Dating a single parent comes with it a different set of rules and interactions, because children have to be factored in to any decision or play you make. For example, dating usually takes a back seat to the needs of the children, and that can be problematic for single parents as well as for their dates. Single parents may come to that role via different scenarios -- personal choice, divorce, separation or death of a partner -- but they all face similar challenges.
Jealousy of Children
Children usually want their parents all to themselves and are often resentful of their parent’s affections for someone else. Do not be too quick to introduce your date to your children. You may date several different people before you find the one with whom you want to build a relationship. But even if you're concerned about your children’s feelings of jealousy, don't let it deter you from seeking companionship. Usually children will acquiesce when they see the other person is making the parent happy, and it may relieve them of the feeling that they must nurture the parent because of the loss of a prior relationship. If they do feel jealousy, it is wise to have some alone-time with them for special activities where the new partner is not included.
As a single parent, you may find you have little time to spend on outside relationships. Usually your days are full -- commuting, working, helping with homework, juggling finances and numerous other tasks. When you are able to squeeze in a relationship, you must be sure it is a healthy one. While time may be limited, it is important that you maintain social contact with people who have the potential to become loving partners, because being nurtured by a love interest will help you nurture your family and love yourself as well.
Often, even when single parents have the time, energy or desire to date, they may be met with the unwillingness of a partner to go out with a single parent because of the many constraints brought on by the needs of the children. A potential date may feel it is too much trouble and veer away from a meaningful relationship with you. When that happens, you may find yourself experiencing feelings of low esteem and despondency over a perceived rejection from the opposite sex. For that reason, it is imperative that single parents have the support of family and friends who can fill the need for a family unit.
Do not introduce children to a date who is a non-parent on a one-on-one basis until the bond is solid enough to believe it will be lasting. Children should not feel the insecurity of your fleeting relationships. They may have been disappointed with a previous loss -- through separation, divorce or death -- and they do not need another emotional upheaval. If you date another single parent, however, you may want to introduce your children through mutual activities or other group settings and introduce the person as your friend.