10 Reasons Dating Is So Much More Complicated For Single Parents

Whether you’ve been pursuing the dating scene as a single parent for some time or are just now ready to get back out there, it’s just a truth that dating is not the same for single parents. In fact, it’s way more complicated. Here are some points to consider as you venture into the world of dating as a single parent.

  1. Your child will always come first. This means if the school play is on the same night as your partner’s best friend’s cousin’s birthday- you’re gonna be at that play. Not that you’ll cave to your child’s every whim and ignore your relationship. This one might seem simple if you’re a parent, but for a lot of folks in the dating pool, it isn’t nearly so obvious. Many people think that a relationship should come first and that children shouldn’t take priority- but if that’s not you, be sure to be clear about your expectations with anyone you date upfront.
  2. It could be a deterrent. Alright, this one probably seems obvious too, but it’s better to not assume how anyone feels about you being a parent. If you’re interested in someone, try asking leading questions to get the dialog going, like “How do you feel about the fact that I’m a parent?” and make them feel safe discussing it honestly. It’s important to realize that people have many reasons not to date a single parent, and that’s ok, and not about you personally.
  3. Your child’s schedule could limit your ability to date. Whether you have your kids full time, half the time, or just on the weekend- a single parent’s schedule can be rough. Between doctor’s appointments and after-school activities, it can feel like you never get the chance to relax. You lose the ability to be spontaneous, and that might not work for every potential partner. Letting someone know upfront you are willing to make the relationship a priority, but also what your limitations give you both the chance to decide if it will work for you.
  4. Your dating funds may be limited. Let’s face it- dating is expensive. With the price of gas alone- sheesh! As a parent, the needs of your kid will always come before things like a weekend getaway or trying out that new restaurant. You may be paying or receiving support for your child, and most of us with a single income budget have a harder time making ends meet. You don’t need to disclose all your financial responsibilities, but discussing with the person you’re dating why take-out and a movie at home is a better option for you on occasion can help ease anxiety about the cost of dating.
  5.  Your kid is dating them too. This is true whether you’re the parent, or the potential partner- bringing someone new around your kid is a big deal. As a parent, you have to make sure it’s a welcome addition to your child’s life. Ask your child their opinion about your partner, and take the time to listen and consider what they say. Having regular discussions with your children as well as your partner about how everyone is feeling will allow you to work as a team to problem-solve issues that may come up.
  6. Parenting styles are all different. Once your significant other is introduced and spending any kind of significant time with your child, they will inevitably be helping to support you in your parenting. It’s important to discuss and set boundaries if you and your partner have different parenting styles and need to meet in the middle.
  7. Being a parent makes you a different kind of partner. Most single parents have lived through some stuff and can apply unique perspectives and experiences to a new relationship. They’ve likely (hopefully) done some work on themselves and have been alone and gotten to know themselves for a while. A single parent probably has a laundry list of what they’re looking for in a potential relationship and isn’t going to waste any time if the other person doesn’t measure up. A single parent may be a lot less inclined to accept any crap in a relationship, but you’ll likely also find they are incredibly nurturing as a partner.
  8. You don’t have much time for yourself. As a single parent, your time for rest or your interests and hobbies is limited. Likely you have at least a handful of friends you need to get back to or catch up with- and some days you’re lucky if you get to shower. It’s important to make time for yourself separately from kids or a partner, and setting clear boundaries as you are dating is crucial.
  9. Your judgment could be off. Those of us that ended a relationship with the co-parent of our child didn’t do it for no reason. Your trauma, baggage- whatever you want to call it- could be clouding your judgment about what a relationship should be and what kind of potential partner you are looking for. To avoid falling into old patterns, be sure to address your own healing before deciding to move on with someone new. Keep in mind that being single is still way better than being treated like crap, and that goes for everyone involved.
  10. Someone will have a problem with it no matter what you do. If you’re a single dad, there is stigma. If you’re a single mom, a different stigma. The person who stayed single with no kids? Stigma. You can’t put too much weight into any of it. Stop caring what other people think, and get to know what you want out of a partner, just like anybody else.