Skip to main content

Dating Advice for Single Parents

I dated while I was a single mother and want to share what I learned with others.

These two single parents are now happily married.

These two single parents are now happily married.

Dating Can Be Challenging for Single Parents

Are you a single parent looking for dating advice? With the high divorce rate, there are plenty of single moms and single dads, and many of them are ready to “get back on the horse that threw them.” Dating can be difficult in any situation, but single parent dating has its own set of problems.

In this particular dating game, single dads and single moms dating have more to think about than just themselves. They also have to consider their kids. Practically everything parents do, including dating, affects the children in one way or another, either directly or indirectly. Even the way a man or woman makes you feel can ultimately affect your children by the way you feel. The effects can be positive or negative, and in some rare cases, they can even be dangerous.

When you’re engaging in dating as a single parent, be sure to use some common sense. After all, you’re not a teenager anymore. I dated while I was a single mother, and so has one of my daughters and several of my friends. We’ve come up with a few tips that you might find useful. Our dating advice can be found below.

Dating Advice

Dating Advice

Dating Advice

For many folks, there are different types of dates and dating. My friends and I used to jokingly categorize dating into three major classifications: sport dating, convenience dating, and love dating. Dating advice depends on which type of dating you’re doing. What’s the difference? Sport dating is when you’re just going on a date for fun, for the “physical rewards,” or as a sort of conquest. Convenience dating is like when you need an escort to a function, or when you want to go to a concert and the only way you can go it to have a date with tickets, or when you want to go out but can’t afford to do so without a date. Love dating should be pretty self-explanatory. It’s when you’re seriously looking for a committed relationship, and if you have kids, it’s going to be a package deal.

Going out with someone is often referred to as a dating game, but it shouldn’t always be perceived as a game. For example, when you’re love dating, to use our terminology, dating isn’t a game at all. And in any case, the dating game can turn serious in a heartbeat. This wasn’t such a big problem in the past, before internet dating. People used to make dates with folks they knew from church, from work, from a shared hobby, or through a friend.

Nowadays, however, anyone can pretend to be anything on the internet, and that includes dating websites. That cute guy you met at an online dating site might appear to be a handsome philanthropic doctor, when in real life, he could just as easily be Attila the Hun or Freddy Kruger. Also, even when you’re out just to have a good time, you could “fall hard” for the person you’re seeing. Your heart doesn’t always obey your head. And, on the other hand, the other person could fall for you, even though you don’t feel the same way about him or her. Believe me, I speak from personal experience—on both sides of the coin.

Single Parent Dating

Single Parent Dating

Single Parent Dating

So, you’re faced with two options: single parent dating or being alone. If you’re getting over a broken relationship, you might not feel a new relationship is even worth the effort. And that’s fine. You don’t have to be in romantic relationship to be happy. Just because you’ve failed at one relationship, however, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good relationship now or in the future. Of course, you might be a single parent through the death of a spouse or significant other. Having kids doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your desire for romance and fun. You’re not dead— you’re just a single parent!

If your kids are close to their estranged parent, accepting a new romantic interest in your life might be difficult for them. There’s really no need to expose them to this unless you get somewhat serious. Meeting one of your new casual romantic interests every week probably isn’t healthy for kids, as it can be very confusing for them. If you’re just interested in sport dating or convenience dating, it’s probably best to leave the kids out of it completely. If, however, your interest in a person has progressed to love dating, the kids will have to be involved sooner or later. If and when it does, don’t “push” the man or woman on your kids. If your guy or girl sincerely likes your kids, the kids will pick up on it. Just let the relationship with the children evolve gradually and naturally.

For safety, women should meet dates they don't know well in a public place.

For safety, women should meet dates they don't know well in a public place.

Online Dating

I used to really turn up my nose at online dating. I’ve changed my mind on this, based on the experiences of friends and relatives. I know that when you’re older and have kids, meeting prospective “significant others” can be tough. When you’re young and unattached, you can hit the bars and dance clubs with ease, but in many locations, these types of places are especially geared toward those in their twenties. If you’re older than that, you might feel uncomfortable in such places, like you don’t really “fit in.” Also, you might not be interested in someone who’s into the party scene, anyway. That’s where dating websites can come in handy.

I keep hearing from my single pals how hard it is to find people these days. I suppose that’s because of super busy schedules. Internet dating can be a quick and efficient way to find prospective partners. Some of the potentially awkward ground work has already been done for you. For one thing, you know the other person is “looking.” Hopefully, you also know that he or she is single. Also hopefully, you’ll be able to find their age, their career, and their interests by reading their profile.

With online dating, you’ll have the chance to “meet” lots of different people—more than you’d ever come up with on your own. Even your best matchmaker pals can’t compete with online dating, when considering sheer numbers of prospects. You’ll also get to meet people from all walks of life and in every color, size, age, and ethnicity. It can be like a smorgasbord! Of course, that’s one of the problems with dating online, in a way. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s also easy to judge prospects on looks alone, and physical attractiveness by itself is never a good basis for a relationship. Even if you’re only interested in physical attraction, there’s a big difference in a photograph and meeting someone in person. I’ve met some really handsome guys with whom there was no chemistry. I’ve always felt that pheromones play a part in this, and you can’t experience that through a photograph. Besides, not everyone on dating websites uses current photos of themselves. Some might not even use real photographs of themselves. For a few online dating tips, check out the next section.

Read More From Pairedlife

Single moms dating single dads is sometimes a great situation for everyone involved.

Single moms dating single dads is sometimes a great situation for everyone involved.

Online Dating Tips

If you’re thinking of browsing some dating websites, you need some online dating tips. The first one is to be realistic. Think about location. If you live in Florida and find a perfect guy or girl who lives in Alaska, what are the chances that a relationship is even feasible? You have to use your head here and put your fluttering heart on hold. Try to look for people who live in your part of the country. There’s no need to set yourself up for potential disappointment.

Other online dating tips involve honesty. When you write a profile, be honest. Saying you’re a wealthy supermodel will undoubtedly garner a lot of attention, but what will you gain in the end? If things progress, the other person is going to see the real you sooner or later. Post a recent picture, and tell as much about yourself as you can in the number of words allowed. Don’t get too specific, however. You certainly don’t want to share your phone number, your address, or your email with everyone. Providing the state in which you reside is specific enough for the general population on dating websites.

And speaking of honesty, it works both ways. You have no way of knowing just how honest the other people on dating sites are, either. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Read profiles carefully. You can sometimes tell something about the person’s sense of humor, personality, and education level by the words he or she uses. Most people share their interests and hobbies on their profiles, too, so you might be able to tell if you have something in common.

In my personal opinion, the most important online dating tips have to do with safety, especially for single mothers. For one, if you’re a single mom, you need to be careful about who you bring around your kids. For another, should something happen to you, it’s going to affect your children. Find out as much as you can about anyone you’re planning on actually meeting in person. If you and your prospect both have webcams, that could be a good place to start. That way, you can actually see the person as you chat back and forth. And this might sound extreme or a little paranoid, but many people are now using background checks on people they meet online. I don’t think this is such a bad idea, actually.

Dating Women with Kids

Dating Women with Kids

Dating Women With Kids

Okay, guys, this is for you. Dating women with kids is a lot different than going out with women who don’t have children, who don’t have small children, and who don’t have custody of their children. To have a good relationship with single mothers, you’re going to have to be both flexible and understanding. For most mothers, the kids come first, and for single moms, the need to protect their children is sometimes even stronger. If the children have been the victims in a painful divorce, it’s natural for the mother to want to shield them from as much negativity as possible.

If things progress, you’ll need to get to know the kids, too. You’ll also need to realize that there could be some resentment on their part, as they might see you as someone who’s trying to replace their father. Some kids, especially those who have a good relationship with their dads, often hold out hope that their parents will get back together. In that case, you represent a monkey wrench in their plans. At the other extreme, some kids who have an absent father or who have never had a father might “latch onto” you as a substitute dad. If you’re not serious about the mother, please don’t allow this to happen. The last thing kids like that need or deserve is more heartache.

When you’re dating women with kids, don’t try too hard to win the kids over. As a retired teacher and a “Nana” with nine grandchildren, I can tell you that most kids will see right through your efforts. Be nice, of course, but be yourself. It’s usually better if you sort of let the children come to you. In other words, allow them to make most of the overtures of friendship. If you and the mother get serious, you’ll need to decide if you’re ready to take on the responsibility of her kids. That’s not easy, especially if you don’t have children of your own, or if you’re not used to being around and handling children. That’s not to say that it can’t work out beautifully—it can. When I met my husband, I had three young children. He, on the other hand, had never had kids. It took a little adjusting, of course, but the kids grew to love him. Their biological father was pretty much absent, as he saw the kids only two or three times a year. My kids came to see their stepfather, my new husband, as their father. They’re all grown now, but they still call him “Daddy.”

One thing you definitely need to avoid is being all macho and having the attitude of “I’m the man, head of the household, and the boss.” That won’t fly with most modern women, especially where her kids are concerned. She’s been dealing with the children since birth, so she’s an old hand at the job. Try to hold your tongue on decisions about the kids, unless your opinion is requested, or unless something really outlandish or dangerous is involved. I’m sure as she grows to trust you more, and as your relationship with the kids grows, you’ll be included more and more in the decision-making process. Just be patient.

Dating a Man with Kids

Dating a Man with Kids

Dating a Man With Kids

Women, if you’re dating a man with kids, you’re going to have to be understanding, too. Remember that such a man has other obligations, in both his time and his financial responsibilities. He won’t be able to drop everything he’s doing to be at your beck and call all the time. If he is, I’d question his commitment to his role as a father.

Never try to come between a man and his children! Don’t see yourself in competition with the kids—you’re not. Instead of feeling jealous of the time and money the man spends in regard to his children, you should admire his commitment. If he’s that committed to his children, that’s a good sign. It probably means he can be just as committed to you, too. In any case, it shows his maturity and his sense of responsibility. He knows how to put the needs of others before his own desires and needs.

You can learn a lot about a man’s character from observing how he treats others, including his children. Take mental notes. Is he patient, affectionate, caring, and fun? Or is he short-tempered, emotionally cold, and boring? If he’s trying to impress you, he might “put on an act” with the kids, but you’ll probably be able to tell the truth by the reaction of the children.

If you’re dating a man with kids who seems to be a not-so-great dad, you might want to re-think your relationship. Does he make promises to them that he often doesn’t keep? Yes, there are men like that, and I know a couple of them. They get the kids all excited with big promises, but most of the time, the plans never materialize. What kind of man would continuously lie to his own children? I would never trust a guy like that.

Single Moms have to be extra careful about who they allow around their children.

Single Moms have to be extra careful about who they allow around their children.

Single Mothers

Single mothers need to follow special precautions. Sorry if you think this seems sexist, but women are more likely to be beat up, killed, or raped than men are. Unfortunately, it happens all too often to women, with males playing the part of perpetrator. Single moms dating also have to take the safety of their children into consideration.

If you’re a single mother and make a date with a man you don’t know, don’t let him know where you live at first. Also, on the first date, meet him at a public place, where there are plenty of people around. No matter how well the date goes, resist the urge to go back to his place or to allow him to come to your home, until you get to know him better. If he invites you to somewhere that’s not a public place, like to go on a picnic or on a hike, suggest that a couple with whom you’re friends join you. If things progress and no red flags have gone up, you might still want to do some investigating before you bring the guy home. This can be done through friends, associates, and even through a professional background checking service.

When you go out with the guy for the first time to a non-public place, be sure to tell a trusted friend who you’re going out with. Give her the guy’s cell phone number. Tell her what time you’ll be home, and tell her you’ll call her as soon as you get home safely. In the rare event that there’s some sort of foul play, at least your friend will have the information needed to trace you.

You might think I’m being overly cautious, but I know that there are some sick individuals in the world. When I met my current husband, I was a single mother. I really liked him the first time I met him, but I didn’t know anything about him. When he wanted to give me a ride home, I flatly refused. I remember telling him that he could be an ax murderer, for all I knew. Of course, my fears were unfounded about him, but I’ve had friends and co-workers who weren’t so lucky. They didn’t wind up as missing, and they weren’t murdered, but they’ve had some scary experiences.

I’m not saying that single dads never have to worry about dating dangers, but statistics show that there’s a lot more violent male-on-female crime than there is female-on-male crime. Single dads and single moms, however, will both have to worry about strangers being around young children. Let’s face it: there are some wacky women out there, too.

Dating with Kids

Dating with Kids

Dating With Kids Can Be Beneficial

Here’s a piece of dating advice that I found especially helpful: Dating with kids can be a good way to begin a relationship. Sometimes single moms dating single dads can be a great situation. If you don’t know the other person, make it a group date and include the kids from both parents. The kids don’t even have to know it’s a date. Keep it casual and fun.

Dating with kids can have several advantages. For one thing, it’s almost guaranteed to be safe. For another, there won’t be any awkward silences. If your kids and his kids are close in age, the date will probably be even more fun. The two of you could take the kids to the park for a picnic, to a carnival, to the movies, to a theme park, or to a children’s museum. You’ll get a chance to see what type of parent your date is by how he or she interacts with the kids, and even if you and the other person don’t hit it off, the kids might, and you and the other parent can just be friends. That’s something else you should keep in mind: You can never have too many friends, even if the dating advice doesn’t work out.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


insulted on November 30, 2013:

i can not believe the misogony that was spewed on this page. even as a feminist i am insulted by how men were alienated.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 16, 2013:

Very true, Ruth. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

Ruth on May 23, 2012:

Its left for you to decide want you want 4rm the relationship.

it's a great experience.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 09, 2011:

Sorry, Alastar, I can't believe you because you didn't say "stick a needle in my eye"! lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 09, 2011:

Thanks, Toyshika!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on November 09, 2011:

Its true! Its true! Cross my heart and hope to...well, lemme think on that oath awhile!

Toyshika Epps on November 09, 2011:

Great post... thank you for sharing :)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 08, 2011:

Alastar, I'm not buying that!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on November 08, 2011:

Thanks habee, "were" is the optimal word since 1986!

Hubertsvoice on November 07, 2011:

I am happy to hear that.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 07, 2011:

Hubert, great to see a man appreciate his wife. I'm blessed with a wonderful spouse, too!

Hubertsvoice on November 07, 2011:

I know I have a great wife, A great woman.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 07, 2011:

Well, Hubert, she must realize she has a good man!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 07, 2011:

Thanks, Alastar. Bet with your good looks you were in demand as arm candy!

Hubertsvoice on November 07, 2011:

A wee bit? Perhaps a wee bit more.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on November 07, 2011:

Yes habee, I've been taken advantage of by all three female dating classifications. Thanks for allowing me to have a forum were I can vent a little. Classification number one: sport dating: hmm, that one can be kinda fun, lets go to the next one: convenience dating: hmm, its been a long time since being tricked into performing arm candy duties, lets go quickly to the last one: love dating: hmm, a very delicate situation there, best not vent on a public forum. There, been wanting to say that for years! habee, all my foolishness aside, this was an excellent Hub on Single Parent Dating Tips!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 07, 2011:

Hubert, I love reading your comments! So, your wife's a wee bit jealous, huh?? lol

Hubertsvoice on November 07, 2011:

It has been so long since I have had a date with anyone but my wife, I could not imagine what problems I might have in the dating world right now. I could imagine the problems I would have if I were to try to find out while we are married. Scary, Veeerrryyy scary.

Related Articles