Starting a new relationship can be hard in this day and age. Even more so, if you’re dating a single dad. Being with someone who is responsible for raising kids and has a family of his own has its share of challenges. That said, we’re not here to discourage you from acting on your feelings. After all, loving a single dad isn’t a bad thing.
You don’t have to let go of a potentially solid connection just because the odds seem daunting. If people stopped pursuing romantic endeavors because of that reason, we wouldn’t have half the love stories we do right now. Moreover, which relationship does not have problems? On the contrary, we’re here to tell you how to date a man with a kid successfully.
As long as you keep your expectations realistic and know not to overstep your boundaries, you can develop a meaningful, long-term connection with a single dad. Since there are a few more things you need to keep in mind while dating a single dad than you do in most other relationships, let’s talk about what you can expect and a few rules you should know.
What To Expect When Dating A Single Dad?
So you have met a nice, courteous, charming man on a dating app, at a bar, or somewhere socially. You both hit it off almost instantly. You’re pretty taken by him. He seems like the perfect package that you’ve been waiting for all along. Then comes the rider — he has a child or children, and is raising them single-handedly.
This nugget of information hits you like a bolt out of the blue. Leaving you on shaky ground. Almost as if someone has pulled a rug out from under you. You’re wondering, would you date a single dad? Should you give him a chance? Is dating a single father as complicated as it sounds?
If everything else between you two seems to fit, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give this a chance. Knowing what to expect when dating a single dad can help improve your chances of maneuvering this relationship successfully. First off, understand that getting back on the dating scene can be extremely exhilarating and terrifying for any single parent.
They are battling the dilemma of whether dating again is a good idea at all and if it could disrupt the lives of their children. Then there is the uncertainty and awkwardness about how to date. A single dad is likely to have been off the dating game for a long time, and he doesn’t know how the rules have changed during this time. The entire dating app concept may seem a little alien to him. So, you have to be willing to give him the time and space he needs to be comfortable around you.
When dating a single dad, it’s all about taking things one step at a time rather than expecting an all-in heady romance. While it may be common knowledge in the dating world that you’re not supposed to talk about your ex, in some cases, he may absolutely have to talk about her or even talk to his former partner.
Related Reading: Second Marriage After 40 – What to Expect
Pros And Cons Of Dating A Single Dad
Now, you may be completely taken by this hot single dad you’ve met. You may even be on the cusp of dating him. Perhaps, you’ve already been out on a few dates and are contemplating taking things forward. Or maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum – trying to avoid the single dad in your life and your feelings for him because dating him seems a tad too overwhelming.
Whatever the case, understanding what’s in store for you should you choose to date a man with a kid can help you arrive at decision pragmatically. To better comprehend what to expect when dating a single dad, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this experience:
- Meaningful relationship: He’s looking for a meaningful relationship and not casual hookups. That is one of the biggest benefits of dating a single dad. The chances of him ghosting you or changing his mind about how he feels about you are second to none
- Personal space: Since he is single-handedly responsible for raising his child or children, along with pursuing a career, he won’t be an overbearing presence in your life. You will have enough personal space and time when dating a single dad
- Sensitive side: A single dad has to inevitably channel his latent maternal instincts to be able to raise his children. This means that there is a sensitive and nurturing side to him, which he will invariably bring to your relationship as well
- Protective: He is not only the safety net for little ones but also has an inherent mama bear instinct. His hands-on experience at nurturing young ones makes him protective and caring
- Dad material: If things work out between you two, raising children of your own with him will be a breezy experience. He won’t shy away from diaper duty. Or fixing creative meals for your toddler’s school tiffin
- Not frivolous: He has seen the mother of his kids during labor and post-childbirth. He has seen messy buns and bloated bellies up close enough to not fixate on a potential love interest’s looks. He’ll care more about the person you are
- Mature and responsible: A single dad is a mature and responsible guy you can fall back on. You won’t have to worry about juvenile antics with him
- Not the priority: When you think of dating a single dad problems, this one has to be the most concerning. Given that he has a full life outside of the relationship, you will never be THE priority. The children will come first, always
- No spontaneity: When you date a man with a kid, you have to kiss spontaneity and living in the moment goodbye. You can’t expect him to hop into the car with you and hit the road at a moment’s notice. A great deal of planning will go into any and everything you do together
- Grounded in reality: He may have neither the time nor money to spoil you silly with lavish presents and grand gestures. A relationship with him will be grounded in reality. You can count on stability but hardly a whirlwind romance
- The “ex” factor: If the kids’ mother is still in the picture, you’ll have to make peace with your partner’s interactions with his ex. They may get together for children’s birthdays or even occasional family dinners
- Kids approval: The kids’ approval will be essential for the future of your relationship. If you don’t get along with them or fail to share a rapport, the possibility that he’ll take the relationship forward anyway is extremely slim
20 Rules Of Dating A Single Dad
Yes, dating a single dad is like getting a package deal. Kelly found that out the hard way, when she was dating a single dad, Richard. He was never really free enough to go out on frequent dates with her, and going over to his place proved to be an effort, considering how his kids would always end up asking Kelly difficult questions.
She started a new relationship with a single dad without ever putting much thought into how his kids might affect their relationship, but she was determined to learn along the way and adjust. What was particularly difficult, however, was when Richard’s ex-wife would come around.
Unlike Kelly, you don’t have to learn on the job. You can start dating a single father and be prepared for it beforehand, you just have to learn to take the not-so-pleasant or complex aspects of his life in your stride. So, is dating a single dad hard? Not if you know how to strike a fine balance between being in life without being intrusive. These 20 rules of dating a single dad will help you achieve just that:
1. Be supportive when you’re dating a single dad
If you’re dating a single dad and want things to work out, being supportive of him is vital. You must understand and appreciate the fact that he is a busy man who has children to raise and household chores to take care of, besides pursuing a full-time job. Don’t burden him with unrealistic demands or fight over unmet expectations.
One of the most crucial tips for dating a single dad is that you have to learn to become his support system rather than an added responsibility to his already overflowing charter of duties. Try to help where you can and understand when he needs you to. Be the rock that has been missing from his life all this while.
The more you do that, the more he’ll appreciate you for it. Dating a single dad is hard only when your expectations from him demand things that he cannot deliver, so instead, put aside the conventional expectations a person in a relationship may have and be the support he needs.
2. You need patience when dating a single dad
There is bound to be a fair share of emotional baggage in life if he is raising his kids alone. A relationship that he was invested in didn’t work out. Perhaps, there was an ugly divorce involved. Or he dealt with cheating or toxicity in his past relationship. Maybe he lost his spouse and a part of him is still grieving that loss.
When you date a man with a kid, you have to accept the fact that there is a painful part of his past that he may not like to revisit often. You have to give him time to open up and let you in. Don’t misunderstand his silence for a lack of intimacy, he might just be depressing memories he does not want to revisit at any costs.
So yes, you need patience when dating a single dad. Lots and lots of it. Don’t be upset when he talks about his ex, he shared a life with this person and had children with them. One of the biggest tips for dating a single dad is to not judge him when he talks about his ex or when he finds it difficult to let go of that life.
3. Be prepared to deal with his ex
When you weigh the pros and cons of dating a single dad, the “ex” factor definitely stands out as a thorn in the side. If his kids’ mother is in the picture, you have to be prepared to deal with her presence in your and your partner’s life too. They may communicate constantly or even meet or get together as a family.
He will not only have her number on his phone still but will also call her from time to time. There may even be instances where she calls up while you both are in the middle of a romantic date and he’ll have to take the call. Yes, we agree that it’s bound to sting no matter how much you convince yourself that it’s only for the sake of the children.
The thing is that these things will continue irrespective of whether you’re comfortable with it or not. So you might as well learn to deal with it. If, however, your situation is a case of a single mom dating a single dad, you know all about this already. If this situation seems a bit too awkward to you, maybe you can distance yourself from his ex and communicate how you’re finding it difficult to adjust.
4. When you’re dating a single father, see him as the man he is
Being a father is just a part of his life and personality. He’s a lot more than that. As his romantic partner, you ought to see him as an individual with needs, desires, hopes, and vulnerabilities. He has to keep this side of his under wraps in front of his children. With you, he should be able to be himself completely.
Once you know a single dad is interested in you or after you start dating, treat him as the man in your life and not “daddy dude.” Flirt with him often, show interest in him as a person and work on establishing a deep emotional connection with him. Chances are, he has neglected other aspects of his life to be a good father to his children, and he might be deprived of an outlet to let those feelings out. Be that person for him, that’s how you make a single dad fall in love with you.
5. Don’t pressure him for commitment
With nearly half his life behind him and the responsibility of children on his shoulders, it is highly unlikely that a single dad would start dating just to fool around or have flings. In all probability, he wants a long-term relationship. That’s one of the biggest benefits of dating a single dad.
Be that as it may, you should not pressure him to commit. Understand that he has to strike a tricky balance between his home and love life, and one wrong step can prove detrimental to the future of your relationship. Let him do this at his own pace, or you may just make him uncomfortable with your demands for commitment.
6. Know when to meet his kids
When you’re dating a single dad, taking things slow and one step at a time is pretty much the mantra. Just like you shouldn’t pressure him into committing, you shouldn’t rush being introduced to his family either. Take your time to strengthen your bond with the man and then decide when to meet his children.
This can be a big step for everyone involved, so you need to sure that the kids are on board with the idea. Also, bear in mind that you’re readiness or being prepared isn’t the only thing that matters. His child or children too have to be up for it. So, give them time to process the news of the relationship and take this leap only when they’re absolutely comfortable with the idea.
In fact, this could well be one of the questions to ask when dating a single dad. Does he want you to meet his kids? If so, when? How should you address each other in front of the kids and are there things you should know? The more you communicate with him, the more you’ll know what to do.
7. Don’t try to take on the mom role
You and your partner may be sure that you’ll end up together but that doesn’t mean that you have to play mom to his kids. They already have a mother, even if she doesn’t live with them or is not involved in their everyday life. By trying to step into her shoes, you may be overstepping.
In case, the single dad you are dating is a widower, the absence of a mother can be a sensitive issue for the children. You risk ruining your relationship with them if you come across as trying to take her place. On the other hand, if yours is a single mom dating a single dad situation, your children may not take too kindly to new siblings all of a sudden.
Related Reading: Divorce And Remarriage: I Need To Remarry For Myself, Not For My Son
8. When you’re dating a single dad, try to be the kids’ friend instead
You are going to be in those kids’ lives by virtue of being their dad’s partner. The best approach for that, as well as an all-important tip for dating a single dad, is to cultivate an independent relationship with the kids. What could be a better way to do that than to become their friend and confidant!
Be the person they can trust, an adult they can turn to for advice with problems or dilemmas they can’t approach their parents with. Here, you need to take care of two things: first and foremost, never breach their trust by ratting them out. Unless, of course, the situation at hand can have dire consequences. And second, don’t give them any advice that goes against the rules set by the parents.
However, when you’re dating a single dad, long-distance relationships can get tricky. In those situations, it’s best not to establish contact with the children unless it is initiated from their end. You don’t want the kids to think some random person is texting them on their social media.
9. Be receptive to his vulnerabilities
A single dad spends a large part of his life in overdrive. Trying to provide for and nurture his children as best as he can. Underneath this got-it-all-together persona, he may be quietly suffering. Heartbreak from a failed relationship or loss of a partner, the exasperation of trying to do it all can get overwhelming for even the strongest person.
As his partner, try to be receptive to these vulnerabilities. When he talks, listen patiently. When he needs support in the relationship, be there to hold his hand. You don’t have to coddle him, pity him, or try to fix what’s broken. Just being there for him is enough. If you’re wondering what questions to ask when dating a single dad, in his time of need, a simple, “What can I do for you?” “Would you like me to help?” could be just what he needed to hear.
10. Take the lead in bed when dating a single dad
When a person is constantly trying to juggle so many different roles, it’s only natural that he is bone tired at the end of the day. He may have no energy left for a romantic evening or enjoying a quiet drink with you after he has made breakfast, sent the kids to school, finished a workday, made dinner, helped the children with their homework, taken them out for their sports lessons and then tucked them in bed.
But your sex life doesn’t have to suffer on that account. You just have to be prepared to take the lead. Play naughty, flirt a little, stoke those passions. Though you must have patience when dating a single dad in other areas, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take charge in the bedroom.
11. Learn to work with his schedule
Managing a home with children while pursuing a career is as tough as it gets. Most couples struggle with it. Here, he is doing it all alone. So, accept the fact that time is scarce. Learn to work with his schedule and make the most of what you get. This may become even more challenging if you’re dating a single dad long-distance.
The only way your relationship with a single dad can work out is if you’re understanding enough to let him call the shots on how and when you can spend time together. Be a little empathetic and understand that you’re dating a full-time single dad who also brings home the dough, he may not have the time to have elaborate dates with you.
12. Don’t let insecurity get to you
He may not have all the time in the world for you. The children will always be his priority. He may be distracted by a 100 things that he needs to take care of. All of this can make you feel as if there just isn’t room for you in his life. But as we mentioned before, patience when dating a single dad is of utmost importance, as well as trusting the fact that he cares for you and being ready to offer support.
So, is dating a single dad hard? Yes, it can be at times. However, by letting the insecurity in this relationship get to you, you will only make things worse. Give it time, and he will find a way to make space for you in his life, just like he did in his heart. During these trying times, remind yourself that his lack of attention is not because he is insensitive to your desires and needs.
Related Reading: 15 Characteristics Of A Healthy Relationship
13. Be romantic and flirtatious
He may be a little rusty on this front, so the onus of setting the tone for romance and flirting in the relationship will fall on you. Don’t hold back. Flirt with your eyes, your words, your body. Shower him with affection. When you’re not together, send him a text or make a quick call to let him know you’re thinking of him, these are some handy tips if you’re dating a single dad long-distance.
14. Help him where you can
When you’ve been together long enough and his kids share a comfort level with you, offer help wherever you can. From a school project that needs finishing touches to planning birthdays and working out a schedule for the holidays, offer suggestions and be as involved as possible.
One of the questions to ask when dating a single dad is how much he’d like you to be involved in his home life and that of his children. Based on that, build a role for yourself in this aspect of his life. If he is not ready to let you in completely, don’t hold it against him. Eventually, as he realizes that you only aim to help him and support the family any way you can, things will fall into place. That’s how you make a single dad fall in love with you.
15. Pitch in resources
By resources, we don’t mean money. Planning dates and getaways when dating a single dad can be a challenge unto itself. You can keep your love life afloat by pitching wherever you can. Perhaps, find a reliable babysitter to look after the kids while you both enjoy a romantic dinner. Or help the children with their homework while he is still at work, so you both have some quiet time for yourself.
When you start loving a single dad, you have to consider a lot more things than the usual partner does. That’s not to say it can’t be fun, though. For example, you can take the kids out to grocery shopping, to give your partner a few precious moments of alone, quiet time (something he’s probably dying for).
Related Reading: 12 Co-Parenting Rules For Divorced Couples
16. Dating a single dad is hard if you’re jealous of his children
This may seem like a no-brainer but it is not unusual for romantic partners of single parents to feel jealous of the fact that all their world revolves around the children. This is especially true if you’re single and haven’t experienced parenting first-hand. If left unchecked, this can turn into unhealthy resentment that can affect your relationship as well as your mental well-being.
However, make sure that the existence of this emotion doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself. It’s only natural to be jealous, even if you’re jealous of your partner’s kids. As you learn more to exercise more patience when dating a single dad, you will also learn to accept and deal with the jealousy you have over his kids.
17. Being independent is vital when you’re dating a single dad
Emotional independence is the key to cultivating a successful relationship with a single dad. A needy or clingy partner is the last thing he needs. If you are that person, things will unravel quickly. While she was dating a full-time single dad, Josephine often struggled with the amount of time she had to spend alone, as she’d get bored very quickly.
She ended up demanding more time out of him than he could afford to give her, which only led to her acting out in ways that the single father was not equipped to handle. An ugly confrontation later, they realized they had wildly different expectations of each other and the current course needed to change for things to work.
If, unlike Josephine, you are someone who enjoys their personal space and alone time, this can be one of the biggest benefits of dating a single dad too. Factor in the possibility that you may be on your own a lot when you contemplate would you date a single dad.
18. Be flexible in a relationship with a single dad
Children are unpredictable. They require a lot of attention and care. Besides, they fall sick a lot and at the most unexpected times. If you’re dating a single dad or contemplating it, having a flexible approach is a must. He may have to cancel a date night last minute because one of the kids came down with a fever. You may have to postpone a trip because of a school event. As his partner, you will have to learn to go with the flow.
Related Reading: How To Choose A Life Partner – 12 Expert Tips To Find The Best Mate
19. Prepare yourself for the stepmom role
If things do work out between you and your partner, you may want to tie the knot and settle down. So, when you start dating a single dad, think of this long-term possibility. As his children’s stepmom, you will have to shoulder some of the parenting responsibilities. Are you ready for it?
What about starting a family of your own? When you date a man with a kid, you can’t take this as a given. He may not want any more children. Or perhaps, you may not have the resources to bring another life into this world. Add this to the list of questions to ask when dating a single dad before getting involved too seriously.
20. When dating a single father, you’ll have to deal with demons of his past
If he is a single dad, it’s a given that something somewhere didn’t go right. A broken relationship or the loss of a partner can lead to a lot of emotional issues. As his partner, you will have to deal with these demons of his past – be it trust issues, anxiety, or unprocessed grief.
It is important to know what you’re signing up for before you take the plunge. Dating a single dad is no walk in the park. Developing a stable, long-term relationship with him can be even more challenging. As long as you both feel that strong connection, you can surmount these challenges together. If you need help navigating the maze of being in a relationship with a single dad, know that Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is only a click away.
Yes, it is perfectly okay to date a single dad. If there is a connection between you two, there is no reason to hold yourself back just because he has children.
Yes, a single father is likely to be a more hands-on parent with nurturing instincts and solid experience in raising children.
Dating can be hard for a single dad given that he is juggling so many balls at once. Besides, he may have been off the dating scene for so long that he may be a little awkward and rusty in his approach.
Not necessarily. On the contrary, it makes more sense for a single dad to date a single woman rather than someone who shares the same responsibilities as him. In case of the latter, the demands of their personal lives may leave no room for a relationship to grow and thrive.