Here’s the original question:
Hi Fellow SDS-ers,
I am ready to start dating again, and realize that I probably have to use the dreaded apps. I'm in my mid-30's and looking for both short-term fun and a long-term relationship, primarily with cis-men. What I *don't* have is much free time (I have sole custody of my 2-year-old and work full-time). Ideally I'd like to meet guys with kids who will be understanding of my time constraints.
What apps have you all found tolerable? Also, do you mention your children in your profile? I want to be honest about being a solo parent, but I have been warned that pedophiles will sometimes seek out single moms on these sites in order to gain access to their children (shudder). What are your safety tips?
Thanks for your input!
Advice from our members about dating in general:
Consider being upfront about your child.
“I stated right upfront that I have a young child, because if that's a dealbreaker for a man, that's fine, but it's better that we don't waste each other's time.”
“I give people a heads up. No surprise baby appearing on a date. I'm sure it is off-putting to some when I bring it up. If it was easier for me to drop my baby off somewhere with a friend or family that lived close by for dates, I would definitely do so. If I could afford a regular babysitter, on top of the full time childcare I'm already paying for, I'd get a sitter. Since none of that is my reality, he comes with. So far no one has turned it down.”
“I'm upfront about having a daughter — it's the first thing I mention in my profile, as well as her age, though I don't post any photos of her. If someone isn't interested in meeting me because I have a toddler, then I'd rather be transparent about it from the beginning so nobody's time is wasted.”
“I’ve always been very upfront about it all [having a daughter] and most women have responded very positively to my candor, even if it's not a good fit. I just feel like if everyone has all the information, everyone can make the right choices that work for them.”
“I always put that I am a mom in my profile. It’s a huge part of who I am.”
“I'm very upfront about having a baby. I find it odd when someone messages me and I find out later they have a kid. I guess to each their own. I'm excited and interested in other people's kids, and hope to find that energy from someone else.”
"I've been using Tinder to some success (i.e. a couple first dates), but don't yet have the fact that I'm a parent on my profile. Part of that is because being a dad in the gay community is very rare all by itself; being a separated/soon to be divorced dad is even rarer. So there's not a lot of precedent for it as far as I've seen." (August 2020)
"I have evolved on this question and am leaning toward putting out as much information upfront, and even might include a picture of me with my daughter. I feel like you aren't supposed to do that but I want to! Maybe cause she makes me look good. I can't really date casually anyway cause of the pandemic. In the past, I thought maybe I wouldn't be so open about the kid upfront because I thought I might just go out on a date with someone who wasn't looking for a relationship with someone who has a kid, for fun, and this was before any kind of 'distancing.' Now I really want a relationship with someone who wants a relationship with someone with a kid." (August 2020)
"I don't put that I have a child on my profile, but if things escalate to a chat, I'm upfront about it. I don't make it a big deal, as being a parent is quite separate from my dating life for now, and give people the complete out if they aren't open to it. For the most part, people have been grateful for the transparency and totally open to dating a single parent." (August 2020)
"I subtly mention parenting in my profile by saying I’m a hockey mom and leave it at that. I do NOT put pictures of my son in my profile - and I’ve heard from others that they swipe left on people who do bc that’s bringing your kids into something who have no business being there until things get serious which is a red flag for them.
Furthermore, I do not mention anything about being a solo parent in my profile and wait to see a good opening in a conversation (text or in person) to bring it up. I’ve had very mixed but mainly not as negative experiences with that as I anticipated. There are the usual guys who say they won’t date a woman with young kids but most guys have been surprisingly accepting of my limitations (and most guys don’t have kids themselves, which is a whole ‘nother thread for discussion!!!). Then again, I’m still single :)" (August 2020)
"I'm upfront about it. I want to find someone who's excited by another parent with a kid, and not someone who will reluctantly tolerate it. This means I don't get a ton of interest, but I can count on a few conversations each week. Now I just need one of those to go somewhere." (August 2020)
"Initially, I stated that I have 3 children and still had a few dates. As my profile evolved and had some feedback from dates, I decided not to include them in my profile. However, I am upfront about it very quickly when I begin to chat. Only a few people were totally against dating me, which is fine with me in that they were self selecting. My dating life does not include my children so I did not feel the need to mention them in my profile." (August 2020)
"I did mention that I have kids, but not their ages. I have thought about even editing that out just because of safety issues, but I wouldn’t want to waste time talking to people who absolutely would not be OK with kids.
Personally, I think using pictures of kids in dating profiles is a turn off." (August 2020)
"[This] article is good and affirming. People thinking single folks should entirely put dating on hold also speaks to a broader trend that I notice of people, not in my situation, giving advice that they don't need to follow." (October 2020)
Single Parents Finding Love: Over Zoom, of Course, from the New York Times
Focus on other single parents.
“I've learned that I prefer to meet men who have kids, as they tend to "get it" in terms of my schedule.”
“Before I was separated/divorced myself, I had a misconception that divorced people were somehow not cut out for LTRs. I realized what we all know - divorce itself is a personal reckoning and the aftermath entails a lot of growth. That’s why I focused on single dads when I became open to a real relationship.”
Only splurge on childcare if you think the date will be worth it.
“First date is quick post-work drink, with my 10 month old. If this sounds awful to someone, they're probably not a good fit. But since my son is still young enough not to know what the heck is going on, and to sit peacefully and eat chicken fingers while I chat, it works. If that date goes well, I'd be down to get childcare for a second, actual dinner and drinks date. I'm still waiting to make it to a second date with someone.”
“The other thing I'm upfront about is the fact that staying overnight elsewhere is not in the cards for the foreseeable future, as I'm not going to ask someone to babysit overnight just so I can spend the night at my date's place. I'm upfront about this restriction from the beginning, explaining that I know it may be presumptuous but I don't want to waste anyone's time. Every single time, the guy has thanked me for my transparency and said it's not an issue.”
“First dates most often aren't worth arranging or paying for childcare for.”
"I can't really separate my son from my dating life. Wish I could. I look forward to when he's older and more independent, but for now, he's too all-consuming. And he has gone on quick post-work dates with me. It's not ideal, but it's my reality until he's older. Sometimes I'm able to arrange lunch dates while he's at daycare, but often I'm not. So there his little butt is, next to me in a high chair on a date." (August 2020)
“I kept my elimination process pretty ruthless when browsing people's profiles. Since I don't have endless free time for going on dates that aren't likely to go well, I'd rather go on a few dates with people who are a strong match than a ton of dates with men where we have absolutely nothing to talk about… it took exactly one month of this approach, and I met the very nice man I've been dating for the past 7 months (never married, no kids, but he gets along swimmingly with my kid!), and it's all pretty great.”
“I think being very forward with exactly what kind of thing you're looking for, if you have kids, and your stance on anything you feel strongly about is best. To me since the heavy topics are harder to move for people, if they‘re in the wrong places for either party then the path forward [or more accurately lack thereof] becomes clear quickly. So I say get that stuff out there and let them react; clear the path for real candidates so to speak.”
“It became easier to let people know if it was not a good fit. If there was no chemistry or something was not going to work, I learned to say so- we could part and enjoy the rest of our evening.”
“You might have a hard time if you don't really know what you want (this is me!). You muddle through.”
Limit the parent talk.
"Parenting was a big part of my life, and that was clear in both my profiles and conversation, though I started a no talking about the kids for more than 20 minutes request :) As much as I love my son parenting does not make me feel sexy. Single dads especially seemed to appreciate that. It made us move on - travel, hobbies, literature, future goals and other interests."
Hang in there!
“It’s so tough with not having a lot of free time. But hang in there. Best to go in with a positive attitude and empathy for others since they are looking for unicorns too!”
“It really is a numbers game, so you have to find a way to devote time to it.”
"it’s a numbers game. Keep getting out there. You’ll find someone."
Apps to check out! (with the good, the bad, and the ugly based on user reviews):
“I like bumble. Women make the first move and they are serious about blocking people who get out of line.”
“Bumble attracts a lot of men whose approach is TOO passive, if that makes any sense.”
“Bumble was too high pressure for me with the time limits and vanishing matches.”
“I tried Bumble ... maybe I’m too old for it. I didn’t like it... there wasn’t enough information for me.”
"I found that Tinder was great when I wasn’t ready for a relationship."
"I tend to gravitate toward Tinder more, possibly because it's less time consuming."
“OkCupid was great for finding a huge cross-section of people, including divorced guys.”
“I had fantastic success with OKCupid. Also met a few nice guys on ok Cupid. The one thing I love about it is that there are lots of questions to answer and it gives your compatibility percentage. I won’t talk to someone who won’t fill out questions or if they only have one pic or only pics w glasses on. Or dead fish pics lol!! “
“OkCupid, when I was dating and I found it fruitful.”
“OKCupid feels more authentic to me so far.”
"OK Cupid profiles have more details than other apps." (August 2020)
“A great documentary to watch is the HBO *swiped* which talks all about how these apps were developed to keep you on them. One thing about Hinge is that they actually changed how the app works after this data, which is why all their new advertising is along the lines of: we want you to delete us.”
“I just set up Hinge and I'm already getting MUCH BETTER matches. Guys I would actually date! Can it be the good ones have migrated here??”
"Hinge isn't bad. Lets you refine by distance as you were saying and it's set up to try and get conversations going." (August 2020)
Heybaby, a new app for parents and people who want kids—but it's still in the very early stages.
"I did check out the new app that L. just posted a link to. It's only available for iphone users at the moment. But if it catches on, I'd give it a try down the line." (August 2020)
"Yes it’s very new & unpopulated as of yet. Also from what I could tell its not attracting any kind of a different crowd than the others, sadly." (October 2020)