By Simone Tronciu
I’m back in the dating game (and sigh, yes, it can be called that), and the rules have changed drastically over the decade I was away living in Married Land.
Looking back, dating was a walk in the park in my twenties, compared to now, in my thirties. Gone are the days of being completely convinced that I had learned all there was to learn from my parents’ marital mistakes—and damn it, I was not going to become a divorce statistic. But I did. And I survived. So yes, I moved back to Single Land—this time with two amazing kids, a house, a car, and a motorcycle. Dog to follow.
The dating world, especially for a single parent, can be akin to a jungle littered with landmines. So brace yourselves. Ultimately you decide the outcome of the dating experience. Going in armed with what I call A Single Mom’s 10 Commandments of Dating, navigating that jungle can be quite empowering—and successful.
I. Thou Shalt Heal Thyself First
Don’t jump into dating before you’re healed and ready. What guy would want to listen to you bashing your ex? Would you want to listen to him bashing his? Time on a date should be spent getting to know each other. You deserve a man who has healed and is in a good place, and he deserves the same from you.
II. Thou Shalt Never Put Anyone Above Thyself and Thy Child(ren)
You won’t be any good to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself, and invest in yourself emotionally. And who needs the very best You more than your children? Always make them feel like they’re the most important people in your life, and don’t let anyone take you away from them. The most important thing they need is a good parent.
III. Thou Shalt Never Settle
Always know your worth, and don’t settle. Compromising out of fear, loneliness, or to beat the “biological clock” will only leave you spinning on the dating wheel like a hamster.
IV. Thou Shalt Always be Honest
Don’t ever lie, especially to impress him. Be honest about yourself and your situation. Expect the same in return.
V. Thou Shalt NOT Play Games
I have yet to figure out whether games are played out of insecurity, lack of maturity, fun, thoughtlessness, and/or selfishness. Maybe it’s a combination. Don’t lead someone on when you two don’t want the same things from the relationship. Don’t play hard to get. Just don’t play. Games are for kids. Act like the adult you are, be honest, and have integrity and class.
VI. Thou Shalt Wait
Don’t rush in. For me, sex is sacred; you’re giving that person something you can never take back.
VII. Thou Shalt Not Have Sleepovers
Let’s assume that you’re past Commandment VI. If you’re in an intimate relationship, sleepovers are a definite no-no when the kids are with you. What if your four-year-old walks in, as she’s used to doing? This is especially important if you don’t know whether things will work out with this man. And don’t let your children see you bring home different men. Parents are the centre of a child’s universe and they learn what they see. Teach good, positive lessons.
VIII. Thou Shalt Have Chemistry
The best way I can describe that term in the relationship context is this: mad attraction, impulse, “sparks,” and a compelling connection. Though you can have a good relationship without it, a relationship with someone that you have chemistry with will give you an extraordinary one.
IX. Thou Shalt Talk to Thy Children
Refer back to Commandment II; put no one above your kids. Stay connected to them, keep them involved, answer their questions, and ask them questions. Help them through the process of healing. How long has it been since mom and dad spilt up? Have the kids come to terms with it? Bring up the idea of a boyfriend and see how they react—and gauge your subsequent actions on that.
X. Thou Shalt not Introduce Him to Your Children Until it’s the Right Time
It’s difficult for kids, especially young ones, to understand the idea of their parents being with other people. Assuming that the boyfriend is a great enough person to get to this point with you, give thought to the stability of your relationship with him and whether you two are moving towards something permanent. If you’re moving toward a future together, introduce him slowly. Continue to have alone time with the kids so the transition is a smooth one. Let your intuition and instinct guide you; you’ll know when the time is right.
Simone Tronciu is the nutrition specialist for Her City Lifestyle. She is CanFitPro NWS and PTS certified.