Very often, people – especially if they don’t have kids of their own – are apprehensive about dating single parents. And I get it: kids equal responsibility and germs or whatever. Plus, if someone is a single parent, chances are there’s an ex floating around somewhere, and maybe that’s a dramatic situation. Who knows? Not you, and you kinda don’t want to. And even if you did start dating, what if things go well between you and you meet this kid and get attached to the kid and then you break up? Dating a parent, by all outward appearances, looks like a situation that is automatically more complicated, which means more likely for it to not work out, and when it inevitably doesn’t work out, there are potentially a greater number of people involved who could get hurt. No. Thank. You. Please.
Like I said, I get it. But as a self-appointed ambassador for single parents, I present the following counter-arguments. Because dating a single parent is kind of the greatest thing ever, and I feel bad that so many of you might be missing out. I know you’re inclined not to believe me right now. I know you likely think this is some self-image boosting exercise to make myself and all other single parents feel better about being tainted goods. I assure you, that’s not what this is and there isn’t a single goddamn thing tainted about my goods. Bam!
Read these, get over your hang-ups and fears based on bullshit stereotypes, and finally ask that hot mom/dad you know on a date.
Birth control: They take it seriously
Bahahaha, hey, remember that time I got pregnant? Ugh, that was hard. Guess who never forgets to use condoms?
They’re less likely to rush into things
When I say “ain’t nobody got time for that”, I could not mean it more literally: ain’t no single parent got time for rushing into shit. If we’re dating and it takes many months before you start seeing me more than once a week, don’t take that as a sign that I’m not into you. In fact, if you see me even that often, it means I’m pretty much all the way in love with either you, your penis, or both because, between work, friends, sleep, and my baby-pal, finding one whole night per week for you undoubtedly took some serious prioritizing. The upside: moving too quickly rarely happens, which not only gives both people a chance to really take their time and understand their feelings, it also preserves that sublime, always-too-fleeting, beginning time in the relationship. You don’t burn out on that initial magic too quickly. A combination of “can’t get enough of each other” and “not having infinite time to spend together” equals “always wanting more”. Which is hot and romantic and incredibly, painfully fun.
Their purses are like survival kits
There is nothing I don’t have in my bag. No, don’t ever look in there – just tell me what you need. I’ll make it happen.
They’re dynamite in bed
I think we can all agree, no matter what kind of weird bedroom stuff does it for you, the most universally sexy quality in a person is confidence and openness. And single moms have both in a more pronounced way than just about any other group of women. There is a very specific kind of body confidence that can only be earned by seeing your body go through some seemingly impossible challenges and come out on the other side just as strong and beautiful and sexy as before. You not only appreciate and respect your body more after having a baby, but you understand how it works and what it can do. You’re just infinitely more aware of yourself, and far less self-conscious. There is no way, no matter the specifics of how you like to get down, that that doesn’t result in some next-level fuck times.
They know what makes a relationship work
There are a million different paths by which someone can end up a single parent. But for most of them, it involves experiences that taught them a lot about what it takes to make a relationship work, or can render it completely broken. Just having a child at all teaches you, holy fuck, everything about human connections and interactions and how to be healthy, generous but also self-preserving, committed and flexible for the sake of making a relationship last in a long-term way with another person. It’s unreal what you learn when you finally have someone in your life who you can’t break up with, and the emotional resources you find access to. You can’t help but carry that greatly expanded ability to love someone well into your other relationships. It just changes completely how to interact with other people, especially in a personal, intimate way.
Obviously, only people who are observant, conscious and want to challenge themselves to constantly grow and become better people will really recognize and benefit from these things, but honestly, you should only be dating those people anyway. People who are oblivious to opportunities for personal evolution as they come up are stagnant and weird and probably really bad in bed. That’s my professional opinion as someone who has had frightfully mediocre sex with people whose heads are permanently all the way up their ass.
They have excellent boundaries
Before I had a child, boundaries in relationships were not a thing I did well. If I was dating someone, I almost always did a truly terrible job of setting aside time for myself, or work, or friends, or anything. All the lines got very blurry, very frequently, and when that happens, every part of your life ends up a bit diluted, and a bit weakened. And in the end, the messiness that created in my life, and the subsequent stress, would turn back around and insert itself into the romantic relationship that had caused it – in other words, my romantic relationships not only had a way of fucking up other parts of my life, but they shot themselves in the foot at the same time.
When you have a kid, it’s sink or swim when it comes to boundaries. Because that relationship with that little, biologically connected monster, and the way early parenthood functions in general, makes it super easy to become all-consumed by the parenting part of your life. And as any parenting book or sane person will tell you, that’s not good. You need time for yourself / work / friends / sex, and time for your child. As a single parent, you quickly understand the need to set up a massive fucking wall between your dating life and your kid life, and that’s a boundary that is rock solid until a relationship feels incredibly stable and serious. Protecting the continuity of your child’s environment and not having a parade of randoms coming in and out of your kid’s life is a super high priority for any single parent who isn’t a completely selfish, needy piece of shit (I rarely judge other parents for anything, but introducing your vulnerable child to every dude you bone just because you’re insecure and desperate to rapidly, forcibly progress your relationship is one of the few things I will judge wholeheartedly.)
All of that to say: Establishing good boundaries with my kid was a million times harder than with anyone before, but I had to learn to do it, because my relationship with him couldn’t get messy and fall apart like ones in the past. I was forced to acquire some of the traits and skills of socially functional adults that I had never been good at. And now I’m basically the queen of healthy relationships. It’s kinda ridiculous.
Contrary to myths, we are not shopping for a new mom/dad for our kid
Hey, guess what, dear sir who I just met? My child already has a dad, and he’s a truly kick ass one. My kid has two amazing parents. We’ve basically got that whole thing handled. So how about for now, instead of panicking about the vague notion of being in proximity to something that might, somehow result in additional responsibility in your life, maybe you should just focus on what you and I are doing, right here, right now. Because right now, that’s all there is for us. Maybe one day, very long from now, my co-parent and I will find ourselves in new relationships that develop naturally over time to become permanent partnerships. Perhaps if that happens, my son’s village of wonderful people in his life will grow. I would love that. More secure attachments for a child (or anyone) means more diverse exposure to difference perspectives, experiences, and ideas, a deeper bench of people to be on their team, and a greater number of trusted people with a more well-rounded overall combined array of strengths. That would be rad, but it’s one of a hundred possible futures that excite me, another being to continue having meaningful, fulfilling (emotionally, intellectually, vaginally), impermanent experiences with lovely people completely apart from my domestic life with my kid. Shrug.
Maybe you and I will fall gloriously in love, and you will become part of my family, and end up having a meaningful relationship with my son, and even become friends with my son’s father and we’ll all have this big modern family with lots of people engaging in highly evolved relationships and enjoying all the growth and joy that comes from that.
Maybe that’s what will happen with me and you, and if it does, I’m sure we will have many, many conversations about what your role in my kid’s life will be and what we both expect and need, and we will ease into it incredibly slowly, and I promise – no matter what – that in this moment, this unknown beginning moment, I have no agenda, no bigger desires or goals for our relationship.
Maybe we’re soul mates and the existence of my child will one day be relevant to you. Or maybe we’re just going to go to second base in the back of this cab and never speak again and you should stop overthinking things.
They understand selflessness
I mean, that doesn’t mean every single parent you date is going to be selfless with you, but chances are, they are at least capable of it, and very few people genuinely are. Bonus: They not only know what truly selfless love is about, but they know when to be selfless and when to do them. (See above re: boundaries.)
They’re more aware of what they want
I’m not saying that everything single parent (or any single parent, and definitely not me) has a completely solid game plan for their lives. In fact, I’m pretty sure if having a kid teaches you anything, it’s that the most important skill you can acquire is an ability to adjust well to change, and cope with unexpected changes of plan with grace and positivity. Like, shit happens, and will happen again, and you just have to deal. That said, once you have a kid, you lose a bit of the childless luxury of floating aimless through life (surely not everyone goes through life like that, but if they don’t have kids, they totally could), so you start thinking about what you want. Single parents tend to be really good at knowing what they want, but not being too stubbornly attached to getting exactly that. That’s a very dateable quality.