Dating Logistics for the Single Parent
I have been a single parent for many years, and as any single parent will tell you, my dating life changed radically post-kids. Pre-kids, dating could be a simple as flirting at the coffee shop, or as intentional as one night stand. Post-kids, the effort it takes to date is “ginormous”, as kids like to say. Imagine the Grand Canyon—I’m on one side, and a potential partner is on the other. That’s how challenging it can feel to date.
What’s the big difference? You guessed it—everyone you meet, and every potential encounter you have gets held up against the big barometer of THE KIDS. In the old days, you might take a chance on someone who didn’t wow you and consider going on a second or third date. Now you don’t waste your time, because a) you don’t have it to waste and b) if you’re lukewarm about the date, your kids will most certainly hate him. In the old days, you might invite someone home for a quick-but-satisfying roll in the hay, now you’d never put your kids—or yourself—in the path of unpredictability.
When you do—through some magical combination of sheer persistence and good luck—find yourself connecting with someone you like enough to date, you eventually will have to introduce him or her to the kids. This can fail or succeed to varying degrees depending on your kids, how threatened they feel, and how much effort you all put into nurturing the bond. I remember my older daughter telling me at 7 that she never wanted me to have a boyfriend, which I suspect was a big reaction to the fact that her dad had a new girlfriend, and she was feeling left out. On the other hand, my younger daughter, when she turned 7, told me she wanted me to have a boyfriend, because I deserved someone “to cook and clean for me, and to drive me around so I wouldn’t smash my car” (um, I had just been in a fender bender that really upset me!).
Back to dating—if you like your date, you will eventually have to navigate the logistical challenges of where to spend the night. In this excellent blog post on The Gloss, one mom explains her decision to never have a lover sleep in her house, because she didn’t want to upset or confuse her child. While I have not gone to the extreme she did (we fortunately have a “guest” room where many friends spend the night), I can totally empathize with the reasons why she chose this path. So if your date’s not going to sleepover while the kids are under the same roof, then you’ve got to arrange babysitting that goes all night. When your kids are small, this is nearly impossible. But when they are old enough to go on sleepovers (and believe me, this is one reason to start them early down this path—both my girls started at 4), this can be managed by using friends and family as babysitters. I must warn you thought that the downside of farming your kids out so you can go on an overnight date, is that everyone wants to know your business the next day. (I live in a small town, and my dad actually walked into the café where I was on a first date; it was mortifying.)
That said, this post was not meant to scare you off dating, but to acknowledge the logistical challenges so that you don’t feel so bad if you find yourself in a dating slump. But if you can recognize that, and you want to change it, hit up your friends or family to babysit or to fix you up with someone they know, or consider taking a leap into the world of online dating (very convenient to surf when the kids are in bed). You deserve a happy sex life!
- Gotta Have It: Sex and the Single Mom
- Libido and the Single Mom
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Dating Game
- Activist, Educator, and Parent
- Babysitters Saved My Sex Life