10 Tips for Dating a Single Dad


Dating in your 30s and 40s brings a host of new kinds of men into your life, and one of the ones you may discover is that you're falling for a single dad.

Whether he's divorced, widowed, or never married, he's often the best kind of man. He has shown commitment, love for children, and has likely moved past the "I want to go out all night and play video games all day" phase we all hope passes most men by the age of 25.

Still, dating a single dad isn't the same thing as dating your average, carefree man. If he has children, they're going to be the priority and they should be. It's vitally important that you take the time to get to know one another separate from the children, but also vitally important to understand that you're dating an entire family, not just one member of it.

Here are 10 tips compiled from women who have been there and women who are there right now:

  1. Make sure they're actually divorced: This one is a big duh. But just trust us on this one. Double check.
  2. Remember you're dating the family, not just the man: As mentioned before, the kids come first. You have to accept that. 
  3.  Don't immediately try to be a mother to his children: They have a mother. Think of your relationship as more of an aunt, and let it evolve from there, let the kids take it in the direction they want to. Don't insist they call you anything specific, let them decide.
  4. Respect his need to talk to his ex: He needs to keep communication open for the sake of the kids. As hard as it is, try to avoid being jealous about it or resentful of time he spends talking to her (unless it's grossly excessive or their conversations are inappropriate).
  5. Listen: He may need to vent about child support or visitation or fights with the ex. It's important that you be there for him.
  6. Give him space: It's great that you want to help him create a family for his children, but he also needs to preserve the sacred relationship that exists between him and his kids. Kids can easily become resentful of a new partner. If you allow them time to be with their father, they will get the attention they need.
  7. Understand that you aren't going to come first: Don't be a martyr about it. Make sure to ask for what you need, but also understand that there are children involved and they need their daddy almost as much (and likely more) than you need your boyfriend. Fatherhood should be his top priority. Don't be resentful of it -- if you're confident in your relationship, there is plenty of room for all of you.
  8. Be ready: If you cannot handle the fact that he's going to often put his kids before you, then you aren't ready to date someone who has kids. And you shouldn't -- it won't be fair to you or to the kids or to the man.
  9. Take time for you: It's easy to walk into a ready-made family and plop down and stay there, but you also have to remember (especially in the case of a widower) that you need to still be you. Take walks, take runs, make sure you're keeping a healthy distance and letting things evolve naturally.
  10. Have fun: Enjoy the fact that you aren't the children's biological mother by being a little different, by enjoying them as something other than their mom. Kids can be a lot of fun if you show them that you genuinely like them for them.

What are your tips for dating a single dad?



divorce, dating mom, dating


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Ellen Gerst

Great tips for dating a divorced dad! If you happen to meet a dad who has been widowed, don't be daunted by the fact that your new partner has been touched by the death of a spouse. Anyone who has lost a spouse, especially at a young age, knows about the preciousness of each moment we are given. This person is not going to waste another minute and brings with him a renewed zest for living. Don't run away from this type of person -- run, as fast as you can, to him! For a free special report on what to know when marrying a widower (or widow), visit my website at http://www.LNGerst.com/Download_Free_E-Books.html and visit me on Facebook for relationship tips everyday at Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story (http://bit.ly/cxpiZ0

Warri... WarriorsWife523

Great post! Lots of these could go for single moms, too. :)

nonmember avatar SassyJoey

I have just found out until I went to his place, and then he showed me like "this is my daughter" photo, and Im kinda shocked...but think like between me and him may not go that far :) but then I kinda like him alot...but I gonna let it flows, I guess

nonmember avatar grayswindir

As a single Dad, I don't date. But some additional advice:

Don't date a man until he's been divorced a couple of years. There is a temptation to jump into a relationship right after a divorce, to boost ones ego, get some reassurance that you have something to offer. However, men usually look for something that won't develop into something serious because they just got burned so badly. So, effectively they're using someone as a bandage for their wounds. When they're healed, will they need the bandage?

Also, it takes time to consider the mistakes you made in the previous relationship. What you did wrong or could have done better. How your personality, approach to life, habits etc. interacted with your spouse's and contributed to the divorce. This takes time for honest self-assesment. He needs to do this to avoid making the same mistakes, and so he is better at identifying incompatibilities in future relationships.

He also needs time to establish that new relationship with his kids based on the changed circumstances of a divorce. He and the kids need that time without the further complications of a new woman in his life. That needs to be solid first, since the kids will initially struggle with what their place/priority is in his life.

Finally, my kids are not me. If you develop a positive relationship with my kid- are you willing to maintain it even if we part ways? Or will you just be another female that drifted in/out of their life?

nonmember avatar Anonymous

Simple rule of thunb: Never date anybody with kids, and that goes for men. Who wants to be put last in a relationship? Who wants to listen to him moan and groan about his ex, child support, visitation? And if he has kids, he's probably broke a lot of the time, so expect to be asked to pay for everything. Also, assume that he will want you to babysit his kids, so he can go hang out with his guy friends.

Single father? No thanks, too much baggage, no benefits.

nonmember avatar grayswindir

Anonymous has it right in terms of kids are baggage with a lot of effort and responsibility. You have to be honest with yourself about whether you can deal with it. Even if he doesn't moan and groan, or expect you to babysit. Especially difficult, as is becoming more common, if like me he has full custody or primary custody. The kids are there all the time competing for time and attention. Homework, laundry, feeding them, discipline, driving them to activities etc. etc. etc.

Even if you're the type who can deal with it- what happens if you become attached to the kids and then you two break-up? Is that something you are willing to put yourself through (and the kids)? He already has had one marriage break-up. A track record of at least one failure regardless of who was at-fault, did he learn enough to not repeat it? Particularly in a relationship with the added stress of kids from the prior one?

Situations are all different but, a guy without kids brings a lot less complications.

alyanson alyanson

I dated a single dad. He had two beautiful little girls. He brought more pluses than negatives. I loved those kids like they were mine and they loved me just as much. Only reason we broke up was because of his mother. It was a great relationship but those are great tips and I followed them all

1-7 of 7 comments