Q: Hey Meredith!
I'm a single dad. I have the single coolest 10-year-old-girl in the history of 10-year-old-girls, and I'm very lucky to have her. Her first decade has been pretty rough, medically speaking, and she's brought nothing but inspiration and growth and truly amazing things into my life.
But she hasn't brought wealth.
Single parenting is inherently financially tough, and single parenting a kid with special needs is financially tougher. I'm in a spot in my life where I would love to find someone else to fit into our little family (or big family, if she comes with kiddos), but the reality is that dating is expensive, and I really can't figure out how to afford it. How can I get back out there, meet someone great, and not seem like a cheapskate while doing it?
– Poor Dad, Poor Dad
A: My advice:
1. Tell friends that you're looking to date.
2. Join free dating websites.
3. Keep first dates to coffee.
4. Don't be afraid of lunch dates (specials, less alcohol).
5. Develop a short list of hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are quirky, tasty, and super cheap (a check for two would be under $40 with tip). Ask friends for suggestions. I can give you some if you tell me where you live.
6. Accept your reality. You're a single dad with a fixed income. Anyone who accepts a date with a single parent should assume that big splurges are probably not on the table.
The point of dating is to get to know someone enough to decide whether you want to be around them more often. You need to show people who you are (and who you're not).
You just have to come right out and tell potential partners that you're on a single dad's budget. You're not going to look like a cheapskate, I promise. You're just going to look like a responsible guy who cares about his kid. If these people don't like that, they're not right for you anyway.
Readers? Any other suggestions? Should he tell people when he meets them that he can't spend much money? Will they care? Should they? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.