Author Joanna Bolouri knows first-hand the trials of finding love while bringing up daughter Olivia, now 12.
After being single for ten years and going on dates for six, she says: “Dating is abysmal at the best of times, but when you’re a single parent it can become more daunting than usual.”
Joanna, whose new novel is called Relight My Fire, gives Nikki Watkins eight tips on navigating this minefield with a child in tow.
1. LOVE YOURSELF
Being a single parent can be isolating but don’t turn into someone who doesn’t see the point in washing if no one is there to smell you. Buy your own damn flowers. Go to the cinema alone. Read. Don’t wait for someone else to make you happy.
While it’s true that you might meet someone when you least expect it, you’re not going to meet them on your couch while simultaneously browsing the menus on Netflix and Just Eat.
Yes, you’re tired but you’re always tired. If you’re serious about finding someone new, leave the house.
2. TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL?
Children are not your dirty little secret. Be honest. It’s far better to find out someone doesn’t want to get involved with a single parent early on rather than springing it on them later.
Also, don’t post pictures of your kids on dating sites. It’s weird. Do you really want some creepy mouth breather looking at your precious family snaps? Didn’t think so.
3. DON’T BE DULL
Don’t go on a date armed with anecdotes about your child. Nothing is more tedious than someone going on about their kids, especially on a first date. This also applies to stories about your ex. Save it for Facebook or Jeremy Kyle.
There is so much fun to be had as a single, and when you have a joy for life this lust for living is obvious to the opposite sex.
4. “MY KIDS WILL LOVE YOU”
Will they? Unless you’re a million per cent sure this person is a keeper, don’t confuse children. This applies to sleepovers, too. Don’t let your kids wake to find a groggy stranger creeping about your house. It’s their house, too.
This doesn’t mean you have to shelve any night-time visits — just make sure your man is happy to be gone before your little’uns dive into their Coco Pops.
5. WOULD YOU DATE A SINGLE PARENT?
This has pros and cons. Sure, it’s handy that they will immediately understand how restricted your time is, but their time will be limited, too.
Also, their child might be annoying. Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you automatically like other people’s children. Make yourself about more than your kids.
Spend time romancing yourself. Get to know yourself again and rediscover what turns you on, this way those without kids will be intrigued by you too.
6. BE REALISTIC
Just like life, dating was easier when you didn’t have kids. Spontaneity is a thing of the past so don’t start swiping right on Tinder profiles of people looking for adventurous people, who love to travel, if you can’t even pop to Asda without it turning into a military operation.
Knowing your potential “someone special” has a love for mountain climbing will make planning your next getaway at a kids-friendly caravan park more awkward.
7. MAKE TIME FOR SEX
Despite the lingering stigma, most single parents didn’t plan to be, nor are they idiots, so forget the lecture on being sensible. You’re a single parent, you’re not dead.
Sex is one of the only fun things left in the world so if you find someone who is also a fan of incorporating nakedness into your busy schedule, go for it. A life without passion is a lonely one.
You may feel a little more self-conscious of your body than you did pre-kids but forget all that.
Purchase a sexy negligee that makes you feel desirable, and your inner confidence will shine through, turning you from exhausted box-set binge-watcher into an instant sex goddess.
8. BE THAT SAUCY SINGLE
You may have been so long out of the dating game that those around you have forgotten you are a sexy someone, rather than just a tired mum.
Make sure friends and family know that you are ready to put yourself on the dating market again. Then they can start setting you up with their co-workers or single pals.
What ever you do — don’t settle.
Longing for adult company is perfectly normal, just don’t resign yourself to a mediocre relationship, or even worse, blah sex because it’s all that’s on offer.
Being alone is far better than being underwhelmed.
- Relight My Fire, £8.99, by Joanna Bolouri, published by Quercus, is out now.
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