Spontaneity, Silliness, and Higher Standards: What Dating Is Like for Single Parents

When you’re a single parent, you don’t exactly have a ton of time to waste. You’re balancing childcare, work obligations, meal-making, school drop-offs, and a whole lot more, so if you’re putting in the work to schedule a babysitter, get dolled up, and go out on a date, you’re absolutely going to make the most of it — which means not wasting anyone’s time.

So we weren’t too surprised to hear that, according to a new survey commissioned by single-parent dating app Stir, it takes an average of just 38 minutes for single parents know if they want a second date. And they only need another 23 minutes after that to decide whether they’re interested in having sex with their date. In other words, first impressions really are everything.

The survey, which polled 2,000 single parents of children who are under 18, also found that 80 percent of single parents believe that becoming a role model for their child means they’re holding themselves to a higher standard now. Just under half of respondents said they’re more open-minded now, too, while 32 percent report feeling more confident.

Single parents also feel they have more clarity when it comes to dating. Of the survey respondents, 48 percent said they had a clearer picture of what they want from a partner, 34 percent said they appreciate romantic moments more now, and 23 percent said they’re more willing to date outside of their usual type.

One misconception the survey debunked: that you can’t have any fun with dating after you have kids. On the contrary, 57 percent of respondents said they’re embracing their silly side more now that they’re a parent and 35 percent said they’re more spontaneous. And for the majority (57 percent) of respondents, having fun is their favorite part about dating, while slightly lower majority (51 percent) say they’re less tolerant of drama now that they’re parents. If you’re dating as a single parent, in other words, you’re not here to play games; you know what you want and if you’re not having a good time, it’s not worth your time.

Single parents are also ready to talk about sex. Yes, they know within the first hour of the first date if they’re interested in it (55 minutes!), but 39 percent of respondents also said they start talking about boundaries, sexting, or having sexual conversations within the first three dates. As for when the actual sex starts happening, well, timelines vary for single parents (just as they do for all of us). While 27 percent of respondents said they’d need to be in an exclusive relationship before getting physically intimate, 31 percent said the first three dates aren’t totally out of the question.

All in all, the survey paints a picture of a group of singles that’s ready to have fun and be spontaneous in the dating scene while knowing their worth and valuing their time — and their kids — above all. “I look at single parents as an efficient cohort of daters who can be both mindful of their time and down for unscheduled fun,” Rachel DeAlto, Chief Dating Expert for Stir, said in a press release. “Single parents are dating for all the reasons that feel right to them, and on their terms – and frankly, that’s a wonderful thing!”

And when it comes to feeling confident, embracing spontaneity, and knowing what we want while dating, well, we could all take notes from single parents.

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