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Dating is tough. Dating as a single parent is tougher. And dating as a single, introverted parent? It’s a whole different game. Every parent already has to navigate time constraints and childcare needs, but when you add the need to conserve personal energy to the mix, pursuing a relationship can feel like an impossible feat.
With parenting taking so much energy as it is — especially for custodial parents — single, introverted parents can end up in a headspace where they feel they don’t have the capacity or emotional ability to give anything to anyone else. However, no one has a shortage of love to give — and certainly, everyone is deserving of love in their lives.
When you learn how to return to dating in a way that feels true to your introverted nature and lifestyle, you can better balance parenthood with your romantic life. In this article, we’ll offer insights and tips to help you navigate the world of dating.
The Dating Scene Is Often Built for Extroverts
Modern media has made extroversion the norm in dating and in society in general. Extroverts are often displayed as confident, desirable partners — the ones who quickly connect with strangers at a crowded bar or party, or the ones who endlessly attend to their partners’ needs. Even when dating online, it’s easy to feel pressured to meet up with matches in-person quickly and often.
However, when you overcompensate for your solitude in an effort to meet the norms, you can end up over-socializing and experience strained mental health, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and general panic attacks.
As you return to dating, recognize that you have the power to make your dating experience exactly what you want it to be. If you want to take it slow — giving yourself time to adjust to giving both your child and your partner adequate attention — you’ll feel much better expressing your preferences than trying to be someone you’re not. The right person is out there, ready to love you for who you are.
Sensitivity Is Your Biggest Challenge — and Your Strength
Your sensitivity in relationships can feel overwhelming when you jump into the dating scene. As an introspective person, you may find yourself feeling your emotions more deeply than your dates, whether you’re falling hard or getting hurt. While this can present tough mental challenges when you’re entering the dating scene, your sensitivity isn’t negative in any way.
Your strength is your ability to be fully in tune with your gut feelings. Allow your feelings and intuition to guide you in the right direction and make the right choices for your child and yourself.
Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Partner
When you’re in the early stages of a new relationship, it’s important to practice honest communication with your partner and set boundaries regarding your mental and emotional needs, both as an introvert and as a parent. Be clear that your child is your top priority — and that your personal time to recharge is a priority, too. Self-care is an important tool for you to reset and bring your best self to your relationship.
However, it’s important to recognize that self-care can be damaging if it causes you to ignore real mental health conditions, or if it turns into an excuse to isolate yourself instead of seeking a romantic connection. While you should practice self-love and self-care every day, healthy relationships require you to be vulnerable and give your partner the same love and attention they give you. Make the effort to be with your partner — but also let yourself connect from afar with Zoom or FaceTime when you truly don’t have the drive for an in-person date.
Give Yourself the Grace You Give Your Child
As human beings, we’re often our own worst critics. For introverts, who naturally look inward and self-reflect when they spend time alone, every mistake you make in your return to dating can feel like a major setback. However, it’s important to give yourself room to be a work in progress — someone who’s still figuring out the right pace for relationships as an introvert and as a single parent.
Consider how you would talk to your child about dating. If you’re the parent of a teen, you would listen without judgment and only with love as you explore what the topics of dating, dating apps, and sex mean to your child. Similarly, you should lead with self-love when exploring dating from your unique new perspective.
Return to the Dating World With Confidence
Returning to the dating world is never easy for anyone who is newly single (or newly available). As an introverted parent, you also have internal challenges and time constraints to overcome. However, you’re just as capable of building healthy relationships as others. Start entering the dating scene while giving yourself room for solitude and for mistakes, so you can find the right person to grow with.
Luke Smith is a lifestyle and wellness writer who hopes to draw connections between our social, emotional, and physical well-being. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling or hiking with his dog.