For many single parents, dating or the first step once enough time has passed after the separation or divorce, and once the needs and custody of the children has been seen to, is finding someone else to spend time with. This can be a huge step, intimidating, and fraught with anxiety and confusion. But it can be exciting, as well. There are steps you can take to maximize the exciting part, and minimize the intimidating and anxious part. Some recently single parents, or parents that have pretty much always been single, are just looking to alleviate their loneliness; others are just looking to alleviate just their physical “loneliness.” Either way, the steps below can help keep both you and your date feeling secure and excited by the rendez-vous, no matter where it’s headed.
Regardless of whether you are a single parent, dating can be a tough prospect. You’ve got time restrictions that can be all over the place, and it’s not easy to work around soccer games, sick days, PTA meetings, and more. Don’t worry though; it can be done. We’ve got some tried and true tips for single parents who are dedicated to their kids, but still want time for themselves for hot hookups.
Until you’ve established the foundation for a serious, committed, and long term relationship (If you’re looking for that yet. Or ever.), keep the partner or partners away from the kids. It can be very confusing for everyone involved. Keep those two worlds separate. Kids can have a number of reactions to meeting your lovers: violation; confusion about your commitment; displacement; even premature attachment to someone who may be only passing through. Spare them all that until you know for sure what you expect from the relationship: if it’s never anything more than sex, your children don’t need to meet the paramour, no matter how charming he or she may be.
Other important ways to compartmentalize:
Meet at your partner’s place, or a hotel: there’s no need for a fleeting, temporary, or purely casual partner to know where you live; there is no guarantee about how they’re going to feel.
Remain low-key and private: if you want to spend time together outside of the bedroom, make it somewhere where you are not familiar. Friends and acquaintances who spot you out with someone new on your arm can be the leak that eventually gets around to your kids, or your ex.
If you are divorced or separated, you likely have worked out structured time with your children: don’t modify it to accommodate meeting with your partner. Make sure it’s clear that your kids come first, and make sure they actually come first.
That last part goes for everything else, as well: your sex life, no matter how desperate you may become, should come before most other things in your life. If you’re separated or divorced, you are likely struggling to establish effective and healthy communication with your ex. That should be considered a priority that can be jeopardized by a new relationship, even a casual relationship. Your career, self-care, friendships, and immediate family are all things that are going to need your emotional and time resources and should be placed ahead of your sex life.
Make time for yourself
If you don’t create some separation between your life as a parent and your life as an adult, you’re never going to find the time to hook up. There are tons of ways for you and your kids to do things independently without neglecting each other. If you find that your over stressed, and you never have time to decompress, you might need to make a little time for yourself.
Network – Better Single Parent Dating
Talk to other dating single parents or just into getting some time out of the house. It’s not unheard of to set up a babysitting co-op with other parents where one or two parents do the sitting while everyone else goes out (together or on their own) on a Friday or Saturday night. Then the next Friday or Saturday, a different parent or two does the sitting. Everyone gets their turn going out, and everyone gets their turn babysitting.
Set realistic expectations
Life is different from before you had children, so you’re going to have to be realistic about your expectations. You can still have fun on a regular basis, but nothing about your life will be just like it was before you had kids. You can go out, but you still might have to get up early the next day to get small people ready for school, so be honest about your limitations and work around them.
Single Parents Should Consider daytime dating
That being said, you might consider daytime dating. If all your young ones are in school, you have the house to yourself during that time. Clean things up, light some candles, and stash all the toys and laundry, and your kid’s play castle becomes your sexy love nest. Then when your date leaves, clean things up from that and go back to parent mode.
Creative scheduling is crucial. Track those times when you and your kids are not together and schedule during that time. Use time when they are in school, sleeping at a friend’s house, are at soccer practice, etc. Those are the times you have for single parent adult dating. If you write them all down on a schedule, you’ll likely find that you have plenty of time to hook up. This also means managing your other responsibilities creatively too. Once you put down your kids’ schedule, put down the responsibilities you have so you don’t end up frazzled.
Involve your family – sort of
So maybe you’re not telling your parents or grandparents that you’re hooking up, but you can schedule time for the kids to spend with them. Often times, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc are happy to take the kids one night a week or one night a month. You can add that to the schedule we talked about, and that gives you a bit more time.
Clean up the car
If you’re rocking the minivan, that’s fine. People understand that kid-mobiles are a thing, but don’t ruin the atmosphere. Take 5 minutes and vacuum up the cheerios and pick up the kid stuff in your car so you show up looking ready for adult fun rather than ready for the pickup line at school. On that note, change out of parent clothes. The khaki dad look or soccer mom chic is fine for day to day, but take a break from dressing like a parent when it comes time to meet your date.
Hotel reward points
If you can’t host in your home, you’re probably going to spend some time in hotels, and if you’re doing that, the bill can rack up. If you know you’re going to visit a hotel a few times a month, consider hotel reward points, whether that involves a hotel credit card or just points on an app. Lots of hotels offer perks for regular visitors that include free food, free nights, and other fun rewards. It can lower your expenses without sacrificing your fun.
If a hotel isn’t your speed, swingers clubs have an adventurous atmosphere, can be cheaper for a couple than a hotel, and you don’t have to stay all night or worry about disturbing the neighbors. Most swingers clubs charge a fortune for a single male, but if you’re bringing your hookup, you’ll take advantage of severely discounted pricing. You’ll also have the benefits of a bar, sex furniture, and a safe public place for new hookups.
Be more than just a parent
Being a single parent takes up a lot of time and mental space. You’re always thinking about how the kids are, what they need, what they’re doing, and whether something bad will happen. It’s important to be able to turn off your single parent brain and turn on your personality sometimes. It lowers stress, it keeps you from forgetting you’re a complete person, and it allows your kids to do things and learn independently. You are probably already taking advantage of sports, after school programs, and more. Just use that free time for you sometimes.
What Do You Really Need Right Now?
A new relationship, whether it’s just casual sex or something that could develop, can be as confusing to you as it would be if introduced to your children. Make sure you are keeping track of what your needs are. If you’re convinced that a casual sex relationship is what you need, make sure that it’s something you’re prepared for, and that you’re choosing partners that are prepared for it, as well.
And if you are divorced or separated and feel you’re ready to start looking for a serious, long-term relationship again, make sure you are prepared for what that means. Are you ready to give yourself emotionally? Are you ready for someone else’s needs? Are the potential partners ready for someone who is still making a rather complicated transition? Have you considered which needs were not being met in the relationship that has ended? Are you able to make that clear to potential new partners?
Don’t Do It To Spite Your Ex.
Contrary to some prudish and well-intentioned points of view, there are many good reasons to have sex, even casual sex. It’s good for you; it’s a physical need; it’s good exercise; it can help you maintain clarity about relationships. But to spite your ex is not a good reason to enter into a sexual relationship of any kind. It’s not fair to your partner, and it’s not fair to your ex, and it’s not emotionally healthy in the long run, potentially causing resentment between you and your partner, you and your ex, for yourself.
Limit Your Expectations
You’re getting out. You’re having a good time. You’re taking care of neglected needs for affection, attention, sex. It doesn’t have to be When Harry Met Sally. You know very well how many false starts you have to get through before the real thing reveals itself. Odds are, the current effort is a false start, too. Some pleasant dinners, small talk, a little backstory, and a kiss goodnight might be all you get, and that’s fine. If it’s a casual sex situation, it may be way less than that, then way more than a kiss goodnight.
Don’t Get Attached. Yet.
Whether it’s casual sex or an effort to build something greater, don’t get attached. There will be a time for getting attached, and you will know it when you see it. Unless you’re in a casual sex relationship, then the time for getting attached will be never. The last thing you need, especially if you’re coming off of a divorce or separation, is more loss. Keep an arm’s length between you and your paramours. Figuratively.
Don’t Sleep with Your Ex.
The most important reason for resuming your sex life is to maintain clarity about the end of the relationship from which you are separated or divorced. Physical loneliness can get you thinking the ex doesn’t look all that bad, or about capitulating if they want you back or you’re collaborating on a divorce. Get on a new horse and ride into the sunset. But make sure it’s a new horse: a sexual relationship with your ex will just give your children–and possibly your ex–false hope. And it will provoke confusing emotions and erase boundaries that are important to maintain. There are plenty of fish in the sea that haven’t already driven you away once.
Seriously, this is a thing? We have to say this? Everyone not just single parents, please use protection.
You’re free. But not easy. This can be an exciting time as you explore needs that have been misused, buried, and neglected. But it can easily lead to grief and pain and confusion for you and those around you if you’re not careful. Have fun, but don’t forget it’s fun, and make sure it’s fun. There’s no reason a single parent shouldn’t be able to dive into the adult single parent dating scene. If you can set priorities, use your time, and not limit yourself to only evening activities, you’ll do just fine.