Well, he might not be next door … but on the other hand, he might! If you think that the only places to find a date or a romantic relationship are in “traditional” locations like bars, parties, or dance clubs, you’re limiting your options when it comes to meeting the partner of your dreams.
One reason why those traditional places are popular is that they’re usually easy to fit into a busy schedule. It’s true that some of the other suggestions in this article involve weekend outings, or midweek planning, or even daytime events. However, there are options, if you think about them.
- Build a network of friends – especially other single mothers – who are willing and able to provide babysitting at non-traditional times. Remember that you’ll need to return the favor, and plan for that extra time in your schedule, too.
- Look for child-friendly events, so that you can include your kids. This will provide several advantages for everyone involved. You’ll get your social event, you’ll get to spend time with your children, your children will get out, and you’ll make it obvious that you have and love children, which will filter out some unsuitable potential partners.
- See if your child’s school has an after-hours activity schedule that offers fun things for kids to do while parents are still at work. This may not provide much extra time in the evenings, but might help you with some flexibility at lunchtime.
Once you’ve figured out how to get some free time, start by looking at one or more of these dating venues, whether or not you currently think about them as places to meet men. Remember, you’re not on a time schedule, and you don’t need to look at dating like you’re trying to get a good grade or pass an exam. You need to treat yourself well, have fun, enjoy yourself, and stay happy and healthy. When you focus on that, you’ll find that you’re in the best possible state of mind to meet new people, and your happiness will attract healthy and happy people to you as well.
Physical Health and Healthy Relationships
If you’ve been meaning to start an exercise program, here’s a little extra motivation: not only will you get fit, you’ll also get a good look at some nice-looking abs on the guy doing free weights in the corner. There is some truth to many of the stereotypes about looking for dates at the gym, though. Yes, some of the men will be more interested in that guy’s abs than in talking to you. Yes, some of the men are only there to show off their abs and find women who want to adore them. Yes, some of the men (and other women) are there because they’re looking for a one night stand instead of a long-term relationship. On the other hand, it’s a casual environment that offers a lot of opportunity for conversations – you already have an obvious shared interest in health and working out, so you’ll be able to start talking to anyone you like on that topic.
Naturally, if you don’t want to be seen as someone just looking for casual sex or abs to adore, you’ll need to actually do some exercise! But that’s something that will give you more benefits in the long run than many relationships do. You’ll improve your physical health, and that’s something that helps your emotional and mental health at the same time. That will make you happier and healthier overall, and you’ll find that you’re sleeping better and staying more relaxed. You’ll find that coping with family issues becomes easier. Many people work their stress out at the gym with a session of fast walking on a treadmill, or setting the weights up a notch.
Free and Fun
Most communities, large and small, offer at least some free and/or family-friendly events at a local park, zoo, community center, or school. You might find a big-screen showing of a popular kids’ movie on a warm summer everning, or the local basketball court flooded in the winter for weekend ice skating. Churches often hold carnivals or “fun days” that everyone is invited to, so even if the church isn’t in your denomination, you might think about joining in. At the least, your children will have fun, and you’ll meet other people who share your interests, if not your faith.
Your local library is also a good place to look for events that attract both kids and other single parents. Remember, the places you look are also the places that single fathers will be looking for to keep their kids occupied, so if you’re not against the possibility of finding someone who already has a child or two, these places and events are great ways to meet responsible dads who are trying to do their best for their kids. You’ll also meet other single moms, and maybe find new friends. Single moms are also looking for play date trade opportunities, and even people to exchange babysitting duties with, so don’t forget to take something to write down their names and contact information, if you don’t have an easy way of getting their e-mail addresses or phone numbers straight into your own device.
Blind Dates Aren’t All Bad
You’ve probably heard all the horror stories – and may have even lived through a few of them yourself – but not all blind dates are disasters. The people around you should know you pretty well, so they will have a fairly good idea of the sort of guy you’d get along with, and who might share your interests. In other words, don’t reject suggestions for people to meet, just because you’re putting that into the “horrible blind date” category. If you have the time, and you trust the person (or people) who is trying to make a match for you, you can at least spend the time it takes to have a cup of coffee, and see if they were right.
Here’s another thing: the people who might have very good suggestions of men you would like could be shy about offering those suggestions, because they’re probably thinking that you’re probably thinking about horrible blind dates. When you’re ready to date again, it won’t hurt to let other people know. Tell your best friend, tell your family, even tell your co-workers if you’ve got a friendly relationship with them, and tell them that if they know someone they think you’d be interested in, you’d be glad for their ideas. They might also know good places to go and meet new people that you hadn’t heard of before.
Start With Support Groups
If you don’t mind meeting men who already have family responsibilities, then you’ll definitely find people who share your interests at meetings and events set up by organizations that help single parents. Going to these meetings is a good way to get advice on other things that you might be dealing with right now, like financial concerns or school-related questions. It’s probably not a good idea to look for new partners in a group that’s primarily devoted to working on custody battles or alimony – you don’t want to get involved in another person’s divorce, especially if you’ve got battles of your own to fight. On the other hand, even those groups will have connections to other more neutral events, like ones that are organized family play days. Networking is a great way to widen your circle of friends as well as look for romantic possibilities.
Some of these places and organizations have message boards, whether those are on line or posted on the wall of the organization’s lobby. You can put your own messages up; for example, about looking for babysitting sharing, or asking if anyone knows which school has the best summer activity options. A quick scan of the messages should give you a good idea about who’s looking for the same things, and who might be a good person to get to know better.
Follow Your Interests
If you want to improve your mind as much as your social life, then look for a free or low-cost class on something that interests you, that you want to learn about, or that you like to do. This might be an art class, if you’ve always wanted to learn to paint, or a book group so you can talk about what you’re reading. The point here is that when you find people who are interested in the same things you are, it’s the first place to start building a relationship, whether that turns out to be friendship or something more. Doing things together also builds bonds, and if it’s something enjoyable, then you’re already having fun together, which builds good memories. You’ll find that making conversation is easier, too, since you’ve got material to talk about right there.
Be a Volunteer
This is another place to find people who share your interests, and since it’s all about helping others, volunteering attracts people who are naturally kind and generally good-natured. You might not think that you have enough time in your own schedule to make time for others, but you’ll be rewarded in many ways by helping out at your local food bank, or park cleanup, or neighborhood litter control. Publicly-funded, non-profit, and volunteer organizations in general are usually always looking for help, whether that’s for an hour or a day. Most of these organizations also connect with other groups who use volunteers, so even if the one you contact doesn’t need help right now, they’ll probably know who does. Depending on the event and the activity, you can often take your kids to help. This will teach them some important life lessons as well as giving them good experience. Older students in particular will benefit from getting something good to put on their college application form; volunteering is a great way to enhance a high school student’s image and credibility. Here are some ideas for where to look for volunteering opportunities:
- at animal shelters
- for your child’s school
- at hospital blood drives
- at a food bank
- during a church supper for the homeless
- for the local parks organization
- at a community garden