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The online profile had been intriguing enough: Dark-eyed stranger, at least as tall as me, a smattering of common musical tastes (I would forgive him Metallica), some hint of wit, a suggestion of creative energy, a fondness for the canine set, his own hair.My requirements were few and he seemed to fulfill them, so we met at a bar.

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For as long as there have been relationships there have been bustups.

“Human beings are sexual, emotional and relational,” says Stephen Giles, a couples counselor and social worker in Toronto. I have a lot of friends, which is wonderful, but to be with a man at that level is something else altogether.

“To deny that part of ourselves is serious.” Radha Rampersaud agrees. It would break my heart to imagine never having that in my life again.” Some single parents find themselves lonely, especially when their children are with the other parent, says Desiree Blume, a registered clinical counsellor from Vancouver. It’s a natural impulse.” More than that, a dating parent could provide a valuable role model for their children, particularly if they haven’t had an example of healthy pairings.

The 45-year-old massage therapist and acupuncturist from Hamilton, Ont., ended a seven-year marriage in 2007 when her daughter was three. But dating at this life stage can be full of challenges we’d never imagined in our pre-child courting days.

One such challenge is the guilt of dating, and the weight it brings to bear on our perception of our entitlement to a healthy relationship.

“A lot of times women will feel badly about going out and having their own life and leaving their child at home,” Desiree says.When women surface from separation and divorce, we can feel we have to overcompensate for the loss of the other parent and the opportunity for our kids to grow up in a family.“Of course there are sacrifices for single mothers, but we needn’t give up everything.The happier and more balanced we are, the better we’re going to be for our child,” she says.Which brings us to single dad Frank*, and his current status along the dating-parent trajectory.Frank was caught unawares when his 11-year marriage ended a year ago.