What to do if you do decide to date a single parent:
(The picture is of me and the love of my life. Also a single parent before I met her. Yes, I wrote the post before we met.)
1) First off be open. You have no idea how it’s going to go, and you will probably be surprised. There is no one size fits all here and in a way, this is not like regular dating. Expect a different kind of experience and you will enjoy yourself.
2) Avoid parenting their child. Straight up, this is not your job, and not your responsibility. For a lot of single parents, this will be a clear cut sign to stay away from you. If they see you doing it, or trying to do it, it won’t last long. They are doing a fine job being a parent on their own thank you very much.
3) Be compassionate. You’ve got to understand & appreciate, especially if the other parent is in the picture, things will come up. Sometimes upsets and events will happen that could potentially be disrupting of your time together. This is not your fault, nor is it about you. All they need you to do is have compassion for the situation.
4) Allow things to get serious all on their own. Don’t worry about having an agenda. This is first about a good experience, second having fun, and third distinguishing compatibility. Then see if you can co-exist together in some way. In a natural unfolding way, it will all work out, if it’s meant to.
5) Be patient. They have a different schedule. Their availability might be different than yours. Their kids are #1 remember? They need to find a babysitter at times, and might have soccer or other extracurricular activities. Don’t worry, this gives you time to do your thing and have ‘me time’ as well. (Always a good thing).
6) Have flexibility. This goes hand in hand with #3, however hiccups occur a little more in their life too. Child gets sick, babysitter cancels, dance recital goes extra late. Not to worry. You are an important part of their life. So they will often go out of their way to make it up to you.
7) Be interested in their home life, experience as a parent and child’s life. Be supportive, not creepy. Be inquisitive, not intrusive. Be their friend, not their child’s teacher, or grandmother/father. Their child is a BIG part of their life, and they will want you to recognize that. Just not obsess over it. (Think about it, it would be weird if you didn’t ask).
8) Have fun — The normal dating rules still apply. They are looking forward to time with you! They might be looking to you to help them incorporate all parts of a great life. (You don’t have to do too much. Just go and be with them.) You could be a breath of fresh air. While raising their child will be a big part of their life, they sure as heck don’t want it to completely take over their life.
Now, other people might tell you it’s a bad idea or will disagree with you. But like my brother in law’s parents told him when he started dating my sister, “Be honest with her. Don’t pull any bullshit. And definitely don’t waste her time and it will go fine.” (Kind of reminds you of that awesome scene from Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr.)
If you do meet a single parent and settle down together, eventually you’ll want to have different agreements regarding raising the child and determining what kind of hand you’ll have in that. The good news is, you don’t have to deal with that early on into your dating life together. That’s another post for another time. Until then consider what I said, because you might find yourself in a certain situation one day.
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