Part III in the series of dating rules for responsible adults brings us to the rules that apply to all parents that have found themselves back in the dating scene after a divorce, separation or split from the parent of their children.  Now, my general rules of thumb may need some leeway when it comes to parents because I know first hand that sanity is a relative term.  With that in mind, these rules apply to you, as a parent if you are…

  • an adult approaching or over the age of 30,
  • relatively intelligent and educated,
  • seeking a long-term relationship as the goal,
  • and, most importantly, mentally stable(ish).

Again, these rules apply to those daters that are seeking a relationship with some degree of normalcy.  Most of us do seek normalcy in our relationship but for those looking for a fling, friends with bene’s, ‘professional’ daters or other dating deviants, these rules will never apply.

And now, dating rules of engagement for today’s parent.

Dating Rules For Parents Number 1: Keep ‘Em Separated

My first dating rule for parents is about separation.  I don’t mean separation from your previous partner; I mean separation of your ‘home’ life (ie: your children) and your ‘social’ life (ie: your sex partners).  It’s best to keep somewhat of a distance between each of these ‘worlds’ – especially in the beginning.  Sure, your dates will need to know that you’re a parent right up front.  It will NOT do you any good to hide that fact from them because dating as a single parent presents itself with enough challenges on its own.  There’s no need to add more aggravation to the equation.

If you feel that your children are at the age where it’s appropriate, you may tell them that you’re dating, just to keep them in the know.  Again, this may somewhat depend on the age of the children and, obviously the stage of the relationship with the person you’re dating.  Even if your children are in their teens they shouldn’t be meeting the incessant stream of your dates as they march in and out of your life.  While teens may be more aware than younger children, they can still be greatly influenced by the perceived instability that dating presents.  Even though your dates may not qualify to you as relationships, your children may see them that way.  It’s best to have a ‘No Revolving Door Policy’ with your children and your dates and I would wait to introduce the two worlds until you’re pretty certain they’ll be around each other for a while.

Dating Rules For Parents Number 2: Slow and Steady

I’m going to level with you for just a moment.  We’re adults, so I feel like I have that liberty.  I hope by now that the wild and wooly days of your past are just that – in the past.  Back in the day, we stayed out until all hours of the night, drank ourselves silly on cheap wine or beer and woke up after most of the rest of society was finishing up their afternoon meal.  I hope by now that those days have been replaced with more mellow gatherings with friends around a fire pit or barbeque more likely with a bottle of wine that we’re unable pronounce (chateau-something-or-other) than a case of Natty Light or the cheapest boxed wine you can get your hands on.

Gone also should be the days of whirlwind, tumultuous, rollercoaster romances.  We’re too old for that crap, aren’t we?  That’s high school bs, really.  Relationships that start out fast and furious and end with a quick fizzle are not what adults our age do. They’re also not positive environments to present to your children.  Single parent daters should not be in a hurry and shouldn’t rush the natural growth of the relationship.  Single parent daters also should have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to rollercoaster relationships. Rushing into things also takes away from our ability to filter out the bad matches because we’re caught up in the moment rather than thinking about the long term.  Rollercoaster relationships destabilize and add anxiety to everyone the relationship touches – friends, family, children, ourselves.  Give yourself time to really discover who it is that you’re dating.

Single parent daters have more at stake than the average dater does.  When a single parent’s budding relationship goes south, the children involved are going to be impacted as well.  They have established bonds with your date and maybe even with your date’s children.  Yanking those bonds away from them more than a handful of times will have a destabilizing effect on them that may be difficult to correct.

Feel free to continue getting caught up in the moment, having more fun than you probably should on your dates and daydreaming about your future with that handsome gentleman or striking lady you met last night.  Just remember that reality has a nasty habit of returning to our lives the next day, so try to keep things in perspective once the initial high wears off.

Dating Rules For Parents Number 3: Believe

My first two dating rules for single parents were a bit…serious and maybe even just a little bit discouraging.  It’s not that this rule isn’t serious, because I am serious about it.  Rather, this rule is a bit more up-lifting than the other two.  I chose those rules because I think parents often take their roles as parents too lightly, especially when they jump head-first into dating.  This rule is about letting go just a bit.  Single parents must believe that there is someone out there; someone even better for them than the previous relationship they exited.  As we enter our 30’s, we must believe that there’s more out there for us despite what might have happened in our past, what our current situation presents or what our immediate prospects for the future look like.  Things can get better.  Things will get better.  You’ll see.  Dating after divorce or the end of a long-term relationship is often a pretty low point in one’s life.  Just remember, when you’re at the bottom the only way to go is up!

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