(By Kate Gwinnett/BM) If you think dating in Barcelona is complicated enough, try throwing kids into the equation.
Dating as a single parent is an entirely new game with a whole new set of rules and any previous dating etiquette should be tossed out of the window. Not only does attempting to arrange a date become a logistical nightmare which requires military precision organisational skills, once you’re finally dating there are a whole heap of other concerns to take into account.
So I’ve compiled a list of a few do’s and don’ts (note: most of which I learned the hard way) when it comes to dating as a single parent:
1. DON’T hang around too long after your break-up/kids come along to get back into the dating game. The longer you leave it, the more set in your ways you become, and the possibility of somebody else sharing any part of your life can gradually become the implausible. This isn’t to say you need to get out there on a desperate search for the next big love. Even if you don’t feel ready for anything serious, casual dating is one way of evading the slow descent into the unsettling and best-avoided world of ‘old spinsters smelling of cat pee’.
2. DO try online dating. It’s great for flirting and boosting your confidence. Even if you don’t actually manage to get out there to meet any of the folk you’ve been corresponding with (mostly when a tad tipsy at 1am), it has at least kept you entertained during what would have otherwise been a few tedious evenings indoors picking your toenails.
3. DO go on your first date in single-person mode – not single-parent mode. Have you ever been on a date with someone who spent the majority of the evening yakking on about their beloved dog? Or worse still, their car? Did you see them again? I hope not. Take it from me; your date couldn’t care less how your little angel delight is doing at school. See that glazed look in his eyes? He’s wondering whether it’s still worth his while trying to get into your knickers. So come on, what else do you have going on in your life? (If the answer is ‘nothing’, maybe you need to work on that. Just saying like…).
4. DON’T whine about your ex. See reasons above.
5. DON’T worry about cancelling a date last minute if you’ve had one of those lousy days where nothing’s gone quite right. I once felt obliged to go on a first date after a colossal blow-out with my son’s father. Off I went to the cinema and towards the end of the film I got a bit emotional. Err, massive understatement… Once the tears spilled over there was no stopping them and I had to make a sharp exit, blindly blubbering all the way home. Needless to say there was no second date.
6. FORGET your pre-kids idea of the perfect partner. Believe me, that person belongs to a different era and would never fit into your world as you now know it. I once briefly tried to convince myself that I could keep up with the life and soul of the party guy who would have previously been my idea of heaven. It lasted all of a month before I admitted defeat and retreated back into my safe cave of singledom. Let’s face it, hangovers and babies don’t mix. And men who like to stay up partying until the early hours aren’t the kind of guys who will happily be up changing a nappy a couple of hours later.
7. DON’T introduce your new partner to the family too soon, even if things seem to be moving forward nicely. I’m not only recommending this for the sake of safeguarding your kids. Let’s face it, if you want your new fella to maintain his view of you as a sexy independent woman then keep your hysterical, stressed out, frazzled alter-ego well hidden for a while longer.