Dating a Single Dad

One of the hazards of being single well into your 30s is that a lot of the eligible men in the dating pool are divorced. And where there is a divorce chances are there are kids too. Navigating these waters can be tricky. There are ex-wives, schedules, baggage, resentments and unresolved issues up the wazoo. The sad part is the kids and the new girlfriend are often the collateral damage.

My last serious relationship was with a single father. His daughter lived in another state so we’d been dating for a year before I met her. Yet when she was in town our relationship ceased to exist. He had no ability to balance parenting duties and boyfriend duties. Once I got to know her I figured out how to fit into their world. I helped fill in the gaps and made it my goal to help him be the best father he could be. But our relationship would stop growing because we had no time together.

It isn’t all bad, getting to know her was one of the great joys of my life. I got to be a fun aunt in her life for a while. I wasn’t responsible for parenting. I count myself as privileged to be one of the people in her life that loved her. It was fun to be a girly girl with her. We went and got pedicures together. She loves to read and so we spent lots of time in bookstores and libraries. There were also days we didn’t get along at all. Yet overall I am glad I was part of her life for a bit. But kids make a new relationship complicated. There are many unmitigating circumstances you have zero control of.

So a relationship with a single dad requires great flexibility, confidence and determination to make it work. As the new person in this equation you never really know where you stand or what your role is supposed to be. Your plans are always flexible. You most always come second. Even his relationship with the ex-wife predates yours, so she is still a pull in his life. One call from her can ruin the week because she pushes every button he has, often on purpose.

My mom said at my age I need to be remember that I’m choosing from the damaged ones. LOL. Classic mom line.

I’m revisitng these issues because I’ve recently met someone I really like and he’s a single father with three kids. The divorce was ugly and the residual effects are still very evident. We have great chemistry and a lot of fun but because of his situation I don’t know if it will work. His time is limited. His first priority are his kids, which I know is right.

I don’t have kids. I don’t fully know the weight of responsibility that rests on your shoulders as a parent. I can’t imagine how that is affected by a divorce, where as a father you don’t have the daily access to your children. It has to be hard.

Cognitively I know his time and attention are limited. We don’t have the same priorities. I want to be understanding and supportive but when plans change again and again I get frustrated. Am I ready for another relationship like this? I realize he’s not my ex and that perhaps he can balance fatherhood and dating, I really have no idea.

But ultimately, I’m afraid to hope, trust and let him in, those are my issues. LOL

Maybe we’re all damaged at this point.


About Marti

After a year-long sabbatical in Southern California I am returning to Ohio to try and resume my life. Who knew you went home again to start living.

Posted on November 28, 2008, in Single Serving and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hi Marti! I really can relate to your blog about dating a single dad. I am married to one and he has 3 kids from his previous marriage. Luckily, the kids are not nightmares and our relationship as a blended family is not so complicated, aside from the issue of the “ex”.
    You’re right on saying “One call from her can ruin the week because she pushes every button he has, often on purpose.” I can really attest to that and it really can piss you off.
    Well in every relationship, there is always the risk of threading into the unkown, there will always be twists and turns, but the biggest step we can make is to be totally prepared for the ride and try to be responsible for our decisions. It’s not a bed of roses, but if you feel it in your heart that this single dad is what you are looking for, then goodluck and have faith!

  2. Hi Marti,

    I came across your blog while on a search for stories about people who are dating single parents or about to marry them. I am with a Los Angeles production company and we are searching for soon-to-be instant families or women who are dating single dads with multiple kids for an upcoming, positive television show. Think “Jon & Kate Plus Eight.”

    If you are interested in talking to me about it further (or know someone else who might fit the bill) please email me!

    Thanks for your time!
    Ally Weinberg

  3. Ally – sorry I don’t qualify. I just stopped dating the single dad. I have a friend that married a single dad with two kids. Are you only looking for those who are dating or are newlyweds ok?

  4. HI Marti and Joypin

    I came across youe website as I was looking for an advice on dating a single date. i have been with my partner for almost 4 months now but i have known him for almost 3 yrs as we work together. He has 2 beatiful kids. I was very hesitant to get into a relationship with him as my first marriage didnt work out due to my step son and also the fact that i was very young … but my current partner waited for me for almost 2yrs for me to say “yes I will give it a go” …. I love him but yet it is not easy to be in a relationship with 2 kids … i love kids and i love being with his kids … but understandably his older son who is 4 can be very difficult somtimes. And I totally understand why and i want to help him but sometimes i cant seem to take it well … and i feel gulity for not being able to be more understanding …
    and sometimes i feel like an outsider ..
    all these mix emotions wears me out … and i get confused to if this is what i want to do …

  5. Cate – All of your feelings are so normal and understandable. I can understand your hesitation. Dealing with your partner’s kids and ex can be confusing, difficult, and challenging. It is a roller coaster of emotions. It is a daily decision to stay sometimes. For me I had to really come face to face with my expectations. Some of the things I wanted and expected from a relationship had to be tweaked or shelved because of his reality. You have to determine if you’re willing to do that. Just like anything there will be tremendous battles and tremendous successes. What are you really afraid of? That it will end? That the kids will get in the way again? Do you trust him? I say take it one day at a time. The good thing is this is a new relationship. This is a new experience. This is a new time for you. You are a different person in a new place in your life. I wish you all joy, clarity and wisdom as you move forward.

  6. Hey Cate, as I’ve said it’s not a bed of roses. It’s also not all up to you. It takes the two of you to make it work. Don’t be everything for everyone and be kind to yourself. You are only human and you have expectations too. It is difficult having to share the attention of your man with his kids and yes, I can sometimes feel left-out, added to it is the looming presence of the ex (always in the background and irritating at that). But my husband (the single dad) makes it a point to prioritize not only his kids but his attention to me as well. He makes it a point to reassure me that I need not worry of the ex and we still try to have quality time without the kids. If both of you work on it, I’m sure it will be a less than bumpy ride ahead.

  7. Why on earth should a true single date single (usually divorced) parents at all? Are people so lonely that they’re willing to take damaged goods into their lives? Better to be a dreamer than living a mediocre life as a surrogate parent.

    True single men/women need to come out of their shells and work on their personal skills. Just settling for the best and nearest option is pretty pathetic.

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