If you’re a single parent trying to date, it can be tough. Thinking about dating and having the time to date sometimes seem as far apart as East is from West. Questions run through your mind…
Am I being selfish? Do I have the time? Who is going to watch the kids? It’s been so long…do I even know how to date?
It can seem overwhelming and look like a far away dream if you don’t have anyone to guide you. Lucky for you, we’ve picked the minds of successful single dating parents and put together an action plan that will make dating fun, safe and rewarding.
The Action Plan
Your action plan is made up of five simple steps. Each step is designed to build upon the previous one. The goal is for you to spend time with quality dates that respect you and your situation. You will need to put your plan on paper. Why? Because writing takes your plan out of the world of thought and brings it into the world of reality. So get your paper and pencil and let’s begin!
Step 1: Assess your situation
Do you really have the time to date? As a single parent, your activities revolve around your kids. Caring for even just one child is a full-time effort. If you have more than one child, your time commitment and workload multiplies. Therefore, if you decide to date, you’ll need to create flexibility in your weekly schedule and plan in advance.
It takes time to find love. If you want love, make the time. Write down the time available each week that you think you can devote to dating. Then schedule it.
Step 2: What do you want?
What type of relationship do you really want? Be honest with yourself. Are you looking for a short-term relationship? Long-term? Committed? Non-committed? Do you have a time line? Is your biological clock ticking? What type of person do you want? Tall? Short? Loves to travel? Stay-at-home type? Christian? Family oriented? Good family relationships? Write it down. This is part of your plan.
Consult your heart first and then your head. Create a profile of the perfect person for you. Don’t leave anything out. List the qualities you admire, the type of family you want the person to come from, the color of eyes you prefer, etc. The more specific the better. Make it as detailed as possible.
A crystal clear target is much easier to hit than an out-of-focus one. Cupid has the arrow. Help him out and provide the target. Again, write it down. Once you have a clear picture of what you’re looking for, it’s time to find that person.
Step 3: Find a date
There are three places you can go to find a great date. The first and the easiest is a dating website. Yes, there are thousands of these dating websites out there, but some are great and some are not so great. Read a review of the best dating websites and choose the ones that resonate with you, meet your criteria and then join two or three of them. Why two or three? To increase your chances of a match of course.
Once you create your online profile you now have a way to meet men without having to leave your home. Successful daters play the odds in their favor. Another advantage to dating websites is that you meet people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can view their profiles and if you don’t like what you see…simply delete them! You get to pick only the best.
The second place you should go for dates are your family and friends. They know you and your life circumstances. They only wish the best for you. Let them know you’re looking for a date and what you’re looking for (pull out your profile sheet). Let them look for you. The odds are that you’ll have a date within a week. Two weeks tops.
The third place to look for dates is anywhere that you happen to be. You never know where love hangs out. The grocery store, the class you’re taking, waiting in line at the bank, etc. Be open to new experiences and new people.
Step 4: Separate prospects from suspects
If you followed step three, you’ll be getting a number of potential dates. The task now is to separate the good (prospects) from the bad (suspects).
Make Time For Love
As a dating single parent, your first job is to protect yourself and your child from anyone that would do anyone of you harm. Safety will be your first screen.
If you know the person’s full name, check to see if this person is a sex offender. Better safe than sorry. Your state may have a registry where you can check for free; or you can check the official government site for registered sex offenders in your area.
Get To Know Someone For Several Months Before Meeting Them In Person
If you’ve found a candidate from a dating website, spend time to get to know the person via email first. The rule is give just general information (no phone numbers, last names, addresses, etc.) until you get to know the person over a period of time. Minimum two to three months. If he can’t wait that long, then move him to the suspect file and delete him.
If this is a blind date from your family and friends, get ALL the information you can on the person. Since this is a personal referral, try to get the inside skinny from the person who knows this candidate. This would be a good time to write down some questions that you’d like to ask your potential date. There’s nothing like being prepared. Talk on the phone first.
Ask questions to determine if there is some broad-based compatibility. Do you like the same things? Dislike the same things? The closer you can match qualities and characteristics, the happier you’ll be.
Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to go on a date. Woo hoo!
Be Yourself and Have Fun
Step 5: Date!
The first rule is: be yourself. The second rule is: have fun. If you can follow these two rules, you’ll have a great time. To ensure that you have a safe and fun time, follow these rules:
- Always let someone know who you’re going out with, where you’ll be going, and what time to expect you home.
- Bring your cell phone. If you don’t have a cell phone, get one. They’re cheap. No reason not to have one.
- Always meet in a public place for your first few meetings.
- Arrange a “date dump” call. Arrange for someone to call you midway through your date. Prearrange a code word to let them know if your date is going well or not going well. This is your opportunity to dump your date if you’re bored to tears or if you suspect you might be taken advantage of.
- Consider having your meeting somewhere you can talk. Like over dinner or lunch. Avoid movies on the first date because the setting doesn’t allow you the opportunity to get to know someone. At a movie, you sit silently for two hours listening to the person behind you crunch popcorn and slurp their five gallon bucket of soda. How fun is that!
Being a single parent doesn’t mean shutting your heart down. Despite having your kid(s) fill every minute of your waking day, you still have a longing in your heart for that special, romantic someone.
If not for love…maybe just for good adult conversation over a warm cup of coffee. Good luck in your dating!