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For as long as there have been relationships there have been bustups.“Human beings are sexual, emotional and relational,” says Stephen Giles, a couples counselor and social worker in Toronto. I have a lot of friends, which is wonderful, but to be with a man at that level is something else altogether.When women surface from separation and divorce, we can feel we have to overcompensate for the loss of the other parent and the opportunity for our kids to grow up in a family.“Of course there are sacrifices for single mothers, but we needn’t give up everything.I took everyone’s keys away.” The greatest challenge of dating as a single parent is keeping all the balls in the air, says Fiona. You have to keep all things separate but still meet everybody’s needs.I always tell my kids that they come first, but that doesn’t mean that their demands will trump my personal life. When you’re dating without kids, you only have to worry about liking each other.Frank was caught unawares when his 11-year marriage ended a year ago.

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“But I would like to find someone who could be with all of us together.Now there’s so much more to think about.” If the kids don’t like the person (and most of them won’t, says Fiona), you have an added pressure.“A lot of times your kids will hate the guy simply because he’s dating you.” It’s just as tricky if they like your new squeeze.After he left, she said, “What do you think of him? My date and I were like, hey, we’ve got the whole house – let’s do something wild in the family room.That would be exactly when one of the kids would come home to get their homework.“To deny that part of ourselves is serious.” Radha Rampersaud agrees. It would break my heart to imagine never having that in my life again.” Some single parents find themselves lonely, especially when their children are with the other parent, says Desiree Blume, a registered clinical counsellor from Vancouver. It’s a natural impulse.” More than that, a dating parent could provide a valuable role model for their children, particularly if they haven’t had an example of healthy pairings.The 45-year-old massage therapist and acupuncturist from Hamilton, Ont., ended a seven-year marriage in 2007 when her daughter was three. But dating at this life stage can be full of challenges we’d never imagined in our pre-child courting days.Either way, I knew I would know when they were ready to meet her.” Frank was right.The meeting between Andrea and his kids went well and the pair are still together and doing great.One such challenge is the guilt of dating, and the weight it brings to bear on our perception of our entitlement to a healthy relationship.“A lot of times women will feel badly about going out and having their own life and leaving their child at home,” Desiree says.

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