Dating Tips for Single Parents by Laurie Zinn
avigating the dating world can be overwhelming for any single person, but for single parents it can be even more complicated. It is still entirely possible, however, for single parents to find compatible dates, enjoy the company of other adults and develop meaningful relationships. Dating Directions is a Columbus-based professional matchmaking service founded by Elizabeth Cobey-Piper and Susie Hardesty in 2003. They coauthored the book Matchmaker Secrets: The Six Predictors of Dating Success to help individuals avoid common relationship roadblocks. Cobey-Piper says it is important that single parents choose a dating partner with similar values such as family, shared time and quality time. “It’s more than creating a couple. They are creating a new family,” she says. Juggling schedules when someone is both dating and an involved single parent is a unique challenge, but she coaches people to have positive and empowering conversations about availability. “Dating and relationships do need to be a priority,” Cobey-Piper says. “For parents, they can’t be the top priority, but they do need to be on the short list.” Dating Directions stresses the importance of managing safety while getting to know someone while having fun in the process. Senior Matchmaker Luisa Canneto says single parents often walk a tightrope because they are ready to let someone into their personal life, but not their children’s lives. “The reality being that those aren’t one and the same,” she says, adding that parents should only introduce children to someone with whom the single parent is becoming serious. Canneto also advises clients to do the emotional work of managing a co-parenting situation and then keeping those drama “bumps” on a need-to-know basis in the new relationship. “It’s not about creating the perfect co-parenting situation before you allow yourself to 18
date. It’s about being in an emotional state where you’re not letting the bumps that come up really derail you and your relationship,” she says. “There are so many other wonderful parts of you and your family. Give them the time to see that before they are introduced to all of the more painful parts.”
Cobey-Piper and Canneto say dating takes time and commitment, and they recommend being open to dating different people and trying different dating experiences. Life coach Jonathan R. Bennett agrees. “Simply throwing up an online dating profile and hoping for the best doesn’t usually lead to quality connections,” he says. It takes time, energy and effort to make it successful. Bennett and his twin brother David are life coaches who help men and women with all aspects of dating and relationships, including set up of online dating profiles and attendance at social events to provide clients ‘real time’ coaching. “Online dating can be useful for single parents because they can match and swipe at any time, whether it’s during a kid’s nap or while watching gymnastics class.” He also recommends looking online for events that might attract like-minded people in the same age range. To meet other single parents, Bennett advises clients to find places where
other men and women will be with their children, such as water parks, children’s events, activity centers and playgrounds. He emphasizes, however, that parents should make fun with their own children the priority and the prospective dating aspect an optional side goal. “Avoid showing up alone or using your kids as props just to find dates. That’s very tacky and even creepy,” he says. When a single parent does date someone and feels a genuine attraction, Bennett says its worth pursuing if both
Jonathan R. Bennett
people share the same values and think the person would be a positive influence in the lives of their children. Like Cobey-Piper and Canneto, Bennett recommends waiting until a strong connection is established and a degree of exclusivity is developed before introducing that person to children. “Dating is already a challenge for many people and being a single parent adds another layer of difficulty. But if you’re a single parent who struggles at dating, remember that in the end, it’s worth it,” he says. “It’s better to wait around for the right person who fully accepts both you and your children than to settle.” For more information, visit DatingDirections.com and ThePopularMan.com. Laurie Zinn is a Columbus-based freelance writer and the owner of Line-ByLine, a digital content management service for websites, blogs, email marketing and social media. For more information or to connect, visit Line-By-Line.us.