Dating a single mum or dad can be challenging and rewarding, daunting and exciting – especially if you’ve never done it before. Here's our ultimate guide...
Single Parents’ Day is March 21st, and it’s a wonderful occasion to let the single parents in your life know that you see what a great job they do or, if you’re a single parent yourself, to give yourself a (well-deserved) pat on the back. At EliteSingles we wanted to celebrate by looking at dating for parents: what makes it great, and what you need to know to make it even better.
With that task in mind, we surveyed 1,500 Brits: single mums, single dads, and those without kids, to discover nine facts about dating as a parent (or dating a parent) in the UK.
Dating and single parents: nine things to know
1. Parents are popular. Really popular
As EliteSingles psychologist Salama Marine notes ”there is a common misconception that finding love as a single parent is more difficult because having children supposedly puts people off”1 and indeed, there can be some hurtful stereotypes about single parents2 – especially those on the dating scene. Happily, we can ignore these silly misconceptions in favour of a simple, happy truth: parents are really, really dateable. In fact, 92% of Brits would have no qualms at all about dating someone with kids.3
Salama explains ”as this study reveals, the majority of individuals are open to the idea of meeting single parents. They are perceived as independent and more experienced, and subsequently clearer about what they’re seeking in a relationship. This puts them at a certain advantage when looking for love.”
2. Most parents are upfront about their parental status
Given the popularity of parents on the UK dating scene, it’s little wonder that the majority choose to be upfront about the fact that they are part of the single parent dating scene (especially when dating online). 56% of single mums and dads would choose to mention the fact that have kids in their online dating profile, with 21% saving the news for the ‘sending messages’ stage and a further 19% for the first date.
Salama thinks that it’s best to mention the kids as early as possible: ”it is essential to indicate whether you have children when registering on a dating site: honesty from the beginning is the key to a successful and long-lasting relationship.”
3. The younger the child, the more their opinion counts
Dating a single mum or dad with younger children? You may want to brush up on your story-time skills and cartoon character knowledge to win favour: 79% of single parents with kids under 13 would only date someone their child expressly approved of.
However, if you’re dating someone with older or adult children, the pressure to impress is off – in fact, almost half (46%) of single parents with kids over 18 agree with the statement ”it’s none of my children’s business who I date.”
On the whole though, it’s mums who are much more influenced by their children’s opinion, with 79% of those who parent under-18s saying they wouldn’t date someone unless their children liked them. Only 53% of men surveyed shared the same attitude.
4. But don’t feel you have to please everyone right from the start
Whether you’re dating as a parent or dating a parent (or both), remember this: impressing the kids is good but you are also entitled to give your adult relationships room to grow. The survey emphasizes this, with 89% of single parents preferring to wait until they’re in a serious relationship before introducing a new partner to their kids.
5. Dating for parents means expanding your family….
However, once you do meet your new partner’s children (and/or they meet yours), it’s a good idea to try and get on. 90% of parents dating in the UK say that doing family activities with their kids, their partner, and their partner’s children is one of the keys to building a strong relationship.
And, while this preference for togetherness is strongest for those with little children (94% of those with kids under 5 want to have family-bonding dates), even those with adult children want in: 87% of singles with grown-up kids would like to do activities as one big family.
6. …but not always biologically
There is one main area where those with grown-up children and those with younger kids differ, and that’s in their desire to have more children with their new partner. 61% of singles with children under 5 would like more kids in their new relationship. For those with kids under 13 that drops to 27%, and for those with teenagers, it drops again to 9%. Meanwhile, just 7% of those with adult children would be prepared have more kids.
Men are also much more likely to say ‘I want a baby’ – overall, 32% of single dads in the UK want more children, while just 20% of single mums feel the same.
7. Having your kids involved is a debated subject
When it comes online dating, it seems Brits tend to want to keep their children out of the equation until they’ve met in person; only 17% of singles would include a picture of themselves with their children on their dating profile, and similarly only 17% of singles say that they’re more inclined to go on a date with someone who has a photo with their kids in their profile.
8. Women want their children’s advice before a first date
Having (adult) children on the scene can also be useful in deciding who to date in the first place. 44% of older singles with kids over 18 say that they show their children a potential partner’s online profile before deciding to message them.
Single mums are more likely than single dads to want practical help however: when writing a dating profile 25% of mums would want their child’s advice (compared with just 19% of dads), while 41% of single mothers and 27% of single fathers would ask their kids for general advice on things like what to wear on a first date and where to go.
9. And kids can play cupid offline too
So can being a parent influence your love life? The answer is yes – in a good way! As well as the examples above, the presence of kids can bring single parents and those dating them together in an unexpected way: a whopping 64% of singles in the UK say that having a positive relationship with a partner’s children makes them love their partner more.