There's nothing easy about the dating game. And when you're a single parent, the idea of finding time for yourself – much less a relationship – can seem like an overwhelming one. But just because you're mom or dad to a precious little one doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to the thought of finding love. Luckily, there are ways to ease yourself into the dating world without compromising your most important relationship: the one with your child.
It can be tough to meet new people when the only people you're around all day are under 3 feet tall. If you're spending all of your free time at places like the playground or the arcade, then you're seriously limiting the number of possible encounters with like-minded single adults you may have.
Instead, consider spending some time at child-friendly outings that aren't kids only. Museums, book stores, farmers markets and street fairs are all great places to have fun with your little one while meeting grown-ups too.
The most important part of finding a successful relationship is being comfortable in your own skin. If you've been solely focused on being a parent, then it might be time to spend a little time on yourself. Remember, there's nothing selfish about wanting to take a little personal time – in the end it will actually make you a better parent as well.
Consider taking a class once a week in something you're interested in, join a book club or a volunteer or church group. Even allowing yourself one evening a week to have dinner or drinks with your friends will have the double benefit of giving you time to be yourself, and expose you to new people with similar interests at the same time. Being social and independent sets a positive example for your children. Isolating yourself is not good for you or for your family.
More couples than ever before are meeting online. Internet dating sites have several benefits for single parents. For starters, you can build a profile and weed people out without having to go on a million first dates. Also, you can take all of the beginning steps from the comfort of your own home, after the kids have gone to bed.
Keep a few things in mind as you fill out your profile, however. For starters, never lie about having a child. It's an important fact about you, and potential dates need to know that you're a parent up front. Check the yes box, and then incorporate one sentence about your little one in your biography. The rest should be about you – what you like to do, what you're searching for, and the things that make you a fun, independent, rockin' individual.
If your little one is old enough, let them know that you will be spending some time with friends. Remind them that they still come first, and that if they need something important, you'll be available by phone.
Also, it's important not to introduce your little one to any potential suitors until things are exclusive and serious. You don't want your child to form an attachment to someone, only to have that person suddenly gone from their life.
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