When parenting is going well, spending a lot of time with our children can be about the most rewarding experience there is. But however lovely this can be, there is likely to come a time when we crave a bit of positive attention from someone our own size!
Whilst the fantasy of having a new significant other around is attractive, the thought of dating again can be hugely daunting. It might be years since we last went on a date. If our previous relationship ended badly, our confidence can feel bruised. And what impact is someone new in our lives likely to have on our children? And anyway, how on earth would we find the time?
Where to start?
After any relationship break-up, it makes sense to allow the inevitable cocktail of emotions (grief, anger, resentment, regret) to run their course. See our article on How to Recover from a Broken Heart. Once we are ready to re-engage with the world, and can smell the flowers again, dating can mean embarking on an exciting new phase of life.
Going out and meeting people, whether it leads to something more or not, can be confidence restoring. Realising that there is such a thing as a ‘second chance’ (or third or fourth…) and that an ‘end’ can also mean a ‘new beginning’ can feel like winning the lottery. Making new friends and having the freedom and opportunity to become intimate with someone can start to feel like a real perk of being single.
But what about the fact that we are already parents? Dating, as a parent, has advantages because it means that we are likely to have clear priorities for the future: we are likely to be more picky, straight talking and less willing to waste time. Even having been burnt last time round (if this is how we feel) can mean having a clearer sense of what we are looking for and there is less likelihood of ‘sleep walking’ into a situation that is not right for us.
Some people are perfectly happy, relieved even, to be out of the relationship game. However, if you do want to dip your toe back in, here are a few things you might want to think about along the way:
1. Find out and nurture who you are
Dating again can be at least as much about finding and reconnecting with the yourself (the non-parent bit) as it is about finding someone else.
2. Take regular exercise and pamper yourself
It will do wonders for your confidence and energy levels. The more positive you feel about yourself, the more attractive you are likely to be to others.
3. Put yourself in new social situations
Make an effort to talk to more people (anyone and everyone) and generally take an interest in the wider world.
4. Consider internet dating
Internet dating can be very efficient as it allows you to find out a lot about someone from the comfort of your own home, before even going on a date. See our article on Internet Dating.
5. Treat dating again as a game
Do enjoy it, don’t expect to meet someone who will solve all or any of your problems (you are the only one who can do that!)
6. Don’t involve or introduce your children to new partners straightaway
Wait until you feel that you are in a new relationship that has a future. Read our article Introducing a New Partner to Your Children.
... and remember to have fun!