Dating a single parent is quite unlike dating any other kind of person mainly because there is much more to the relationship than just how well you and your date get on.
You may have been in relationships before where someone was very close to their family or had overprotective parents but nothing is quite the same as dating someone who has sole care of their children – especially if you have not got children yourself. Here are some tips to bear in mind when you are dating a single parent.
When you meet a match you connect with the thing you really want to do is spend time with them. For single parents time is usually at a premium and any free time they have will be very precious. When you are first getting to know each other, if possible, arrange to meet for lunch dates – when the kids are at school – or at weekends if the children stay with their other parent or grandparents.
The most important thing to remember is that the free time a single parent has is limited and it may not always be easy for them to get to see you. If you are understanding and accepting of this right from the start it will make it much easier – texting, phone calls, Skype, instant messaging and email are good ways of keeping in touch even when you can’t actually be together.
A single parent’s priorities in life are different from other people’s. Being responsible for someone else’s life is a big deal. Their children’s needs and welfare will naturally come first and foremost in their list of priorities. This can be hard to swallow if you want to be their number one. Problems will arise if you feel like you are in competition with the kids for love, attention and affection – even couples who are the natural parents of children find they are sometimes jealous of how much time and attention the kids get from their partner – so it is natural that you might get pangs of jealousy, it is what you do with it that counts. Nagging or complaining for more attention is likely to get you the opposite to what you want – supporting and encouraging your partner in their role as a parent will help them to feel that you are an aide rather than another role they have to fulfil when they have so much to do already.
Filling the shoes
Some people make the assumption that if a single parent is dating that they are looking for a new mummy or daddy for their kids. This is usually not the case – they are looking for a relationship for themselves first and foremost. Many children will still be in regular contact with their other parent and if you come along and try and slot into that role you could be stepping on someone’s toes.
If the ex is still on the scene it is natural that you might feel jealous but again how you deal with any negative feelings in this respect will have a big impact on the development of your relationship. Hopefully any difficult feelings will pass but if they don’t you may have to reconsider whether this is the right relationship for you.
However it came to be the children will have been affected by the loss of their other parent and may not your welcome your presence into their lives. You can’t buy their affection or approval and trying to will probably make things harder. Be yourself and concentrate on building a really good relationship with your match before you even start to try and build a relationship with their kids. When they see how much happier their mum or dad is they will be more likely to accept you.
All in all dating a single parent requires you to be emotionally mature, and honest. You need to be able to deal with difficult emotions whilst also being supportive, patient and understanding. A single parent needs a grown up partner who they can have an adult relationship with rather than another child vying for their attention. Above all remember to see your date as a man/woman in their own right rather than just a mum or dad, all single parents need that.
This kind of relationship is not for everyone. It is impossible to separate your date from their situation and it is important that you recognise early on if it is not for you.