The challenges to dating someone without a child can be daunting. Will they ever understand your life? And when they do – will they run away screaming in fear once they realize that parenting never ends? It can also be irritating to date childless people.
They often lack genuine empathy for your situation, talk about stuff that just seems pointless and annoy you with stories about how hard their lives are. But, as one of my friends said recently, “You can’t help who you fall in love with.”
When I left my ex-husband and Benjamin was just four-months-old I couldn’t imagine anyone joining our lives but they did and the relationships didn’t end because I’m a single mom, they ended because child or not we weren’t a good match.
Here are some things you can do to fan the flames of a romance with the single and childless.
1. Be patient. They’re not going to “get it” right away nor should they need to. Do you know if you’re going to marry this person or be in a long-term relationship with them? No way. You might have a feeling in your gut, but that’s not enough to warrant long chats about how they’ll perform as a father or a mother. And besides, nothing will freak them out more than these kinds of questions. These questions will come later and by the time later comes you might not even want to be with them any more.
2. Put it into perspective. Before you became a parent – you weren’t one. Duh! You’re shouting at your computer screen. But, seriously, think about it. Being a parent is nothing anyone can prepare for and chances are you wouldn’t have predicted what kind of parent you are today. There’s no way to tell what kind of parent your flame will become once they’ve fallen for your kids. Don’t waste your time analyzing their every move. Instead, focus on how they treat you – this will give you the answers on how they will eventually treat your children.
3. Go easy on them. DO NOT ask or tell them to be your child’s missing parent, DO NOT expect them to save you and DO NOT ask them to move in until you’ve been dating for at least one year. These are recipies for disaster. You’ll freak them out. And besides, you’re probably moving too quickly. You have a child now so everything must move slowly. No more whirlwind romances. This is one of the hardest facts to come to terms with, dating will never be the same.
4. Find your fun side again. This one was tough for me. During the first year, I had a really tough time relaxing on a date or just chatting about something other than Benjamin. I thought it was all they were thinking about (the fact that I’m a single mom) when in reality, I was the one thinking about it constantly. Eventually I let my hair down and said hello to that single chick inside of me again.
5. They don’t really care that you’re a single parent unless you make them care. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned. If someone falls in love with you, the fact that you’re a single mom or dad is icing on the cake. But before they fall in love with you try to avoid scaring them off with negative comments about being a single mom. For example, don’t say “Being a single mom is SO hard, you have no idea, sometimes I just want to die.” Keep your single parent anxieties to yourself and your close friends until you’ve been dating someone for a while.
Would dating another single parent be easier? Sure. At the beginning, you’d have more to talk about, you could relate, he would instantly get the parenting thing. But dating another parent opens another can of challenges, I’ll save that one for later.
In the meantime, I hope these mini-lessons help. Do you have any to add? Or any stories about dating the single and childless?
P.S. I hope the networks are reading this post, there could be an entire soap opera titleds, “The Single & Childless.” Awesome.
[Photo Credit: "Love XOXO" by Pink Sherbet on Flickr]