Dating a dad is not for the faint of heart.
But it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences and one of the best opportunities for personal growth you could experience.
In this post I’m going to share with you what I have learnt, through my own personal experience of dating a man who has children.
Firstly, let me be brutally honest and say that when I was single, I had a ‘loose’ rule that I was not going to date a man that had children.
Now, before you start to criticise, I had my reasons…
- They might not want more children and I’m still undecided about it;
- What if the kids don’t like me;
- I’m not sure I want the commitment, albeit time, emotionally and financially; and
- I’ve seen Jerry Springer where they bring in a blended family and then all hell breaks loose.
Fast forward a few years to when I started dating in my 40’s and one of the questions that seem to pop up time and again on dates was: Do you have kids? How many and Do you want more?
Thus leading me to believe that there aren’t many men in that 40+ age bracket that haven’t had a family at some point. That’s not to say that the odd single – no kids bloke isn’t out there, but I personally found it to be the minority, not the majority.
So, throwing caution to the wind, I accepted a date with a man that had three children and we are still together, some years later.
Now before you start thinking it’s all been happy families, it hasn’t! At times it has been downright hard work, mostly thanks to a narcissistic ex-wife, who has tried her best to, and succeeded in alienating one child from their father and has used me and other family members as bait. This woman is relentless in her vengefulness.
It’s heartbreaking to say the least but, this post is reserved for; things that I have learnt whilst dating a dad.
1. Kids Will Always Come First
This is the first thing you will have to learn to accept. The kids are his flesh and blood and he will either live with them full-time or share them on some sort of custody agreement that he has with his ex. Whatever the arrangement, he needs to look after them first.
Therefore, you won’t necessarily be his first priority each and every day. So, if you are one for sharing cutesy ‘good morning’ text messages, then expect that yours may not come first thing in the morning as he will more than likely be trying to get himself ready for work, trying to find a child’s missing sock and preparing a school lunch all at the same time.
Expect to receive contact after a school drop-offs or at some other random time throughout the day, if at all.
2. They Are Sometimes Unavailable
Prior to you meeting the kids and even after, know that at times, he will simply be unavailable to ‘hang out’ with you on a weekend or weeknight.
Your schedule needs to remain somewhat flexible. Now I’m not suggesting that if you have plans with your girlfriends that you cancel them to spend time with him, I’m simply saying that if he hasn’t made plans with you for the upcoming weekend, then assume that he either needs some space or is off doing something with his kids.
This is nothing to get upset over, as everyone needs their time apart. Just ensure that you are getting out and doing the things you love and not sitting by the phone waiting.
3. They Don’t Play Games
Dads generally don’t play games. They have put themselves in the dating market to meet someone special.
They know what they are looking for and because they have kids to consider, most, good dad’s aren’t interested in bringing home a short-term fling. So be prepared that he will take his time in getting to know you, before he introduces you to his kids.
Just remember, if you do meet the children, that you are his girlfriend, the woman he wants to and enjoys spending time with, not his or the children’s mother, so don’t start acting like it.
4. Jealousy & Insecurity
As humans we all struggle with this one from time to time. More so, if you have had a few of your own relationships end in cheating which leaves you generally with some inherent trust issues.
But just because he has an ex-wife and they may or may not be on speaking terms, they will have contact, whether you like it or not, they have children together and things that need to be discussed.
Just remember, they separated or divorced for a reason….being their relationship wasn’t working. Hence why he is now with you.
5. They Want You To Like & Get Along With Their Kids
Rightly so. This is their flesh and blood and they love them warts and all.
Now, if you are kid averse, then depending on the age of the children and how much involvement they have with their dad, this might not be the right type of partnership for you.
Note, that I said ‘like’. No one is expecting you to jump in and fall head over heels in love with the children. Love takes time to grow, but like and respect can be more readily attained.
Don’t forget, the kids have to like you in return, it’s not just a one-way street and they may struggle with loyalty issues, depending on the circumstance of the split.
6. Let Them Decide The Pace Of The Relationship
Depending on how long a man has been single, the age of the kids, how busy they are with work and rebuilding their life, may depend on how quickly your relationship evolves.
So, take a step back and trust that they are with you because they want to be. Forcing your opinions on them about how they are raising their kids or about the speed at which your relationship doesn’t seem to be moving, or when are they planning on introducing you to their children, ultimately depends on them.
The two of you aren’t the only ones in this puzzle to solve. So, let them be the one to decide the pace, they know themselves, and where their children’s mental and emotional state are at, the best.
7. They Like To Save Money
Another thing you may have to consider is that money can be an issue for some fathers. They have financial commitments to their children and sometimes to their ex’s which sees their funds a little more tied up than what they would perhaps like.
If you are a person that wants to be flown to Paris for your dinner date, again you may need to re-think this partnership.
Now don’t get me wrong, depending on the type of man, Dad’s will still lavish their partners when they can, but their gifts and timeliness seems to be more in line with their financial commitments.
Remember a day spent lying on a picnic blanket can be just as much fun as a day at a theme park and for a lot less money.
8. They Want To Hear They Are Doing A Good Job
More often than not, a lot of these dads haven’t heard any praises from their ex-wives for a number of years, if ever.
For many of them, the only recognition they received throughout the course of their previous relationship was that of criticism, usually dished out in the form of a verbal ear-bashing about ‘what a let down they are, or how useless they are, how many years have I wasted, the kids and I would be better off without you,’ and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, usually said by our girlfriends over coffee: ‘for me having a husband is like having another child.’
Bear in mind that these types of statements can take their toll, not only on a dad, but on anyone who is on the receiving end. It’s only natural that their self-esteem and self-respect can be a little damaged and neglected. So show them some support and love and tell them genuinely that they are special and that they are a good father to their offspring.
9. Don’t Take Things Personally
This is a big one and it took me a while and few of my friends who are in a similar situation sometime to understand it. Not everything is about you!
Let me give you an example: You caught up with your partner last night and you had fun, you laughed and joked around, you left feeling that euphoric love high and looked forward to chatting or catching up again over the weekend. But then the next day you either, don’t hear from them at all, or they seem cold and distant.
Now this could be a couple of things; either the relationship isn’t working, or more likely, they have had an issue come up overnight with the children, or they have received a crappy text message or have been involved in a heated exchange via phone with their ex. All of which can take its toll.
So, just understand that it’s probably nothing you have done or said and it’s probably everything to do with another situation or person. Instead of being shitty with them and throwing twenty questions at them, step back and show them how patient and understanding you are and cut them some slack.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Leave
If you found yourself caught up in the moment and have endured a few months or a year and have figured out that this relationship and situation isn’t for you, that perhaps there is more drama that you had hoped or wished for, or that it’s not what you thought it was cracked up to be, or you just can’t get over the fact that he has contact with his ex, then, be honest with yourself and your partner and say so.
If you both honestly can’t come up with a resolution or you are unwilling to, then it’s time to walk away.
You both deserve to be happy and not spend the rest of your days wishing you were travelling around the South of France solo, whilst playing ball in the backyard with someone else’s child.
This is not an easy situation and each one is unique. Don’t forget you are dealing with people and some very emotive issues, so you really do owe it to yourself to work out, if this is truly what you want or not. Depending on the age of the children, you may only have a few, or you may have many years before the kids leave home. Something to think about.
And…..that’s a wrap!
I hope that this post about dating a dad was able to assist you and provide some with answers to some of your questions. If you have any experiences or stories to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Don’t forget to share with your friends if they are in a similar situation or thinking about dating a dad.
Ps. Are you over the whole dating scene? If so, check out this post about having a break and why it may be the very thing you need.