Dating and the Single Parent
With a high divorce rate in the United States, there are over 13.7 million single parent households in the United States! While most adults with children are loathe to separate for all of the usual reasons, it does happen despite the best intentions of married adults. Many marriages do stay together until their children get older—in fact the highest divorce rate is in adults who are 50-54 years of age (16%).
Men and women find themselves in mid-life, single and with children. At first, simply adjusting to single parenthood can be a huge challenge. Divorce results in a major financial down turn for most families. Out of necessity, many stay at home moms go back to work. Running a household, taking care of kids, and working can be exhausting for single parents. It’s hard to think about anything other than getting through the day.
But over time, parents start to consider dating. It can be overwhelming. Frequently, a broken relationship may cause emotional damage. Men and women may feel hurt, betrayed or angry. It can take time to heal from these emotional wounds before adults consider entering into new connections.
Sometimes adults may jump into a new relationship as a way of dealing with these feelings. Carrying fresh emotional baggage into a new relationship is rarely a good idea. The weight of these unresolved and fresh wounds can seep into a new affiliation. The outcome is rarely positive.
And then, who has time to date? It can feel like there isn’t even a moment to take a hot bath without interruption, much less go out on a Saturday night. Of course, frequently parents have every other weekend to themselves. This is a new experience for most parents. And it can be a lonely two days.
Many single adults wonder how will they meet someone. Most of us have heard miserable on-line dating service stories. “Thirty five year old single, attractive male turns out to be 45 year old, married flake.” Blind dates set up by well-meaning friends frequently don’t work out. It’s hard to meet eligible single adults at this time in one’s parental life.
So here are some important points to consider:
Don’t rush into a new relationship. All too often, I see single parents launching themselves into a new relationship like a rocket ship taking off! This seems to be especially the case for many men, who can’t imagine living alone. It takes time to recover from marital dissolution or the death of a spouse. Take your time and don’t throw yourself at the first available and interested possibility. Loneliness or the fear of being alone can result in bad choices. Take a leisurely approach. Look before you leap.
Salute red flags when you see them—and go the other way. When you go to the beach and the red flag is up—it means DON’T GO IN THE WATER! It doesn’t mean go in the water and the barracudas won’t bother you! What are some common red flags?--multiple marriages that didn’t last very long, active drug or alcohol abuse, major job problems, and lots of excuses.
Look to meet singles doing something you like to do. In the great Northwest, outdoor adventures are everywhere. There are hiking clubs, biking clubs, outdoor activities for single adults. There are also single parent gatherings too. (www.singleparents.meetup.com) Parents without partners is one of the oldest organizations for single parents to connect with other single parents. Religious institutions can also be a comfortable way of meeting single parents.
Be honest with kids. It’s important not to lie to your children or hide the truth. If you are going out on date, be honest about it. Reassure your children that a date is not the same as hitching up.
Take your time before you introduce a new love interest to your kids. Be sure that this new beau is going to be around for a while before you introduce him/her to your kids. Of course there are never any guarantees—but be cautious.
Be yourself--always. Single parents often focus on what they perceive to be their liabilities (divorced, young children or teens, reduced financial circumstances, or work responsibilities). Focus on your positives. And remember; don’t throw in the towel, romantic love may be just around the corner…
Share your experiences—good and bad! Let’s hear from single parents!