A Single Mom’s Guide to Online Dating


Not that I am an expert by any measure, but I have a few tips and tricks for those of us who maybe haven’t dated in a while and maybe didn’t think they’d have to be jumping back into this dating pool of three-eyed fish to find someone who is willing to date a single parent.

First, make sure you work on yourself.

Don’t go into dating this time around as a person who is desperate or clingy. Know your own boundaries and what you are looking for. Get a therapist, get a support group, talk to friends about what kinds of people you should look for. Ideally, they could match you up with some potential dates who they can verify are humans and not online dating chat bots and who are also not Ted Bundy reincarnated.

Be firm and decisive about how you want to handle dating around your kids.

Communicate up front with potential mates who are going to be frequent flyers in your life what your expectations are.

Consider how far away you would be willing to drive for a date.

Then, set your parameters on whatever site you choose. I’m not going to advocate or mention particular ones because none of them are paying me (hey, I’ll take your money if you want to throw it over here), but they do allow you to set a radius. I think that saves some time and hassle before you invest time talking to someone and then have to look up how far away Dayton is to Chicago. It’s pretty far for a person trying to have a relationship.

Choose dating sites that ask users to verify that they are a human.

This is surprisingly necessary since there are many convincing bots out there who don’t seem to want your money. Maybe they’re lonely out there on the internet or whatever, not sure. It’s obviously a waste of time talking to them so it’s best to be sure you are talking to a human. Red flags for bots include having a reason not to web chat with you, immediately moving off the dating site to text or communicate on another app, and claiming to be from the US but having some clunky phraseology. I talked to one who said he was in military intelligence and couldn’t web chat or meet up due to security concerns because he was working on a top-secret mission.

Don’t mention your kids’ ages, names, or the custody situation in your profile.

Don’t share pictures of your kids. Don’t mention your workplace or give your address for a while into dating if you can help it. Meet with dates in a public place and have an exit strategy. Tell a friend or family member where you’re going and who you’re going with in case you do find that Ted Bundy lurking around. Most people seem very nice and like they want the same things you want, but their actions might tell a different story when you meet them. If it doesn’t work out right away, you don’t want them following you or creating a safety issue.

Though you might have a flurry of emotions going on, it’s best to start out with public meetings for brunch or lunch or coffee.

Steer away from alcohol so you can consider each person with a level head. If you want to have sex, have those important conversations about safety and take the time to think it through, especially since this is a person who you otherwise don’t know and don’t have friends or family to vouch for what kind of person this really is.

Have your profile show your fun, attractive side.

Put pictures of you doing what you enjoy doing and brag a bit about yourself. Save the serious conversation for in-person meetings. I think casting a wide, beautiful net brings some fish in and you can sort out some of the three-eyed fish later.

Remember that your kids need you so always be safe. Have fun and use dating as a form of self-care as long as you really are taking care of yourself at all times.