Dating a Single Dad – Advice for the Single, Childless Woman.

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Beforethe sparks between us will I start on the lessons I learned about dating a single dad, let me give you a bit of history about me.

In early 2011, after almost 10 years of marriage, I found myself divorced, single, in my mid-30s and (gasp!!) childless. For the first year and a half of my new “singleness” I shunned the thought of dating. I wasn’t ready to share my life with someone and really needed the time to grow and figure out who I was, and what I really wanted in my life.

When I finally decided that I was ready to date again, I had this expectation that dating in your 30s was going to be just like dating in your 20s. Boy, was I wrong, and what a smack into reality I received! Here’s the deal, when you are a single woman in her mid-30s, with no children, pretty much every man you are going to meet, that is your age, and you want to date is going to have children. Not to mention, you are both employed in some way or another and have a multitude of life, family and work commitments to work around. It’s hard enough to date as an “adult”, but throw in someone else’s child or children and, whoa! we are playing a completely different game!

While dating, I met and spent time with a few single dads and some single guys with no children. Let me tell you, I quickly learned that the single dads were, in general, the best guys I met. They were kind, patient, considerate, and frankly, not self-centered jerks. Their lives were bigger, happier and full of good stuff.

So, by the time I met Jason, I had scoured the internet looking for helpful advice for single, childless women dating a single dad. I was sadly disappointed because apparently, women like I was; single, mid-30’s and CHILDLESS are freaks of nature. It seems that I missed the memo that said by the time I was 30 I needed to procreate so that when I got divorced I could be “normal” and be a single mom. I read a lot about being a single guy dating a single mom. It was sort of helpful, but not. To be honest, I started to feel like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have a child, and I began to fear that I wasn’t going to be attractive to a man with a child, because I didn’t have any experience being a parent. It was a really lonely feeling. I met Jason, and any loneliness I had vanished. He was my guy, “the one”. I knew it on our first date. But, he had this little girl, who he gushed about, and I was TERRIFIED to get serious with him because I wasn’t a parent, I had no idea how to be a parent, and I didn’t know how in the world I would ever be as special to him as his little girl and how I would fit in their life.

Here’s what I know now, that might be helpful for you, too…

  1. Until things get serious, you aren’t his priority. Get over it.

Yup. That’s what I said. You aren’t going to be at the top of his priority list. You might not even be number two on the list. Number one on his list is his child. Children come first, always. If he doesn’t put his kids before you, RUN. He’s not a quality guy. Respect his commitment to his kids. As your relationship grows you will become a priority, but when it’s new, you will be second fiddle to his kids. And, if you are OK with that, and understand his commitment, he will respect you and be willing to give more of his time to you.

  1. If he introduces you to his child, it’s a BIG deal.

Parents are super protective of their kids (think about your mom and dad). Introducing a new person to a child’s life is a serious thing. If you have been dating a single dad, and he wants to introduce you to his kids, don’t take it lightly. It means that you are important enough to him, to start including you with his family. This is a sign that he is ready to take his relationship with you to a new level. The family level. For him, this is a REALLY big deal, because he’s hoping you are going to stick around. You leaving means that you leave him AND his kids. If you aren’t ready for this commitment, let him go before he gets here. It will only mean heart break for you, him AND his children, who may not understand why you aren’t there anymore.

  1. There is another woman (well, most of the time)

This is one thing that I struggled with at the beginning, because jealousy is my special type of crazy.  Unless his children’s mother is deceased and he is a widower, there will be another woman in his life that he will need to commit to in some way, and she’s there to stay. First, remember that he’s with you, not her. Jealousy and worry aren’t going to help your relationship. If he wanted to be with her, he would be. Let it go.

Second, despite his relationship with her or how she treats you, be kind and respectful to his ex. No one says you have to like her, but kindness from you will go a long way in building a pleasant and respectful relationship. Not to mention, it just makes life so much easier when things get really serious. Besides, you may find that you actually LIKE HER!

  1. It’s OK if you don’t know a thing about being a parent.

He’s not going to expect you to know how to parent. And probably if your relationship is young, and you’ve just met his kids, he doesn’t want you to “parent”. You will be another adult in his kid’s lives, so start by being a nice, well-behaved, polite grown-up. Treat his kids kindly. As your relationship with your man grows, perhaps your role will look more parent-like. Don’t worry because you will learn what works, and he will help you. And… you will probably hear your mom’s voice in your head every now and then too.

  1. Go with the flow.

The reality here is that forcing things to happen, isn’t going to make life easier for anyone. Let your relationship with your guy and his kids grow in its own time and way. Don’t force things to happen, like the old cliché says, “If it’s meant to be, it will be”. Be patient and take your time, grow at the pace and in the way that is best for everyone. This is sure to create a happy life, and hopefully a long relationship.

I had a lot to learn, I still do. We just got married, so I must have done something right, but I can tell you, I did a lot wrong. And there were tons of things that I never expected when I started dating a single dad, but it has been an amazing adventure. An adventure I wouldn’t change for the world!

Single, childless and dating a single dad? What advise do you have to add?

Guest Post by: Tamara Moon (aka my wife)

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. I wish I had read this before I managed to screw up my own relationship with a single father. He was and is a lovely man, but it was a very complicated situation. We met only 3 months after he separated officially from his long-standing wife, who is in a different country with their kids. From the beginning I sensed his sadness about her rejection of him, and the fact that his marriage was over, as well as the physical separation from his children. What made it harder was that she continually messaged him, I suspect judging from the length of her messages, that she was giving him a bad time (English isn’t their first language, I had to just guess, as I say, from the length of her messages). She was also endlessly posting selfies on Facebook and looked a milliion times better then she did when they were together, but I discovered he was still looking at her on there, when 9 months into our relationship he hadn’t even friended me, though would sometimes write that he was with me when he posted Check Ins. My instinct told me that although she had made the decision to end their marriage, she wasn’t going to let him go just yet, and that made me feel increasingly insecure. If I am honest, the deal breaker for me is that as a forty something woman who knows that i am biologically too old to have kids (had the tests done, and in our year together never used contaception), I couldn’t help but always feel lesser than her, less of a woman than her, and sensed that he still loved her, and had perhaps even moved country because he couldn’t face up to what had happened. We split without actually splitting 5 weeks ago when he told me his son was coming over and he needed to spend time with him. The really sad thing is that I had always encouraged him to keep in contact with his children, even when the youngest was ill and he was too scared to phone his wife. It had been me who told him that he needed to physically go and see them when he told me it was enough to send them money. I would never have stood between him and his son. I believe he simply didn’t care enough about me, and used his son’s impending visit to just cut me out of his life. It is still a very painful situation, and I am now wary of ever getting involved with a man with kids again, particularly when he and his wife are still so ambiguous about their relationship.

  2. Boy did I need to read this. I’ve been looking ALL over the web for advice like this. I’m a 30 something, childless woman dating a single dad with full custody. It’s been hard learning that I’m not number 1 or 2 for that matter, but I’m learning more than I’ve ever known about myself. He just introduced me to his son, so I think I’m on the right path.

  3. Hmmmm… I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you. I’m 33, childless and single. I meet a tonne of guys my age (and older) who don’t have kids either. The expectation that all men over 30 will have a child is unfair, as there are many who like us women, are waiting to meet The One before starting a family.

    Secondly, whilst I don’t expect to be a man’s priority from the outset, I still expect a certain level of effort to be shown from the beginning – whether a man has kids or not. I’ve dated too many men who use their kids as an excuse for being lame during the initial discovery phase; e.g. not replying to calls/texts (or often taking hours to do), not making solid plans for future dates, bailing out of plans last minute, allowing their exes to manipulate them via the kids and so on… As the single woman dating this man with kids, you end up feeling like they just don’t give a s**t because you get zero time and zero effort too.

    Honestly, it would take a special kind of dad to tempt me into dating a single father again, but until then, I’ll gladly stick to dating my own kind (childless) because at least that’s one less factor to consider.

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