by Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine (©copyright, 2008)
The emergence of online dating has made it easier than ever to find people to date. It's no longer a massive chore for busy single parents to find a potential love interest.
However, with the increased ease of dating comes an increased importance in online dating safety for those who are single parents.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you move forward into the online dating world:
Don't Mention Your Kids in Your Profile
When you are building an online dating profile on an online dating service, never mention your kids or post pictures of them. In the selection item under "Do you have kids" be honest and select "yes". But that's the last mention there should be of your children. In order to make your experience more safe and fulfilling it's important to know that there are some predators that use online dating services to get to children. The less information they can find, the more likely they are to avoid you. You never want to date someone that may be using you to get to your kids, thus you want to provide little information to peak the initial interest.
Leave Your Children at Home
Never take your child with you on a first date. Some single parents take their child or children on the first date because they want to know if there will be a "family connection" versus just a connection between the parent and date. This type of initial thinking can be dangerous. For one, psychologically it's not good to keep introducing your child to people who "disappear". It's not as easy for a child to understand the process you are going through and why these dates keep coming and going. For another, you need to first establish a rapport with the person you are dating before seeing if they have a rapport with your children too. And finally, it's just the safe thing to do.
Don't Introduce Your Child into a Relationship Until Later
It is not appropriate within the first several dates to introduce your child or children to your date until the relationship gets more serious. Once you know it is a serious relationship then you can prepare both your child / children and your date to meet each other.
Do a Background Check on Your Love Interest
Because you have children, it's vital that you do everything possible to protect them. This means doing a background check on the person you are dating before introducing that person to your children. You may ask, "but what if I don't know his full name?" Find out. There's several innocent ways to do this. One, ask "so what's your middle name?" Another way is to ask to see the person's Driver's License picture. Memorize the name on the driver's license while commenting on the picture. There's no reason for you to let the person know you are doing a background check (or that you've done one). It's simply a safety process you should learn to follow. It should be habit for anyone you go on more than two dates with. You can do background checks online at places like Intelius and InfoRegistry .
Break Off Relationships with Red Flags
Your gut instinct is an important safety mechanism that you should listen to often. If you're gut is telling you that soemthing is wrong with the person you are dating, then stop dating that person before introducing him/her to your children). Some red flags may be gets emotional real quick (anger, dispair, etc.), compulsive disorder (seems to drink a lot... drank on the first date), asks too many questions about your kids and not you. If a person seems more itnerested in learning about your kids than you, then stop seeing that person. It's natural for a date to ask about your kids, but if the questioning seems "off" or too intense and the focus is on them (not you), then something may be wrong. Trust your gut instinct.
Warn Your Date Against Too Much Gift Giving
Some people like to give gifts to kids in order to help "win kids over". While gift-giving is OK on rare occasions, it's important that it is not a habit. You want your children to like your date because of their personality. You don't want your children to associate your date with money, gifts, etc. that become expectations and base the likeability on a false pretense. It's better if a rapport is developed with the child / children through playing and interaction. "I like ____ because he/she is fun" is better than "I like ______ because he/she brings me presents". Leave the latter job to Santa.
Enjoy the Experience
Online dating is, by far, the best way to meet new people and develop potential love interests. It's a process that you should enjoy doing, not be paranoid doing. Simply keep the tips mentioned in this article in mind while allowing yourself to find that new partner that could eventually become a productive part of your family. Good luck!
Joe Tracy is the publisher of Online Dating Magazine. This article is copyright and may not be reused, republished, or rewritten.