Meeting others when you are a single parent

A single dad emailed me earlier today and had the age old question about how to meet single women when they seem so scarce and unavailable. I answered him to the best of my abilities, but I am hoping that YOU, the reader, will have some suggestions on how to meet singles in the area.

Dear Crissi

One topic of interest to me is the exodus of 30 something families and singles from the North Bay area. The real time dating scene up here, including the internet scene, eHarmony, Yahoo Personals, etc, have yielded me a couple of long term and short term relationships. The fact though, is there are slim, slim pickings for me to find someone that is interested in a late 30 something single dad of a now 7 year old. I’m not looking for perfection in a relationship, but I do value finding someone who has some basic compatibility in the career, faith, etc. scene.

I’ve more or less been on a dating break for the past year, resigning myself to the reality that this location (supported I’ve found by recent national surveys showing the Bay Area has a higher concentration of single men (65K more!) than single women compared to back east NY and MA with 200K more single women than single men) is just not conducive for me to find Ms. Right. So Cal is no better with 95K more single men then single women!

I tried to attend my old church (about 350 people), not for the purposes of finding a life partner, but eventually realized I was investing so much time there and may have been preventing myself from finding Ms. Right as there were only 3 non senior single women between the age of 21 and 45 (those that were 30 and older had their own boyfriends or were radically not might type!). Unmarried 30 something females, I deduced, really can’t be found in our local churches in any number great enough to have odds for finding someone with compatibility.

I’m not doing the bar scene but every now and again a friend will drag me to a pub or bar. Again… it’s mostly all guys, couples, and women in there 60s! I am not an ageist. I’ve dated women in their forties and late 50s! Still, age is a factor for me as a parent that potentially would like more children. There are relatively good numbers of young 20 something SSU women around the county. While I don’t see myself as being too old to date a women more than 10 years younger than me, I’m not looking for a fling but for deep friendship that could lead to a lasting relationship, aka marriage, with an immediate co-parenting situation.

I guess my question to you is, where are the single **unattached** moms in Santa Rosa? As a good female friend and I talked about recently, there are so many more guys than single women here that women get swept up almost as quickly as they become single from their former relationships. I asked my friend “So that means I’m either faced with stealing a woman from her boyfriend or I am her rebound.” My friend answered “yes.”

This, to me, does not present itself as the best of options!


Dear G,

While I would hardly call myself an expert on this topic, I will say that I’ve been there. Right after my divorce, I entered the dating scene quickly – mostly due to the fact that my ex had already decided to move on and my pride was wounded, and also because I was lonely and afraid of being alone. Those two reasons alone are not reason to begin dating. But being that you seem to have been doing the single parenting thing for awhile, I can see that you are more than ready to find something more lasting. Time is always important when it comes to entering the dating scene again because there are so many ghosts from our past marriage or long-term relationship that will continue to be haunting if not dealt with properly.

I would say that you seem to have found a good start to finding that person to share your life with, even if there haven’t been any promising results yet. I found online dating so imperative because it allowed me to discover what exactly I was looking for in a man plain as day thanks to online profiles that read like a menu. Sounds crass, but it helped to open that door to Real Life Dating, warming myself up to the idea of putting myself out there and meeting new people in Real Time. I made a list of the qualities I wanted to have in someone I would like to spend my life with, qualities from the most simple to the most ridiculous. Must like to cook, must love animals and children, must have a sense of humor, and must sing in the shower. Must be kind and respectful to his parents, must be comfortable in social situations….you get the point. Several things on the list weren’t exactly MUSTS, but they were charming attributes I hoped for. But some listed qualities were attributes that I would not bend on. As I dated, if someone did not meet my MUST qualities, it would send up red flags. This helped me to not choose men like the ones that I had been steering towards in my younger life. I was not interested in going through another divorce! Now, I know being choosy is not exactly conducive to settling down quickly with someone. In all truth, it weeds people out a lot faster. But it also helps so that you are not wasting your time, or hers, when both of you could be finding the right person to share your life, and your daughter’s life, with.

I heard recently that if you were looking for an alcoholic, look for your mate in a bar. Bars are great for flirtations, gathering numbers, and one night stands. But if you really want to find someone that shares your life, she will be doing the same things you enjoy. Join a hiking or biking group, a book club, a dance class….. Chances are, even if she isn’t there, someone in the group might know of someone perfect for you. I’ve found that the best way to find someone is by word of mouth. Spread the word amongst your friends, church members, and co-workers that you are single and ready to settle down. Accept your friends’ proposals to set you up on a blind date, and take them up on suggestions for someone they think might be who you are looking for. Sometimes our friends know us better than we know ourselves……

As for being a late 30’s man with a child, this hardly makes you undesirable. Actually, that’s hardly the case. A woman is swept away by a man who cares for his child. But I’ll tell you, the best chance of finding that woman is by looking at single moms. They are in the same boat as you are, and understand that your time is limited and that your child comes first. I tried dating men without children and more often than not came away thoroughly disappointed and heartbroken. The best men I dated were all single fathers. If a man cared for his child in a way I used to think only moms were capable of, it made them that much more appealing. So don’t throw in the towel yet.


P.S. I disagree with your friend. Don’t break up someone else’s relationship. If that girl is willing to cheat on her mate with you, what happens when you’ve got her and her roving eye finds someone else? That’s hardly the woman you want to end up with.

Readers, how do you meet singles here in Sonoma County?


7 thoughts on “Meeting others when you are a single parent

Add yours

  1. I have to agree with G. I’m a single mom and I’m finding it hard to find date as well. While reading his letter to you, a couple of things he wrote hit home for me. It is hard to find an unattached single dad. I tried the dating scene at the bars, clubs, and all I found were guys looking to party, not looking for a single mom. I was pretty much discouraged until I saw this. I am also interested in seeing what other readers have to say. I tried the online thing and met a couple of guys that seem to fizzle out when they realize how much I am devoted to my son. I definitely will agree with you when you said that “a woman is swept away by a man who cares for his child.” That to me and I’m sure other single moms as well as single women, makes them more attractive in my eyes.

  2. WC Mom is pretty much on target with this advice, IMHO. Go do things you like doing and you are likely to meet someone with similar interests. Not only that, but until you do, you will be spending time doing something you enjoy. You like cooking? Take a cooking class and perhaps you will reach for the whole-wheat pasta just as your dream girl or guy does the same. Like fresh air and exercise? Maybe the person you are meant to spend your life with is just around the next bend of the trail…but you won’t find out if you are frantically searching a noisy, crowded club for Mr. or Mrs. Right.

    I think that the number-one thing I have noticed about good relationships in my own life, however, is that when you are hunting for them, they are elusive, but when you relax and stop stressing, you may turn a corner and run head-long into the person just right for you. (This is especially true if you have recently made any kind of long-term plan with which getting into a new relationship will interfere.) I know it may seem like time is running out and you just have to meet the right person right now, but if you relax and enjoy the ride, just be yourself and do the things you enjoy doing, honestly, you’ll be happier, more relaxed, more confident. Potential partners won’t be clung to as a last chance at happiness, or alternately, quickly compared to a mental checklist and discarded before you find out that though they might not have been what you thought you were looking for, they were what you needed.

    And in further reiteration of WC Mom’s other point — yeah, my own mom always told me that if someone leaves the person they are with to be with you, there is a really good chance that they will turn around and do the same thing TO you down the road.

  3. It is great to hear a single dad having the same challenge as a single mom! I too tried the online dating sites, and did meet some great people. However, I agree, that dating someone who did not have kids made it very hard for them to understand sharing time. Additionally, meeting a single dad who shared parenting values seems almost impossible!

    Currently, I am in a “by-choice” no dating zone. I say this because of the lack of intellect I have had in choosing men the past few years. I decided to really spend time alone, or with good friends and family to truly observe what healthy relationships look like and then ask successful couples what their secrets are.

    What I am learning, unfortunately, is that there are a vast amount of unhappily married, or trapped boyfriend/girlfriend victims. True to form they wait for something better, then move on, instead of ending an unhealthy situation and taking a time out to clear their mental slate. So they never actually get to be happy, just consistently, temporarily, transitory.

    So what makes a person who has sought out finding themselves, working on their imperfections, readying themselves for a healthy relationship so rare???? My answer: not enough people appreciate what it takes to contribute to a healthy relationship – they just enjoy leeching off of those who have it together, sucking them dry, then running on to the next happy, wholesome giving person.

    What would be nice, is for there to be a public forum, similar to speed dating, but without the “speed” for people to meet, be provided with well researched methods of getting to know a person, and a pleasant place to meet them in, devoid of cougars, players, couch potatoes, sugar mama/daddy hunters, and bipolar psychos.

    Perhaps the answer to this challenge is in the question – we need to create such a place!

  4. I totally empathize with single dad…I could have written the EXACT same letter myself, as a single mom a few years back. I was single for six years beginning when my son was 2 years old, and not for lack of trying to meet someone – at least for the latter 3-4 years. During this time period, I had quite a few first and 2nd dates – mostly through I did meet one guy on a group hike, and another at a bar, and another at a work picnic…but nothing lasting came of it. Since I worked full time, lived in a somewhat rural part of Santa Rosa, and am on the more introverted side, I wasn’t offered a huge number of opportunities to meet people. People would tell me to do things I enjoy – hiking groups, book clubs, classes, etc….and I would do that….but I just never ended up meeting anyone special that way….maybe I was unlucky or maybe I was just too shy. I really did not enjoy the online dating process at all, but doing it did increase my opportunities for meeting people, and gave me a modicum of control over who I got to meet (i.e. the screening process). I agree with the people who say to just keep doing things you enjoy, because meeting someone is just one of those things that can happen anytime…particularly when you are relaxed about it….and sometimes you can meet someone through another person, etc. But the truth is, when I finally did meet someone – also a single dad who happens to be the love of my life, who I am now married to….it was online. It was totally random. After years of on and off, I posted on Craig’s list. I had looked at Craig’s list on and off over the years, and always thought – no…too many weirdos. But then a guy-friend of mine told me he had once posted on Craig’s list and I thought…well, he’s someone I’d want to date if he was single, maybe I could give it a try. So one day I decided what the heck. And I spur of the moment created a post that was just totally up front and honest, about who I was and what I was looking for. And my now-husband saw it and thought….this woman seems real, I want to meet her. He had never met ANYONE online before, and he was single for 4 years. In fact (unlike me), he had not even dated for those 4 years. And so he emailed me, and we met a few days later, and we fell in love within a month. We’ve been together four years and it just keeps getting better. We were just the right people for each other, and we probably would NEVER have met if I hadn’t posted on Craig’s list. So, my advice is…go out and do things you like, but keep trolling the online sites for a post that looks and feels genuine, like someone you’d really like and want to meet. And when you see a post like that, email that person and hopefully she’ll email back so you can strike up a correspondence. And make sure you see a picture of her (and vice versa) and that this picture is attractive to you, because if it isn’t, you won’t find her attractive in person….(believe me, I know this from experience). And make sure that when you write to each other, it feels honest and real. And then meet her not too long after you’ve started writing, because no reason to waste time writing with someone who you don’t click with or feel an attraction to in person….if you’re going to like each other, you’ll like each other, whether it is after a week of emails or a month of emails. A couple of other rules for online dating….do not consider dating anyone who is “separated” and be a bit more cautious of anyone who has been single for less than a year or who has been in multiple short-term relationships. I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I think that what optimisticskeptic wrote above is totally true…it takes time to reflect on what did not work in a relationship, and to realize what YOU need to give and what you need to get in a healthy relationship….and then to appreciate that when you find it.

    And for all you men and women out there who are posting online. Be real for god’s sake….because otherwise you are wasting your own and everyone else’s time.

  5. Oh, I just thought of one more thing that might help…when I was single, I was a teacher and there were very slim-pickings in the workplace. But a couple of years ago I started working for a nonprofit…and I discovered something I wish I had known when I was single. Volunteering for nonprofit events is a great way to meet people! I’ve met more single men (and women) at events – doing bike parking for the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, volunteering at the Gran Fondo, helping at a refresher station at a local triathalon or cycle-cross race….events where you find active, committed people in a wide age-range but not necessarily on the “older” side, since events are on weekends and in the evenings. I’ve mentioned all cycling-related events since that is what I’m involved in, but there are probably lots of others too. And some events can be kid-friendly and a great way to get your son-daughter involved in something meaningful too.

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