An oft-discussed topic on single parent groups in Facebook is, “How do you date as a single parent?”
I have been a lone parent for nine years and have never known life as anything but a lone parent.
Here’s what works for me:
Step 1: Set a conscious intention: decide to date.
A conscious intention means that we are willing to observe, accept, and acknowledge challenges in the process (and there will be many). If we are not genuinely committed to the idea of dating and willing to set this intention, the barriers could easily prevent us from doing so. Be it a need to prioritize the kids, a perceived lack of community support, or the budget for a babysitter never making its way to the financial priority list, there must be enough of a conscious desire for partnership that we are willing to observe and overcome these very real constraints.
Step 2: Love needs to find a place on our calendar: create openings in our schedule.
To accept dates, we must have open time available in our physical calendar to go on dates.
I always liked lunch dates, but that also worked best for me and my schedule, as I could then circumvent the need for a babysitter. Lunch dates are my personal solution, and are not necessarily a universal formula for success.
What is universal, however, is that love needs to be a priority on our calendar: maybe it’s weekends every two weeks, lunch openings a few times a week, a few evenings a week, or afternoon or morning coffee availabilities.
Be honest and be willing to be creative: nobody can date us if we are not willing to offer up time in our schedule.
Step 3: Put yourself on the market.
There’s no magic for this. Go online, where 50 percent of couples who get married in 2020 will meet one another.
The other 50 percent meet in real life through events, activities, work, and friends. Volunteer, go to coffee shops and bars, ask friends for set-ups, do things you love, attend local cultural and sporting events.
Since entering into single parenthood, I have relied on both halves. I maintained an online presence, where I went on many first and second dates. I also had longer term relationships with 1. A man I met at a yoga studio, 2. A man I met at a nightclub on a night out with a friend, who knew us both, and 3. A man I met volunteering at an event.
Step 4: Embrace love.
It is commonly told to parents that the children must come first. However, if we embrace love, we then don’t need to feel guilt or shame for adding our desires for partnership, companionship, love and/or relationship. There is enough love to go around.
I have never felt for one moment that I am sacrificing anything of my son’s time or bond or closeness by also seeking adult companionship. In fact, my attitude of love abundance has been welcome in the dating space as a fresh mindset by many.
Contemplate areas where you may have guilt, shame, or other blocks to life. Cultivate an attitude of abundance for love by meditating, doing yoga, reading books about love, working with a dating coach, or listening to podcasts.
Step 5: Stay present.
It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves when it comes to dating. The vast majority of first and second dates statistically don’t progress to relationships, so focus on staying in the moment and committing to simply having the time, presence, and availability for one or two dates.
Your future partner will come with his or her own schedule and foibles, and the two of you can sort it out at the time when it needs to be sorted.
I could have allowed myself to believe that it would never be possible to have a relationship with 100 percent custody, but by staying present and allowing my relationships to unfold and problem-solving with my partners, the barriers have resolved in due time.
Step 6: Be clear.
Be clear about what you want and discard what you don’t. Stay focused on candidates who offer what you want and are responsive to what you offer, and don’t mind the rest. Allow them to find partners who are suitably responsive to their needs.
Step 7: Prepare for challenge.
Dating with children is not easy. Stay focused on the journey, which means enjoying every date for what it is and not necessarily for the outcome.
Prepare for the process to entail some challenges, which sets you up for a long term mindset. If we expect it to be easy, we may be ill-prepared for the challenges of dating with a dependent.
Dating has always been a priority for me, and I have loved meeting men and enjoying the progression of whatever relationship is before me, be it for an hour or for multiple years.
There’s no magic formula for “how” to date as a single parent, but I wish you great success in finding love.