Re-Entering the Dating Scene

How does being a single mother or father affect parenting roles, partner relationships, sexual guilt, and sexual satisfaction?

Based on answers from members of a single-parenting organization, an article in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, Winter, 1989, revealed a significant difference between the attitudes of single mothers and single fathers regarding their relationship with their children: Although fathers reported greater satisfaction with these relationships, they were also less frequently involved in custodial child care. One of the major problems reported, especially by mothers, was the perceived relationship interference from children, former spouses, and children of current partners.

Both sexes experienced guilt over the effect of relationships on their children in terms of time, and the impact of a sexual relationship between unmarried partners. Although the majority of single parents were satisfied with their sexual lives, there was a significant association between parent-child relationship and perceived sexual satisfaction for women.

-Source: Single Parents: Interaction of Parenting and Sexual Issues, Darling, Davidson and Parish, Florida State University

BEST BETS FOR RE-ENTERING THE DATING SCENE:

  • Have friends or co-workers introduce you to their friends. Don't leave meeting a great guy to chance: this works well in movies, but in real life, it's not much different than seeking a good job. Networking is one of the best ways to do this.
  • Plan initial meetings or have blind dates arranged during your lunch hour. That way you can avoid expensive child care costs and have an escape excuse if necessary.
  • Never bring your first date back to your home unless this person has been a long-time friend. No matter how experienced you may be, date rape is a reality, plus, your romantic life needs to stay out of your kid's life.
  • Don't feel like a failure if you keep striking out. There's nothing wrong with you other than that you may be a little pickier than you used to be. And why not? You don't need to be rescued, you are choosing companionship. Besides, every date is an experience from which you can learn.
  • Do recognize that your sexual needs are your own. Your activities should be none of your children's business.
  • Do define your relationship. Then establish boundaries. For example, if you are in a casual sex relationship, limit your encounters to weekends when your ex has the kids or arrange your visits at his place, or have a weekend away when your child is in the hands of a trusted and safe sitter.
  • Don't discuss your dating activities with your children. They are not your confidants. However, be aware that the age of your child will make a difference in how much information you can share. For instance, your pre-school son could care less about how nice you look, but your teenage daughter may notice your sudden interest in Victoria's Secret lingerie.
  • Don't set your "partner" up to play daddy, and never introduce him to your children as Cousin Jack or Uncle Freddie. This was a common explanation for sex outside of marriage in earlier decades but it isn't honest and it confuses children. If this man is more than a bedmate, you can introduce him to your children slowly and over time. Start out by having a family outing: a picnic, concert, movie or the zoo.
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