Parenting demands a commitment that can be exhausting. Many single-parents, as a result, are assumed to be disadvantaged when it comes to sexual relationships. To begin with, the risk is too high. And even where family planning and personal protection are taken care of, the emotional burden that can come out of romantic engagements can be overbearing.
The hindrances: These kinds of relationships are extremely complex and fragile, says Dr. Chris Hart, a psychologist and the author of Single & Searching. This is mainly because the single parent will have the well-being of their child at the back of their mind. “Primarily, a single parent’s biggest responsibility is her child, and every decision she makes will reflect the wellness of the child. This means that any relationship she has, whether sexual or not, will be introduced amidst the existing relationship with the child,” he says.
The myths: With parental commitments, a single-parent, and especially a female single parent, is expected to have lesser sex or fewer dates. This assumption is mythical, says Michael Castleman, the author of Sexual Solutions. Apparently, a single parent can date and have as much sex as a singleton without kids and still earn parental interest. “Ironically, dating and regular sex contribute to the single parent’s overall happiness. This happiness enables them to have lesser moments of resentment either towards their single-parenting situation or any runaway baby-daddies, which in turn makes them better parents,” he says. Nevertheless, when it comes to sex, a single parent may run the risk of falling for stereotypical social perceptions. “There exists a chauvinistic myth that considers women with kids to be of less value when compared to women without kids. This may cause a single woman desperate to find love to have a streak of broken sexual relationships as she searches for the equally mythical, ‘The One’,” says family therapist Lawrence Kibiru.
No strings attached: Dr. Hart says that it is very difficult for a single parent to have a no-strings-attached sexual relationship. “Sexual relationships without a level of emotional attachment do not actually exist. One partner in the sexual relationship will develop feelings at some point,” he says. The feelings could be a catalyst of unnecessary heartbreak, especially if the other partner is not interested in an emotional commitment or in building the relationship beyond sex. He recommends that it is best for a single parent to treat a sexual relationship with the same level of strictness and care that they would accord a potentially long-term relationship. As such, do not bring an endless line of men to your home for sleepovers when your kids are around or make the habit of introducing your child to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. “State that you have a child early on or immediately to avoid wasting time with a partner who’d take off at the mention of a child,” adds Dr. Hart.
Partners to go for: Normally, whether looking for a sexual relationship or an all-around relationship, keep off younger men, especially if they don’t have kids of their own. “Go for an older man who has kids. He could be divorced or widowed, he is more likely to comprehend where you are coming from. He is also more likely to be experienced in handling or relating with children,” says Dr. Hart.
What research says: Research conducted by the University of Nevada and published in the Journal of Sex Research on single parenting and sex found out that both single male and single female parents with children younger than five years will at times have more first dates and a higher frequency of actual sexual activity that singles without children. “Some single parents believe that they should commit themselves totally to raising their kids, even if this commitment will require them to subordinate their own social and sexual needs. There is nothing wrong with this for those who wish to keep off sex. But there is also nothing wrong with them finding ways to satisfy their sexual needs,” said Castleman.