You?ve met the person of your dreams. Funny, intelligent, kind, hardworking ? they?re perfect! And then they drop that bomb on you.
They have a kid. Or two or three kids. They?re a single parent.
You don?t have kids. You?re not even sure you want kids. Or you want them, but you want them to be your own. You didn?t plan on some half-baked Brady Bunch future. Now what?
First, you take a breath and calm down. Dating a single parent isn?t that complicated or a big deal. Next, you take a few minutes to go over these pros and cons of dating single parents before you run screaming into the night.
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As single parents, we have very limited free time. If we?re choosing to share that time with you, it?s because we really do like you. We don?t waste our time with someone we hate or aren?t interested in when we could spend it with Netflix, friends, or all alone.
You won?t have to question why we?re dating you. It?s got nothing to do with your career, your money, your car, or anything else material about you. It?s not because you?re hot (well, not entirely, although your hotness may play a small role). It?s because we genuinely like who you are as a person.
And if we haven?t even gone on a single date yet? It means we?ve assessed you and determined that we like what we know enough to give you some of our precious free time.
Con: You won?t be our priority
I?m not going to sugarcoat this: you won?t be a single parent?s first priority. I?m sorry, but you just won?t. That spot is always reserved for our kids.
But if a single parent likes you and is making the time to go out with you, you have made our list of priorities. Given how limited our time is, we wouldn?t be spending our time with you if we didn?t value you and your presence in our lives.
If our kids need us, we?ll cancel a date or bail in the middle of it. It?s just a simple fact of parenting ? we must be there for our kids. And sometimes we might have to skip seeing you to catch up on work, so we don?t lose our job and end up homeless with our kids.
But if we?ve decided to give you our time, any of our time, it means you?ve made the list of priorities. You might be in the very last slot on that list right now, but you made it. Consider that a win and know that if things progress, you will move higher up the list.
You?ll never be the first priority though, so if you can?t deal with that, you should walk away now. You?ll drop off the priority list, and out of our lives, in a second if you?re jealous of our kids.
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Pro: We?re independent, stable, and responsible
If your last relationship was with someone who was constantly going out clubbing in the middle of the night, moving from place to place or job to job with no notice, or ignoring your texts, you can relax. We?ll ignore your texts too, but for different reasons.
Single parents are raising little humans to eventually be adult humans. We want them to be productive, relatively well-adjusted and ?normal? adults. That means we need to provide them with stability as kids, and that means we have to be responsible.
You won?t find us at the clubs every night, or constantly changing jobs or residences. If we ignore your text, it?s because we?re with the kids ? or we fell asleep and forgot. You also don?t need to worry that we?ll be asking you for money or to fix our car for us.
In fact, you might get annoyed at how little we ask of you. We are sometimes the only parent our kids have, so we learn to be independent and rely on only ourselves. If we don?t cover all the bases, there?s no one to do it for us. Feel free to step up and insist on helping, but don?t be surprised if we never ask and turn you down when you offer.
Con: Baby daddy/mama drama
This con is one of the biggest reasons people pull away from dating a single parent ? and this includes other single parents pulling away. It seems like every single parent has never-ending crazy drama with their ex, doesn?t it?
Except that?s not actually true.
Some single parents do have baby mama/daddy drama that never seems to stop. Some have intermittent drama. And some used to have drama but have reached a point where they no longer do.
And some single parents don?t have any drama at all. Remember that there are multiple ways to become a single parent, including by choice (potentially with a donor who has no interest in the child), and by being widowed.
I won?t lie: if a single parent does have baby mama/daddy drama, it can be exhausting. For us to deal with, and for you to have to listen to them vent about it.
And unfortunately, if the drama exists, it?s probably not going anywhere. The dynamics between us and our ex were probably established long before the romantic relationship ended. You?ll not only need to understand that it probably won?t change, but also that you won?t be able to step in and change it for us.
But before you assume that single parent = drama, try getting to know us and our situation first. You might be surprised at just how drama-free we are ? and how much we want to stay that way.
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Pro: You?ll get homecooked meals, a clean house, and a reliable partner
If you run on fast food and wish you had someone to come home to at night, a single parent might be the perfect date for you. We have to provide for our kids. Three hots and a cot are the bare minimum we need to give our kids, and most single parents go far above and beyond since they?re doing it on their own.
No, we won?t be inviting you over for the first date. But if the relationship progresses, you?ll benefit from hot homecooked meals and a clean house, just like our kids do. More than that, you?ll have a reliable partner who stands by you, listens to you, and wants to see you do your best.
The selfless nurturing and caring that makes us great parents will also make us a great partner. We?ll offer to take care of you when you?re sick, help you clean up if your house floods, and give you a ride when your car breaks down. We?ll encourage you to chase your dreams, confront your boss, or find a way to work with the neighbor who irritates you with their barking dog. We want to see you thrive, just like we want to see our kids thrive.
Just make sure that you give back as much as you get from us.
Con: Not enough free time for date nights
Single parents work a full-time job or run a business, help kids with homework, go to doctor?s appointments and parent-teacher conferences, cook dinner, clean the house, play with the kids ? where in all that is there time for you?
Single parents are busy, there?s no denying that. And our time for you is limited. But that means the time we make for you is even more meaningful. We are taking time away from our kids, from work, from paying bills or cleaning the house, to spend it with you instead.
If you want to be certain we?ll have time for you, try this: plan your dates well in advance.
If you call a single parent up at 5 p.m. on a Friday, expecting us to go out with you that night at 8 p.m., you?ll be very disappointed. Most single parents can?t find a babysitter on that kind of short notice, but even if we could, we likely wouldn?t.
Instead, give us at least 3?4 days. Ask on Monday if we want to go out on Friday. Even better, ask about your next date at the end of your current one. The more time you give us to prepare and plan, the better the chances that we?ll not only be able to go out with you, but we?ll want to.
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Pro: Plenty of free time for yourself
You might see a con in how limited our time is for dates, but the flip side of that is that you?ll have ample time for yourself. No one wants a clingy partner who expects you to give them all their time and attention, and single parents have no time or interest in being that clingy partner.
While we?re busy helping our kids with homework and running from one extracurricular activity to another, you?ll be able to hang out with your friends, sleep in, or do whatever else you want. When we ask you how your day went, we want to know if it was good or bad and the highlights. We aren?t expecting, nor do we want, a play-by-play of everything you did.
We won?t be expecting you to spend all your waking hours on the phone with us or texting us, either. We?ll want communication, of course, but we?ll want it to be meaningful. The same applies to our time together.
Con: We?re not dating just for ourselves
When a single parent dates, we?re looking for something for ourselves. Usually some companionship or a relationship, maybe even marriage at some point in the future. We want someone we have a lot in common with, who we like, and who we enjoy spending time with.
While that might be enough to build a relationship for two single people, for a single parent, it?s only the beginning. Our life is not the only one affected by the choices we make.
We come with kids who are a package deal. This means that we might adore you and think you?re amazing, but if our kids hate you, we have to think twice. Of course, there are lots of reasons the kids might hate you that are unreasonable or even silly, but we can?t just ignore them.
This also means that we?ve got to consider other things about you from the first date that might otherwise not come up until further down the line. For example, we might be asking you on the first date how you feel about kids, if you want kids, and if you?re looking for marriage in the future. Rest assured this doesn?t mean we?re hoping for a wedding date by dessert. We just want to make sure that if we?re looking for totally different things, we don?t waste your time or ours ? and that we don?t get our kids attached to you only to have to dash that love later.
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Pro: We know what we want
Anyone who?s ever been in a relationship that didn?t work out has learned from it. They?ve figured out a little more from each failed relationship what they want and what they don?t want. Single parents, though, usually have it even more nailed down.
Unless we were widowed or became a single parent by choice outside of a relationship, we?ve already had a relationship that didn?t work out and impacted our kids. We?ve had to deal with our own broken heart while also dealing with our kids? broken hearts. And we don?t really want to do that again. So we?ve usually gotten pretty clear on what we want.
This is good for you because it means we?re unlikely to tell you we don?t know what we want. We?ll be able to tell you pretty clearly, from the first date, what we?re ultimately looking for. It doesn?t mean we expect you to be ready to dive in headfirst, but it does mean if you want something completely different, we expect you to say so.
We won?t be interested in playing games. We won?t be playing them with you, and if we find out you?re playing them, we won?t hesitate to walk away.
Con: We may or may not want more kids
The older a single parent and the kids are, the less likely it is that we?ll want to start over with more kids. But even a younger single parent may be satisfied with the kids they have. Sometimes we?re simply content with the number of kids we have; others we?ve decided not to have more kids because we already know what happens if a relationship doesn?t work out and we don?t want to put more kids through that.
Some single parents aren?t totally sure. We think we don?t want more, but we might be convinced in the right circumstances. Don?t count on this, though. And while you should discuss the potential for future kids in this relationship, don?t try to change a single parent?s mind. Keep in mind that our decision is about what?s best for us as well as the kids we currently have ? and know that we gave it a lot of thought before making the decision.
If having kids of your own is important to you, there?s nothing wrong with admitting that and parting as friends.
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Pro: Love, affection and richly rewarding relationships
Yes, that?s plural. As mentioned previously, we?re not dating just for ourselves. While we aren?t looking for a replacement mom/dad for our kids, a relationship with us means a relationship with each of our kids.
Whether you take on a role as a friend, or ultimately take on a more parental role, the relationships you?ll have with our kids can be incredibly rewarding. And we don?t think that just because they?re our kids. Kids in general can offer us so much: laughter, opportunities to act like kids ourselves, unconditional love, honesty.
But it?s not just the kids who will reward you. Your relationship with a single parent will be even more loving and rewarding if you take the time and effort to truly build a relationship with our kids. We will appreciate your efforts in ways we may never be able to express and this will create a closer connection for us.
Con: We won?t be spending (m)any nights together
Spending the night together feels like a rite of passage for many relationships. It?s a sign of intimacy, of connection, of the relationship moving forward. But for a single parent, it?s probably not going to happen.
Spending the night at your place won?t happen. First, we probably can?t afford to pay a sitter for the whole night. Second, we really don?t want to explain to our kids where we were all night. And if we have small kids who wake up in the night, we need to be there for them.
Spending the night at our place might seem like the logical solution, but it?s not. First, we might not be ready to introduce you to our kids yet. Second, nothing kills the mood faster than a kid walking in on you. And even if all we?re doing is sleeping when a kid comes knocking, there?s still a lot to explain that we might not want to explain.
Now there are a couple of exceptions to this. If our kids spend weekends or other nights with their other parent, we may be more open to spending a night together while they?re gone. Or if the kids are old enough and want to have a sleepover with friends or Grandma, we may be open to spending a night with you then, too.
But you should pretty much assume that spending an entire night together is not going to happen. Trust us, we don?t want to hop out of bed and head straight home, either. But we have responsibilities.
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Dating a single parent isn?t that big a deal
For the most part, dating a single parent really isn?t any different than dating any other single person. Our time is a little more limited and we won?t be spending the night with you. But the early stages of the relationship will be pretty much the same as any other.
The biggest thing about dating a single parent is that you need to decide if you?re comfortable with it. Are you prepared to become a stepparent? Can you accept that there?s an ex in the picture that will never go away? Can you be okay with the idea that you aren?t our first priority and may never be?
If the answer to all three is yes, then have a great time! If the answer to one or more is no, you might want to give it some more thought. As single parents, we understand if you don?t want to get involved. We may be less understanding if we think you were just playing games with us or our kids.
One final note: single parents are like anyone else. Some of us want to get married, others are just looking for a casual fling. The pros and cons I?ve listed here are a general guideline to what you might be able to expect. But the most important thing you can do is talk to the person you?re interested in dating. Find out what they are specifically looking for. Make no assumptions. You might be surprised at what comes of it.