For a single parent returning to dating, half of the journey is in actually coming to the decision to ‘get back in the game’. But after that… where to begin?
Whether you’ve already decided to start dating again or you’re still in the earlier stages of considering a move back into the dating scene, there are various things to bear in mind and we’ve got a few tips to help you get started…
When is the right time to start dating?
If the thought of dating again makes you excited, you are ready to get yourself out there. Whether you’re working full time, have your hands full with younger kids, have your hands full with older kids (!) or are worried about what those around you may think, there is always going to be something stopping you for going after what you want. If you do want to find love again, that is the only thing that really matters. You can make it work with the life that you have.
How do I get started?
We’re obviously fans of online dating; it enables you to start dating as soon as you decide to (instead of having to wait around for a suitor!), and is something you can focus on when you’ve finished work or the kids have gone to sleep. HelloYou is a perfect solution to dating when you’ve got a particularly busy lifestyle. All you have to do is sign up to a site, create a profile that reflects you and start reaching out to new people! It all starts with a simple hello…
When should I reveal I have kids?
This is an understandable dilemma, but ultimately we recommend disclosing your mini-me from the get go. Yes, you might get approached by fewer people but chances are there will be fewer time-wasters clogging your inbox too; and that can only be a good thing. The people who are interested in you will be all the more genuine if they know you have kids already; they may even be single parents themselves. We recommend a brief comment in your ‘About Me’ section that says you’re a parent, but keeping the rest of your profile really focussed on who you are aside from your family.
How do I talk to my kids about dating?
The answer to this question combines two classic sayings; honesty is the best policy and less is more. If your kids are old enough to actually realise you’re going out for the evening, we recommend finding an appropriate way to tell them you’re dating, while reassuring them that this won’t detract from the amount of time and love you have to spend on them! From then onwards, ‘less is more’ comes in. Obviously answering your child’s question about your date will be different to answering a friend’s question; keep it short, sweet and simple. Although you’re finding time to focus on yourself, kids generally want their parent to be available on demand 24/7 so it’s important to let them know that your dating isn’t going to impact that. Overall, we recommend that you simply keep aware of what your kids are feeling about your dating life and being sure to acknowledge those feelings with them, without needing that to compromise how you go about your life.
When should I introduce my new partner to my kids?
It is important to bear in mind that some children form attachments very quickly, and being introduced to someone only for them to disappear could be disruptive upon your child’s belief system. What this DOESN’T mean is that you should never introduce your family to your new partner! While it is too soon to bring someone into your kids’ lives after only a few dates, once you are in an exclusive relationship in which you feel stable and safe, there is no reason to hide it from your children. Making the initial meeting take place in an informal setting is often best; perhaps even in your home. This way your child is at their most comfortable and is more likely to be able to bond with your new partner.
What if my child doesn’t like them?
It’s true that a lot of children have mixed feelings about new adult figures in their lives – its understandable – change is scary and can be overwhelming. Whilst younger children might need time to adjust to changes to everyday routines, older children may worry a new partner may mean less attention for them. They just need to know they still have your love and attention regardless of you dating. Be an open door when it comes to discussing any concerns. While it could take a little time, honesty with your children and within your relationship will be sure to smooth the transition.
Despite potential for the mother of all awkward situations, if you and your new partner are in a long term, committed relationship, or even moving towards living together or marrying, it is important for the ex and the newbie to meet. Despite the awakwardness, it will ultimately ease tensions for everyone; especially your children. We recommend holding the initial meeting away from little ones/teens though; they don’t want to be privy to grown-up politics, but it is nicer for them if dad’s girlfriend and mum can get along so that they don’t have to feel their loyalties to each parent are being tested.
If you have any more specific questions about dating as a single parent, feel free to comment below or tweet @HelloYouDating.