By Tom Taylore
As a single parent it seems like you’re always pushed for time, and being the King or Queen of your family leaves little time for extracurricular activities. So, when the magical Time Fairy waves her wand and grants you the gift of a couple hours, or even an entire afternoon, you want to take full advantage of it! One of the activities that has undoubtedly crossed your mind, I’m sure, has been dating.
Yes, the mighty “D” word.
Now, keep in mind that I said “dating.” I didn’t say the “R” word, (relationship) or the newly coined phrase “lovership” (looking for a lover). I said “dating,” as in you meet someone online or in the grocery store who you think might be cool to hang out, someone who seems to meet your qualifications.
That being said, I want to share with you four dating tips that I’ve found helpful to make the most of your time when it comes to dating as a single parent.
Tip 1: Start Off Small
If you decide that you’re going to date someone, try not to make it a major thing. Be real with them and be real with yourself. Traditional dating is nice in some regards, but it can seem a bit messy in today’s instant information age.
Start off small, like meeting up for coffee or tea. Coffee is a great first date because it sets limits, it’s in a public location, and it allows for a quick exit if necessary. Something small like going out for coffee makes for a good “getting to know you” session. In addition to coffee being a safe place, I also suggest keeping the meeting to no more than half an hour, even if you’re having a good time. The reason for this is because if there is an attraction, it’s going to be greatly magnified by the two of you missing each other. That might not make sense on the surface, but when it happens to you it will!
Tip 2: Getting The “Greatest Hits” Speech
When we first meet someone we have a tendency to get a list of their “Greatest Hits.” It doesn’t matter if they were successful in the past, are currently successful, or are going to be successful in the future, they are presently who they are based on the choices they made in the past.
I will admit it’s hard not to judge a person on any of these. Really all you have are their words to go by, and if they seem interesting, you are more apt to want to spend time with them. Let’s say they created their own business and it became successful, or they received a college degree after six years of work. Those are not only good signs that they know how to be successful, but they probably have some great life experience as well.
My point is that when you first meet someone you are bound to get the download of their “best stuff.” It’s not just them; we all have a tendency to do this. Please keep in mind that this isn’t a bad thing, just remember that you’re going to be exposed to their best side, and there are other sides to this person as well.
As with anything I highly recommend being as open and transparent with them as possible. You have nothing to lose if they don’t like you or the way you are.
Tip 3: Communication: Less Is More
When we meet someone we click with, it can be hard to get that person out of our head! That can be a good sign, we all know this feeling and we all want this feeling. Regardless of whether they fall into the “love and lust” category or the “friend and fellow” category or somewhere in between, you need to be careful about how much value you place on communication.
What I’m getting at is if someone doesn’t immediately return your phone call or a text message, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to talk to you. There could be one of literally a thousand things going on with them.
And this applies to before the date as well. If you’re a guy who calls to confirm every half hour until the time you’re supposed to meet, she’s going to think you’re needy. Neediness when you first meet someone is very unattractive! Don’t start off in a “stalker” mode either by sending 20 text messages three days before your date. Once you fall into the category of “text message stalker” in someone’s mind, it is hard to change that perception.
Also, if you are going on a date with someone who is not a single parent, there is a good chance they don’t understand your time limitations. You might need to be sensitive about that and it always helps to be honest from the beginning.
Remember that the strongest relationships are the ones that evolve!
Tip 4: Avoid Chemistry Killers
If you feel chemistry on your date, make sure you don’t intentionally or unintentionally kill it. I’m talking about the normal stuff; chew with your mouth closed, look your date in the eye, and don’t talk too much about yourself!
Avoid things like talking about kids, or, Heaven forbid, your ex! Yes, it’s okay to tell them that you have kids, but they probably don’t really care if your daughter started using the toilet of if your boy just got an “A” in math! This might seem like a weird concept at first, but the things that are important to you might not be important to your date. Your date can tell that you love your children by the look in your eye when the question is asked, so on a first date, talk about something other than your kids.
Final Words: The Confidence of Owning Your Life
Two things to remember about dating as a Single Parent in general.
First off, start dating only when you are ready. Don’t try to push dating if you are coming from a place of neediness or are equating dating with your self-esteem. It might sound like a good idea, but chances are you’ll learn some lessons the hard way. Trust me, attractive members of the opposite sex will be available for dating any time you are ready. So, kick back and have the confidence in yourself that you’ll know when the time is right. And if you’re ready to get out there, use the tips and techniques I mentioned in this article. If you’re NOT ready to date, don’t sweat it! Because you’re a single parent, there is a chance that you might not have dated in quite a while. If this is the case, remember that the speed you want to take things is up to you.
Secondly, remember that you are the creator of the story of your life. Even these tiny “coffee dates” or even a night out are ways that you share yourself with others. And it’s your choice to be there! Ultimately you are the owner of your life, and it’s up to you to choose who you date, when you date, and how often you date.
Keep in mind that dating doesn’t mean you are in a relationship. And just because we’ve had relationships in the past that didn’t work out doesn’t mean that we’re doomed to a life of being single! Also remember that sometimes it just nice to connect with people on a friendship level. Overall, remember to have fun! If you aren’t having fun, it’s not worth the effort is it?
About the Author
Tom lives in NE Portland where he works in IT and plays with his five year old daughter He’s the author of the Single Parent Survival Guide available at www.SingleParentSurvivalGuide.com and SuperSingleParenting.com.
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