Being a single parent is hard enough, add in trying to meet someone and it’s nearly impossible. Top that off with having been out of the dating pool for 14 years and it becomes a heck of a lot of trail and error. I have learned some big lessons though all of this, ones that I would like to share with you. Ones that I may have to refer back to in the future.
Make yourself happy first: I was really close to staying in my unhappy marriage. Like, really close. The truth is, I kept telling myself that I was an overweight, single mom of two young girls and that no one would want me. I figured I’d be alone for the rest of my life. These thoughts terrified me for years. I finally got to the point where I figured I would be happier by myself, even for the rest of my life than be in an unhappy marriage. Harsh, but true.
It took me months to decide that I was ready to date. When I did, I realized that being a single parent in your mid 30’s wasn’t as uncommon as I thought. There are a lot of us in this situation and it sure isn’t a dating deterrent. In fact, I talked to a lot of single dads that would never date someone without kids. I can totally see this point of view. Another single parent will understand time restraints, the complexities of dating with kids and know that your kids will always come first. Makes sense to me although at this point, I’m not cutting any group of men out of my dating circle (that sounds really odd, doesn’t it?).
As for the weight, having the confidence to know that you can do this on your own and that you don’t need a partner is super attractive. It helps that in my case, I have the most amazing trainers and classes and I’ve managed to lose 40 pounds since the beginning of my separation, but that’s a whole different story. 40 pounds or not, I’m a catch. A strong, independent catch.
You don’t have to marry everyone: It’s easy to over think dating, especially when you are just getting out of a long-term relationship. I over thought everything with the first person I dated after my separation. When should I meet his daughter? Will she like me? Would they fit into my house? Would I have to move? Could I commit myself to another child in my life?
Yep, I pondered it all right off the bat. The most hilarious thing? We only lasted a couple of weeks. Why should I be freaking out and trying to control something that hasn’t even gotten off the ground? For me, I know I’m not a casual dating/just sex girl. I’m just not. But, I do know that I should go with the flow more and realize that I’m not going to marry every person I date. Thank goodness.
Wait to introduce the kids: My girls are my everything and protecting them is my number 1 job as a parent. In the first couple of months of a relationship, both parties are still on their best behavior and you may know the skeletons hiding in their closet. There is no hard and fast rule on this and I do think every relationship is different, but my advice is to wait. No sense investing your kids hearts into a relationship with the person you’re dating before you have.
You can make time to date: Before I started dating as a single mom, I had no idea how people found the time to see each other. I’ll let you in on a little secret, single parents date after the kids are asleep. In my case, I sent a text that the kids were asleep and he would come over to watch movies and maybe drink a glass of wine. Single parents need to make the most of their time alone, especially when their visitation times/free weekends don’t match. If you are scared of being caught by your kids, you can always reuse your baby monitors.
It’s okay to use online dating sites: The last time I dated was 1999. That was before smartphones, apps and most online dating sites. I spent a lot of time on Whyte, watching bands and hanging out in bars. I was a lot more social then and didn’t have any problem finding people to date. Now, I get 6 nights off a month to go out and meet new people. Huge difference!
Online dating can be scary at first, but it can also be a lot of fun. I’m not going to tell you what sites to use in this post (I might do a review post later on them), but don’t be terrified. It’s not like you have to meet every person you talk to. Just be aware of the fact that you will get some inappropriate NSFW messages at times. These typically make me laugh, but a few have crossed the line. Like any site, you can block anyone that bothers you.
If you are going to meet someone off of a dating site, use common sense. Meet in a public place and have your own
getaway car transportation home. You can even make up a code word to have one of your friends sweep in and save you or chose to live tweet the date. Just kidding, I wouldn’t live tweet a date…or would I? Do..do..do..
At the end of the day, if you are staying in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy because you don’t want to be alone, think again. Not only can you do this, there are a lot of people out there that will be interested in spending time with you. I’m in no way a relationship expert and I’m still looking for my Prince Charming/Lloyd Dober/Noah Calhoun/Jack Dawson, but I’m having fun and that’s what matters to me right now.