Dating as a Single Parent

By: Diana Shepherd
Last Update: October 29, 2016

After your relationship breaks down, you need to invest some time and effort to heal your broken heart. Once you have gotten past the “walking wounded” stage, you may be interested in finding a new mate. On the other hand, some single parents avoid the dating world altogether, choosing instead to devote all their time outside work to their children.

However, experts say that becoming socially active after divorce can help prevent a parent from becoming unhealthily obsessive about his or her parenting role. In fact, when single parents design their lives to revolve around the kids, they can end up harming the children by relying too heavily on them to fill the gap left by the departure of the other parent.

On the flip side, don't feel you have to run out and find a new mate to provide another parent for your kids. Your kids are probably better off with you alone than with your rebound-romance interest.

Dating can be stressful at the best of times – and dating when you have young children can be especially challenging. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to make re-entering the dating world easier on you and your kids.

  • What type of companionship are you seeking? Are you looking for new friends, a casual date for a Saturday night when the kids are with your ex, or are you hoping to remarry?
  • What specific qualities in a mate will complement you, your children, and your lifestyle? You may find “bad boys/girls” attractive, but are those qualities you want around your children?
  • Are you willing to date another single parent? He/she should be able to understand and empathize with your situation, but finding time to spend together can be a real problem if your custody schedules don’t match.
  • Have you talked to your children about the fact that you’re considering (or have already started) dating again?Be prepared for negative reactions: the kids may view your dates as competition for your love and attention, and it will certainly destroy their hopes that you and you ex will get back together. Ask yourself these questions when deciding whether to let your kids know that you’re dating:
    • Have your children dealt with their feelings of sadness or anger about the divorce? Some children just need time and support from their parents and friends, while others require professional assistance to adjust with the changes in their family. If one of more or your children is not coping well, either delay dating or delay telling them about your dating until they have successfully dealt with their emotions.
    • You may be ready to date again, but are your children ready to accept a new adult into their lives? Some children are more upset about the divorce than either parent.
    • Do you have excellent lines of communications with your children? Are you certain that your child tell you if he/she were feeling concerned or threatened – either by the fact of your dating or your choice of dates?
  • Have you thought about when you should introduce a new love interest to your children? You should be sure that the relationship is serious and committed on both parts before telling your children. The last thing they need is a revolving door of new “uncles” or “aunts” who will disappear from their lives as suddenly as they appeared.

One of the greatest challenges of single parenting is being able to take care of your needs for adult companionship and love while nurturing your children at the same time. Take your time: don’t rush into a new relationship because you fear being alone. When you do meet someone special, take the time for everyone to get to know each other really well before embarking on remarriage or moving in together – for your sake, your new partner’s sake, and for the sake of the children.

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