One of my best friends texted me the other day to ask my advice about a date he was going on. He’s another gay dad, who has been single for a couple of years now. Luckily, I had just finished speaking with Tammy Shaklee, Certified Matchmaker, and founder of H4M Matchmaking, exclusively for LGBT singles.
She provided me with some great first date tips. For example, the first date should be a “Dutch” treat; it shouldn’t last more than two hours, and if cocktails are involved, keep it to a two-drink limit. She also told me, “While you should be transparent on a first date about being a parent, it’s important that a potential partner first is attracted to you for you.”
Shaklee got into the gay matchmaking business almost accidentally. She met her husband through an offline matching service and tried to refer a close friend — a successful, single gay dad — to the agency, only to learn it was a straight couples-only organization.
“As an ally, I was stunned,” Shaklee told me. “I immediately started doing focus group research and design to create a gay-exclusive, offline matchmaking company. Five years later, H4M has proudly made thousands of quality introductions all across the country.”
She suggests a good place to possibly find a potential date is MeetUp.com, a social media platform that allows folks to see like-minded people in their area. Usually, the meetups focus on interests, hobbies, passions, and circumstances — everything from people who are new in town to runners, hikers, tall people, LGBT people, and more.
The idea is to get yourself out there. So don’t discount becoming involved in community and advocacy groups like HRC, the Trevor Project, Equality Utah, or the Pride Center. She also coaches to “shop around” for a new gym, church, coffee house, or grocery store. It exposes you to new people, new neighborhoods, and potentially new singles.
A reality all single gay parents must realize is that they’re not necessarily single — there are the kids to consider. Which is why I was curious to learn Shaklee’s take on when it’s time to introduce the kids to someone you’ve started to date, and when you should try “family dates.”
Shaklee says to remember that every couple (and family) is different and to proceed at a pace that is right for your situation. However, she strongly urges daters not to introduce the person you’re dating to the kids until you’ve had at least four solo dates. The key is open communication. Don’t rush it and remember to consider how your kids might react to a new person in the family dynamic.
And of course, there’s always the tricky question of intimacy. Shaklee says, “Folks forget the art of flirting, courting, and the joy of anticipation. Our rules are no sex of any kind on the first or second date. Clients tell me it’s the most anticipated third date they’ve ever had or had in a long time. Again, openly communicating your expectations helps set the foundation for a real relationship.”
There is something that Shaklee added that I want all the single parents to know, “Love doesn’t complete you. It enriches you and your life. But rest assured, there are tons of quality singles also valuing and seeking the same things you are. Don’t get discouraged; instead, be determined.”
That wise counsel perfectly complements all the advice I’ve given my buddy over the past few years: The right guy is out there. Go out and find him, because you and the kids are going to rock his world!
To learn more about H4M Matchmaking or to contact Tammy Shaklee, visit H4M.com.