Dating A Single Parent: Two Simple Checklists

Dating A Single Parent: Two Simple Checklists

Single parents are multiplying. And as we get out of our sadness and rebuilding after a divorce, we begin imagining, or not imagining, ourselves in a new (different) relationship. We want things to be different. We want things to be better. We want things to work out this time. And we’ve got kids, and that changes all aspects of our life. Dating, as a single parent, adds another level of complication. Scheduling. Coordinating time with the ex when date times conflict with your parenting schedule. In spite of all the challenges, dating as a single parent is a wonderful adventure. Here are some ideas I’ve garnered along the way as I’ve been a single dad looking for a relationship.

My Must-have Checklist

  • Enthusiasm and energy
  • Joy
  • Sexual chemistry
  • No unfinished business with their ex-partners
  • Expresses readiness for a relationship (that’s our mutual goal)

Additional Preferences

  • Also a parent
  • Is clear in their intentions about dating as a means to a relationship
  • Sense of humor
  • Fitness within a wide margin of expectations (we usually find someone in our similar level of fitness)
  • Has their own dreams and desires and can express them easily
  • Gives overt and spoken clues about their wants and desires
  • Likes to touch
  • Likes to kiss

My Red Flag Checklist

  • Has anger issues (about their ex, about how they’re being treated, about work, about their kids)
  • Not thinking long-term. (Dating is more about play and entertainment)
  • Too focused on fitness (they constantly talk about their workout or the gym)
  • A lack of creative expression

I’ve built this list as a way to keep my dating adventure on track. It’s a good idea to build your own list of must-haves as well as red flags. As I approach dating again after divorce, I’m committed to finding my next LTR. (long-term relationship) I’m not interested in dating around, playing the field, sowing my wild and newly freed oats. I am looking for a 110% match. Anything less, in my opinion, is wasting my time. I don’t need a date, or some entertainment for the evening. I’m actually, not that interested in dating. I’m ready for a relationship.

I’m also pretty quick to cancel potential dates, or end unsatisfying dates early. If it’s not ON then, for me, it’s OFF.

I want a woman who is fully formed, fully alive, and full of herself. She’s looking for another person to join with us in soul, mind, and body. And, most importantly, she has a confidence and awareness of how great she is and will settle for nothing less than great for her partner.

The must-have checklist and red flag checklist are critical for a date to move forward. The rest, the part about finding a relationship, is in the details.

Of course, details are very important. Do you both express intention and desire to get together again? (If you’re on a date and have to ask, “So what’s next?” then you have probably not found your match.) When the chemistry is on there is a strong pull in BOTH OF YOU to begin talking about what other things you could do together. There’s no need to ask if the game is on, because if it’s on you know it. I want that ON feeling. I want the click in my bones and sexual parts that says, “Yes, please.”

And then there’s the parenting thing. We’ve both got kids. We need to talk about parenting schedules as well as our personal schedules. We’ve both got to make adjustments to meet the other person in the middle. And we’ve got to do this “date finding” exercise with enthusiasm. It’s not tiring and overwhelming when you’re connecting with the right person. You won’t be too tired to date. You’ll be tired during the hard days, yes, but you’ll be electrified when date night rolls around. If you can’t find your way out of the exhaustion, perhaps it’s not yet time for you to actively date.

Be good to yourself. Expect the best. Settle for nothing less than 100%. Sure, there is some flexibility with the nice-to-haves, but zero flex with the must-haves and red flags. None. One bad move and we’re done. You don’t have time to wait around for another adult to figure out their life. They need to arrive at the first date fully ready for the beginning of a great adventure with you. If you don’t feel that, it’s time to pass.

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

Get the complete single dad story with John’s new book: Single Dad Seeks (available in all formats)

The Dating a Single Dad series begins here:

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image: kiss experiment, creative commons usage

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