As a dating coach whose client base has an average age of 42, I get questions all the time about whether being a single parent helps or hurts one’s odds at online dating. The reality of it is that, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is the “attractiveness” of a single parent. I will say, however, only anecdotally, that if you’ve had children later in life, some people in your age group may be looking to enjoy the empty nester life, so you may not be a match in that regard, but again, it’s very subjective.
It turns out that there is some data on this matter. In May, a dating service called AYI.com performed a study examining the online dating and social lives of single mothers. Shortly thereafter, they did a similar analysis on single dads. Here’s what the results (examining about 160,000 profiles for women and about 85,000 profiles for men) said:
- The most single mothers reside in Idaho, New Hampshire and Wyoming.
- The best place to be a single mom is New Mexico! With its terrific weather, low taxes, and a below-average cost of living, it’s no surprise this state came in at number one. Rhode Island, Arizona, and California were close behind.
- Miami boasted the highest response rates for moms. The worse response rates for single moms, you might ask? Indianapolis.
- Historically superficial cities (the study’s words, not mine) like LA appeared less forgiving when it came to single moms. A single woman in LA was 39% more likely to be messaged online if she did not have kids. Cities like Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Minneapolis had higher response rates for women with kids than those without, while Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Minneapolis had equal rates for women with or without kids.
- The most single fathers reside in Wyoming and Maine.
- Online response rates for men with children were higher than their childless counterparts in 38 of the 50 states, with significantly higher rates in Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Louisiana.
- Daters in cities all over the country also embraced single fathers, especially San Antonio, which boasted the highest response rates for dads. Other cities followed suit – dads in Chicago, Los Angeles and Indianapolis were all over 50% more likely to get a response from a woman if they had a child. The worse response rates for single dads, you might ask? Miami. (Interesting considering it’s the best for women.)
One other interesting highlight of the study was that divorced fathers and mothers in their 40s are more likely to be messaged compared to their never married, widowed, and separated counterparts. This is no surprise because people tend to fill in gaps where information is lacking with anything they want, generally the worst. So, to see someone who is perhaps 48 and never married, many assume that something is “wrong” and make up hypotheses based on this. I encourage you to remember that everyone has a story and a history. It’s just your job to ask and not assume.
What does all of this data tell us? Am I telling you to move and/or have kids? Of course not! Keep in mind that this data is not broken out by age, so it’s hard to say what it would look like if we compared people in their 20s to, say, their 50s. The average age of an AYI.com member, however, is 49 years old.
In a nutshell, whether you have children or not, online dating is a great place to search for your next relationship. Just as in life, some people will embrace both you and your children, and others will not. The key is stating these potential deal-breakers up front, just like with religion, age, pets, and education level, so that when someone messages you, he or she knows that you come as a package deal. Then, all you have to do is go on the date to see if there’s a connection. Just leave the kids at home for this part!