Real talk about dating a dad

Written By: Jill Warwick ~  @girlwiththejoplinglasses

Just when the dating game couldn’t get any more complicated, you get older and suddenly every eligible person in a 100-mile radius has a kid or two.

Dating someone with children is hard and sometimes uncomfortable, whether you’re meeting the kids for the first time, being around the ex, or even trying to make eggs the right way, all while working to not become an evil stepmother.

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There’s nothing like the hard, 90-degree learning curve of hanging around or thinking about hanging around someone else’s children to make you question everything about yourself and your life:

  • When do you meet the kids? Do you want to?

  • Are we serious enough for that? Do we have any type of future?

  • Do I even want kids?

Who knew you’d grow up and relate to a Julia Roberts character so much?

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While doing some online research about this topic, to see what my own personal experience missed, I came across numerous lists of “What to Know” about dating single parents. After initially feeling bummed I hadn’t really come up with THAT original of a topic, I clicked on some links to see if what I thought had already been said.

The second list I read had a few good points, but also some ‘don’ts’ that raised my eyebrows - don’t expect to go to “every happening event in town” or on pricey trips, don’t ask “are you listening?” (The whole list can be found here).

I don’t know about you but I cannot afford multiple destination vacations in a year or fancy dinners every week. Even without kids, not every man can pay for those things.

As a woman who doesn’t mind paying for dates and gifts and who actually financed a lot of those things in her last relationship, it seems like the author was telling women to not expect anything from a man just because he has children.

It also seems like whoever wrote this list thinks women expect to be pampered like a queen or Paris Hilton’s dog.

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Women want your time and effort!

It is understandable if a man is on a budget because of his bills and needs to provide for his children.  Sometimes money is tight, but the belief that women should expect to live in the backseat of their boyfriend’s mind for the entire relationship because he has children needs to stop.  

Starting a relationship with someone who is a parent means having to share them, supporting them, and that plans change. Children get sick, have class recitals, sports practices and other needs. As the girlfriend, you do sometimes have to be second…sometimes.

This does not mean he gets a free pass to not be an active part of your romantic relationship.

This does not mean you are not important.

This does not mean you do not deserve someone to take care of you or they never have to put in any effort for you.

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Just like couples who have to learn how to make time for themselves after they have kids, there has to be time for you and this person to BE a couple. You cannot spend your life with someone, be in their children’s lives and only be half loved.

Someday, those kids will start their own lives and it will just be the two of you; then what?

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As scary as dating someone with children is, there is also the potential for even more love. There may be times when you are lucky enough to be there for a happy memory or a first – a first time seeing the ocean, a first time trying a new food, a first time riding a bike or driving a car.  

You are never going to replace a parent, but you get to become another adult in the child’s life and get to watch them grow. But you also deserve a strong partnership, with clear communication and support from someone who sees you as a priority.

Dating someone with kids does not mean you don’t get to have a strong, healthy, fun relationship.

Don’t give and give and give and never be filled back up.