Love, Family

8 *Golden Rules* Of Dating A Single Dad (As Written By One)

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8 *Golden Rules* You NEED To Know Before Dating A Single Dad

By Megan Perez for Em & Lo

Not too long ago I read an article titled “How to Love a Single Mom.” The author wrote that the intention of her piece was to support “the man interested in a woman with children. To offer him a peek inside her life, to help him understand her better.” And then she listed 5 tips:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Be consistent.
  3. Listen.
  4. Feed her with sex.
  5. Follow her lead when it comes to the kids.

The article was smart, informative, and well written. But all I could think about for weeks after reading this was, where is the list for dating a single dad?

Where is the support for the woman interested in a man with children? Where is the peek inside his life, to help her understand him better?

Oh, there you are.

I am a single dad. I am a man of color. I have an education and I make my own money. This puts me in a microscopic demographic. I’m not alone, but we need resources; resources that we can share, talk about, debate, and learn from.

We need to be understood. We need to be loved, too. Here are some suggestions to help make that happen.

1. Be open to his vulnerability.

Countless men in my generation did not have a positive, male role model growing up. This is not news, but this creates an additional challenge as a father. There is a lot for a dad to learn along the way, on his own; and he is usually winging it as best he can. As he goes along providing his child with as much as he can; providing those things he never had as a child, he’s ecstatic. He’s proud of himself.

He’s also quietly suffering. While providing all of those things he never had as a child, he’s reminded of what he never had as a child. There is a pain in that.

Don’t pity him. Don’t coddle him. Don’t try to fix him. Simply listen. Men need to talk, too. So be ready to hear some hard truths and sit through difficult emotions. Just being there is a great gift.

Related: Wise Guys: How Much Younger Than Him Can A Man Date?

2. Sex. F*ck yes, BUT…

Oftentimes, single dad-ness leaves us exhausted. (This applies to all single parents, but I’m focused on dads here.) Single dads work 5-to-9. They are up at 5 AM and on duty until 9 PM, sometimes later.

Get up. Get ready. Get the kids ready. Pack ‘em into the car. Drive them to daycare. Drive to work. Work 8 hours. Pick up the kids. Prepare dinner. Eat dinner. Take showers. Clean the kitchen. Put on jammies. Read. Put the kids to sleep. Sometimes, and all parents can attest, sleep doesn’t even begin until as late as 11 PM, and it’s only Monday. Do the math. If he’s up at 5 AM and moving until 11 PM and has to get up at 5 AM the following morning, he’s getting 6 hours of sleep for an 18 hour day. And that’s IF he goes directly to sleep at 11 PM.

That means no man-cave time. No reading. No ESPN. No Facebook. No Netflix. No beer. No downtime.

So, when it comes to sex, especially during the week, take the lead. We’re exhausted. We’ve likely been the leader all day long because A) we have to be as a single parent; b) we’re expected to be as men. Help us catch our breath. Close the door. Lie us down. Say, “I got this, baby.” Maybe even read to us a little bit. 

3. Work with his schedule.

Running a house with children as a single parent is tough, tough, tough. It takes some serious project management skills; planning; forethought; and efficiency of resources including time, money, food, clothing, education, and entertainment. This shit is hard.

Support him by supporting the schedule. Give him the space he needs to do what he needs to do. Time is ridiculously scarce. What little he can give you of his is NOT a measure of how he feels about you.

Related: What's A Good Term For Those Who Date Much Older People?

4. Please please please don’t be insecure about the attention he isn’t giving you.

He’s super busy. Did I mention that time is ridiculously scarce? See number 3. Taking the time to reassure you that he wants you in his world f*cks with the schedule. See number 3.

It’s not that he’s insensitive to your needs. Insecurity just makes him feel like he has one more responsibility, one more duty, one more item to plan. If he’s really into you and feels something, he’ll be sure to let you know and it will be natural, not scheduled. If not, that’s on him. Move on.

5. Flirt with him.

Smile with your eyes. Break character. Just knowing that you see him lets him know that he’s doing well as a parent, as a friend, a partner, and a man. As exhausted and frazzled as he is, he’s still desirable and worthy of an adult relationship. He needs to be reminded of that.

6. Help him ideate.

Holiday coming up? Send him some suggestions for kid-friendly events. Send him some ideas for entertaining kids on rainy and snowy days. Send him some recipes for quick, healthy meals. Don’t overdo it though. A few, well-researched, articles will suffice. Time is scarce (have I mentioned that?) and he doesn’t want to seem unappreciative. He just may not be able to get to 10 links —  3 are enough.

Related: Why Didn't He Call When He Said He Would?

7. Share your resources.

Got a good friend or relative who is trustworthy, qualified, and willing to babysit? Go for it. Make the suggestion. It shows you are interested in alone time with him and you’re willing to take some steps to make it happen.

That’ll take some of the burdens off of him. That’ll make him feel safe. That’ll make him feel relief. That’ll make him feel desirable. That’ll make him feel important to another adult and not just to his child(ren).

8. Be a good person.

If you’re dating a single dad, you’re dating a man who is coming out of/came out of a failed relationship; a relationship that birthed a child. If you’re not your authentic self with your single dad boyfriend, your relationship will not last. Period.

Facades don’t last when there are children involved. They watch you. They read energy better than you. They’re sharper than you. They see right through you. Everybody loses when you’re inauthentic, including the kids, and no one desires that.

Being a good person lets him know that there are still good people in the world and that he’s still a necessary part of that world. Everyone needs reminders.

This article was originally published at Em & Lo. Reprinted with permission from the author.