Dating under ideal circumstances isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. Dating as a newly single parent?! We can think of approximately 127 things that sound easier and more appealing… and getting a root canal is one of them. It’s not that dating in and of itself is bad, it’s just that once you become a parent, your priorities go through a major shift, and trying to balance that with small talk over coffee with a stranger and drinks after work when the sitter charges time and half can be…challenging. But that doesn’t mean you should count yourself out! Never. What it does mean is that this time around, you’re going to need to enter this dating game with a different playbook. If you’re a newly single parent ready to find love in this hopeless place, we’ve got some tips to help make it easier.
1. Make Sure You’re READY Ready
There’s a big difference between being ready to date again and being READY to date again. You’ve got, like, actual grown-up responsibilities and a human or two to keep alive and thriving. So before you wade back into the pool of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, you need to have a heart to heart with yourself to make sure this is the right time for you to make additional changes to your lives and more demands on your time, emotions, and mental bandwidth. Only you can decide that for yourself. There is also no time limit on how long you wait whether it be weeks, months, or years, the ball is in your court.
2. Pick Your Poison
Remember the nights when you would lock eyes with a cutie across the bar in a loud club and then spend the rest of the night flirting heavily before deciding you’d like to see this person again? Well, that may not work this time around.
The great thing about dating in 2023 (hey, there are some bright spots!) is that it’s gone mostly online. Sure, you’re losing some of the personal connection in the beginning, but it makes it SUPER convenient. You can pursue potential paramours when your kids are in bed or at school, weed out undesirables without having to endure a single in-person date to realize they’re not a match, and connect with people you likely never would have crossed paths within your day-to-day. There are SO many apps out there now, so it may take a few tries to find the one you vibe with. But hey, the same can be said about potential partners.
Not into the online thing? Hit up your partnered friends and ask for a solid! We don’t know about you, but our married and committed friends have TONS of single friends of their own, and sometimes it’s just a matter of letting them know you’re ripe for the picking (or in this case, the setting up). Plus, these are your friends, they know you, and they can do the initial screening process on your behalf. Anytime you can get a couple of steps ahead, do it.
3. Be Upfront
You’re not the same person you were the last time you did this – you’re a parent now. And while you can (and should!) protect your peace and privacy and keep your kids and dating life separate for as long as you feel you need to, you really can’t hide the fact that this whole dating thing isn’t exactly your first (or even second) priority. Make sure that anyone you’re talking to understands that you have a kid or kids, your main focus in life is their well-being, and you won’t compromise that for anyone. You’re a single parent, wear it with pride and say it with your whole chest! Don’t want to waste any of your precious time on someone who can’t or won’t acknowledge or respect such a huge part of your life and who you are.
4. Set Boundaries
In two ways: with any potential partner and for yourself. It’s completely normal and healthy and even recommended that when you start dating as a single parent, you maintain boundaries between your dating life and your home life/kids/life as a parent. Because initially, those will be two very separate parts of your life! You may not feel ready to share your parent life with someone you’re dating or comfortable sharing a new partner with your kids for quite some time, and that is 100% OK. So it’s a good idea to establish and communicate these boundaries very early on, to avoid any confusion or gray area or misunderstandings for anyone involved.
5. Have Fun, Let Go of Guilt
Listen, life has a funny way of letting you know that your best-laid plans don’t mean sh*t. Maybe you never imagined yourself wading back into the dating pool after starting a family with someone or opting to start a family on your own. Maybe you thought you’d found your forever, or maybe you only recently decided that doing this life with someone sounds better than doing it alone. Whatever brought you to this point, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to start dating again. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, it doesn’t mean you’re putting a booty call above your kids, it doesn’t mean your priorities have changed. It just means you wanna meet someone, be courted, do the courting, have a meal and a conversation that doesn’t include sippy cups and screaming about sock seams! So don’t feel guilt. And don’t let anyone else try to make you feel guilty. Go into this with an open mind, and have as much fun with it as you can. There’s no reason to take it super seriously, at first or ever. Know what you want out of it, tailor it to fit your needs, and live your best life.