It’s been a while since you were last doing the circuit and having been out of the loop and with kids in tow dating can seem pretty daunting. But if you’ve decided that you’re ready to get back in the game and remember to respect the needs of yourself, your children and your date you might just find Miss or Mr Right.
- Get online
Internet dating is the newest way to meet likeminded people. It takes all the pressure out of meeting potential partners in awkward and confronting social situations and makes it easier to match what you want and need up with a person, without having to grill them on the first date. Most New Zealand based dating websites have free and paid membership options available and are relatively easy to navigate. If in doubt ask a friend who’s used online dating before for a hand.
- Leave the kids at home
If internet dating doesn’t sound like your cup of tea consider leaving the kids with friends, family or their other parent next time you’re invited to a BBQ or social gathering. As fun as it may be to spend time with your little ones going it alone occasionally gives you more opportunities to mix and mingle with other adults.
- Short and Sweet
When you’ve finally found somebody you’d like to take out don’t dive in head first. Make the first date short, some dating experts suggest half an hour. It gives you long enough to ascertain if you feel a connection and if a second date is in order leaves you both wanting more. Keep things light and try and avoid sticky situations like ex partners, complicated custody issues or the perils of parenting.
- Dating other parents?
There are pros and cons to dating other single parents. They’re aware of your situation and understand that you can’t put them first and might have to bail on short notice occasionally, but at the same time juggling two different sets of children, ex’s and custody arrangements can make things far more difficult. Try not date one or the other exclusively but at the same time, be aware of the fact that for some people dating other parents works better than dating childless individuals and visa versa.
The nuts and bolts of getting out there aside the most complicated element of being a dating dad is the dad part. So how do you balance your needs as a dating adult and the needs of your children?
- Communication is Key
Kids are pretty perspective creatures and a lot of the time they know more than you think they do. When you start dating be honest and open with your children and let them know as much as you think is age appropriate. Reinforce that regardless of your relationship status you will always love your children and that they will always come first.
- Take it slow
Don’t introduce every first date to the kids. It will confuse them, and a revolving door policy will send the message that relationships are disposable. Your children will probably mimic your dating habits in later life so try not do anything you wouldn’t want them doing, or at least, try not let them see it. Let children choose when they want to meet a new partner. Different kids will be comfortable with the idea at different times and it’s important to not make them feel forced into meeting somebody new.
- No competition
It’s important to let your kids no that your new partner isn’t competing for their attention or their affection. Most of the time your children will have another active parent in their life and a new relationship needs to respect the bond your child has with their other parent. Sometimes kids will feel disloyal to the other parent if they form a bond with your new partner. Make sure they know that the two relationships are completely different.
- Say no to sleepovers
Sleepovers are an important part of dating however when there are children involved they can’t be taken lightly. As previously mentioned your kids are most likely going to mirror your dating behaviour at some point in their life and having sleepovers with people you are serious with might send messages that you’d rather your children didn’t get. If your kids are old enough have frank and open conversations with them about it and if not save the sleepovers for nights they aren’t at home. Just don’t try sneak people out at the crack of dawn you’ll eventually get caught and it’ll majorly strain the relationship.
- Give it time
Sometimes your children aren’t going to gel well with the person you’re seeing and as much as you need to respect how your children feel you also need to respect what you and your new partner want. Try and find out what about your new partner is troubling your child and make sure you give them some time to adjust. However, there may be a point where you need to sit down and evaluate how much the relationship is troubling your child and whether or not they’re genuine or trying to keep you all to themselves. Go with your gut but keep in mind that if a child feels you are choosing a new partner over them it could have serious repercussions.
At the end of the day you know your kids best, and you know what they can and can’t handle. Make sure you treat them like the children they are, and keep all the adult info for your friends but don’t leave them totally in the dark. It’s a difficult balancing game but when you get it right it’s well worth the effort.
And remember, the most important part of dating is having fun!