Whether it is a formal divorce, informal separation or the death of your partner, being a single parent can keep your hands full. To be in this position, would imply that you have gone through a few emotional upheavals, to say the least. You have your child / children to focus on, maybe your career to keep you busy, but what about your need for a companion?
The thought of finding a new partner can be daunting to most single parents. Most feel that casual dating is something that they do not want to invest time or bandwidth in. The baggage of the past can veer single parents in one of two directions – to remain single and away from the dating scene, or to be involved recklessly in doomed relationships.
Divorce especially, is a self-esteem killer. Moreover, it can cause guilt by making the person feel that by getting the divorce, it is he/she who has made his/her child the victim of the split. Furthermore, after an unsuccessful marriage a person starts to doubt his or her own ability to make the right relationship choices. All of these factors are at play when thinking about finding a new partner. Here are some dating tips for single parents that can help navigate this phase of life in a circumspect, yet positive manner.
Finding a place to meet new people
Given that most single parents also tend to have careers, it can leave very little time to meet new people outside of the family / work circles. If you are inclined towards online because it affords you a sense of privacy, then you could explore websites that guarantee some information privacy and safety. If you prefer meeting in person and you prefer having your child along, you could try going on play dates with other single parents connected through your extended family. Else, you could even make time to explore areas of personal interest – gymming, running, hiking, with like-minded individuals from various Facebook groups and meetups. The key is to keep your mind open to the possibility. You never know who you might bump into at the local museum or the flea market or bookstores.
Right time to reveal you have kids
Sometimes, single parents have a difficult time in knowing when and how to bring up their parenthood. It can be confusing, not knowing whether that would be appropriate or not. The thumb rule is to stop over-thinking – it’s a fact that you are a parent and it is an integral part of your life. So bring it up conversationally any time in the initial few meetings, as the flow of conversation moves from one topic to another. When dealing with a similar situation online, simply mention the fact that you have a child/children in the profile section, without going into details. The details can come at a later time, to individuals in whom you are interested. All strangers passing through your profile need to know these important details about you.
It is also good to remember that while the fact that you are a single parent is essential, that is not the focus of your discussion in this scenario. That is to say, while it is the easiest thing to go on about your child, put yourself out of your comfort zone and talk about you as a person.
Is it okay to reveal about your date to your child?
Just as single parents remain in a dilemma about telling their date about their kid, so it is telling their children about their date. In both cases, simple honesty can be the best policy. If you are going on a date, instead of making excuses about work to your child, simply mention that you are going out to meet new people and make new friends. This will help the child in understanding, without using loaded words such as lonely, dating or relationship. This will prepare the child in the eventuality of finding the right person with the potential for a relationship.
What is the right time to introduce your date to your child?
Children are more resilient than we give them credit for. At the same time, they are sensitive and highly observant of their parent’s emotions. Given this, it might be prudent to introduce to your child someone with whom you are seriously considering a relationship, and not just casually dating. It is important for children to be kept in the loop with respect to serious happenings in their parent’s life, including any potential romantic relationships. At the same time, it is equally important for the child not to feel that there is a string of new people who come and go away from their life. In some cases, that can even lead to feelings of abandonment, especially if the child forms a bond with the concerned person.
There could be many other scenarios that arise as you step out into this journey of finding the right person for you to find companionship again. The important thing to remember is to know that you always have your child’s best interests at heart – so everything viewed through that lens will fall into place at the right time, with the right person. Perhaps, all other problems in your mind are more imagined than real. Go forth, and genuinely give it a shot – the most unexpected things can happen if at all you are open to it.
Do you think there are other important things that can be helpful for someone in this phase of life? Share your thoughts below!