Dating Apps (sigh): A Discussion From Our Single/Divorced/Separated Group




So you’re looking to enter (or re-enter) the exciting world of dating! It can certainly be daunting, but just know— all of us at Park Slope Parents are rooting for you! Here is some handy advice for navigating those pesky dating apps. 


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!


We’ve compiled and organized  the answers below.


Advice from our members about dating in general: 


 Be 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.”



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.”


Be picky.


“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.” 




“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??” 



Photo Courtesey of Jonathan J. Castellon