Single parent dating at 35-years-old was never going to be easy. Nevertheless, I recently threw myself in the deep end with the intention of having fun and getting on with the rest of my life.

Whilst my face hasn’t aged (too) badly, my body has. I’m also more comfortable discussing potty training than things that would interest a non-parent. So, single parent dating has been a bit of a bumpy ride – metaphorically speaking. In a short space of time, there have been many eye-opening experiences. Not just through my own encounters but by talking (single parent) dating with others … some of who are at least a decade younger than me.

The main and obvious difference to dating today is how it’s all online. Choose your app, swipe away and meet the love of your life … or at least a few interesting characters. Some claim to like rock climbing when they actually prefer Corrie. Others are diamonds in the rough. Most, sadly, conform to negative stereotypes. So, in order of how frequently they may cross your path, here’s what I’ve learned so far in my single parent dating life. I hope this helps anyone else who find themselves downloading Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish etc …

There are plenty of f*ckboys

This wasn’t a word when I was last on the dating scene a decade ago. It may have been a thing, but I don’t recall such an apt description for it. There are loads of these around. Even some who you don’t think are soon reveal their true colours. Some are easier to find, particularly on certain dating apps. A profile picture in bed, semi-clad, not showing a full face – or all of the above – are all good reasons to swipe left. Some are not so easy to identify, however. I mistakenly swiped right and I was quickly sent a sentence of mediocre porn. I instantly ‘unmatched’ him.

Ghosting is for life, not just for Halloween

October 31 aside, this also wasn’t a thing until technology allowed it to happen. It’s when someone ends all contact with you with no further explanation. Maybe you rendezvous with a friend of a friend or someone who should have been a safe bet, but then with no warning, they disappear off the face of the earth. You may feel like they have left the country. Under some circumstances, this may actually be true. This behaviour is just rude. However, anyone who would do a bit of ghosting is clearly a flawed individual and, when it comes to single parenting dating or otherwise, I haven’t got time for that.

You can be mates with men without being friends with benefits … probably

I admit this one doesn’t happen often or easily. You may be reading this thinking ‘yeah, yeah, one or both of you are just pretending that you don’t want to hop into bed’. The cynical side of me agrees with you. But I have discovered, under the right circumstances, this is actually possible.

I had a date. It was nice. We chatted about life. As he’s a single dad, we talked about parenting and understood each other’s stories. But, we both agreed that it wasn’t romantic. We kept in touch to talk about the joys of raising little people and I hope we will continue to do so.

A rediscovered mate of mine is an ex-boyfriend who I dated for two years in college. We have intentionally crossed paths a few times in the last couple of months. Also not romantic, but the chat and the laughter (about what losers we used to be) is good – and it’s proving beneficial to have a straight man’s opinion on the single parent dating game.

The one

This is much, much harder to find, of course. It can be the one forever or it could be the one for right now. They have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to this coveted stage. There’s the chat online or in person, the dates, the making it exclusive and then the settling down on the sofa in your PJ’s when Netflix and chill means precisely what it says on the tin.

They are much easier to spot, though. It’s the one you’re thinking about all the time. It’s the one who makes you smile when their name flashes up on your phone. It’s the one who gives you butterflies before seeing them, yet immediately feel at ease with. But, remember The One is not always the one you end up with. This isn’t necessarily something I am looking for now but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the prize. I will keep you posted if I track him down.