Every single parent struggles with balance when it comes to raising their children and trying to have a social life and/or date. Here are three obstacles that prevent men and women from dating after divorce:
1. Guilt: Many single parents feel guilty getting a babysitter to go on a date because they feel they are doing something wrong by leaving their children home, when the children are dealing with the divorce.
I can't tell you how wrong I think it is to feel guilty! Let that go! Just because you ended up divorced, doesn't mean you don't have the right to enjoy your life. You aren't doing anything wrong.
2. Money: Single parents might not date because they feel guilty spending money on a babysitter if finances are tight, or they simply can't afford the sitter. Possible alternatives to getting a sitter are to bring the child to a friend's house while you go on a date. Do you know how many people would welcome the opportunity to help a single parent in that regard?
Another alternative is to meet your dates for lunch on your lunch hour at work (while your child is in camp or school). Lastly, there are lots of high school kids who would love to babysit, and $3 or $4 dollars an hour is a lot for them.
2. Fear: Everyone is scared sh**less of dating after divorce, yet there is an excitement we all feel too. At some point, it's like getting up the guts to just get on the roller coaster when you were a kid. You just have to do it. You'll be glad you did!
A lot of divorced men and women will tell me that they don't feel very good about their looks. Not only are they older, but what they've recently been through (an unhappy marriage, followed by a tumultuous separation and/or divorce) has them feeling not so self-confident in many ways, looks included. This is where I have to offer a little tough love and say, "If you don't feel so great about your looks, then do something about it!"
Here are some suggestions on what you can do to make yourself feel more attractive that don't involve spending a lot of money.
First, join a gym. If finances are tight, consider the YMCA or some other inexpensive facility. A treadmill is a treadmill and weights are weights. Who cares where you go, you'll get the same result. Another option: start jogging, biking or power walking outdoors. That doesn't cost a dime. Plus, it's summer, so you can't complain about bad weather! I also recommend yoga. I swear by it!
In my opinion, the best way to feel good about yourself on the outside is to feel good about yourself on the inside. That means eating healthy, working out, being a good parent, having fun and enjoying life, in general, enjoying your professional life, and making good, smart, ethical, selfless decisions.
So, are you inspired to start dating yet?
Let me leave you with one more piece of advice for getting back into the dating scene. The best way to meet someone is to ask your friends, co-workers and people in your community if they know any single people who might enjoy a date with you. In other words, network. And again, let your community help you! So many people get joy and satisfaction out of helping others! I know I do.
It's hard to ask for help, and it's hard being a single parent with no alone time and financial stress. I get it. I really do. None of my advice for dating is easy. I know that. But this is the kick in the butt you need to jumpstart your social life. Just do it!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!