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Dating as a single parent is a weird experience. Before I was ‘back on the market’ (a phrase that makes me feel like a house. Or a cow) I hadn’t been on a date in ten years, and even then all my dating was as a teen to the cinema or a bowling alley. I kind of expected it to be just like it is in Sex and The City (spoiler: it isn’t. Thanks SJP for shattering my dreams).
I made the conscious decision to get back out there quite soon after my relationship was over. I know that not everyone agreed with this but to me it seemed pointless to sit in my house alone night after night mourning the demise of my marriage; after a long period of attachment I was excited at the prospect of conversations with men I was not related or married to and wanted to experience a social life again. I didn’t go into dating wanting a boyfriend, just interesting conversation with people who weren’t weirdos and maybe a glass or two of wine.
So where to start?
As a single parent who works from home the opportunities to meet new people aren’t endless. For a start, at the toddler groups I attend the eldest men I come across are three years old. There’s the whole ‘get chatting to a bloke in the coffee shop’ thing but how do you ask if they are single without coming across as desperate? Ditto the gym. If you don’t watch it you can come across as a bit of a keeno (and I say this as one who’s probably come across as a bit of a keeno in the coffee shop).
You can meet blokes through friends but there’s only so often you can bother them for introductions before they start getting pissed off with you. I met a man in the pub who seemed nice but he was 23 and living with his mum and I felt like putting him on the naughty step every time he said a bad word.
And so I turned to online dating.
Really, it’s the perfect solution. You flop on the sofa, watch a romantic comedy to re-affirm your faith in everlasting love, have a couple of glasses of wine for dutch courage and open up the laptop. The wine means you will be exceedingly witty in your online profile and you can spend the rest of the evening browsing potential suitors (and car crashes) on the site.
The magic thing about online dating is the minute detail you can go into when you’re searching for dates. I would liken it to trying to find a particular item on ASOS; it’s the human equivalent of trying to find a Black Maxi Dress in a size 10. It’s literally that specific, you can search by age, hair colour, height, location… you can even search by salary. Shallow, yes, but you’d better believe that everyone clicks on the £80k+ box out of curiosity at least once. And the choices are endless! You’re literally presented with thousands of results: old men, young men, tall men, short men, funny men, not so funny men… SO MANY MEN.
One of the hardest things I found with online dating was filling out the profile. How do you describe yourself in a little white box? How do you make it clear that you don’t want any weirdos? At what point do you mention that you have children? How do you make yourself sound hilarious yet alluring? It’s not easy, and trying to channel Carrie Bradshaw again didn’t help. But I did it, and the photos I submitted that (hopefully) didn’t make me look like a troll were accepted.
NewlySingleMama2013 (not my real username but quite catchy, right?!) was online. Dating was GO.