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First Date Etiquette for Single Parents

What Not to Do on a First Date

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A man and a woman on a date

Know what not to do on a first date.

Photo © Diane Collins and Jordan Hollender/Getty Images

So you're getting ready for what you hope will be an exciting evening. Whether this date is a blind one, someone you met at the office, or an in-person introduction to someone you met on an online dating site, consider the kind of first impression you want to cultivate. As you work to let the best parts of yourself shine through, you'll want to set the following negative -- but common -- habits aside:

  1. Talking about your ex. As a single parent, you're probably worked really hard not to bash your ex in front of your kids and to keep negative thoughts and opinions to yourself. So the temptation to get all that out when you're in adult company can be pretty strong! But don't let a first date morph into a venting session or a chance to rehash the past. First dates are the epitome of fresh starts, right? So leave all that behind and focus on new conversations and experiences.

  2. Talking about other dates. Similarly, you don't want to spend the evening dishing on dates that didn't pan out. Talking about other people -- especially negatively -- breeds a false sense of intimacy and could leave your date wondering if you'll be complaining about him next.

  3. Complaining about your kids. Being in the presence of another adult, sans kids, is usually the perfect opportunity to vent your parenting frustrations. (Because you need to get them out when you're not with your kids, right?) But when you're on a first date, set aside your parenting woes and let the evening be about you instead.

  4. Disclosing financial problems. I'm not suggesting that you hide serious financial struggles -- just that you not put them front-and-center on a first date. Regardless of whether you'd ever ask for help from a friend, this kind of disclosure so early in a relationship could leave the impression that you're looking for a hand-out. Besides, this evening is for you, so leave all your troubles behind for a few hours.

  5. Talking about future children. In general, don't bring up your hopes for more children on a first date, either. The only exception to this rule is if dating someone who wants more kids -- or doesn't -- is a dating deal breaker for you.

  6. Texting your kids repeatedly. Some contact is to be expected, especially if you're leaving your kids home alone for the evening. But make sure that your texting is discrete and not constant. If your kids are used to reaching you at all times, and receiving an immediate response, establish some guidelines with them before you leave the house. In addition, consider having a friend or relative step in and be the go-to contact for the evening, with the understanding that you'll be contacted only in an emergency.

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