We all deserve to be happy and surrounded by love, but that isn’t always easy in the romantic realm – especially when children are in the mix. So how can single parents navigate a complex dating scent?
We asked Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW, certified life coach, relationship expert, dating coach and matchmaker for her top tips.
WAIT! Wait what? Just wait.
“Before you start dating again, make sure you are ready. If that means waiting until some time has passed, then please do. I’ve seen more people (both women and men) jump right into dating before they have given thought or consideration to what that really means. How will dating look like X number of years later? Who is the person you want to meet today? Who are you now? Do you have support to date (babysitters/time)? Do you have the emotional bandwidth to date (there can be emotional ups and downs)? Do you have healthy Boundaries? Why do you want to find a partner… and that’s just a start.”
Don’t wait (for the WRONG reasons).
“No, I am not trying to be contrary. I’m just trying to make you think. The biggest reason I hear women wait to date is their kids. They don’t want to upset the kids, scare the kids, or disappoint the kids. I know… I’m a mom of three and kids are our entire life! But sister, those kids are going to grow, so put your guilt aside. Our number one job is to ensure they become a whole person and have their own life. Not to sound cliché it does happen faster than you think. The last thing you want to do is find yourself standing there alone, as they are launched out into life, and you say to yourself… “now what?” So, my advice is, don’t wait too long to date, but do reference no. 1.”
Be a responsible dater.
“To piggyback off my last point, if you do decide to date while the kids are young (and I think you should) wait as long as possible to introduce the man you are dating. It’s as simple as, don’t bring him around until there is talk of exclusivity. AND… There shouldn’t be talk of exclusivity until you’ve been dating regularly, that’s 2-3 times a week, for 3-4 months. Once that pattern has been established and you’ve talked exclusivity, wait another 2-3 months to ensure the relationship is moving in the direction you want; then you can make the introduction to the kids. The pace and clarity about the longevity of the relationship will decrease the opportunity of the kids being disappointed, scared, or disappointed.”
Don’t listen to the naysayers.
“Dating today is hard, period, end of sentence. But really, it’s not as hard as the rumors (or naysayers) suggest. I’ve been coaching daters for 16 years and those who typically have success are those who approach dating with an open positive mindset. What I’ve also observed is that we are suggestible creatures and are easily influenced by the “horror stories”. There are actually more successes, and positive dating outcomes than people realize (I can report firsthand as I’ve had hundreds in my now 16-year career. Yes, that was a shameless plug).”
Keep your private stuff private.
“Here’s where I am going to assume you might use online dating to meet someone (and I think you should). That said, as my kids say to me when I leave the house… “make good choices”. And here are a few good choices you should make when you are using online dating. Make sure to keep your private stuff private. Meaning, no one needs to know exactly where you live, what you do for a living, your last name, or your kid’s names. Keep your private stuff private until you have clarity about the person or persons you are dating. You can share all that over time as you are getting to know someone, not on a first date.”
What should a first date look like?
“The quick and dirty is, a first date should be simple. No elaborate dinners, no long, drawn-out day trips, and of course, no one and I mean no one comes to your place for a home-cooked meal (nor do you go to theirs). It’s a meet and greet. Coffee, tea, or a bottle of water is just fine and long enough to determine if they are a nice enough person with whom to have a second date.”