Tips for Dating a Single Dad
OK, as promised, the HUB, http://hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Date-The-Single-Mom, has inspired my own. What really caught my attention in that article was the part about coming over late and leaving early, basically not being visible to the kids while they are awake. And I will cover that shortly.
First of all, I am a single dad with primary custody. (which despite how hard I fought in court, was pretty much granted because she agreed to it. The law is not a single dad's friend) My kids spend every other weekend with their mom, plus long vacations and most of the summer. If you are thinking about dating a single dad I hope this helps you understand what lies ahead.
I think there are 3 basic types of singel dads: 1) The dating dad. 2) The LTR dad 3) and the 'searching for a new mommy' dad. I'll start with type 3 first. My instinct is to say this type of guy is bad news. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, (like him being a widower), most guys like this are going to be a LOT of work. They probably can't handle the kids, how are they going to handle you in their life? Unless there is a reason you emotionally need to attach yourself to already half-raised kids, I would avoid type 3.
Type 2 is likely a dad who is very sure of what he wants, or at least that he wants it full time. The only thing I could see as a downside is simply that he could be stuck in his ways, and you will need to fit into a mold. If you are ready for long-term, then its not a bad situation. Even better if you want kids, but didn't want to HAVE kids. I know women who don't want to participate in the physical process of having children. Adopting is one option (if your BF or husband is ok with not actually having his own), and joining a partial family like type 2's is another. That is the most important thing you have to remember when dating a single dad - you are JOINING a family. Do not expect to create or establish the family dynamic, its already present and you need to adapt to it if you wish to stay. That's not to say that there isn't a slow process of adjusting to you as well, its just not nearly as instant as it is when you have the guy first and then kids come along.
Now type 3 (like me). Most women seem to understand all the 'work' they do at home, but completely ignore the fact that a single dad has to do all that as well. I understand that "well why is he single?" angle, but there is also a "he must be very responsible and mature" angle as well. If an ex-wife is baggage, move on. If the kids are baggage, move on QUICKLY. Frowning at us having kids will never endure you to us. Type 3's are not necessarily looking for another mom, we've already figured out how to raise kids. Other than simply being an adult in the household, there are no expectations of you, how easy is that?! You might be surprised at how the kids adapt to you and seek you out as a parental figure.
Single dads like myself, are not really looking for the next wife. Its dating 101 all over again, but with special circumstances. Out time is limited. between work and the kids schedule, we have little free time. You need to be ok with that, and able to go as slow as necessary. I have every other weekend free, but you need to understand, I am going to want MY time too. Whether that's persuing an interest of mine, or hanging our with my buddies, you need to be prepared to not get every minute of my free time. Depending on how much money I earn, you also need to expect some spending restrictions. I don't mean that Applebee's is the best I can do for a 'nice' dinner, but is highly unlikely we are receiving ANY alimony or child support. In fact, its very likely that even with custody, we're still paying some. (yeah, the courts suck that bad)
In many cases, as is the case with me, "dating" is something we probably haven't had the opportunity to do in some time. Going out with you a couple times is not the same as commitment. At this point in our lives, we have a very good idea of who we are. We also know our kids and what type of woman will fit into our lives the best. We might even be picky. But it's a two part process. We have to feel you are special first. THEN we introduce you to the kids. If a guy waits too long to do that, that's a warning you should not ignore. I'm not talking about staying the night on date 3. Or going with us on a special outing. My kids know Daddy is dating, and I have no problem with them meeting 'her'. But out home is our sanctuary, and letting you come in and get comfortable is a huge step. Hiding you completely from the kids is a sign of someone who is more interested in being a player than a dater.
Intimacy is missing, not just the basic manly desire for sex. Now, that issue about showing up for the night. Coming late nad leaving early should be viewed as respect for the kids. If you feel slutty doing it, find a guy without kids. When you do spend that first night, as much as we are enjoying that its YOU in bed with us.....we also miss having that in general. The degree to which we snuggle and hold you has to do partly with us simply enjoying the moment, as they are rare. It isn't just a simply thing, but it also doesn't reflect some deep emotions and feeling either. That all comes with time. Also understand, that when you do begin to hang out in the house around the kids, we may be tentative about being openly physical. That will change as time passes, depending on how quickly things become serious and head towards permanent. We're not afraid of the displays of affection, we're being careful not to overwhelm the kids. So there is a good chance that dates will be less frequent than you'd like, especially if there is physical attraction. Because its easy to arrange the overnight visit. And we both know, sharing the same bed in some manner of undress, is going somewhere! Arranging dates and get togethers outside of the bedroom is not as easy.
Dealing with the Ex (or baby mama): This is undoubtedly the most imprtant thing you need to know. First thing - DO NOT BE JEALOUS. Believe me, if we wanted to get back with her, it would be very very easy. (if she's available). OK? let me repeat - we do not want to get back with her! However, we do need to deal with her at least until the kids are 18. Some guys have managed to be fiends (ONLY) with their Ex's, and that's an ideal situation, because the animosity and jealousy should be nonexistent. In most cases, we hate dealing with her. If we have the kids a lot, she has at some point along the way made our lives miserable. Cost us money by repeated trips to court, sticking her nose into our previous dating life (NO ex ever gives positive references) or by not making the effort to co-parent effectively. Its hard enough for us to try to establish rules and such when we can't openly discuss it with the ex, the last thing we need is for you to insist on some changes. We may bitch and complain about how "her" family does things, but we're just bitching. We have probably accepted some things don't change, and we are just venting. We may also let small things slide that seem rude or inconsiderate, like the Ex being late to pick up or drop off the kids. We don't like it either. But some things are just not fighting over, especially in front of the kids. Single dads turn the other cheek A LOT, in order to spare the kids some unpleasantries. Best thing you can do, is recognize we are trying to be a good man, be the bigger person, and just support us. We are very aware when 'her' tardiness or change of plans affect YOUR time with us, and I for one go out of my way to apologize and make sure you know that I know, and that I am sorry.
So......what have you learned? I hope you either learned you aren't the type to date a single dad, or plenty of things about how to proceed in doing so. Single dads are not for everyone, but in most cases, they have plenty working in their favor. They are employed, dedicated, responsible and generally more mature. That's a huge upgrade over mcuh of the single single guys out there. And if you prefer to take it slow, or you enjoy the 'friends with benefits' type of arrangement (isn't that just what "dating" used to be anyhow?), then a single dad might be perfect. Its not like they have time to hound you for attention, LOL.
Good luck! And thanks for reading.