Donna’s Dating Diary: Parental Guidance


Uh oh. This year’s census shows that 17% of families are lone parents.  How nice of them to use the word “lone”, hmmm? But this doesn’t need to mean “lonely”. OK it is no secret that most single parents struggle to find the time to date. Yup that’s right, with a million and one things to do, it can be just as easy to find a million and one reasons to avoid adding another task to that list. If we’re honest, our children and our work will naturally take precedence.

Despite this (and maybe because of this), most of us would love to find the right partner to bring a little emotional support into the equation; you know, to occasionally tell us we are doing a great job, and how we look really sexy with no make-up on, to hold us or bring us a cup of tea!

Fake it to make it

So we want the prize, but think we don’t have time to make it a reality. Ever heard the expression, ‘You gotta fake it to make it?’ Nobody said it was going to be easy; sometimes you just have to get the frock out, put on your best smile and get one foot in front of the other. It can be tough, especially when we would rather be elsewhere (often with our kids or in bed). We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that it’s OK, and important, to have other interests outside our children; to let go a little and have a bit of guilt free fun. Yes we are mums and dads but remember, it’s actually rather good for the “little egos” of the household to realise early on in life that not every waking second is about them. And let’s be honest, we can all find a couple of hours’ “grown up time” in the evening to go on a date. God, we would practically spend that time on the phone in the evening with a glass of wine in hand. Plus, a girl has to eat, right?  I reckon single parents deserve to be wined and dined even more than most (especially the ‘wined’, after the normal chaos the hours between 5PM and 8PM bring.)

The good news is that since becoming a parent, my dating is a much more efficient procedure. Sorry for making it sound like a visit to the dentist, but it’s true that the pressure of time, or lack of it, definitely helps me to separate the men from the boys.

Looking for a man, not a boy

In the past, I would have spent way too long with someone who is clearly not suitable. Today, like most busy adults I’m so pressed for time that I’ve become a little less tolerant of giving my time to those who, let’s say, are less deserving of the little I have. Being around children so much does make us more impatient when it comes to dealing with an irrational or spoilt adult. We don’t have room for another baby – which I think is a bonus.  If that sounds a bit mean, parenthood also teaches us patience to a whole new level, and gives us practice in being sympathetic, loving, diplomatic and adaptable: all key elements to making a relationship work so perhaps this is another plus!

You see, to date a single parent does require a certain amount of maturity and intellect to understand the sensitivity to the different dynamics of the situation.  In short, someone who is pretty secure in themselves.  Ideally, what you’re left with is a slightly sturdier character by your side and someone you are more likely to lay greater foundations with. The guys who cope well with the situation are the guys who will cope further down the line. I’ve learned if you do not lay the right foundations, the slightest bit of stormy weather makes the house fall down, and with little people now in the building it is time to take care.

And if you are introducing someone to your children, you have to be that bit more selective, chose wisely and of course from your heart.  But most of all remember why you dug that dress out: to have fun!

My tips on single parent dating? Well, I’m flattered you asked.  I’m still figuring this all out too.  Find out what works best for you personally but here are a few things that I would find useful:

1.  Try not to check your phone every 5 minutes throughout dinner, it should definitely be on silent, or vibrate if you’re worried about the kids only!

2.  Don’t ramble on about your children (or indeed the ex) all night (even though I’m sure your kids are all utterly utterly brilliant and your ex is of course totally crazy…it’s rather boring for your date. Also; tales based loosely around the latest bout of flu, how fast the little one was at their swimming gala, or how well your kids are doing “given the circumstances, again implying their other parent is slightly unhinged…

3.  Look relaxed and interested even if you’re not, it’s just good manners. You can die of boredom when you get home or have a good rant with your mates about how fit or weird your date was in due course.

4.  Don’t when asked how you are, say “tired”, “run ragged”, “on my last legs” or anything similar. I have many cheats to help with tiredness (a spray tan , wearing a light colour, a Wonderbra,  going gentle on the makeup , a V&T , high heels are just a few).  Just laugh lots! You may remember that dating is fun!

5. And finally the one thing to remember always in moments of terror. HOLD YOUR NERVE AND CARRY ON REGARDLESS!

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