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May 2009

Dating as a single parent

When you are a parent you may look at prospective dates differently.  You are not only trying to find out if they would be a good fit for you and make a good significant other, you are also trying to find a fit for your child/children and someone who would make a good parent. 

Although all of this is valid, and very tempting to be thinking about all during your first date, it's not necessarily fair.  Wondering if someone might be a good mom or dad after a first date is jumping too far ahead into the future.  It is important to stay in the now. 

Try and find out about the person sitting in front of you before you let your mind wander to the future.  Your child is part of you, of course, but first dates are meant for exploration.  So, explore the person you are with. 

Jennifer Wolf, a writer for and a Certified Parent Coach suggests that single parents create a list before you start dating.

If you're a single parent, this is a good exercise to do before getting back out there in the dating world. 

  • In the first column make a list of qualities you consider "absolutely necessary" in the people you date
  • In the middle column write down qualities you see as "somewhat necessary"
  • Finally, make a column listing things that are "not absolutely necessary" 

"For example, you might consider loving kids to be 'Absolutely Necessary' says Wolf.  "Being well-educated might be 'Somewhat Necessary' and being a fan of your favorite baseball team might be 'Not Absolutely Necessary.'"

Just remember:  thinking about someone's potential as a parent to your child on the first date is not fair to either of you.  You will do yourself a favor by getting to know the person for who he/she is. 

Rejection... it happens to all of us.

Everyone faces rejection once in a while!  It's a part of putting yourself out there.  Just like in sales, every "no" brings you closer to a "yes".  Don't wallow in self pity or feel discouraged.  Think about the other opportunities you'll have and move forward!

If someone you've been talking to turns you down, just be gracious.  You'll feel great about yourself.  Let him/her know that you enjoyed chatting.  Whatever you do, don't let a few rejections ruin your enthusiasm for dating.  It's all about timing!  Also, you want to carry a positive attitude forward to the next person who is coming along.  People can sense negativity a mile away and you don't want to automatically assume you'll be rejected.

Here's a lesson in always taking a risk:

Sometimes IJL clients have let small hiccups get in the way of creating a great dynamic with someone.  For example, two clients had gone out on a date and when I got the feedback from both people about how things went I heard two similar stories.  The man told me that he really liked the woman.  He said that she was bright, down to earth, funny and successful.  Then, when asked if they exchanged information he said "No, I don't think she wanted to".  

In my experience, "I don't think she wanted to" usually means he was too scared to ask her and find out.

Once I got the woman's feedback, it went like this: "He was really nice! We had a lot in common.  We laughed and had a wonderful lunch together."

Then, when I asked if they had exchanged information she said, "It was really odd.  I thought things were going great but I don't think he wanted to go out again."

Two people went out, liked each other equally, but no one made a move.  Had one of them spoken up and taken the risk of possibly being rejected, they would have realized they both wanted to see each other again.  

The point is, don't let self consciousness get in your way.  This same rule applies when you are just introducing yourself to someone new.  Don't let your last "No thanks" get in the way of hearing "Absolutely, give me a call!" 

Women: When you feel like a catch and you don’t want to settle, it’s easy to quickly dismiss each new date.

When you feel like a catch and you don’t want to “settle”, it’s easy to quickly dismiss each new date. Five minutes in, the voice in your head is screaming out, “Next!” and you emotionally disengage for the rest of the night. I get it. But get this: these quick dismissals are unfair to both your date and to your own long-term relationship prospects.

Which means something needs to change.

I hear from many single women that they are frustrated with MEN. Why do they dress the way they do? Why don’t they reach for the check? Why do they talk about themselves so much? And why don’t these slovenly, cheap, narcissistic men follow up to say they want to see you again?

Believe me, I’m no defender of men. All I can do is point out the obvious: they don’t change. You can’t change them, I can’t change them. The only person who can change is YOU.

So if waiting for magical chemistry and dismissing everyone else in 5 minutes has left you unlucky in love, the clear course of action would be to stop looking for magical chemistry.

This is a difficult choice to make – and not a wholly natural one. But chemistry doesn’t predict compatibility. If it did, you’d have married any of the guys you’ve been hot for over the years. You didn’t. Either they dumped you or you dumped them. So much for the staying power of chemistry.

Thus, your challenge is to consider a new, healthier way to date. I’m not suggesting you marry a man who doesn’t make you laugh or go out with a guy whose face makes you gag. All I’m saying is that holding out for magical chemistry on the first date is, at best, an illusion. And since that’s the case, you’d be well-served to reserve judgment at least until the next day.

At which point you may ask yourself: Did I have fun last night? Was conversation easy? Was he thoughtful? Was he reasonably cute? Does he seem like he’s looking for a relationship? Has he called me already to tell me he wants to go out again?

If so, see him again. It costs you nothing and gives you the chance to get to know him better.

One matchmaker I know insists that all of her clients go on a minimum of 2 dates with each other. I’m not saying I recommend this in all circumstances, but think about it: wouldn’t you act really different if you KNEW you’d be seeing that person again? Sure, you would.

You wouldn’t feel such pressure to make a quick decision.

You wouldn’t feel like you’re being judged too harshly yourself.

You could let down your guard and act more naturally.

You could create a rapport that could grow into chemistry.

In short, with a two-date minimum, you’d probably have more fun, show your best side, and develop a natural friendship. Which is pretty much the basis for any long-term relationship.

Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with being picky. But if picking yourself out of all your dating options hasn’t worked, you might want to open up to a few more second dates.


 - Evan Katz, Author of "Why You're Still Single"


Men: If you’ve written off a woman before you’ve spent any real time with her, you may be missing out.

I once knew a guy named David who decided that his extremely extroverted blind date (who he dubbed “Loud Sally”) was annoying and not someone he ever wanted to spend time with again. This guy claimed that he knew within a few minutes that she talked too much and was ‘too enthusiastic’ for his taste. In fact, all of her enthusiasm gave him a headache. So, David managed to end his coffee date with L.S after just twenty minutes, claiming he had a migraine (he just failed to mention it was induced by her), and would need to take a rain check. He never did re-schedule the date with “Loud Sally”, but he did end up marrying her a couple of years later.

When David told me this story, of course I needed him to fill in a few blanks. He exclaimed, “I ran into her a year after our first meeting at a mutual friend’s party and we ended up sitting next to each other at dinner. We talked all night!” David admitted that what he initially found off-putting (her strong personality), he now found refreshing. She had more sass than the women he was used to and she was a lot of fun. His perspective changed once he met her under different
circumstances and had enough time to get to know her without the pressure that he needed to figure it (read: their connection) out immediately.

I spoke to his wife (“Loud Sally”) about the situation and she laughed about the first time she met David, saying that she does talk a little faster and louder when she’s nervous, and first dates often felt very unnatural for her. She was more comfortable at the dinner party when she met David the second time than she had been during the initial set-up.

Unless you’re a seasoned blind dater, first dates with someone you don’t know can take patience and an understanding that both parties may need a little time to warm up. Most people require at least a few minutes to settle into the date and get comfortable; so if you’ve written off a woman before you’ve spent any real time with her, you may be missing out.

I believe that to be successful in dating, you have to be present, be open to taking risks and to having fun. You know how you interact with people while on vacation? Try to capture that energy and channel it into your next date. Don’t be too tied to the outcome and enjoy the exchange while it lasts, because really – what do you have to lose? Perhaps it’s an hour of your life that you can never get back…but you may just need that hour to really assess if you have chemistry with the woman across from you.


 - Andrea Syrtash, Host of "On Dating"

What NOT to do now that you have a your potential date's contact information

1.  Do not call him/her more than once without a response.  You want to show interest, not desperation.

2.  Do not send multiple emails.  This will annoy the person.

3.  Do not use his/her information to try and sell them something.

4.  Although we live in a time where text messaging is a well accepted form of communication, do mot ask someone you just met out on a date via text message.  This is tacky.