There are numerous reasons for dating as a single parent. As long as you act in the best interest of yourself and your children, there is no harm in a little fun. The absolute worse reason for dating is loneliness. Loneliness is not a disease; it’s a part of the human condition. You should never make yourself feel bad for feeling lonely, or allow others the opportunity to criticize you for it. As a single parent, you probably stay so busy that these feelings only creep in at bedtime. If you are fixating on loneliness, it’s an indication that you don’t have enough to occupy your time. Try taking a dance class or volunteering.
Casual sex is an understandable reason for dating, but within parameters. Never introduce casual sex partners to your children. This means that when you meet him or her in public while with your children, treat them like any other adult and say “hi” and move on. Never engage in casual sex at your residence. If your partner and yourself cannot find a love nest or afford a hotel room, it is an indication that you don’t need to be engaging at all.
Safer sex is just as important. If you don’t have condoms available and a back-up method, you can forego the sex. Imagine how difficult it will be to date as a single parent with HIV or Herpes. Fulfilling your personal needs should not involve cheating your kids emotionally or financially so as a general rule you should not be away from home at night more that two or three nights a week for this purpose.
A long term relationship and/or marriage is the best reason for dating. Most confuse short term relationships with long term relationships. This occurs because after a few months your boyfriend/girlfriend agrees to move in and you consider this long term. In truth, these arrangements are marriages of convenience and last as long as it takes you or your partner to get tired of it. Your children need stability and a new “Uncle Dan”, “Uncle Bob”, or Uncle Martin” every six months to a year is not beneficial. A long term partner or marriage partner provides stability through their commitment to you and your children. Anything short of such a commitment is not worthy to enjoy your children and occupy your bed.
When dating for a long term arrangement/ marriage, be upfront with this goal when meeting potential partners to scare away any suitors that are less than serious. Depending on how frequently you are able to date, several months may elapse before you introduce your children and begin “group dates.” You should have a really good feel for this person before introducing him or her to the children. Group dates are very important to witness the interaction between your children and your potential partner. Hesitancy to group date is an indication that the progress of the relationship should slow as well. However, you should not leave your children unsupervised with a potential partner in the early stages.
Movement from dating to long term should occur gradually. It would be reasonable for a year to elapse before everyone feels comfortable emotionally, financially and otherwise to take the big step. This includes making sure your children are ready as well.