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Things You MUST Know About Dating A Single Dad

Great news – you finally found a dang awesome guy who comes with a kick ass sense of humor, an irresistible sapiosexual quotient, and the ‘rare’ emotional maturity you’d been seeking all along. And what’s more, a sound job, a beautiful house, a nice car, and umm … two kids! Uh oh! The last one wasn’t quite a bonus, eh? And if those li’l chirpy people are always about him, there are high chances that the mommy is floating somewhere in the background too, right? Well, yes, in all likelihood!

father and baby2

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But wait! Don’t toss out his number just yet! Dating a single dad is, most definitely, a challenge, but it can be an immensely rewarding experience too. Not only would you be with someone who is unlikely to rush into things, is in it for the long haul, has immense patience, can keep his composure, is a parent and therefore, on his way to a heightened degree of selflessness, but you’d also be with someone who knows what it takes to make a relationship work.

Suggested read: How to make your marriage stronger as new parents

Of course, there’s a flip side (like with everything else in life) and some of them might give you the feeling like they’re in it for picking a new mom for their kids at the supermarket and have an ingrained tact of wrecking it all – but how’d you know unless you gauge his ways of loving, his approach toward commitment, and his sense of responsibility, right? Trust me, most dads out there are interested in finding women who will enhance and enrich his kids’ lives. And that means they are in it for the long-haul and will strive to make it work, albeit in a 60-40 ratio. What? They are dads, you can give ’em that! Dating a single dad is a different cross-sectional study in human nature where those normal dating rules do NOT apply. And right before you go all in (for there are potential dangers), there are some things to consider:

If you are a single woman dating a single dad:

This will include a whole lot of things you might have to get on board with. From surmounting the ego, attachment, and jealousy factor associated with the ex to being the step-mom/friend or just another woman the ex-wife most definitely does not want feeding her children cereal – the list can be endless. And to top it all, you might not even get a full reimbursement in the relationship, for your man owes his allegiance to his children, first and foremost! So, if you are a single woman and are contemplating a ‘happily ever after’ with a single dad, you might want to consider the following:

1. He owes his allegiance to his children, FIRST


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And that’s a good thing. A dad who lives and breathes his kids’ lives is a mature adult who has got his priorities straight. Instead, if he alters his plan with them to make plans with you, THAT is a red flag. So, if you are hearing about his kid’s science projects, his new bike or even potty-training problems, I know that it isn’t really date-talk. But give him a minute or even twenty or perhaps, two dates to flush it out of his system. He will get to the point where it will be about the two of you. After all, you are dating a single father!

2. You have to respect his relationship with his children

father talking to son

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If a candlelit dinner is interspersed with several calls from kids who cannot get over Mooha’s death on their favorite TV show or need candy when dad gets home, do not get accusatory or miffed. He is a dad and these things will happen, a lot. You may, instead, opt for a more supportive approach so he knows that you are willing to try and are encouraging of his parenting habits. On the other hand, if he feels attacked by your responses/behavior, he will end it.

3. You cannot escape the ex-factor

sexual dissatisfaction

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Unless he is a widower, there is a mom lurking somewhere in the shadows. And you only have to inch a li’l closer to the kids and she will leap forth into the heat of the situation. Kids imply an inevitable involvement of the other parent figure in their lives and consequently, on your relationship. You will have to avoid rehashing old issues and drawing boundaries that may seem too rigid to allow the just involvement of the ex in all decisions pertaining to the children. If he shares joint custody, you’d have to be prepared to deal with her frequent presence. From those intermittent calls for checking up on the kids to regularly making plans for pick-ups or drop-offs and filling her in about anything that happened when her kids were at your place, you’d have to be ready for smooth communication and an agreeable level of willingness to get along. In the process, some unpleasant and challenging emotions may surge within you and you should be prepared to deal with them. It isn’t going to be easy to settle with someone who has had big ‘first-s’ with someone else – and all the more so, when the very same ‘someone’ would be around all the time. You will have to grapple with ego, attachment, and jealousy issues even when your boyfriend feels no attachment to his ex-wife, but nonetheless, is the mother of his children.

4. You will have to bridge the gap between expectation and reality yourself

couple in love

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Yep, if you presume that he’ll be able to give you two-three nights a week or always be available for flirt(ext)ation, think again. Most single guys only have to juggle work and social lives. And they barely manage. Single dads, on the other hand, have an infinite list of things on their to-do list and get on well. Mostly. So if he is giving you one night a week, that’s the best he can do. He may even show up late, and perhaps, have ketchup stains on his collar. Do not judge him – he had to bribe his way into coming to see you. And he did. That speaks a lot. But if this isn’t your idea of a relationship and you absolutely NEED those 30-sec replies, you might want to reconsider dating him!

5. Your relationship dynamic will NOT be what you thought it’d be

couple holding hands13

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You will probably be dating in secret. At least for a little while. A single dad who ensures that he does not just bring women in and out of his kids’ lives is looking after their emotional attachment. Children become easily attached, and you don’t want to disappoint or hurt them if things don’t work out. Also, if you are dating a single dad with full custody, you will have to be prepared for sharing his ‘availability’ with his kids. And it shall not be an equitable distribution. Not always. And even when he is spending time with you, it may so happen that the kids intercept those meetings/dates or he has to leave a date midway coz something like an A-bomb went off at his place! Trust me, kids can create emergencies like that. If you aren’t prepared to share your WE-time or cannot stand not being the focus of all his attention, then a single dad might not be the guy for you. Similar situations may happen when you are romantically involved with a single dad, sharing joint custody.

6. You have to be sure about how you fit in with his kids

mother and daughter

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Meeting the kids is a HUGE step in the process. Do not do it unless you are 200% sure about it. If you are serious and intend to get married somewhere down the line, then it might be a good idea to meet the kids. However, pick your moments and decide if you want to be a parental figure or a friend. Either way, you need to keep the communication loop open with your boyfriend and for many decisions, the ex-wife too, so as to be able to be a part of the complicated equation. Be prepared for any sort of reaction, as the kids may take well to a fun friend (they have parental figures already) but the father might not take well to your responses when he is disciplining them or you may be tagged as an evil stepmom if the kids fail to accommodate you! Be mentally prepared for any response-swing on the spectrum, and tweak your strategy accordingly.

Suggested read: Dear daughter, you are starting a new life today…

If you are a single mom dating a single dad:

This scenario makes it a li’l easier to gel with each other, as there is a certain degree of tacit understanding between the parents. However, the transition from being two parents who bond over kid-talk to potential partners might still not be a smooth one. There are far too many things that you might want to consider before you take the plunge:

1. This will be a more complex equation

family time

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When you are both parents, there will be the two of you, the kids, and both your exes in the picture! As such, the relationship dynamic will be a lot more complex and governed by a number of factors that stem from such a situation. How you share custody, how old your children are, the number of kids, the ex-involvement, and other related elements factor in to piece together if the two of you shall fit in seamlessly as pieces of the same puzzle. As such, you will have to…

2. Look for the cues for the RIGHT fit

a new family dynamic

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If your kids are the same age, do they gel well? If your exes share joint custody with you, are they okay with their kids being with their half-brothers and/or sisters? Are both of you willing to share the parental responsibilities of your kids together? Are your families okay with the leap? Is parenthood the only reason you are drawn to each other? If yes, would that make for an effective long term relationship? And if not, how can you thrust this equation in your kids’ lives? These might just be a few of the things you might want to check to see if you people belong together.

3. Check to see your parenting styles do not conflict

couple fighting in front of their kid

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This one is a BIG one. You must check to see if your approach toward your kids is a good blend with his style of parenting. A strict disciplinarian approach may not gel well with a liberal, flexible one. So, discuss your models of parenthood and see if there is an optimal path you can tread together.

4. A huge chunk of time will be sliced right off by parenting


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This one is a given. Be prepared to have most of the Ferris-rides of the clock being taken off by Nutella-feeding, potty-training, diaper-changing or even making science projects! The couple-time shall really be limited and you’d have to ensure that those ticks are well-spent so you can forge a strong bond.

Suggested read: How to get your mojo back – dating tips for single parents

5. There’s a RIGHT time, for getting ‘in-volved’

mother and child1

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If the kids are really young, it will do you good to think a lot before you start incorporating yourself in their lives. This is a confusing stage in their development and you need to triple check to make sure you plant yourself right. All kids love their parents and want them to be together. For them to accept the fact that a new set may tag along will take some digestion. And you need to give them that. Thrusting yourself upon them as ‘daddy’s new girlfriend’ complete with ‘new siblings’ is a sure recipe for regurgitation and vomit! Choose wisely. Work on that timing and get it right.

6. There will be a whole set of new boundaries to work with

mother talking to daughter

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While a single woman, you would still have to be careful of what you say and do, in relation to the kids – as a single mom dating a single dad, you will have to be all the more careful. So what if you are a parent yourself and know what’s best for kids – you will still need approbation from their biological parents. And there will be boundaries not just in relation to the li’l ones – you will have to work with a whole new set (howsoever unpalatable) in relation to the ex, your behavior with them, communication cycle to and fro them and the kids, and also, with your boyfriend! Quite a task, lady! Quite THE task!

Remember, dating single dads is not an easy process and there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ tips for dating single dads. Considering all of the above crucial aspects in allowing your relationship with him, his kids, and to an extent, with the ex, to flourish on healthy ground is what you should strive for.

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
Things To Consider When Dating A Single Dad
Dating a single dad isn't a cakewalk. There are things that single dads need from you and things that you might have to discount on. Check them out.
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."