Dating is exciting and a little confusing at times. But add kids into the mix, and it can get even more confusing. However, that’s not to say dating single parents isn’t possible. In fact, it’s quite the contrary; you just may have to take a little extra care when negotiating the dating scene.
So, how do you go about dating someone with kids? Or, how do you start dating when you have children of your own? Follow along to find out more.
Whether you’re interested in dating a single parent or you are the single parent, we’ve created a handy guide with some tips on how to date when children are in the equation. First, we cover dating as a single mom or dad, and then we dive into dating as a single parent.
Dating a Single Parent
So, what can you expect when dating a single parent? Well, single parents are just like any other potential match—they just may have different priorities and schedules than your child-free dates. It may be different than what you’re used to, but dating a parent can also introduce you to new and exciting experiences and opportunities to develop a deeper bond.
If you’re considering dating a single mom or dad, check out some of these tips to help you get your relationship off to a good start.
Understand Their Children are Their Priority
Realizing their children will always come first is perhaps our most important tip for dating single dads and moms. After all, parenting is their number one priority—especially if their children are young—so it’s their responsibility to act in the best interest of their kids.
While this shouldn’t mean your wants and needs go unmet, it might involve some compromising and readjusting your expectations at times.
Accept That Their Ex May Still be in the Picture
With dating a single parent often comes another parent: their ex. Even though they’re no longer romantically involved, they’re still going to play a role in their children’s lives, which means corresponding, coordinating, and maybe even spending time with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Before entering into the relationship, make sure you’re confident enough in yourself and comfortable with this arrangement.
Take it Slow
This tip involves both your partner and their kids. Avoid rushing into things and give your partner (and their family) a chance to warm up to the idea of this new relationship. Be patient and understand that this one may not move as quickly as some of your past relationships. Also, don’t expect the kids to like you right off the bat, as bonding with them will take time and effort.
Make Plans in Advance
Between getting the kids to school, driving them to soccer practice, and serving them meals, single parents have a lot going on, meaning last-minute plans are usually off the table. But just because they’re juggling a lot of things at once doesn’t mean they’re uninterested in spending time with you.
The key to dating a single dad or mom is planning ahead. Give them advanced notice so they have a chance to accommodate or rearrange their schedule. Whether you have tickets to a show or want to make dinner reservations, tell them as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly.
Just as it’s a good idea to plan ahead, it’s also important to be flexible when dating a single parent. Things happen that are sometimes out of their control (their kid gets sick, or the babysitter cancels), and it’s up to you to be understanding and accommodating. Don’t take offense, and instead, put that energy toward rescheduling your date and appreciating the time you do spend together.
Stay in Your Lane
It’s an exciting milestone when your boyfriend or girlfriend decides to introduce you to their kids, but it’s essential to remember your place.
You’re not their mother or father, so avoid disciplining the children unless your partner has given you permission to do so. Also, don’t bend the rules or go against their parents’ word trying to win the kids over, as this will only add tension to your relationship and create unnecessary stress for your partner.
And in the same vein, don’t pass judgment on your partner’s parenting style. Even if you’re a parent yourself, offering support will go a whole lot further than dishing out criticism.
Dating as a Single Parent
Now, let’s look at the flipside: Dating as a single parent. Is it hard? Yes, sometimes dating as a single parent is challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. Check out our tips for navigating the dating world as a single mom or dad.
Be Honest with Yourself
When dating as a single dad or mom, it’s crucial to go into a relationship having an idea of what you want and need, so you can avoid wasting your time (and your potential partner’s time).
Before you dive into the dating scene, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself questions like, do you have the emotional capacity to take on a relationship right now? And do you have the time and energy to dedicate to a new partnership? Also, think about the kind of relationship you’re looking for, whether that means a laidback fling or something more serious and long-term.
While it’s ok to change your mind over time, it’s good to have some sort of foundation on which to grow a relationship.
Be Honest with Your Partner
No matter how incredible of a mom or dad you are, parenthood can be chaotic, messy, and a little unhinged at times, and you should convey this to your partner.
Dating as a single mom or dad requires a partner who is patient, flexible, and understanding, because without that support, you may wind up feeling like you have another child on your hands. Be honest with your boyfriend or girlfriend about what parenthood entails for you and how that may impact your relationship.
Try to Strike a Balance
We realize it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to strike a balance—or at least strive for one. You love your kids, but you don’t need to spend every waking moment with them; in the same way, your kids shouldn’t get moved to the back burner the moment you start dating someone new.
Consider blocking out special times for dating, like Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. This means all-day Saturday and Sunday mornings are off-limits and reserved for spending time with your kids. This can help create boundaries without feeling like you’re leaving anyone out.
Go at Your Own Pace
Whether you’re recently divorced or widowed, dating again can feel a little scary. And when you add kids into the picture, it can feel darn-right terrifying. But those feelings are normal, and it’s just a matter of easing back into it.
Take your time, go at your own pace, and give yourself boundaries. If that means making an online profile and not talking to anyone for the first three months, then so be it! Dating should be fun and exciting, so if it doesn’t feel that way, don’t be afraid to take a break and try again later.
Everyone deserves a chance at love, so don’t let one’s parental status get in the way of that. Follow our advice to help make stronger connections and grow your relationship—with a parent or as a parent.