Singles come from every walk of life. Some are recently divorced and some have lost a spouse. In many cases these types of situations come with a shift in parenting responsibilities too.
DEEP BREATH IN.
It’s true, parenting can add an additional challenge to dating. At first this may feel impossible, but it is definitely not.
So, single parents, this one’s for you!
At It’s Just Lunch, we generally find singles who are ready to dive back into the “dating pool” take one of two approaches: (1) those who jump into the deep end and have done “the work” so they feel ready to have a partnership in life again or (2) those who take one step at a time into the shallow end, not knowing exactly what to do next or where to start, just knowing they are ready to meet people and test the waters.
Single parents aren’t that different in their approach from other singles, they just have kids in the adjacent kiddie pool.
Parents tend to prioritize their child(ren)'s feelings to elude their own needs; it happens all the time when it comes to starting the dating process again. Sometimes worry, guilt or concern of hurt feelings and misbehavior from a child can create a self-inflicted “waiting period” between a divorce or the loss of a spouse.
Remember, only you can decide when you are ready to find something new and start dating. Taking care of your own needs and happiness directly affects your children, so making the decision can be difficult. When you do decide it’s time to date (work or no work) it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, it just matters that you feel ready to put yourself out there again...and are ready to take action.
Here are a few tips to consider when you are ready to jump back into the dating pool again.
- A first date is still just a first date - even when you have kids. So remember, just enjoy it! Everything is new, and the kids don’t get to come! This is adult time to get to know one another and see if you want a second date before you jump into bringing the kids into the mix. Time together is needed before figuring out all the details.
- Adjust your expectations. You’ve been around the block so starting as if you are young and baggage free isn’t a reality any more. The expectations you create around dating should be a match for who you are showing up as and the type of people you are meeting.
- Don’t skip the dating. There is no need to play house too quickly. Kids or not, everyone has a past and there is a time to introduce someone new in your life to the whole you. That said, the beginning is time to enjoy getting to know one another. It’s a time for flirting, butterflies and getting to know one another. And let’s not not forget firsts...yes, like the first kiss!
- Again, remember it’s just a first date! So when you are getting to know someone on a first date don’t ask yourself “would they be a good parent to my child?” (We know it’s been done as we have had a client or two who have admitted doing it!) There’s no need to consider assigning expectations and responsibilities onto someone you just met.
It is important to stay present and see if you enjoy being together. Deciding if they can be nominated for “Step-Parent of the Year” will come, but shouldn’t be based on who they are in a single moment in time.
Focus on building that connection and finding out more about the person sitting in front of you before you let your mind wander to the future. Your child is part of you, of course, but first dates are meant for exploration. So, explore the person you are with and have fun!
If you want to do a deeper dive into dating as a single parent or blended families, check out Jolene Beaton, IJL’s Dating and Relationship Coach in her collaborative interview with Healing Coach Heather Carter.
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