Raising kids is tough enough. Add the prospect of dating to the equation, and you’ve got quite a challenge. But regardless how your circumstance arose, you deserve to date. And, good news, there is hope: While there are 3.5 million divorced men with children in Australia (ABS), the good news for single dads is that 92% of single ladies are open to dating single dads.
So to give you the best opportunity, we spoke to Anna Swoboda, founder of HeartMatch, fo her rules on navigating the dating scene while still keeping your kids interests at heart.
1. Compatibility is the number one factor in relationship happiness
Create a clear picture and list of your requirements and use it as a filter to save time and disappointment.
Compatibility in life goals and how you want to live, personality and values. For instance in one study of 1523 couples, they displayed 86% similarity on personality traits , attitudes, values and recreational activities. In another study putting random people together, those that chose to continue meeting after a first date shared significant similarity. It’s not 100% as some differences are good in a relationship because you can rely on each other’s strengths, but not 50% either. Too many divorced men settle for 50% and they pay the price.
What can you do? Be clear about your expectations. Spend time thinking about what you really require, and what’s nice to have. Get your list and stick to it. You may think you won’t find that truly compatible someone, you may unconsciously think you don’t deserve that someone. Stop thinking that. I promise you it pays to be picky and they are out there.
2. The proximity effect
Online dating is increasing as a way people meet, but most people second time round (about 70%) actually, meet through activities. There’s a phenomenon called the proximity effect which means we develop more feelings for people as we get to know them. Yes, chemistry grows – so keep an eye out at the school drop off line, and your local coffee shop.
3. Change some old habits
Studies have shown that changing just one habit statistically doubles your chances of meeting your next love. Stop at a different lunch place, start a new activity you enjoy.
4. Exorcise your Ex
Research shows that if you speak too badly or too well of your Ex, you are not over them. Your chances of finding love again are actually halved! This is a huge waste of your time. Best to get over your Ex, then start dating.
5. Be open about your kids but not too open
Let your date know you have kids but skip the details about how fabulous they are, your child care arrangements and your Ex. Never ever talk about your Ex or wax lyrical about your kids on the first date. That can come later.
6. On a dating app? Be picky
Create a list of what’s important to you, what you enjoy and value in a relationship. Who do you want to attract? Build your profile around that. Stand out for who you are. Then put thought into your tag line. Real, quirky, fun. Women rate humour very highly in partner selection. The key is to create a very strong filter based on your requirements for compatibility.
7. Plan for it
You are certainly time poor as a single Dad. My advice to busy singles is to do four things to help with fitting dating into a busy life:
– Plan times each week for dating. In addition, in the hour before you go out, set aside time to de-stress from work and kids, and arrive a little early for your date.
– Use your requirements list to wean out time wasters. Don’t meet them.
– Start with a zoom date or a coffee date for an hour to get to know each other and in particular understand if you have shared interests and values.
– Only go on a proper dinner date if there is a good measure of compatibility and some chemistry.
8. If you get excited about someone, don’t rush and avoid the rebound
Did you know that 30% of first marriages end in divorce but 60% of second marriages do! There are a number of reasons for that but a major one is the rebound: jumping in too soon, not being clear about your requirements for compatibility.
Remember there’s a difference between lust (which is shorter lasting) and love which can be long lasting. Often the thing that most attracts you in the lust stage becomes very annoying and leads to relationship downfall in the love stage. So take your time.
9. Be safe, don’t invite a stranger home
Remember love at first sight is usually lust at first sight. Most relationship experts advise not to introduce someone to your kid’s until your new partner is very committed to you.
10. If you are afraid that you might fall into the same relationship patterns again, best to invest in self awareness
As Socrates himself said many years ago “Know thyself”. This may seem indulgent to many men but the relationship research shows it is highly correlated with relationship happiness and avoiding unconsciously making the same mistakes in your second marriage.
Self aware people are more satisfied in life and relationships (82% vs 25%), they are better at regulating emotions (76% vs 30%) and resolving conflict (83% vs 61%) – making them much better relationship communicators. They also have higher self esteem scores (90% vs 39%).
So what is this self awareness I’m talking about? Dr Ilona Jerabek puts it well: It’s about having an accurate perception of yourself , what makes you happy and unhappy, why things go wrong in your relationships , and what you need to change in yourself to make things better.
What can you do? Get a relationship coach. If you invest in going to a gym for your body, it might be just what you need to invest in for your heart.