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A surprising number of single parents don't admit to having kids on dating apps

Single parent online dating. (Getty Images)
Having 'baggage' doesn't always have to be a bad thing when dating. (Getty Images)

Two-thirds of single parents don't admit they have kids on dating profiles – is this completely understandable? Or should you always be honest upfront?

It seems being seen as having 'baggage' because of children is a worry for 28% of single parents, while 25% don’t mention their kids on apps purely because they don't think it's necessary, new research from eharmony reveals.

More than one in five (22%) want to get to know someone before revealing they have children.

Finger of woman pushing heart icon on screen in mobile smartphone application. Online dating app, valentine's day concept.
Do you reveal you have kids on dating apps? (Getty Images)

Of the single parents who venture back into the dating scene after kids or breaking up with an ex (men are more likely to than women), 32% describe it as stressful, compared to 25% who say it's positive, and just one in ten (12%) who find it 'fulfilling'.

On the flip side, almost two-thirds (58%) of single parents say dating in their situation means they won’t accept 'time wasters', and over half (54%) say it has given them a better idea of the values and traits they're looking for in a partner.

But parents who are dating often keep it a secret from their children. Over two-thirds (69%) don’t tell their children about every date they go on, with three-quarters of women (76%) keeping the information to themselves. Half (51%) are worried about introducing a new partner to their children.

But what is the 'right' thing to do, if anything?

Navigating online dating as a single parent

man on phone while looking after baby
What you choose to share online is your choice, but there are some benefits from transparency. (Getty Images)

Why do some single parents withhold they have children?

"The reason many parents decide to keep their children off their profiles is always personal to that individual parent. It could be based on their custody situation, how long they have been a single parent, the age of their children, their values or insecurities, or simply because they have never dated as a single parent before and don't know how to include this new reality into the mix," explains Laurel House, eharmony dating and relationships expert.

Unfortunately, there can also still be a stigma around dating as a single parent, especially with young kids, not to mention the added emotional and financial challenges for some.

"You have baggage. And that’s not a bad thing. It simply is," says House. "Some single parents re-enter the dating pool afraid, ashamed, feeling not good enough, and embarrassed, while others are angry and jaded, insecure, and possibly even excited!" A mix of emotions is normal, but there's nothing to be 'ashamed' about.

Friends catching up over coffee on the weekend
Try to enjoy being out while on a date, rather than being at home in your mind. (Getty Images)

Should parents reveal they have kids on dating apps?

"There is a difference between withholding on a dating profile and withholding on an in-person date. I understand the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and sharing you are a parent could make it appear that is your entire life [which if it is, there's also nothing wrong with]," acknowledges House.

"But do not check 'no' if the answer is 'yes' because that is misleading. You could even be attracting someone who really doesn’t want to be with someone who has children. Or the opposite, you could be turning away someone who really wants someone with them. The point of the profile is to attract the right people and turn off the wrong people. The best way to do that is by being honest about who you are, what your likes and lifestyle is like, and what your dating purpose is."

Obviously it comes down to what is best and most safe for your personal situation, but being honest if you can will certainly help you filter out what you don't want quicker...

Should parents tell their children they are dating?

"The decision would depend on various factors such as age, emotional maturity, and the nature of the relationship," says Dr Lalitaa Suglani.

"Generally, being open about casual dates may help normalise the idea of 'adult' relationships. However, if it becomes a serious, long-term relationship, it’s beneficial to involve the children to establish trust, safety and familiarity with the new partner.

"It’s important to tailor the information based on the child’s understanding in navigating this situation."

Some signs that might suggest it's a good time for parents to consider involving or informing their children about a relationship are:

  • consistency of the dating partner and time spent together

  • emotional investment – is the relationship having emotional significance and a sense of commitment?

  • stability and longevity

  • the children's curiosity and awareness/understanding

Girl talking to father while sitting on sofa. Happy parent spending leisure time with daughter in living room. They are in casuals at home.
When would you tell your child about a forming relationship? (Getty Images)

Overcoming stigma

Regardless of how you're feeling, dating expert House advises against these common single parent dating faux pas:

  • feeling ashamed or complaining/apologising for single parent status

  • waiting too long to start dating again

  • rushing in to dating to fill a void

  • rushing to introduce kids or getting exclusive too soon for the sake of your children

  • bashing your ex on your first date or obviously competing with ex

  • when you're out, being home in your mind

  • trying to present 'perfect' instead of real

  • trying to do it ALL yourself

  • saying there's no time for dating – it can be found (if you want)

  • defining yoursely by your single parent status

  • immediately fall into a relationship style (hold onto the sexy/romantic/fun dating phase)

  • saying you don't have kids when you do

Happy dating!

Watch: Having a cat in your dating profile makes you more attractive