Question: How do single parents meet new people?
Even though I love my kids, I'm tired of feeling lonely. Where do other single parents meet people? I'd like to make some new friends and maybe even date, but I don't know how to get started, and I barely have time for myself as it is.
It's not uncommon to feel lonely as a single parent. After all, so much of your time and energy are emptied out in caring for your children and providing for your kids' needs, that it's easy for your responsibilities to overshadow a potential social life. However, with some effort, you can create the kind of social life you really want. Begin by asking yourself the following questions and choosing one or two of the suggested activities below:
- What would I really like my social life to look like?
Spend some time envisioning what it would be like to have a fulfilling, active social life. Who would you be spending your time with? How would your children fit into this scenario? Sometimes just getting clear about your ultimate goals can help you find ways to make those dreams a reality.
- What is standing in my way?
What's the biggest obstacle right now to your having a lively, engaging social life? Is it time? Is it a lack of opportunity? Could it also be connected to your feelings about yourself? Getting clear about the obstacles you face, or even the walls you may inadvertently put up, can help you overcome them.
Does the effort I'm making to meet new people match my desire for an active, enjoyable social life?
If it doesn't, step up the effort you're making. In this way, you can work to overcome feeling like a "lonely single parent" by changing the effort you're making. Try:
- Attending a book discussion at your local bookstore or library.
- Taking a class in a topic that interests you.
- Getting together with some old friends you haven't seen for awhile. Chances are, they will introduce you to some of their new friends!
- Hosting an informal neighborhood gathering or potluck dinner. It will give you a chance to meet some people you haven't met before.
Are my own expectations making me feel lonely?
For example, if you believe you "should" be in a romantic relationship, you're probably setting yourself up to feel badly about not being in one. (In addition, this kind of self-pressure leaves you vulnerable to making poor decisions in relation to who you choose to date.) To move beyond these kinds to self-imposed limitations, focus on building friendships, not just romantic relationships. Try:
- Introducing yourself in the Single Parents' Forum and making some friends online
- Finding a "buddy" you can eat lunch with regularly at work
- Hosting an informal event with the parents of some of your child's friends. This would be a great way to get to know other families and also develop friendships of your own
Jump-starting your social life isn't easy. It definitely requires some intentional steps and a lot of effort. However, it is worth the energy it will cost you to build meaningful friendships into your life and move beyond the uncomfortable "lonely single parent" feeling you described.