- Jacki Maggard became a single mom at 21 to a son with high-functioning autism.
- When Maggard started dating again, she said matches would ghost her when they learned she was a single parent.
- She’s since joined Stir, a new dating app for single parents. It’s led her to more empathetic matches and community, she says.
Jacki Maggard was having a lively conversation with a dating app match, when she told him she had a 7-year-old son. She never heard from him again, but she wasn’t surprised. As a single parent to a boy with high-functioning autism, Maggard was used to ghosts.
Single parents have long said ghosting is a common experience on the most popular dating apps. Match Group, which owns Tinder, OKCupid, and Hinge, also noticed the trend in recent survey data from 1,494 single parents. 54% reported being ghosted after a first date. 20% reported being ghosted after someone learned they had kids.
It’s a dating hurdle single parents cite year after year, Dinh Thi Bui, Vice President of New Verticals at Match Group, told Insider. There’s also a huge market of single parents, with an estimated 10.5 million in the United States, according to 2021 Census Data.
In March 2021, Match Group launched Stir, a dating app specifically for single parents. People who don’t have children, but are open to dating people with children, can also join Stir.
When Maggard joined Stir, she said the experience felt easier compared to platforms she previously used like eHarmony, Bumble, and Tinder.
“I’m not afraid of them finding out I’m a single mom and then running away. They understand the responsibility of being a parent is difficult,” Maggard told Insider.
She said she no longer had to deal with the disappointment of learning her son was a deal breaker for a match. What’s more, Maggard found unexpected camaraderie with Stir matches, even if the romance didn’t work out, she said.
Childless singles don’t usually understand childcare planning for dates
Maggard became a single parent at 21, when she gave birth to her son. She said she got pregnant while dating a customer she met at the bar where she worked, but he didn’t want to be involved with parenting, Maggard told Insider.
Now 32 and living in Houston, Maggard says her first foray into dating after her son’s birth was disappointing.
She used eHarmony to meet a few men in her small hometown, and then Tinder and Bumble when she first moved to Houston and began to date more seriously. There, Maggard found most childless singles didn’t understand the emotional energy, planning, and money that went into planning a date as a mother.
“There are a lot of people that say they’ll watch your kid, but are they really going to watch them? Are they willing to make sure that they’re safe? Are they not gonna be inappropriate with them?” Maggard said.
Once, weeks after a date, her son admitted his babysitter had put him in a closet for a period of time.
Maggard also said childless matches often asked for same-night plans, which she could never accept because of babysitter logistics.
Beyond romance, an app for single parents can provide community
Since joining Stir, Maggard says she’s avoided these situations entirely, so she plans on using the app exclusively.
She’s also gone on a date with a man who’s son also has autism. Though it didn’t work out romantically, Maggard says they’ve discussed supporting each other in their separate dating lives, like through watching each others’ children and checking in after dates.
“It’s more open and honest and more welcoming,” Maggard said.
Read the original article on Insider