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Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, brother to nine, and thoroughly but barely educated on the street, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. He lives with his son in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Is Meaningful Dating as a Single Parent Really Doable?

By Dan Pearce |

I’m going to try something different here on Danoah Unleashed this month. I’m going to focus the entire month’s posts (4 total) all on the same topic. This month: different aspects of single parenting.

Is Meaningful Dating as a Single Parent Really Doable?

Sometimes I don’t know how other single parents do it. How do they find the time to meaningfully date?

I say meaningfully because I seem to always have time for a date here or a date there. What I haven’t figured out how to do is to find time to date someone consistently, often enough, or invested enough to have it go anywhere really solid.

The following two scenarios are what I seem to run into time and time again as a single parent.

1) I don’t date at all because other parts of my life are starting to seriously slip. Sometimes I start feeling lonely or I start missing having someone there every night, and I put more emphasis into meaningful dating. I become the romantic, the wooer, the charmer. When I do this, it doesn’t take long at all for me to start feeling like a slacker either in work or with my child, and so I pull back, or completely out, and I write off dating altogether until I can figure out how to do it in a more balanced way.

2) I date half-heartedly. This is where I find myself most of the time, and I don’t think it’s fair to the women I date. Because I only have so much time for my child, work, and dating, and because I only usually have enough time for two out of three of those,  I often find myself dating in such a way that I won’t ever get too far with anyone. I think deep down I often feel that if I let myself go there, I will fail in other parts of my life.

And as I write that out, I have to wonder, am I simply thinking about it all wrong and doing it all wrong? After all, I have seen lots of other single parents fit meaningful dating into their lives, and they seem to do it without letting other areas of their lives slip (at least too much).

Which makes me have to ponder, is the reason I don’t have time for all three because I’m not properly balanced as a single parent? Am I spending too much time working? Am I smothering my kid?

Or maybe it’s not any of that. Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations of what meaningful dating is as a single parent. This is my therapist’s theory.

And the theory goes that I am still attempting to define dating and relationships by the standards and timelines I had when I didn’t yet have a child. The relationship should move at x speed, the second, third, fourth, and fifth date should happen at x intervals. Commitment, the L-word, and other such things should happen before x amount of time passes.

Yes, I still think this way.

But in reality, dating as a single parent is different, isn’t it? And it’s going to be different for each single parent out there.

Dating timelines more or less have to fly out the window. Expectations do, too. As a single parent, I need to learn how to let go and be okay with a relationship taking months (or maybe even years) to fully develop and mature. I need to be okay with the fact that there are more issues at stake (including my child’s well being) that will make finding love a more rational and contemplative process than it once could be.

And that’s what I’m trying to do right now. I’m trying to follow the advice of my therapist and be okay with the slow speed that things have to go for this to work for me, my work, and my child. I’m trying to believe that any woman I date will also be okay with the slow speed. I’m trying to hold onto a belief that meaningful dating is possible as a single parent and that I’m not destined for a life of quick romance but never anything more.

Is meaningful dating really doable as a single parent? Is it feasible?

I honestly don’t know. But I sure hope I can figure it out.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. What do you think?

Read my daily blog over at Single Dad Laughing!

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More of me on Danoah Unleashed:

My Kid’s Booger Problem Just Got Personal
When Mommy & Daddy Believe Very Different Things
I Bit My Kid’s Head Off For No Real Reason Today
For My Kid’s First Birthday, I Got Him a Facebook Account
Why the Heck Would it Be Where it Goes?

More on Babble

About Dan Pearce

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Dan Pearce

Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. Read bio and latest posts → Read Dan's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “Is Meaningful Dating as a Single Parent Really Doable?

  1. kammie says:

    the whole dating thing is if a women is not understanding of you being a single parent then she is not worth your time, dating does not always mean dinner and a movie late at night, become friends first, ask her to come watch a movie with you and your kids, ask her too go to the park to play, time and friendship is what makes a relationship last… My number one rule when dating, or thinking about something more with a friend is MY KIDS HAVE TO APPROVE!! so involve them. Its not like when it turns into something more they wont be there 100% of the time, they have to live in the situation too and if they do not approve there is a reason to put your self first and your child last, or make them fill there fillings are not as important as yours, you are your child’s voice but if you do not let the give there voice room they will not be able to be assertive in life.. the hard part is it is not only you and whoever in a relationship the child is involved as well making sure they fill involved is very important!!! the more open you are to them the more open they are to the experiences bringing new friends in will give them… good luck with figuring out how to balance and person and parent within you. I no it took me 2 years to even think I was strong enough to date or bring someone inside our lives…

  2. Carla says:

    I think about this all the time! I have been single for about 2 years and have been on about a million dates, or at least that’s what it feels like. I can’t get to that “meaningful dating” space now either. Sometimes I think that maybe my expectations are much higher now, which is why I am more selective. But then when I find someone who fits into that mold, and they want to spend time, lots of time, I freeze. I end things and make up some excuse on why they are undateable. My munchkin is around the same age as yours and I really think 4-7ish kids need as much face time as possible. Once they turn 8 and start hating hanging out with their weird parents :) , maybe dating will get easier. So…. 4 years until easy dating according to my theory? Womp womp womp…. Let’s hope we get the answer to meaningful dating as a single parent before that! :)

  3. Jenny says:

    I guess I was just “lucky” I never wanted to date or do any of that & a man came along & swept my daughter away when she was 3. She has .NEVER meet her bio dad. We were engaged when she was 4 & married when she was five. She decided to always call him by his real name, until we were married. She would call him Daddy then. They had a deal, that’s how it worked :) Now 10 years later we had also had a 7 year old son together & we’ve been married 10 years! There is no step parent in my house. We legally changed her last name & everything! People are ” shocked” when they hear he’s not “hers”. He has ALWAYS treated her as his, no, if and or butts about :)
    I hope some one you get lucky and find someone like I have. I understand your struggle to date. But, no knight came out of no were! A BAR is we’re we met, lol.

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