You’re single, you’re a mom, you have a job—and you want to date. Me too. So before you tell me it’s impossible, I offer you this: Anything is possible! I know, I know, the logistics of dating as a solo parent who’s working to provide for her family can get tough. I’m right there in the trenches online at single parents' dating sites and on apps, looking for love and, mostly, looking to stay out of trouble. Sometimes it seems I’m swimming in a very shallow dating pool, but I haven’t given up and taken in fifty cats. Yet.
So here’s the down-low on dating sites I’ve tried as a SWM (single working mother). You should try too. And remember: You can do it at home, at night after the kids go to bed, in your pajamas if you want.
Pros: Tinder is quick and easy. You set it up through your Facebook account and set your preferences within minutes. You won’t waste time filling out large forms and questionnaires, and your pictures are right there on Facebook. (Caveat: Don’t use photos of you with your kids or of them alone, for their safety. You never know.) Searching for matches is super simple. Once you’ve set age and distance preferences, you start swiping. A simple swipe left, and that dream guy is gone forever; a simple swipe right, and he could end up a match for life!
Cons: Since you’re limited with your search parameters, you may sift through a lot of matches just to find one decent guy. From search alone you only know age and distance, and then it’s up to the men to fill in the blanks briefly with some profile description. Some men don’t even write a thing! This leaves you wondering things like:
• How tall is he?
• What does he do?
• Is he divorced, separated or single?
The list goes on.
The most frustrating aspect about Tinder: Once you swipe left, the man is gone for life unless you purchase an upgrade with the ability to take back your “swiping decision.” Plus, this site seems to be loaded with men who are simply collecting matches and “liking” you because they’re bored and need something to look at. (Yeah, I said that!) In short, Tinder is known to be a hook-up app, so you’ll have to hunt hard to strike gold.
Pros: What makes it unique is women have to pitch the first message. Guys cannot contact you first. This is a huge pro. Like Tinder, Bumble is easy to set up. It uses your Facebook information and within seconds, voila!—there you are, pretty as a picture in your new profile.
While there have been one or two saucy gentlemen I’ve come across, for the most part the men have wanted to go on dates pretty quickly. (My experience with Tinder was that men could waste your precious single-mom minutes messaging you back and forth.) Bumble’s biggest plus: You can “take back” a negative, left swipe for free (unlike Tinder)! So if I make a mistake or want a second look at someone, I can backtrack and revisit a potential match.
Cons: Like on Tinder, you’re searching men knowing very little about them. This feels like a waste of time when you match with someone only to find out that, bam! You’ve got no desire to go out with this jobless fool. This app is for iPhone only, so if you’re an Android fan, you’re out of luck.
Best things about apps:
• They’re free unless you go for upgrades.
• Easy to install and run a profile in seconds.
• Unlike websites, creepy guys out of your age range and distance cannot contact you.
Phone apps are quick to install and use but often come with glitches. Messages often freeze or are never received. Additionally, because men tend to simply look at the photos without reading the profile blurb, some were caught off-guard and turned off when they discovered I was a mom. Not my problem!
Pros: Match is obviously well-known, so chances are there will be a fair selection of guys (though I can’t promise they’ll be great). Match lets you narrow your search terms, including whether your date has kids and his income range, which helps you filter. Photos are easy to upload, and you can pick and choose how many questions you want to answer or leave blank. Match also does meetup events, which are great—but be prepared: If you live in the suburbs, you will have to go to the nearest city to attend.
In order to message people, you have to pay for a subscription. The pro here is that men who are paying are more likely to message back and make dates.
Cons: A website is more difficult and takes more time than an app, hands down. However, you can filter your matches better. You will get emailed by anyone and everyone though, whether they’re in your search parameters or not, so be prepared. Also, unless you subscribe, it’s difficult to use for a trial period to see if you want to pay for their subscription. I recommend signing up when you can find a Groupon. I’ve seen a lot of people succeed on Match, so if you’re going to pay for something, try this site.
Single Parent Meet
Pros: The site doesn’t ask for copious amounts of information, but there were questions and places to “display” my personality. It was easy to upload photos off my computer, and I was up and running in minutes. You can narrow your search to weed out certain things you don’t want.
Cons: I didn’t last long here. It’s possible your location will be different from my location, but the majority of men with profiles were older than 55 or had “questionable” single parent statuses. I wouldn’t be surprised if some were never single parents and simply thought a single mom might be “easy prey.” As for the 55 year old, his children are most likely long gone from his home. That’s a huge dynamic difference from me, in my late 30s with a little one not even in kindergarten. After just a few searches, I deleted my account, having found the dating pool there to be unbelievably shallow. You may have a different experience.
The quick & dirty: EHarmony worked well for a few of my friends—but none of them were single parents. If you live in a city, chances are you’ll find people nearby to connect with; if you live in the suburbs, prepare for matches fifty miles away. Not practical for a single working mother. They do a nice job with their psychological tests, bound to introduce you to better matches, but the process is long and it costs. Overall, I recommend avoiding this site unless you have time to set up the profile, want to pay for the features and don’t mind meeting people halfway across your state.
The quick & dirty: OkCupid is free (yay!) and works like other web dating sites—you use specific search parameter’s to filter through matches, which makes your hunt easier. The general profile page is easy to fill out, but there are a billion different questions you can expand on to determine if you’re a match or someone’s “enemy.” A lot of the questions can be good, but fair warning: Some here are racy. I got a few decent dates from OkCupid with actual nice guys, but I also got a ton of messages from guys way too young for me looking for a MILF (barf), or who fake their profiles (adding kids) to scam me.
Websites allow you to upload more photos than apps, and you can narrow your search parameters. But they usually take more time to set up. And be prepared to get hit up by creeps or people outside of your dating search terms.