Logistics of Dating as a Single Parent

Parent Q&A

  • Single parent dating and child care

    (5 replies)

    I'm looking for advice or recommendations.

    I am a single mom and my ex husband is not in the picture. My son is 9 years old.

    I've been dating someone long distance for about 7 months and we now live in the same area here in the bay. We have for about 3 months now. The problem is, even though it has been almost a year, it is still a really new relationship because we haven't really spent much alone time together to explore and nurture the relationship.

    We are having problems right now that are turning into non-negotiables for the person I am dating, and that is we are not able to have alone time when we want or to go anywhere together because I have to plan it. Right now we only have babysitters and we have time limits because of it. We both understand that comes with being a parent.

    How do single parents maneuver through this issue? i  don't have a network of family or friends here to help with child care and babysitters become really expensive, especially with potential overnights.

    Just looking for some advice.  

    That's a good question. I never could figure it out, and I haven't dated in over 10 years. Really after my kid is in daycare all afternoon because I have to work, the last thing I want to do is also leave him with a babysitter, even with family or friends. The child is only a child once, but I'll have plenty of time to date when he is older. Is a new relationship really worth it?

    You have to make friends! Find other people, preferable within a few blocks, who have a kid about the same age who is compatible with yours. Invite them over. If it seems good, you can try trading. Even overnight!

    I'm not sure how to answer your question, but I just want to mention that it would be a red flag for me to be with someone who is 'non-negotiable' about the fact that I can't leave my child at the drop of a hat or for long stretches of time to nurture the relationship with them. As you implied, you are a parent first and foremost. I'd be careful with this one - I know lots of folks who have kids and date and this is not really an issue because most reasonable people understand what it means to parent, but at the risk of jumping to conclusions (though I think it's a reasonable one to draw) your partner seems to be on the selfish side and that's not a good thing for you or your son, fwiw. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice

Dating in middle age--when did you get physical?

Aug 2014

AS a divorced, straight woman in my 40s who is starting to date again for the first time since my teens, I'm wondering when other middle aged divorced women (and men, too, for that matter) have taken a new dating relationship into the level of physical intimacy? I realize this question has no one answer--it will depend on individual values, level of emotional connection/intimacy with the dating partner, etc.

But in general I am finding that the men I have dated want to become physically intimate really quickly, after just a couple of dates, if we are at all compatible and have even the slightest bit of chemistry. I'm not comfortable with that--I need to know someone really well before I get involved at that level--so this has resulted in me not continuing to see any of these people.

To be fair, my dates have been with existing acquaintances; I have not yet tried on-line dating where I spelled out in words the type of relationship I am seeking. So--just as an informal poll/reality check, when did you as a middle-aged dating person become physical with a new partner? Am I being naive or unrealistic here thinking that I want to get to know someone over several months before becoming physically intimate? Starting Over

I have both been a mid age (and older) divorcee in the dating world and counseled newly single women for over 30 years. The most important thing to remember is that there are no rules. Everyone makes it up as they go along. There will be men who feel as you do about instant intimacy and there will be others who want to get it on immediately and call you names when you don't. Follow your own dictates and your own comfort level in every case whether it's months or minutes. Don't be bullied into doing otherwise. Enjoy your new freedom to do exactly as you please. Isadora

Hi, like you said, it is up to the individual. I think if they are trying to sleep with you after a couple of dates that you have to talk to them. You have to ask on the first or second date if they are looking just to casually date or find a long term relationship. If it's meant to be the question won't turn them off if you bring it up really casually with a smile. I wouldn't sleep with anyone until at least the 7th/8th date and only if you really like them (not just because of chemistry). Because you could end up dating for awhile and it's more difficult emotionally if you are getting over someone if you've slept with them. If they want to sleep with you after 1-2 dates then their motives are pretty clear, so you just have to decide what YOU want and not if should or shouldn't give them what they want. Switch the focus to what you want. Good luck. Have fun. Kris

No, I don't think you are being unreasonable at all! Do what feels right to you. Don't compare yourself with others, follow your own drum beat. The right guy will come along, and I don't think that going faster than you want with men will make Mr. Right any happier. Get to know people.

Also, like you said, you CAN spell it out in your online profiles. That way, dudes know what they are getting into. For myself, I jumped into bed pretty fast after my divorce because I was very horny. But, only one of those guys was a good lover. We slept with each other after going out with each other three times. He wanted kids and I didn't, so we stopped seeing each other. I would say that the longer you hold out, the better, because there are so many diseases out there and so if you are going to take the chance of getting one it should be with a man who you have a relationship with and who will probably be around for a while. Good luck!

I'm sorry to report that it does seem that men really want to move to get physical faster than what you are probably used to. I've been with my spouse since 2002 so I largely missed the online dating stuff (no advice there), but I have several very close friends who are dating right now in their late-30s and they report very similar experiences that you've laid out. I think, generally, that the men looking to get physical within a handful of dates aren't serious about wanting to get into a relationship OR aren't seriously considering you as a contender for a long-term relationship unless the sex is amazing. Even then it'd probably turn into a physical relationship more than anything else. (In my 20s I didn't think it was weird to have sex after only a couple of dates, but as we get older we unfortunately get taken less and less seriously when we ''put out'' too soon. I sound so un-feminist saying this, but I think it's the sad reality).

Anyway, here are the rules that my friends play by with dating as ''mature women'':

  • kiss by the 3rd date or the guy thinks you aren't interested
  • sex no sooner than 10th date or 3 months of seeing each other (whichever comes sooner or feels most natural, not a hard and fast rule)
  • it is unrealistic to think someone will want to get monogamous before they have sex with you (if that sounds depressing, you can surely find some men who don't feel this way but it seriously limits your pool of candidates, which might be ok with you)
  • it is unrealistic to assume a man will be monogamous once you have sex unless this is specifically discussed in advance (the ole 'sex doesn't equal love' thing), so don't make that assumption or you may be disappointed. that said, don't lower your standards or comfort level when it comes to physical intimacy.
  • avoid situations such as this: after having a few drinks after dinner, he drives you home and you invite him in ''just for a moment'' with no intention of having sex, then end up making out on the couch and then telling him ''ok that's enough, time to go home'' because even though you have every right to do that (should I say that one more time? you have every right to do that!!), men get their hopes up and leave disappointed. Better to just make out on the porch and then say good night before going inside, keep your boundaries firm and consistent, and not send mixed messages. My inner feminist hates me right now.
  • also, in terms of online dating: no extensive online chatting or texting before meeting in person - if someone is interested in you but doesn't want to meet up for coffee within a week or so of ''meeting'', that is a red flag. My friends are shocked at how many men want to spend a Saturday night instant messaging for 4 hours instead of actually going out and doing something! no thank you! Anon

I hit the dating scene (8 years ago when I was in my 36) after being with my boyfriend/husband since I was 20. I dated one or two guys who were trying to get me into bed on the first date! I decided I didn't want to sleep with anyone and everyone so when things started to get steamy, I'd mention that I don't have sex with guys until I've dated them for 3 months so we can get to know each other, etc. That way guys who were really just looking for a casual fling would hightail it out the door while the others who were looking for a real relationship and thought I was someone worth waiting for would settle in. No sex doesn't preclude kissing (there were some serious make out sessions involved) and if after 6 or 8 weeks, you are ready for that step, then go for it. Good luck!

I'm in my late 40s and have been dating online since Feb. I thought I would want to wait a while before including sex but had a somewhat short but exclusive relationship with someone where we did click and were intimate. Somehow that unlocked a door or something and now I'd just like to go out and have fun. My thinking is that I won't have this chance again so I will have some fun for a while and will think about when I want to start a more serious search......

Anyway I think you're right that people (men) are interested in having sex soon. I just found myself thinking that way too and I didn't anticipate that........ I thought I would be more hesitant..... I think it's just important to do what you feel comfortable with. Best of luck!

Hit and run is an issue for women dating young men, so slowing things down until the third month or twelfth date makes sense. A bigger issue for single women dating middle aged men is not slowing down the progress of the sexual relationship - au contraire. And Viagra does not work for all the contenders. In hindsight (no pun intended) I would take an early test spin (with seat belts) for well qualified candidates. An early check on the road-worthiness of the warrior will eliminate the mere cuddlers and smoochers. That is unless you are content with holding hands in front of the television and short walks on level ground. Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Recently divorced mom of 2yo - how do I start dating?

Oct 2012

I'm a recently divorced mom of a 2-year-old, in my early thirties. My marriage was a difficult experience (to say the least) but after taking lots of time for myself during the separation/divorce (it's been almost two years), I'm feeling ready to take the plunge into dating again. My question is, how do I get started? I honestly feel overwhelmed by how different things are now...and I also have no idea how to navigate dating/single parenthood. I wouldn't describe myself as shy, but my confidence took a hit with my divorce, and although I'm actively working on re-gaining it, the idea of ''putting myself out there'' is somewhat elusive to me. I know I need to do it, but how? Are there steps to take, or things to try/avoid? Realistically, how does a busy single parent date these days?? Feel like an inexperienced teenager again

In a way it is easier that your child is so young. It is harder whent hey are older! Here is my advice. Start slowly. Tell people you know that you are ready to start dating and see if they know of anyone that might be suitable for you to meet. If you decide to go on line, I highly suggest you use sites such as Chemistry.com as opposed to the ones that don't require a membership fee. I found that you will meet higher quality men who are actually interested in a relationship and not just sex. I also suggest that you screen these men carefully. Remember that if you meet a man who has kids but does not have any custody of them I would steer clear. If you value your life as a mother and a family woman, you need to be with a man who thinks in a similar fashion. I also recommend that your child not meet anyone until you are in a stable and committed relationship. Otherwise it is just too confusing for the child.

Good luck. It is actually sort of fun! be open and real. Men love women who are confident in their own skin........ anon

I started dating when my kids were 4 and 2. It required a lot of bravery, and I had to give myself daily pep talks. I bought some clothes that made me feel good, I asked friends to help edit my on-line profile for Match.com, and I pre- arranged to have a babysitter on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. If I didn't have a date, I took myself to a yoga class, went grocery shopping, etc.

Once I was having dates that led to sleep overs, I arranged for a babysitter to take the kids every other Saturday overnight! I met my partner about 12 months into my dating adventures, and I now consider that time to have been interesting and fun. (Not that I ever want to be back on Match.com...)

Go for it! You can do it! formerly single

Dating/Finding Love after Divorce, in my 40's

Oct 2012

I am recently separated from my husband, and although I'm not ready to date yet, I am very interested in finding a new partner to share my life with. I am in my early forties with a young child. I recently went on Match.com - just to see what was out there in my age range, and I was practically in tears after looking through 30+ pages of guys. There were lots of shirtless photos, and the way the guys described what they were looking for in a woman was pretty appalling. My friends assure me that there is someone out there for me, but after the Match.com experience, I'm really worried! Is there a better dating site for my demographic? Where are any other 40+ women meeting nice ''normal'' guys these days? I haven't been on the dating scene in over 15 years, and I'm terrified!!! Looking for Mr. Right - Part 2

Please do not think you're too old or it's too late. I found myself suddenly divorced at 50 and had the same fears you had. I wanted a solid relationship and/or marriage in my future-not just a boyfriend. And I was afraid all the men my age were only interested in women under 30.

At the insistence of my best friend, I signed up for match and found that, in fact, there were many, many men who were interested in meeting me. Of course there were also tons of 50 year old men who wanted to date a 25 year old, but it's simple enough to screen those people out with your profile and by setting up your search terms to exclude them.

What remained after I did that were a whole bunch of really great men who asked to meet with me. I scheduled coffee dates, 1 or 2 a week, for several months. And after 3 months of great, but not quite right for me men, I met the man I later married. I adore him, he's perfect for me and I know I would never have found him if we hadn't both been online.

The trick, I think, is to look at meeting men as fun, to be genuinely interested in them rather than disappointed if he is not THE ONE. With that way of looking at it, you can enjoy the process instead of feeling hopeless and depressed about it.

A last helpful hint, if you go the online route, post a photo of yourself that has been taken within the last month and that really represents how you look. You want a man who accepts YOU as you are, not someone who will be disappointed when he meets you and finds out you don't look like you did ten years ago.

It is never ever too late for love. And the man you are crazy about DOES exist. He's looking for you too. Probably online. Older Mom

I recommend that you use a different dating web site. Here is my theory. On Match.com the first thing men and women do is look at photos. One just pays a fee and sets up their profile. On sites like Chemistry.com or eharmony.com you take a variety of personality tests and you are matched up in a much more specific way. You also don't see photos right away either so you get to make a judgment based on the personality of the person rather than the photo (and vice versa of course.) I met a wonderful man on chemistry.com and our personalities were very well suited. I think that sites that take more time and attention will yield a more quality individual who is also really seeking a relationship and not simply wanting to date around or find pretty women with whom they can have sex. Good luck. and Keep at it. It does take time....but I found it very worthwhile. ALSO- be open to dating all sorts of people and try to keep an open mind. Tell your friends that you want to be set up with quality individuals. You really need to cast a wide net...stay positive and try to have some fun with it. happily coupled

You'll hear a hundred stories like mine--which begin just like yours. I met my second husband after 4 years as a single parent in my mid-forties. We met on a blind date through mutual friends, after he spent years looking online and going through dating services meeting perfectly nice women who just weren't his match (and vice versa), for whatever reason. Like you, I took one look at Match.com and went running--not my scene (though I have two different friends in long-term relationships found at E-Harmony, so you never know). Enjoy being single (I know that sounds funny, but there really are a lot of advantages to it, even with a kid, especially if your ex is a real co-parent who gives you some free and flex time to reinvent your life). Become who you want to be, then it's amazing how the man who wants you to be just who you are will come along. I don't believe in fate or magic, just in embracing yourself with or without a partner. That's the best ''plan'' for meeting someone later in life, I think. Don't rush it. When you're ready, ask your friends to look around for you or join an activity group of like-minded souls. Couldn't be happier

Just as in regular life, there's lots of chaff amongst the wheat. Match com is the most inclusive and thus the best online site. It has both shirtless jerks looking for a fling and successful refined widowers looking for wives. You need to persist, to block from contact anyone who offends you, and email guys to be generally informed of their intentions. I have been on and off match for two years, and the second I turned 50 my emails dropped dramatically. So, I strongly suggest that you persist at this.

I should add that Match is worth it because it's cheap for what you get. The really expensive services screen for income but not being married and wanting to cheat (It's Just Lunch accepted my ex-husband before the divorce started). If you persist you are well-suited to find love again. Anon.

This response is for you and the person who wrote in under: finding a life partner at mid-40's. I'm sorry you are in this situation and my heart goes out to you both. I was once in your position, 42 and single and wondering what went wrong and why I couldn't find someone to marry. What was wrong with me? Where were all the single, young great guys? Etc. Etc. What changed? I stumbled across an article and later book by Lori Gottlieb titled ''The Case for Settling''. Now before you get your back up, check it out on Amazon and read the reviews. The book opened my eyes to the type of man I should be going after and what my ideals in a mate should be. It was very illuminating and really changed by dating life. I am now more happy that I thought possible with a partner and we are engaged to be married this winter. Good luck sister! Trust me! Read this book!

Dating as single mother in her mid-20's with baby

Jan 2012

I am a college-educated young woman (age 25) with a 6 month old daughter. Unfortunately my ''picker'' was off (as Patty Stanger would say) when I started dating my daughter's father almost 3 years ago. He was a great man in my eyes, but still had lots of hopes and dreams for his career instead of an actual career (mind me he was 10 years older, I should have known better that it will never happen) I strung along, but eventually enough was enough and I needed to move on. We broke up about 3 months ago.

I am now looking to start dating again, but as a single, young mom with an infant I'm not sure how will it go. I have a good job and am financially independent. Honestly I am quite the whole package, but I'm not sure how this will go. Ideally I'dlike to date someone around 32-38 with a great career. I don't need anyone to parent my daughter or support me, I just need a financially independent man with whom I can build a future and not worry about finances constantly. I've signed up for Match.com so that's my starting point.

So I guess my question is, for those that went through something like this, how did the dating go? How receptive were the men to the child? I'd love to hear personal stories. L.

Oh darlin' you are at a REAL fork in the road. Don't do anything you will regret, like putting ''finding a man'' between you and your infant. I would think you put that out there first. ''A perfect starter family, just add love'' You really want a guy that WANTS a baby. Gosh that is tough. Be super careful..... and take it slow. Good things for you. Reenie

What's the rush here? You are 25, broke off w/your ex 3 months ago, and have a 6 months old baby - if you really want to give yourself a gift, take one solid year off from men and just enjoy your baby and your life. Unless a meteor hits the planet, Earth will still have plenty of men to choose from one year from now and you'll be so much stronger, more confident and wise that you will only choose incredible guys. Alternatively, if you're not really ready to start dating, you'll choose the wrong/bad men again, get incredibly frustrated and bitter about it - and it goes downhill from there. Don't rush it. You are young!

The only real financial security is going to come from what you can do to equip yourself to be a good earner and saver. Any plan that involves relying on one other person is, at the end of the day, very risky. Please, be mature.

Answering your original question, there are plenty of men out there who love being stepparents. I know several quality men who married women with children and adopted their children. I would also agree with the earlier posters that being in your mid-twenties is a special time and why not take advantage of that? Especially since you are able to provide and care for your child without a partner's help. You have plenty of time to meet a life partner, and not that much time to enjoy the young years and develop a special bond with your child (age 1- 5 are quite special.) Not saying that you shouldn't put effort into a relationship if you meet someone very special, but I wouldn't invest a ton of energy trying to meet Mr. Right right now (because he might turn out to be Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right ) Anonymous

How do I ask the coach out on a date?

Nov 2010

I am a single mom of a 6 year old boy. We often go to the gym to play basketball, while a basketball class is in session. The coach always brightens up when he sees us and is very friendly. He also has made it a habit to play with my son on the side (while his students are stretching or what not). He does not wear a ring. I would really like the opportunity to know this positive, friendly man better, but don't know how to go about it. As a female I feel that simply asking him out is too forward, or is it not? I don't want to ask him out while he is working, and have considered sending him an e-mail, which is posted on one of his fliers. Life is short, and I don't mind getting rejected, but I don't want to make him uncomfortable either. Is there some other more subtle way I could open the door to the possibility to seeing him outside the gym? It'd be great to hear from both men and women on the subject. Thanks, Clueless Single

What about emailing him and asking and mentioning that you hope it won't be awkward if he declines your offer. You could also have another topic in there like how much your son enjoys the class, etc Sounds like a risk worth taking... Susan

I don't really have dating advice, but a single-mom cousin of mine married her sons' soccer coach and it worked out very well (they have two more children.) ask him out for coffee/hot chocolate

You don't have to ''ask him out on a date'' and risk embarrassing either of you if he is coupled, gay, uninterested, etc. You certainly can invite him to something social like a holiday party, a cocktail party or dinner party (that you can give just for this purpose!) If you don't entertain (and I suggest that more single people do this), then invite him to something with your child: ''Son and I are going to a Craft Show this weekend. Would you like to join us?''

About dating: there are no rules. Anyone can invite and anyone can pay. The more informal you are about getting to know another person in order to explore any possible friendship the less stressful it will be for both of you. Isadora

YES! Ask him out. It would be completely ''too forward'' if he wasn't showing any interest but if he is doing as you say he is doing then by all means work up to it. You can speak with him after a game and casually mention grabbing something to eat if he had no plans. By asking him out - you dont actually have to say - want to go out - but by staying after practice you can simply mention if he wasn't too busy maybe one of these days we can go grab a bite to eat or? leave it open for him to respond then he can also do the asking out. Guys like being asked out, that is to say if they are interested in the girl. And yes, life is short! so go for it.

you can also join in when he plays with your son - pass the ball around with them and strike up a conversation. ask him questions, give him some clues as to your interest in him (like smiling at him not necessarily being an overly zealous flirt) and maybe he will do the asking himself but it wont happen if you just stand on the sidelines and watch. good luck! anon

I was a single mom (still am, but she's out of the house) in your position once, which turned out to be the beginning of a long, wonderful relationship. I know this may not be politically correct but I strongly feel the guy should ask first. HOWEVER, you can start by chatting... nonverbally flirting, taking note of his reaction and the general vibe. Does he approach you, start talking, keep talking, smile, maintain eye contact, etc? You can feel these things and if it's there, it's a great game, the oldest one in the book. Be the one to leave a little before you'd like to, with a smile of course. In other words, give a little but let him go after you if that's what he wants.

In the meantime, do you know any of the same people? Could you strategically find out about him - is there a girlfriend or whatever.

In my case, I saw this guy around and was friendly and chatted some. I played it friendly and somewhat cool by ending chats pretty soon, etc. I might've accidentally touched him on the arm once while talking, like I might a woman. I found reasons to speak to him at some length a couple of times. One time was pure pretext and it was highly nerve-wracking. I could hardly breathe. We actually spontaneously hugged goodbye and then both of us were separately horrified and elated. We didn't speak again for WEEKS. I thought the feeling was mutual but I didn't really know.

He was about to go away for the summer - MONTHS this had been going on. So I was planning to break my own rule and call and ask him for coffee. An absurdly casual ritual considering my feelings! I set up a time, had a kid over to play with my kid, closed myself in the bedroom with the phone and sat there staring at it. At that moment it rang! It was him saying he couldn't stop thinking about me! I'm so glad it worked out that way, although he would've adored me even if I'd been the one to call. As it was he felt extremely lucky to snag me and I had no doubt about his interest!

If this guy's not available, you've maybe made a nice buddy and sharpened your skills for the next guy. Good luck! - play it and have fun

Well, you sounds so sweet that it would be a shame for him not to realize that you are available. Here's what I would do... In my experience, I have never had any success with me asking the guy out. They feel too much pressure. It seems to me it's a pretty primitive system, but if the guy likes you enough to want to date you, he will definitely let you know. If he is the kind of guy that is too timid to ask you if you are single, or give you that special smile -then he is too timid in other ways. All you have to do is smile at him, say ''I was thinking of trying out X restaurant this weekend w/ my son, what do you think about the food?'' That's it. If he is interested he will get the hint. (i.e.,you don't have a date this weekend, you are entering into conversation territory other than basketball) If not, he will politely say ''oh so and so place is great, you should try it''. Meaning, without me...In my experience, guys who are attracted to you and want to date you will get very smiley, ask a lot of questions about you, etc. They will eventually ask you out on their own. And if he doesn't, his loss! Good luck, let us know how it ends :)!! anon

Does the coach know you are single? available? I would try to somehow get the message to him that you are interested. (i.e. ''johnnie's dad is not present in our lives so I really appreciate your ability to connect with him ''(or something like that) That way he will know you are single. Do you flirt a bit with him? Start conversations? Thank him for the time with your son? I would try to turn on the friendly button and see if he responds. Another thing to try is asking other moms or dads(subtly) if coach might be single.....cannot hurt! good luck...go for it! single mom

It sounds like he may like you and just be too shy to broach the subject. A good friend of ours was a male kindergarten teacher and had a very hard time dating. He said he didn't want to appear to be hitting on his students' moms. I would give him a winning smile when you see him and tell him you think it is great he plays with your son when there are lulls. You could then say, ''Hey, would you like to grab a coffee sometime?'' Just make it sound casual, not like a date. What is the worst he can say? ''Sorry, I am married.'' ''Well, I am married, but I would still love to grab a coffee.'' ''Sorry, you aren't my type.'' I find most people are flattered that you would ask them to get together for dessert or a coffee. I have made quite a few friends that way and we now meet fairly regularly. If the coffee goes well, I might wait a week or so and then bring him some homemade cookies. ''Well, it is the holiday season and it is just a little thank you for your helping with my son. He so enjoys playing with you.'' mid 50's lady

Why don't you tell him what you've told us...that you'd like to get to know him but are shy about asking him for fear of making him uncomfortable...he can take it from there. Honesty is usually the best way to go, I think. (then again, I've been out of the dating scene for many years so who knows what I'd do in your shoes....BRAVO to you for approaching this...let us know what happens). anon

Why don't you tell him what you've told us...that you'd like to get to know him but are shy about asking him for fear of making him uncomfortable...he can take it from there. Honesty is usually the best way to go, I think. (then again, I've been out of the dating scene for many years so who knows what I'd do in your shoes....BRAVO to you for approaching this...let us know what happens). anon

Gen X and haven't dated in 16 years - what's it like?

June 2007

I am considering dating after my separation. I have not dated in a generation, about 16 years, so I know nothing of texting, internet dating, bikini waxing, cosmos, etc. Are men our age, Gen X, expecting us to be like women of Gen Y generation? I want to be myself, but I am intimidated by all this new technology. Any advice is welcome from others who are dating again. Gen X Single Mom

Be yourself! Some people will find it refreshing, and you can be most comfortable when you don't have to be what you're not. It'll be a fun new experience. I don't do any texting nor drink cosmos, but I do intenet date (it's fun) and my last boyfriend convinced me to start shaving down there, despite my initial reluctance.

Go with your comfort level - if you want to do or try some of these things, go for it! It not, then don't. Gen X, 2

So you are Gen X wanting to date Gen X, and you're worried men your age want you to be like Gen Y? And you think Gen Y is signified by technological things like texting, online dating, or bikini waxing? That's silly. Be yourself, and be open to learning about new things, should they come up. Don't worry, the interpersonal realm has not that much has changed since you dated 16 years ago. You're just getting cold feet and reading too many pop journalism articles. Born in 1969

I think that a guy our age knows what to expect. A woman- not a teenager! Try to stick in the age group or older. I think Gen X and Gen Y are worlds apart (just my opinon). Look on match.com just to see what's out there. You'll do fine:) anon

Be yourself. Nice men want women who are themselves. Trying to be something you think they want will only get you someone who is less than nice. Or a disappointed man when he finds out you are not who you say you are.

My advice is to immerse yourself in activities that you truly enjoy. If you like outdoor sports like hiking, jogging, etc. this is the time to join some clubs and have fun. You should also start going to the singles groups at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church. It's non-denominational and has no religious component. There are different groups depending on your age. The one closest to Gen X would probably be Islanders. Events are planned year round and include bowling, dinners out, movie nights, camping, etc. It beats bars and Internet chat rooms. This is a great way to meet single men. I highly recommend it. Good luck

I am about your age and met my wonderful husband on Match.com. I think that the Internet dating sites provide an opportunity to meet people. There are downsides to them but they can be effective too. One problem was that I met a number of men about my age who thought that Internet dating was a way to date as many women as possible without much risk. Another problem was that guys often would fall in love with some fantasy woman that they had concocted out of my profile and wouldn't even know me. These methods invite a person to describe their perfect mate and then search for a person who fits every qualification on their list. People are individuals, however, and you can't possibly predict who you will meet and really like. One guy told me on the phone that he only dated women who wore size 2 or smaller. Good luck to you and good bye, I said. Not many size 2 women running around.If you just think about it as a method to meet people, it works okay. I did get sick of the process but I couldn't see many other options. Then I met my husband and we have been wonderfully happy. Just like any other situation, you just have to be careful and selective. I tried to write my profile in a way that would steer guys away who I didn't want to date by saying things like ''I like to think,'' and using words like ''pedantic.'' I really tried to represent who I was accurately and to put down general qualities that were essential to me, such as likes animals, progressive politically, and so on.Good luck. Dating can be interesting but it would be a lot more fun if you knew for sure that you were going to meet someone great soon. Alison

Single mom, boyfriend, and 10yo who still sneaks into my bed

Jan 2007

I am a solo mom, who has always been single (which means there is no other parent at all), with an almost 10 y.o. son. After a hiatus of 10 years I am dating someone. Needless to say, working out the logistics for intimacy is very challenging. My particular issue is that my son still comes into my bed in the middle of the night (I never wake up when he does). I would like to now have him stay in his own bed because at some point I would like my boyfriend to be able to stay overnight with me. I am very aware of the preception of ''kicking'' my son out of my bed for someone else. I am looking for some guidance on how to do this. Help! I would also like to hear from other parents in this situation about how they juggled time alone with a paramour as well as time with their child(ren) around. Right now I am proceeding very slowly, but am tuning into my own personal needs for the first time on 10 years. Thanks for any words of wisdom. anonymous

Three points in yr post. 1.Your 10 yr old is too old to be sleeping with his mother. I emphasize both ''his'' and ''mother.'' 2. Do you really want to model for your son that it is ok to have a boyfriend sleeping over with his mom? I want more kids to know that they need to be way, way more selective and knowledgeable about sex, society, stability, and morality. 3. You gave up ''your needs'' when you had a baby. (See pt. 2, above) You can wait until your precious and only boy moves out. Have dates outside his home. Your son needs you to spend time with him. Trust me on this. Why don't you two do community volunteer work together? anon

Good heavens, I had to write after reading the post suggesting you wait until your 10 year old is grown before dating and having overnights with a boyfriend.

If this is someone who seems important and with whom you are having an ongoing relationship (which is how you describe it), then you just need to explain that to your son. Children will react differently to this news -- some overly thrilled, some overly angry. You need to get clear with yourself that this is an appropriate thing you are doing and communicate that clarity to your son. It will settle out in time. You absolutely deserve to have a relationship that includes sleepovers and, in fact, it could lead to a wonderful relationship for your son as well. Best of luck! sabrina

I asked a friend in the same situation and this is what she told me... I took out names, so I am not sure about editing:

Honestly. I talked to my son and told him that it was time for me to be in a relationship and that at some point my boyfriend would spend the night. He was cool with it - at 10 they know a lot about this stuff even if they don't know the details. It was different as my boyfriend and son knew each other before I knew my boyfriend but jealousy is still, after 8 months, an issue. I try to talk to my son openly and I spend time with just him at times as well as with my boyfriend.

Truly, I think it has been good for my son as it has made him more aware that all people have needs and that love comes in many places. It has certainly made my son more aware that I am a woman and adult as well as his Mom.

I am relieved to have my son see a healthy and open relationship - to see us argue and get through it kindly, to ''neck'' (as he calls it) and see healthy love/affection, to see my boyfriend be kind to me and do sweet things and visa versa. He would have had no idea how to treat a woman or how he deserved to be treated by a woman if he had left home with no example. I was always worried about this.

I honor your courage and strength. My friend is one of the best mother's I know, and her son is doing extremely well. The traditional family, is not the only best way to raise children. Wishing you the best

At 10 your son may be old enough for a sleepover at a friends house. that way you can have your sweetie over undiscovered. after a while, when you are sure that the relationship is strong. you can simply tell your son that boyfriend is sleeping with mommy tonight because that is what people who love eachother do. if he comes in in the middle of the night anyway you can take him back to his bed and cuddle him there for a bit before heading back to your man. i hope this helps. hopefully i'll be in the same position myself one day! stacia

The original post expresses a very serious concern, which ideally should be handled with professional assistance. It is not inappropriate to warn of potential trauma for a 10-year old boy who is suddenly prohibited from sleeping in mother's bed because she is dating. This was the original post's real concern. Certainly there are therapists in the Bay Area who have experience with similar situations.I experienced a similar situation. I was 12 when a teacher, whom I knew, dated and eventually married my mom (single for many years previously, after the death of dad). I thought it was fine, felt it was fine, acted adjusted, but I repressed significant issues. This precipitated inexplicable suicidal thoughts, acts, etc., and led to a loss of three or four years of ordinary childhood. I was not overly dependent on my mother, either, so I assume a boy who sleeps in his mom's bed could be more destabilized.Good advice cannot be absorbed if it comes with too much opinion. Because single parenting and sexual freedom provoke such strong opinions, several responses to this post seemed painfully opinionated, although only the conservative one created a backlash. Concerned

Re-entering the dating world with a 3-year-old

May 2006

My instincts are failing me on this one, so I need some help. I've been divorced for a year now and am re-entering the dating world with a three year old. What are the rules here? Don't introduce boyfriend until when? (I assume some number of months? or are brief at the door intros okay earlier?) Is it ever okay for boyfriend to stay over at night? In separate bed? on sofa? what about when you are no longer dating but in a ''serious'' relationship? What, if any, activities are okay to do together? and when? Or do I just learn to wholly segregate my parent life and my dating life? (which seems hard since I am so intrinsically a parent) Obviously I want to do what is best for my child. Any guidance from those who have been through this before?
Want a social life again

I consider myself instrinsically a parent as well. That's why in dating, I only date men that have children and are actively involved in their children's lives or men that have a strong desire to be fathers and for some reason, have not yet. Further, I have been divorced since my children were 6 months old and 2 years old and they are now 8 and 10 - and I've learned the hard way not to involve my children into my relationships. The right time is when I know the man I'm dating is going to be my husband. Dating is hard enough for us, trust me when I say it's twice as hard when you have kids because when the relationship ends, it's a break up for them too. In dating, I talk about the kids all the time as he does about his daughter but we decided not to merge until we are ready to take it to the next level. Also, I don't date anyone that I don't think is likely to make it to the next level.
SIngle Mom that Dates

Hi. A few years ago, I was in this exact situation and I followed my instincts. I did not think in terms of whether boyfriend should be introduced, stay over, etc. I judged everything by my one principle that a child should not have someone come into their world and become significant to them, only to then lose that person. This might condition a child into the feeling that lovers are temporary. Since a small child forms attachments so quickly, I did not want to make anyone part of our household in any way unless I were certain that person was going to be around for a long time. Therefore, it was 6 months before my child met my boyfriend, and it was almost 2 years before I began occasionally including him in family dinners, or going camping as a threesome, and so forth.

Now of course my child is attached to him, but we have been dating for 5 years. For 3 years my child would only see him every few months; now it's once a week or so. And I have never had him spend the night. I feel that someone who spends the night becomes, in my child's eyes, an essential part of the household, and I don't want my child's household world to be disrupted again the way it was when my husband left, or growing up with the idea that men come, and then they move on. As it happens, I dated a while, and then I ended up with my current boyfriend of five years. I have never regretted having myself be fully guided by what I feel is best for my child. I felt that if a potential boyfriend did not understand my attitude, then we were better off without him. But guys I dated respected my position, and may have been relieved to get to know me without having to also form attachments with my child. I imagine men don't need the burden of potential guilt if, after a couple of months of dating they are no longer interested, they'd be hurting a child as well.

When I read your post, I was inspired to respond right away! I'm a local single mom who dove back into dating when my daughter turned three.

Your questions are excellent. You sound very thoughtful.

Dating as a single mom has been quite a life-changing experience for me! You can read about what I've learned at Literary Mama, www.literarymama.com, where I write a column called ''Single Mom Seeking.''

I, too, have struggled with issues such as sleeping with a man for the first time. As it turns out, single motherhood has been my first lesson in learning how to date - for real. It sounds like you have really great instincts. Feel free to write to me!

Warmly, Rachel

I would be curious to read the responses you will get for this. I am in the same boat as you. I did start dating while my husband and I were separated. In hindsight,emotionally, I wasn't ready to date even though I was the one that wanted the Divorce. I wasn't ready to share myself emotionally with anyone else. The dating was fun as it got me out of the house. My son has a good relationship with his father so I only went out on dates during the weekends when he was with his father. And no, I did not introduce my son to any of my dates. I broke up with 'Joe' after dating him for about 3 months. A few weeks later, an friend of mine emailed me. We both had a crush on each other for a long time while I was married. (Although he was not the reason for the divorce. My husband and I managed to screw it all up by ourselves). In any event, he is wrong for me on paper for so many reasons, he is 6 years younger than me for one thing. (He's in his late 20s and I am in my early 30s)However, I decided to take the chance and said yes to dating him. I found our dates to be so much fun and he is a wonderful person to be with. (Keeping my fingers crossed!) I know he loves kids (HE babysat for one of his single mom friends) but I would not introduce him to my son and vice-versa until things got more serious or until he asks to spend time with my son. (The last time he saw my son, he was 6 months old)My best friend went through a divorce with a 2 year old daughter. She met someone right after who not only asked to spend time with her but also planned activities to include her. Needless to say, they are now married and are one big happy family.
Newly single

When is it OK for a widower to start dating?

Sept 2005

I have a friend who was recently widowed. I know the Dear Abby columns say only the grieving can decide when they are ready, especially after there has been a long illness (which there was), but when do you think it is socially acceptable to begin to date? The timing issue will surely come up in polite conversation, and wouldn't many people think anything less than six months is too soon? There are children involved too. I think Dad should sit them down and let them know he is planning to have a private life, but is it better for him to get going without any announcements to them yet? If anyone has experience with this, it would be so helpful to hear it - either from the point of view of the widower, or from the point of view of someone dating a widower. In my single life, I have met a number of widowers, but there had been a significant time lapse since their wife's death. Any comments welcome.

From the children's perspective, he should wait one year before starting to date, and at least two years before remarrying. I lost my mother when I was 29, and after 31 years together, my father starting dating about one month after her death. My siblings and I were horrified. He started exclusively dating one woman two months later and married her less than 2 years after my mother's death. We can't stand the woman -- partly because we see her as an opportunist taking advantage of a widower, and she is ''all over'' him physically (too much PDA!), which makes us want to puke. So from my point of view, if you want the kids to like you ..... WAIT! With younger kids, it could be different... they could be ready sooner, or their hate for a new woman could be even stronger, I don't know. anonymous

Your msg doesn't say anything about why it matters to you. Are you the one of the dates? If so and you're uncomfortable, wait. If so and you're comfortable, go ahead. If you're not one of the dates, stop worrying because there isn't anything you could do about it anyway, other than lose your friends by placing some notion of etiquette over their happiness.

When and how to involve the children is a separate question, one that has nothing to do with social acceptability. Let it be

I started dating my now-wife about 4-5 months after my first wife died. You don't say anything about the age of your friend, but my experience in meeting a lot of other widows and widowers is that men are often ready a lot sooner than women, as long as they are not elderly and married for several decades.It doesn't mean that they aren't still grieving, but the company of an understanding woman sometimes helps- it did for me. I think men need women more than they sometimes like to admit. Your friend should know that a new relationship will often bring up grief in ways he didn't expect. But it doesn't mean he shouldn't do it. And it's not every woman who is secure enough to take that on.As for the kids, you didn't specify the ages of his children so it's hard to say what he should or shouldn't tell them. I didn't have any so it wasn't an issue for me.
Happy Widower

Just started dating - my 2-year-old is making it really difficult

March 2002

I'm a single mom with a 2 year old. I've just started dating someone and my toddler is really making it difficult. She is very different with him and quite rude and demanding of my attention. How do I know if she's this way because she's jealous or because she really just does not like him? And it does make a difference to me. Unfortunately there is no father involved so I have no choice but to have her around us during this stage of our courtship. Has anyone been in this position or have any advice? Thanks, M

I have been going through the same thing with my daughter, who just turned three. She would be aggressive with him (like kicking him, or pulling his hair!), and would get very cranky with me when we were around him. Things were very difficult for the first five months or so, but have mellowed considerably since the beginning. The one thing I think has helped is that we invite him over to do things that are ''kid-centered,'' like dying Easter Eggs, or going to Habitot or Kindergym. It helps them to form a connection when he shows up to do fun things with us that are just for her. I think this helps her feel less threatened by his presence, and helps her to accept that he is her friend, too, not just mommy's. Also, I sat down with my daughter one day and just talked it through with her. I explained to her that some kids have mommies and daddies that live together, and some parents live apart. And if the parents live apart, they still need friends in their lives to love them...etc. This helped to give her a frame of reference, so when she expresses aggravation at my boyfriend, I can remind her of the conversation we had about how mommies and daddies need other adults to love them too, that we need hugs, etc. This really helped settle a lot of questions and worry for her. If you would like to email me about this, feel free. Good luck. Elizabeth

A few considerations on the matter: You mention that your daughter's father is not in the picture. Does she have any interaction with him at all, or with other positive male role models; grandpa, uncles, friends, neighbors? Have you had any previous boyfriends that she DID like? Or is she just now dealing with a. sharing you for the first time with someone else along with b. having someone of a different gender in the house? If a and or b apply, her behavior seems understandable! Just food for thought. Christine

I was in your shoes about 10 yrs. ago. I was a single parent for 5 yrs. and tried never to have him around while I was ''checking out the market''. His biological father was never involved but we did talk about one day him having a ''daddy''. When I would go out I would leave him with usually grandparents. I did have a couple of good friends that I could leave him with also. I don't think you should involve the child in this relationship unless you know it will be long term. Also remember, children are very good judges of character. Please pay attention to the story in the news about the mother slain right in front of her children, which is something no child should witness. I know this is way out there, but it obviously is the way it is many times. I also did sometimes (because I was young at the time) put my social needs before my sons needs. Not too much, but when I look back I feel bad. There was a time I went to Reno or LA or someplace a bit far and left my son for a weekend. Well when I called he thought I wasn't coming back. Just be careful. Also when I did become engaged, my son was 5. He wasn't demanding of my time, but again there are so many things going on in a childs life at that age. He had a new school, new house, new dad. This was all very hard on him and started him out on the wrong foot in school. He was very good for us at home, but would act out at school, with other authorative figures. Because of these actions and the fact that he had started school with officials who were not understanding, he now has a paper trail that most school officials immediately look at and don't ask why, just put him in the same boat as when he was in kindergarten. Even though his behavior was temporary, it has been very hard to get that away from him. I know this may be futuristic for you, just thought I'd shed some possible light on it. Good Luck, Michelle