How do I date in my 40s…with a toddler?

Most people my age have kids in college and don’t want to deal with someone who has a 2 year old.

Dear Is This Normal,

In response to the “Dating as a Single Mom Post” , one problem I often encounter is that I, being in my 40s, can’t find any men in their 40-60s who will want to date a woman with a toddler. My daughter is 2, and I’m 44. Most people my age or a bit higher have kids in college etc. and don’t want to deal with someone who has a two-year-old. They’ve been there, done that. What do you suggest in this situation?


Single Plus One

Dear Single Plus One,

Ooooooh, this is a bit of a sticky wicket, isn’t it?! Listen, toddlers are great. Toddlers are like very small, ornery adults with terrible hand-eye coordination who say whatever comes to mind. I love them to pieces, but they are an acquired taste, and you can’t really blame someone for not wanting to go down that particular road again, you know? But does that mean you’re destined for solitude until your kid starts kinder? Not necessarily.

I think it’s important to first establish your dating end goal. Are you dating for fun, or are you dating in the hopes of finding a long-term partner/potential spouse? Because your goals are really going to determine how you go about dating while your little girl is a toddler. And those goals can change! No wrong answers here, but it can definitely influence how to do this with a toddler.

If you are dating STRICTLY for fun at this point, my advice to you is this: keep your love life and your mom life separate. Well, as separate as possible. But when I first started dating, I wasn’t comfortable sharing/involving my kids. So while I made mention of being a mom on my dating profiles, I set some pretty clear boundaries up front about how much/little I shared about that part of my life.

I made it clear that my kids were off-limits and that part of my life was private. I wasn’t looking for a parenting partner (I should mention I did this across the board, not just with men who didn’t have their own kids). Because at that point, I wasn’t looking for one! I was looking to get out of the house in real clothes, meet other adults, have adult conversations, and just get my newly-single feet wet. I met some guys, had some fun. It worked the way I needed it to work, and if that’s what YOU need right now, there is no reason you can’t put some boundaries in place to make it work for you.

Now, let’s discuss the possibility that you’re hoping for more than just a few dinners or booty calls out of this dating game. You’re ready for someone to share your life with, and that means every part of it. A lot of us want the same. But as you said, having a toddler can be a tough sell, especially for people who are past that stage in their own lives.

You mentioned that you’re 44, and it sounds like you’ve been fishing in the 40-60s pool. Have you considered casting a wider net and having a go with someone a bit younger than yourself? I’m not saying you should put up flyers on college bulletin boards looking for recent grads. But perhaps lowering your range to, say, 35-40? Date someone younger, you say?! Blasphemy! But hear me out. Men in their mid-late 30’s will probably have young children of their own, or could be more open to dating someone with a young child. They may not have the same “been there, done that” mentality as men your age or older. Not to generalize here, but in my experience, older men tend to be a bit more set in their ways and less likely to adapt to living and dating in the 21st century.

Finally, here’s a little advice I like to give my single mamas: you’ve got to broaden your horizons and get more creative about where and how you meet other eligible single people/parents.

The dating apps are great, but if you want to meet someone who’s OK with you having a toddler (or even has one of their own), you’ve gotta go where the kids are. Play dates, toddler classes, local parent group meet-ups. If your little girl is in preschool and they have a parent association, join and go to meetings! Even if you don’t meet a ton of eligible single dads, you WILL meet lots of other moms… and moms have friends. And moms talk. And moms can set you up with their super cute and successful friend who loves kids and has a golden retriever–Just sayin’.

Keep at it, Plus One. I know dating with a toddler is hard. Hell, doing ANYTHING with a toddler is hard. But if you adjust your game plan a bit, and commit to going outside of your comfort zone, it can really pay off.

Sending you good dating (and toddler-parenting!) vibes,

Is This Normal


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