Being a dad on your own has a unique set of challenges. Between diaper changes, packing lunches, and chaperoning first dances, a single dad’s love life can fall by the wayside.
But fear not, fathers, there is a way to do it right! With a grounded outlook, great communication and willingness to army crawl your way through any muddy obstacles that arise, single dads can show the dating world that they are some of the greatest fish in the sea.
So whether you’re one yourself, or in the dating market for one, here are our hot tips on how to make it the most of dating as a single dad.
Assess your situation as a single dad.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and there isn’t one and only “right” way to plunge into the dating world as a single parent. Make sure that you’re emotionally ready to take the dive into the dating pool. Whether you’re a widow, divorcee or just had a gnarly breakup, only you can decide when you’re ready to date. Don’t feel pressured to jump into a relationship prematurely, but also allow yourself to have fun and get out there, it you’re ready! We all deserve love and the love life that comes along with it. Coming to terms with the idea that it’s okay to date is a key first step of the process.
Talk to your kid(s).
Before taking that actual swan dive back into the dating scene, it’s a good idea to talk about it with your child(ren). Once they enter the picture, your life isn’t all about just you anymore. So it’s important to explain your desire to date again, while also assuring them they still, and will forever, take top priority.
One of the biggest dating realizations to have as a single parent is that you’re not only in the game for yourself, but for your kids as well. In a way, you’re dating for the whole family! So keeping them at the forefront of consideration as you navigate the journey of courtship is essential for keeping things happy, healthy and productive.
Take things slow.
Unlike your Golden Retriever who falls in love with anyone that walks through the door, kids can be a bit more choosey. It’s a good idea to be careful and cautious when it comes to introducing them to a new squeeze. So how do you know it’s the right time? Well, it’s a balancing act.
The decision to introduce your children to potential partners is up to you and your personal parenting style. But there are a couple things to keep in mind. Can you see this person as a long term partner? Have they expressed interest in meeting your kids? Are your kids okay with you dating? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, then you’re on the right track for a smooth intro! At the end of the day, no matter how young and unassuming kids may potentially seem, remember that bringing your love life around can and does affect them.
You’re setting an example.
No matter if they’re two or twelve, kids are impressionable. So you’ve got to remember that these aren’t your rowdy college days any more—you’re a parent! Which means everything you do around them can have a long-term impact.
Not only is dating as a single dad fun, but it’s a great opportunity to show your kids how the right way to approach dating when it’s time for them. Think about the words you use when talking about your date or partner. Show your kids that you value the feelings of the person you’re seeing. You’ll be setting them up for success in their dating future.
Dating is hard enough, much less when you have young minds watching your every move. But when you’re a single parent in the dating-verse, that simply comes with the territory.
Keep your priorities in check.
Remember, it’s 100% okay to put yourself out there yet again, it’s crucial to make sure your children remain your number one.
To many, this goes without saying, but the smallest actions can speak volumes to this over time. From not sacrificing time with your kids, to making sure their thoughts and opinions are kept top of mind in the mix, it’s the little things that can truly make the biggest difference.
If you’re dating a single dad…
No matter what experience you have with dating dudes that have kids, it’s important to understand that courting a single dad is a whole other romantic ballgame. It’s a dating ballgame that often begins with understanding.
Dating people with kids is definitely not a perfect match for everyone, which is a-ok ! If it’s something that feels like it could work out, however, be ready to put yourself (at least at first) in the back seat of your guy’s priority vehicle. Don’t offended if things move a little slower. Understanding that his kids are the #1 priority. Be flexible and understanding if plans change or emergencies pop up.
Another important factor to remember, is that there’s a big chance that a single dad is co-parenting with his ex. Sometimes, the other parent of the child will be very much in the picture of this guy’s life. Try not to let insecurity about other family/an ex take hold, and be respectful of the family unit. If they’re in the picture, chances are that the single dad is mature enough to maintain a platonic relationship, and the whole family is better for it. If the pairing is right, it could easily be worth all the effort in the world.
* * *
Although dating as it relates to single dads certainly comes with its own breed of potential hurdles, there are a ton of benefits to enjoy from it as well. Like anything in life, our romantic paths evolve; so just because dating farther into adulthood may feel differently from that of our early- (and seemingly more “carefree”) twenties, that doesn’t mean the experiences can’t be just as satisfying.
Alex Anderson is an LA-based lifestyle designer proactively raging against the cultural grain. By day she works in television production, and by night enjoys writing, sewing and seeking guidance from the stars. She also finally has an all black kitty named “Cher.” You can follow her alt-lifestyle blog MSFT Living and on Instagram!