Sex & Relationships

Tips for Parents Who Want to Try Online Dating

You might want to think twice before posting pictures with the kids.

Photo Credit: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

Carving out an online dating profile is tricky. But kids—and deciding whether or not to mention them—further complicate that task.

These days, dating has largely moved online. And among the masses of those who have gone there with it are parents. Over the past three years, the number of single parents registered at Match.com has increased by 180 percent. One-third of members aged 23 to 50 years old are single moms and dads ready to get back into the dating pool.

While not everyone has made the shift, those who have tend to get results. According to Match's blog, “single parents who have dated online had over 2X the number of dates last year than single parents who haven’t dated online.” Furthermore, “Seventy-nine percent have dated 1 or more person in the last three months versus 75 percent of single parents who don’t online date."

Breaking down the success rate of dating numerically seems to gloss over the agony those single parents underwent in making online profiles to snag those dates. There is no equivalent in offline dating to the gauntlet of choices when creating an online dating profile. If you have to sell yourself with no more than some photos and a few lines of text, you better make them count. Listed alongside other big reveals like job, gender and orientation, is whether or not you have children.

Of course, not every parent chooses to out themselves as such. Some prefer having that conversation in person. But those who do can go about it in one of three ways: include it in your text, include it in your photos, or do both. Forewarning: problems seem to follow the second approach.

In 10 Things I Wish Men Would Do in Their Tinder Profiles on Huffington Post, Heather Piper makes one request: no photos of kids. “I want to date him, not his cute kids. He can show me photos of his kid later. Getting to know his kid comes into play way down the road, if ever,” Piper explains. “I want the information but I don’t like to see actual photos of him with his kid.”

Others take issue with the intent. “I see right through you, men. You’re using that poor innocent baby to trick me into thinking you’re sensitive and affectionate,” writes Laken Howard at Bustle.

Fortunately, there’s good news for those who hate kid pics. Bumble, a dating app launched by a group of former Tinder employees, actually forbids users from posting photos of their kids. “While you're welcome to let other users know you have kids, in chat or your profile, it's against Bumble rules to post pictures of kids. If you don't follow these guidelines, you'll receive a warning. If you ignore this warning, you risk losing your account. These guidelines are designed to make Bumble a friendly and safe place for all our users,” reads the user guidelines.

According to new research, those who insist on posting photos of their kids are overwhelmingly male. In a study conducted by Mummypages.ie, an Irish parenting community website, 77 percent of dads on dating apps share photos of their children on their public profile. Just 19 percent of single mothers do the same.

“Of course, some single parents prefer to be upfront with potential suitors; however, the text summary section of your Tinder profile allows you to do this without putting your children at risk to pedophiles trawling the internet,” says Laura Haugh, the company spokesperson. "Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of online anonymity and dating sites to prey on single parents and their children, so we urge them to consider how precious your children are to you and protect them by not posting photos of your kids on online dating sites."

But the internet is a big place. My guess is that pedophiles have more reliable places to turn to for content than a dating app that may or may not have photos of kids floating around. 

Online or off, landing someone can be hard. Landing a single someone who is cool with your kids can be even harder. That’s why a lot of single parents end up sticking with those in the same situation. According to the Match blog, “the majority of single parents prefer to date someone with kids.” Seventy-three percent of them would like their kids to be the same age. That’s probably why dating sites like Single Parent Meet started popping up.

There are other practical matters to consider that are bound to affect a budding romantic relationship. Whether you're the primary caretaker, for one, and how much help your ex gives. And there are also issues revolving around the parental title you wear. While we continue to inch toward progress, we live in a society where moms are still expected to do more of the childrearing than dads. 

On the brighter side, there are plenty of potential partners out there for parents: Match.com says 67 percent of men are interested in dating a single parent. 

And even if a relationship isn't the end game, some still find parenthood erotic. Pornhub’s 2015 Year In Review notes the top searched term among male viewers is “stepmom.” “Milf” comes in third place, with “mom” following right behind. "Stepdad daughter" was also high on the list. Apparently, it’s a perfectly porny time to be a parent, of any variety. 

Carrie Weisman is a writer focusing on sex, relationships and culture. 

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