I recently went on my first date since my marriage ended last spring. It was also my first official date since I was 18 -- over a dozen years ago. Dating at almost 31, as it turns out, is much different than dating as teenager. You’re shocked, I know.

It was a blind date, and the guy was nice and all, but I probably won’t go on a second date with him. No particular reason -- he was cute (very pretty eyes), established in his career (lawyer), and we shared similar backgrounds (turns out we both went to the same small private university) -- but there wasn’t really anything there that made me feel like I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Regardless, the whole experience got me thinking about what kinds of things might knock my socks off on a first date enough to get me to agree to a second. I’m a heckuva lot pickier this time around, because it’s not just me anymore. I have kids now, and even though a first date is a long way from introducing a potential stepdad, there are certain things I’m looking for now to avoid a potential disaster down the road.

More from The Stir: 10 Tips for Dating a Single Dad

Maybe I’m being persnickety, but hey, I’m a single, working mom -- I’d rather curl up with boxed white wine and a novel than go on a second date I’m not excited about.

Here are 10 tips if you’re trying to impress a single mom on the first date.

Disclaimer: My date committed some, all, or none of these. One or two he aced.

Tip well: I’m dying to see how well you take care of the people that take care of you. Along these lines -- be nice to the waitstaff.

Don’t ask about my ex: I was married. Now I’m not. That’s all the information you need to know right now.

And never defend him: If we stumble into a conversation about my ex, please know that I will speak civilly about him, because he’s the father of my children, and also I’m trying to impress you. You don’t have to say he’s a jerk, but don’t question what happened in my marriage.

Do ask me questions about my kids: They are awesome kids. I promise not to gush about them all night so long as you express some interest in what they’re like and laugh appropriately at my funny kid stories.

Don’t ask when you can meet them: You can meet them the fifth of never if you’re overly eager to insert yourself into their lives -- for any reason.

Do ask to see pictures of my kids: OK, I get that some moms may not like this, so if you don’t want to ask, at least respond enthusiastically if I offer to show you.

Enjoy your work: Sure everyone has crap days at the office, but if you’re constantly stressed, you’re going to stress me out too.

Act interested in what I do too: I love my job! Love love love it. And I’m not just saying that because my boss is likely reading this. I basically get to journal in public. Plus after years of being a stay-at-home mom and working freelance jobs here and there, I’m really proud of my full-timey job that I love and would seriously enjoy the opportunity to brag about it a little.

Don’t expect sex on the first date: I’m a mom. I know where babies come from. The end.

Be yourself: This one is clichéd, I know, but it’s super important. Because if I like the fake you, I’m going to see through you eventually, and if I don’t like the person you’re pretending to be because you think that’s more attractive, then I might not agree to go out with you again. Didja follow that? Bottom-line: Just be real and keep it real. I’m a single mom. I’m pretty unflappable at this point.

Have you ever dated a single parent? Dated as a single parent? Any advice?

 

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