling Your Children: "Understand that kids need stability and are looking to adults to provide examples of stability. If parents are introducing them to new 'friends' every other month then consider what message that sends to kids. If a couple is talking about blending lives fully, then that is when the kids are woven in" says Lisa Concepcion, Love Strategist and founder of LoveQuest Marketing. She further suggests holding off on introductions for the first 3-6 months of the relationship. However, Elliott Katz, the author of Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom On Being A Man, feels differently in her article in the Huffington Post. She says "I believe it's important, before you invest that much time, energy and emotion in a relationship, to see if your potential new partner and your children accept each other." Essentially, when things get a little crystallized and serious, consider getting to know your children's opinion and easing them into understanding your relationship. If they haven’t warmed up to the one you love, don’t push it or give up either. Take things slow, especially with multiple kids. Each one needs to be handled differently. 

4. Should You Tell The Co-parent: Typically, openness helps breed a civil atmosphere, which is very important when it comes to raising children together. There could be a downside to this as well if your ex isn't over you or is bitter from the separation. "The smart thing to do is to make your personal life no longer your ex's business until you meet someone and a serious commitment exists" says Lisa Concepsion. There’s no code that dictates when, how and whether or not you should tell your ex. Simply follow your instinct.

5. Don’t Rush: Last and most important, take your own time to heal organically before rushing back into the dating game. Whether you’re separated, divorced or have lost a partner, you need some time to come to terms with your situation. The world is full of people who make it their business to offer unsolicited advice on matters that don’t even concern them. Listen to everything people have to say, smile and then go ahead and do whatever the hell you want to do. Do not feel pressured to start dating before you’re ready. Rushing into something before the time is right will only confuse you more. At the risk of sounding clichéd, you'll know when the time is right.   

It's hard juggling a love life while raising kids but there's no real need to forsake your happiness. 'Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will learn a lot on this journey about yourself, the person you are dating, your kids and the person you coparent.' says Dr. Claudia Liz, author of Where's My Sanity? She adds 'It's all a learning curve, and the main thing to focus on is not only what you're going to do (right or wrong), but how everybody is going to grow from it.' And we couldn't agree more.
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