Singles & Dating
There are many things that may have changed since you last dated, and one of those things that might be different is that you now have children. Whether putting yourself out there again excites or terrifies you, you’re probably wondering how to handle the situation with your kids.
Depending on the age of your children and your custody situation, there’s no one-size-fits-all way navigate things, but here are some tips from the matchmakers at www.itsjustlunch.com to keep in mind as you reenter the dating waters.
Talk with them about it first
If your kids are old enough to have a conversation with you, consider sitting them down to explain that you’re going to start dating again. Tell them about your need to develop friendships with new people, but assure them that you’re not looking for someone to replace their other parent.
Most importantly, listen to what they say. Try to really hear their concerns or hesitations and do your best to address them.
Take things slow
You might get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship, but remember that your children might not be able to move at the same pace as you emotionally. Even if they haven’t met the person you’re dating yet, be careful about how much you share with your children and what you share. No matter how agreeable they are, or how much you view your child as a friend, most children will be easily spooked by something new coming into their life so fast.
Take introductions seriously
You don’t need to introduce your children to everyone you date. Consider what might happen if your children do develop an attachment to this new person and then you break up and they suddenly have to adapt to even more change in their lives.
Wait until you’re sure you’re serious about someone and that you see the potential for moving in together or marriage happening down the road. Talk to your children in advance about how the first meeting will go and set some expectations.
And once again, listen to your children. How are they feeling? Nervous? Angry? Even if there’s nothing much you can do to assuage their fears, being willing to take the time to truly listen and empathize with your children can go a long way.
Don’t get defensive
If the worst happens and your children dislike your new partner, don’t leap immediately into a defensive mode. Ask them questions about what specifically they don’t like. Try to get down to the root of the problem. Are they nervous about this person moving in? Were they hopeful you were going to reconnect with your ex?
Lead with listening. Your children want to know they’re most important. They want to know that your relationship with them will never change.
Make your children feel heard and have reasonable expectations about the time it might take for them to feel comfortable with the situation. Don’t let them stop you from pursuing a new relationship and someone who makes you feel hopeful and happy again, but be patient and remember your children might need to be on a different timetable from you.
New year! New goals! New love? If you've resolved to rev up the romance in 2016, consider the suggestions below. You'll increase your chances of meeting someone special—maybe even The One!
- Take More Risks: You've heard the adage, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results." People say it all the time because—well, it's true! Although we can't 100% control when or how we'll find love, one thing's for sure, we won't ever meet The One if we refuse to get out of our comfort zone and take a few risks.
Resolution: Resolve to push yourself at least a little bit in 2016—no risk, no reward!
- Make a Plan and Execute It: Your best intention to take more risks won't do any good unless you actually follow through. The trick is to figure out what you need to make that happen. Take an honest look at yourself and determine how to ensure you'll stick to your guns. Will it help to enlist a friend to keep you accountable? Or do you work best with visual reminders? Try writing out your dating resolutions and posting them in a prominent spot to keep yourself focused.
Resolution: Resolve to construct concrete steps to find love in the same way you'd strategize to reach any other goal. Make it a priority and put in the effort! Another quote to consider: "Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." –Abraham Lincoln
- Play to Your Strengths: Let's be honest—dating can feel pretty awkward at times. Make the whole process a little more comfortable and a little less stressful by playing to your strengths. If you're more reserved but you're a great writer, hop online and email your way to a first date. If face-to-face interactions allow you to shine, hire a dating service and let them do the work—all you'll have to do is show up and be your charming self! If you're most comfortable in active settings, join a singles' group that keeps busy with cooking classes, ski trips, or art lessons.
Resolution: Resolve to be more introspective this year. You have to know your strengths to be able to play to them!
Follow the suggestions above to take charge of your love life in 2016! Who knows—by this time next year, you and your significant other may be working on resolutions for 2017 together!
Looking forward to heading home for the holidays but dreading the commentary surrounding your love life? Below find a quick guide to help you adeptly field any "single shaming" that may come your way.
Your Mom: "Are you seeing anyone special?"
You know she's going to ask about your love life so if you have nothing new to report, make a preemptive move by calling or emailing before you go home. Express something along the lines of, "Mom, I love you and I'm looking forward to seeing you this Christmas. I know you're concerned about my love life and you're hoping I meet someone soon. I want the exact same thing but since I'm not dating anyone right now, I'd like to ask that we talk about other stuff. When we focus on what I don't have in my life, it brings me down and I want to stay positive and upbeat during the holidays. Plus I have a lot of great things going on, so let's talk about those!"
Your Newly Engaged Cousin: "I always thought we'd be getting married at the same time!"
If your cousin is cool, she obviously won't single shame but if she flaunts her 3 carat bling and brags incessantly about the surprise proposal in Tuscany, it'll be annoying—there's no getting around it. No matter how much she exasperates you, take the high road. Even if she comes out swinging with, "Wow, I can't believe you're still single! I always thought we'd be getting married around the same time," let it roll off your back. Bite your tongue—even though she started it you'll look like the overly sensitive, bitter singleton if you retaliate. If she leads with a snarky comment, just smile and repeat how happy you are for her. Turn the subject back to her wedding planning. Brides can never resist that bait!
Your Older Sister (Married with 2 Children): "What was wrong with Kevin? He was such a great guy!"
Yes, your sister always hoped you'd have kids around the same time and raise your children together. And sure, that might have been fun, but her not-so-subtle insinuations that you're too picky—and if you weren't you'd both be mommies right now—doesn't change anything and proves hurtful to you. If she goes down this road, just remind her that you're not 100% in control of when love crosses your path. Explain to her that it's hard when she brings up this topic because it makes you feel like you're disappointing her. Then distract her with a question about the increase of peanut allergies or the free-range parenting movement.
Your Ex: "I can't believe you haven't found anyone yet!"
If you're likely to run into you ex at a party, be prepared—especially if he/she is currently attached (but still bitter about your breakup) and in the mood to "single shame." Again, take the high road. If he/she makes some comment about how things could have been different for you two, resist the urge to fire back with, "Yeah, right—except you CHEATED on me and then expected me to forgive and forget!" Leave the past in the past and return any single shaming with a smile and a breezy, "Well, we all have different timing when it comes to love. And I'm really happy for you." Hold your head up high and turn toward the bar. You may need a sip (or shot) of egg nog after that run-in!
Don't let any scrooge-like comments turn your Christmas blue! Keep in mind the suggestions above to nimbly side step single shaming and maintain your holiday cheer!
But just after you celebrate your successful pairing, you realize it also means meeting the family. The only thing worse fielding Aunt Edna’s questions about your nonexistent dating life is watching her grill your new significant other about their job, their family and how they got their teeth so white.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are some tips to get you through the holiday with your relationship still intact.
Come bearing gifts
If you’re the one who will be the guest at Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you bring a gift for the hostess. And if you’re not the guest, don’t tell your significant other not to bring a gift. Not even if you think your mother doesn’t need, or won’t expect, anything. It’s a nice gesture, and it makes a nice first impression.
Wine is an obvious choice, but run it by your significant other to ensure you don’t embarrass yourself by bringing wine to a parent who is a recovering alcoholic or perhaps doesn’t drink for religious or other reasons. A great option sure to be a conversation starter? Something from your hometown, like locally-harvested honey or jam from locally-grown raspberries.
Dress to impress
You don’t have to pull out your tuxedo or an evening gown, but leave the graphic tee at home. Everything you’ve heard about first impressions are true, and you really don’t get a second chance at making a good first impression.
Guys, a clean shave or a fresh trim of any facial hair is a must. And nice shoes go a long way, even if your significant other said you should wear jeans.
Ladies, keep your makeup on the lighter, more conservative side and avoid any overpowering jewelry. Short skirts and cleavage-bearing shirts are better saved for date night.
Get the low down
If you’re the one taking your significant other home for the holiday, prep them. Warn them about the possibility of getting trapped with your dad telling long stories if they mention golf. Advise them not to mention your sister’s new baby in front of your sister who just had a miscarriage.
And don’t be embarrassed. We all have that family member. They’d rather be prepared than caught unaware.
Offer to pitch in
One of the best ways to ingratiate yourself with any host is to offer to help. Whether it’s carrying food out to the table, washing dishes after the meal or offering to take out the trash, simply making the offer will make a positive impression.
Dole out the compliments
You have a lovely home.
The food was amazing.
These are just a couple of suggestions for compliments any host will be happy to receive. Ladies, his mother will love to hear you think her sweater is a great color on her. And guys, her dad will appreciate you noticing his impressive collection of autographed baseballs.
Be judicious with your compliments – no one likes a brown-noser. The most genuine compliments come from observing the environment around you and noting what you appreciate.
But always – always – compliment the chef.
Protect one another
Last, but not least, protect each other. Don’t leave your significant other alone too long in unfamiliar territory. Be aware of when they look uncomfortable and bail them out. Include them in conversations, and give them backstory where necessary to keep them from feeling left out.
If you want this to be the first of many holidays together, it’s imperative you make your date feel comfortable. Rarely is it going to be effortless where they immediately fit in with your family and can carry conversation on their own. There will be some bumps along the way.
It’s how you deal with those bumps that determines whether or not you have a future beyond the holiday season.
Single for Thanksgiving but want to find a date before Christmas rolls around? Let the matchmakers at It's Just Lunch help you find your match! Get started today by calling us at 1-800-489-7897 or click here to tell us a little about yourself.