15 Things To Expect When Dating A Single Dad

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So, you’ve met a guy. And you really liked him from the word go, but it wasn’t long before he mentioned that he has kids, and is a single dad.

You’ve never dated a single dad before, and you probably don’t have any kids of your own.

Some women see single dads as a complete no-no, but there’s no sense passing up the opportunity to get to know a guy who could be great for you, just because of his parental status.

After all, dating a single dad can have its downsides, but there might be lots of upsides too.

But it’s no wonder you’re a little overwhelmed by the prospect and aren’t sure what to expect.

Of course, every guy is different, every dad is different, every child is different, and every family dynamic is different.

Maybe he’s a widower, maybe he’s divorced, or maybe he was never in a serious relationship with the mother.

There are a million different possible set ups and no one-size-fits-all answers.

If you choose to date him, then only you will know what it’s really like to be in a relationship with this man, but here are a few pointers about what to expect.

1. He’s sensitive.

Unfortunately, the society we live in often makes men feel like they have to hide their emotions away, and struggle to express them. That can often be an issue in relationships, as they struggle to express their emotions or understand the emotions of others.

But dads are generally more in touch with their emotions and more sensitive to the needs of other people.

He loves his kids more than anything in the world, and that’s shown him that being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing.

2. He can see beyond the superficial.

Parenting is a crash course in what’s really important in life, so chances are that this single dad isn’t hung up on the superficial things that many guys are.

Rather than prioritizing looks, he’ll probably be looking for someone with a heart of gold that he could imagine introducing to his kids. 

He’ll be picky when it comes to your personality, not the superficial stuff.

3. He’s got his act together.

Okay, so unfortunately this won’t always be the case. But generally, if he’s got kids to care for, then a single dad will have his ducks in a row financially, professionally, and personally.

He probably knows how to do his laundry, cook up a storm, do his taxes, and handle any kind of social situation, and does his job well, without letting it take over his life.

Essentially, he’s mature, capable and doesn’t need a partner to mother him.

4. He’s got other priorities.

If you’ve never dated a single dad, you’re probably used to being your partner’s number one priority.

When dating a single dad, you’re going to have to get used to coming second to his kids. That’s the way it should be, but it might be tough for you to accept.

5. He doesn’t get his feathers ruffled.

Once a guy has become a father, they generally stop sweating the small stuff quite so much.

They don’t have the time or the energy to make a fuss about something that’s not actually worth making a fuss about.

That might well start rubbing off on you too.

6. He’s got financial obligations.

It’s important for you to understand that, as a dad, this guy has non-negotiable financial obligations.

He’s got to pay for school shoes and birthday parties and countless other things, and so, most likely, won’t have as much disposable income to spend on weekends away or meals out with you.

7. He won’t be able to be spontaneous.

Being a parent means you have obligations and ties. Kids need planning and structure and that spontaneous holiday or night out probably won’t be a possibility.

You’ll have to be prepared to make plans in advance and work around the children’s schedules.

8. He’s in close contact with his ex.

If you’re dating a single dad, there’s no getting around the fact that the mother of his children is going to be a big part of his life.

Dating a man who doesn’t have kids, you wouldn’t normally have to hear about or see his ex.

But if you’re dating a dad, then you’ll have to accept that she’s a big part of the family, and you’ll have to build your own relationship with her.

That might be a little tricky for both you and her to negotiate at the beginning, and you’ll need to be prepared to put the work in and set aside any jealous feelings that might crop up.

The key is to be kind and respectful at all times.

She will probably be feeling just as nervous as you about the situation, so you making the effort to show her you really want to make things work will help put her at ease.

Being kind to the mother will also endear you to the kids, and to the man you’re dating.

9. He’ll expect you to love kids.

You need to accept the fact that if things get serious with this man, then his kids are going to be a big part of your life.

So, if you don’t genuinely love kids and aren’t keen on spending time around them, your burgeoning relationship won’t last long.

10. He’ll be careful about introducing you to his kids.

Any good father will be very wary of introducing a new partner to his kids too soon.

So, don’t expect to be introduced to them until a fair amount of time has gone by and the two of you are sure that there’s potential for a long-term relationship.

Don’t take the fact that he’s not ready to introduce you to them as an insult, but as a sign that he’s a good, considerate father.

Unless, of course, you’ve been together for years and he’s still keeping your relationship a secret, in which case alarm bells should start to ring.

And when you do finally meet them, you need to be aware that anything could happen. They might be relaxed and open to getting to know you, accepting your presence, but they might feel resentful or wary, or just a bit confused.

Just as you’ll have to work on your relationship with their mother, you’ll have to be ready to put the time and effort in to build a relationship with his kids, with plenty of patience and acceptance.

11. He’ll be more wary of getting serious.

A man that doesn’t have kids is in a position to take risks. They can rush into a relationship if they want, because the only person that’s going to get hurt is them.

But a dad can’t take those risks.

Things will probably move more slowly than they would otherwise, and that can be a good thing.

It can give you the time to figure out what your feelings are for this guy, and not get in over your head until you’re 100% sure that he’s the one for you.

If you’re feeling down about this, focus on the fact that it means you get to keep a lot more independence, and have more time for your friends and family. New relationships can sometimes mean you suddenly don’t have time for anyone but your new partner, so dating a dad can be refreshing.

12. He won’t be afraid of talking about his feelings.

It might take him longer to get to a place where he’s ready to commit, but on the other hand, he’s more likely to be okay with having big, serious talks about the future and his feelings without getting scared.

13. He’ll need your support and understanding.

Parenting is a tough gig, and there will be times when he needs to cry on your shoulder or has to make sacrifices.

You’ll have to learn the art of being supportive and understanding, being there when he needs you, being patient and not judging him.

If that seems like a lot to ask, then he might not be the right guy for you.

14. He might not want more kids.

Him already being a parent might influence how he feels about having more kids with a new partner – i.e. you.

This is something that you need to get straight fairly early on when dating this guy (though not on the first date!) because if you want children of your own and he doesn’t want any more, you’ve got a big problem.

Best to know where each of you stands before things get too serious.

15. He’s more than just a dad.

His parental status is a massive part of his life and will have played a big role in shaping who he is. But it doesn’t define him. There’s so much more to this guy.

He has hobbies, interests, hopes, and dreams, and if you open your heart to him, he’ll be delighted to share them with you.

Dating a dad is a big thing, but if you’re willing to put the work in, then it could be one of the best decisions you ever make. Just be yourself and be patient, and the rest should fall into place.

Want some specific advice about the single dad you are dating? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.