This article was originally published in February 2016, but has been updated.
Taking the plunge back into the dating scene as a single parent is both exciting and stressful at the same time. Of course, you are going to second-guess yourself and get cold feet when meeting someone new — that is to be expected. It is important to be comfortable with yourself before you go on your first date. Being nervous is normal, your date is nervous too. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself and let your date know early on that you do have children.
Talk to your Kids
Before you start dating at all, have a chat with your kids. Let them know that you want to start dating again and that you are not looking for a replacement for their other parent. It is better to talk to your children regarding your intentions before just jumping into dating. Although your children may not be ready for you to date yet, you should not put it off. They will adjust as long as you take the right steps once you decide to see someone more than once.
Take it Slow
The “getting to know you” period is part of the dating process for a reason. Take the time to talk, ask about likes/dislikes, the results of previous relationships, and what they look for in a life partner. Knowing this information will help you determine whether you are compatible together or not.
Wait to be intimate. Relationships based on intimacy often fizzle out because there is nothing else of substance keeping the couple together. You likely have physical needs that need to be taken care of, but you should wait until you know if you have an emotional and mental connection with someone before moving to the intimacy stage.
Introduce your new love interest to your children. Tell them a little bit about whom you choose to date and include any items of interest that they might share with your children. Let your children ask a few questions, it will help make them more comfortable with you dating.
You must have boundaries, especially when it comes to discipline. Make sure that your new interest knows that all disciplinary action will be handled by you. If a non-parent disciplines your children, it can, and often does, cause major conflict in the home.
Moving In Together
Absolutely do not rush moving in together. Go through all four seasons with your love interest first. You need to see what their personality is like at different times of the year. You should also experience a difficult period during those four seasons that you overcome with compromise and calm discussions. If you cannot fix issues without major arguments, your household is likely to be volatile and dysfunctional.
You should never put off dating just because you are a single parent. You are still desirable even though you have children. Some people are incapable of reproducing, so by you having children it may help fulfill a hole in their life. Be open about your children, be open to trying new things, and always handle difficult situations with a calm frame of mind.
What are your tips for single parents who want to date successfully?