On Dating: Groups for Single Parents

Friday, June 12, 2009

Three years ago, Leanne Dronet, a single mom and middle school math teacher, moved from California to Northern Virginia without knowing a soul.

"We didn't have any family or anybody," recalls Dronet. She wasn't necessarily looking for new love, but she did want a social life, so she ventured out to an event sponsored by a Meetup group called SPIN (Single Parents in Northern Virginia). The group, which Dronet now leads, became her community and lifeline to the adult world. "This is like my only adult interaction, and from it I've created real friends. I've created a solid support group," she says. "Our whole thing is to get our kids together with other kids and still have a life."

There is no question that dating is more complicated when children are thrown into the equation. In a recent survey by the online dating site eHarmony, 74 percent of single parents interviewed said that time was a major dating challenge, with landing a babysitter and the fear of getting back into the dating world following close behind.

But groups such as Dronet's can at least make socializing a little more manageable.

On one recent weekend, SPIN (http://www.meetup.com/spinva) sponsored a camping trip, a barbecue and a trip to a water park. Over the next few weeks the group is planning movie nights, hiking excursions and an adults-only outing to a comedy club. Dronet, who has two sons, ages 4 and 11, says the group attracts a good mix of single moms and dads from every walk of life around the Beltway.

Another organization for active single moms and dads is the local chapter of Parents Without Partners (http://www.pwp715.org). The group's calendar is full of dinners, roving happy hours and free dance lessons. The club is open to any single parent in the area, and an orientation is scheduled for Sunday at the City of Fairfax Regional Library.

Online dating services are also trying to cater to single parents. Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine, says the most prominent of the niche sites is SingleParentsMeet.com. Sites such as eHarmony, too, let users denote their single parent status and will match them up only with other singles interested in dating a person with kids.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company