Dating is hard enough, but when you add someone else's kids to the equation, things can get tricky.
Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome walks up to you, smiles and introduces himself. You take one look at him and become excited — think this just might be your lucky day.
Before the conversation ends, he asks for your name and number so the two of you can continue talking over the phone.
Just as soon as you thought your prayers have finally been answered, he tells you he'll call you once he drops off the kids...at his baby momma's house.
Your smile starts to fade and so do your dreams.
So what's a woman to do when she meets a single dad? Well, for starters, it's certainly not the end of the world.
Women tend to overlook these, because the situation isn't exactly what they thought it would be like. We'll explore the advantages and disadvantages to juggling co-parenting and dating below.
The Bad News:
1. You Won't Get Much Quality Time Together.
It makes sense. Men with kids have to schedule their time around kids. Depending on whether he has full or partial custody of his child, it can severely limit the amount of time he spends on leisure activities.
The simple act of going out on a date may require him to hire a babysitter or ask family and friends to watch his child for a few hours, which is sometimes a major inconvenience. Dates may sometimes canceled in cases where the child gets sick or a babysitter is not possible.
Instead of wallowing or getting frustrated, make sure you have a life outside of him. That way, you're not completely disappointed when his kids come first.
2. He Has Less Money To Spend On You.
If you are the type of woman who likes to go on extravagant dates and adventurous activities, you may have to lower your expectations. Having kids is expensive, especially when you factor in diapers, clothes, food, health and dental care.
If he is a generous man, he'll want to give his kids the best life he can afford. The more generous he is with his kids, the less money he'll have to spend on you.
But this isn't always a bad thing! Be prepared to pay for a few dates here and there, or be creative with low cost activities that the two of you can enjoy together, like hiking, picnics and free concerts.
3. You'll Be Less Of A Priority To Him.
When you're in a relationship with a man with kids, you're really in a relationship with his kids, his kids' mother, his own mother—Remember, his family was there before you came into his life.
They are more of a certainty because they have history with him — and he'll be mindful of this when placing his priorities.
Try not to get upset with him if you feel you're less of a priority than you'd like at this time.
BUT do demand respect as you are (or will be) his significant other, and are hoping you'll be a part of his life for a long time.
4. Jealousy May Rear Its Ugly Head.
Now this is where it gets ugly! As women, we are sometimes territorial when it comes to our men. Wherever there's a break-up, there's a scorned woman.
You will have to deal with her on a continued basis, especially if there are young kids around. There's no doubt that interacting with your new partner's ex is pretty stressful. Just put yourself in her shoes and try to understand where she is coming from.
She thought this man would be her soulmate and things did not work out that way.
Now you, the new girl, is in his life sharing the joy that she once did, and meeting the family she helped create. Take the high road and be respectful; she is the mother of his child.
But do require respect from her and let your partner know if she isn't giving it.
5. You May Be Considered An Intruder (Temporarily).
Children instinctively want their biological parents together and find anyone other than their immediate family a threat to their world — this includes you. Sure, you may have good intentions, but you'll have to give the relationship time before the children can open up to you.
Remember, you're an outsider. You'll need to have patience so they can see that you have their best interests at heart.
The Good News:
1. He's A Total Softie At Heart.
This is one of the best traits single fathers have, particularly if they are raising daughters. They are some of the most nurturing and sensitive men you'll ever meet, as they have gained these qualities from being a good father to their kids.
Usually, when you find a guy who is nuturing and sensitive to his child, he's also nuturing and sensitive to the woman he is dating. Having to raise kids really opens him up to other wonderful traits such as loyalty, compassion and selflessness.
2. He Won't Pull A "Disappearing Act"—AKA He's A REAL Man.
When a boy becomes a man, he puts away childish things. Kids provide men with a sense of responsibility, and therefore tend to make them grow up almost instantly.
Yes, a man is sometimes a jerk with or without kids but if he's taking care of his children on a constant basis, then you probably won't have to worry about him disappearing in the middle of the night.
He has developed staying power, which is a beautiful thing for a budding relationship.
3. He'll Make More Concessions For You.
This "mothering" role takes a lot out of them. As a result, they are more open to different types of women.
In other words, they are more compromising on a woman's perceived level of attractiveness, age, weight and other factors which may have played a more important (and superficial!) role in dating before kids.
This does not mean they are settling, but rather, focusing on deeper characteristics in a woman, such as being a good stepmother to his child.
4. You Can Help To Nurture And Guide His Kids.
If you're a compassionate woman, this is the perfect situation for you. You can have a direct influence on how he raises his kids.
Sure, you can't overstep the boundaries put in place for the children by their parents, but you can still offer guidance and wisdom to them as a trusted friend or confidante.
Sometimes kids find it hard to go to their parents for advice so you would be the perfect person for them to come to in that situation.
Just be careful of being their "friend," as you will still be considered an authority figure and they must listen to you accordingly.
5. It's The Perfect Opportunity To Help Bring His Family Together.
This is where it gets tricky. Sometimes when outsiders come into an already dysfunctional family, it can create total chaos... or it can signal a new beginning.
There are usually a lot of open wounds when it comes to divorce or family breakups, and you have a unique opportunity to bring healing to all involved.
Dating a man with kids is certainly not for the faint of heart. There are many advantages and disadvantages to the situation.
At the end of the day, no one can judge you if you decide to date a man with kids or decide against it.