Can single parents date again? Of course they can! But having children can make dating more challenging.
For one thing, you have to balance your commitments to your kids with the time demands a new relationship takes.
For another thing, you may be introducing a new person to your kids’ lives and that can cause confusion and tension.
Many people seem to have an opinion about single parents, and their advice when it comes to your private life is: take up needlepoint or woodworking. Forget them. A single parent can date, seriously or casually. A single parent can be seen out dancing on a Saturday night. A single parent can even have sex!
However, dating when you have children is not like dating before kids. There are some general guidelines you need to follow when you are introducing a new adult into your children’s lives.
Before You Start to Date Again
Don’t jump right into the soup and think you should start by checking out the online personals. Remember that when you start dating, it doesn’t just affect you. Starting a new relationship will affect your whole family. So, talk to your kids about why mommy or daddy might see other people occasionally.
Before you start dating, begin by taking care of yourself. Too often, single parents who are primary caretakers have to balance so many things that they let their own self care go down the drain.
But taking care of yourself shows self respect. It also reflects your personal boundaries. If you invest time and energy taking care of yourself, you are ready to invest in new personal relationships. When you make the commitment to take care of yourself, you are practicing dating someone else. If you can’t take care of yourself right now, do you really think you have the emotional reserves to be there for another person?
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You may not want to start by finding dates. Instead, look to develop all kinds of friendships. Look around your job or the people you meet from your kids’ activities and find people that you would like to get to know better. Establish friendships. These can be with men or women. The friendships will enrich your life.
If a friendship leads to romance, that is great! But, even if it doesn’t, your new friends are likely to introduce you to potential dates themselves.
By beginning to actively socialize, you are actually preparing your children for dating in the future. They will begin to see that you have social needs that they alone cannot meet. Once they are accustomed to you going out from time to time, dating won’t be a shock. Get out of the house. Hire a sitter if you need to. Think of it as preparation for a lively dating life.
Another advantage of developing your social life is that your kids will get used to you going out without them. Your social life won’t threaten them. Then when you do start to date again, the children won’t see a dramatic “shift” in your routine. Mommy (or daddy) is just going out to dinner with a friend.
Prepare your kids for your dating future. They should know whether you are building casual friendships or whether you hope to marry. You should be honest with them, but it’s also okay to tell them that you aren’t prepared to answer specific questions at a given time.
Your children are much less likely to resist another person coming in their life down the road if you lay the proper groundwork ahead of time.