Anyone who dates has a list as long as your arm about what to look out for and what to avoid in a potential new partner. But what about those of us with kids?
You’ve probably seen the countless articles, memes and Instagram reels warning us of the red and green flags we need to know about when it comes to the potential minefield that is dating.
But for single parents who are dating? Yes, all the other flags apply, but we all know that there are some things unique to the dating experience of those of us with children.
First, let’s get those all-important Red Flags out of the way. These are things to watch out for, and that tell you that maybe this person is not all they are cracked up to be:
1. Calling your kids “baggage”
This one is more common than we would like to admit, and it’s the go-to for people on dating apps trying to keep things easy for themselves. Sure, they may say that saying “no baggage” isn’t about having kids…but we all know it is. What other “baggage’ are they referring to? The rent and bills? Challenging marathon training? A particularly needy cat? No, it’s kids, and it’s not ok.
Firstly, it clearly misunderstands what being a parent means. It goes without saying that we love our children and don’t consider them a burden.
Second, it sets out a pretty grim understanding from the off about what relationships mean to this person. Healthy relationships are not all rainbows and butterflies. Trying to make out anyone you date will only bring you easy pleasure is a laugh.
Lastly, if we buy for a second that it’s not directly trying to weed out the parents, who on earth manages to reach adulthood with no “baggage” of any kind? Be it heartbreaks, trauma, financial struggles, etc…no one. It’s rude, it’s delusional, it’s a hard no.
2. Referring to your family as “broken” or insinuating children need a “whole” family etc
This is more subtle, pervasive, and unfortunately, is often backed up by a societal pressure that a “proper” family still looks like mum, dad, and 2.4 kids (eye-roll). A favourite of incel-culture and the alt-right, as well as your priest, your nan and the media at large…it is also a massive red flag in the world of dating.
I will say this once for the record: your single parent family is whole, beautiful and amazing no matter how many people it contains, who those people are, and in what way those people relate to each other.
Families can work in myriad ways, forms, dynamics, sexualities, and the research backs me up here. Providing they are built on a foundation of love and support, there is no one-size-fits-all on what a family should look like. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. Certainly, do not date anyone who thinks there is something that needs fixing. It’s perfectly fine to want a new partner, a traditional marriage, and even a co-step-parent for your children. Still, you are not “broken” without them.
3. Asking to meet your kids way too early
People who push to meet your children too soon or hurry you into meeting them give me the ick, and I will go out on a limb and say they should you too. You must get to know someone first before they get involved with your family in any way. Anyone trying to force that connection may have other motives in mind.
This could be a pattern of ‘love bombing’, where they want to get into all aspects of your world as quickly as possible, or potentially something even more sinister involving your children. Trust your gut here, and remember you know your kids best. You will know when it might be appropriate for them to meet someone new, and that needs to be on a timeline that feels comfortable for you.
4. Saying you are hot/different/really fun “for a mum/dad”
I mean, what a strange “compliment”. Um, ok, thanks, but all the mums and dads I know look very much like everyone else. We walk among you, and loads of us are hot. Sure, I may think I look uniquely tired and softer than I did in my pre-baby years, but objectively I don’t. I look essentially the same (especially with my clothes on), and so do you. Parents are all different, like different things, have different body types…like everyone. So comparing you (even favourably) to some strange parental stereotype is a nope.
5. Referring to all their exes as crazy/psycho/golddiggers
This is not a good look unless they have just gotten out of a 10-year marriage with an abuser. We all have exes, and most of us have a range of different thoughts, memories and feelings about them. We may be friends with some and want to shoot others into the sun. However, when every single one of someone’s ex-partners is a “bad guy/girl”, there is one common denominator you need to consider. It’s them.
6. Dating Another Parent Bonus: Putting “not looking for a new mum/dad” their dating bio
Listen, I get the intentions lie with this one. You might want to make it clear that your family is not needing a new parent in it. You may want to lay out from the off that you have a good co-parenting relationship with your ex. You don’t want to give off “needy” vibes. But it’s still a red flag for other parents, and I will tell you why.
Firstly, this just does not need saying in a dating bio. We will assume that before a first date, you don’t want us to be a new mum/dad for your little superstars. It’s a dating app. Secondly, it can be read so many ways by other parents and is seriously ambiguous. It could read that you will always keep someone at arm’s length. It might mean you still have feelings for your ex. It may trigger those of us who do not have a co-parent.
Don’t lead with what you are not looking for in a bio… and avoid anyone who brings up their ex first and foremost.
Have a look at our Instagram reel that pretty much sums it up.
Phew, well, that was pretty gruesome…next time, let’s get onto some ‘Green Flags’. The things you need to look out for as a dating parent that will give you a good indication of dating success!
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By Julia Kotziamani
Julia Kotziamani is Frolo’s resident Dating Expert.