Dating and single dads – the “D” word raises some of the toughest questions that a man can face. Parenting as a single dad can be lonely, hard work, long hours, and sometimes losing all your free time. But no one would give up quality time with their kids, so these are just the challenges single dads have to face to make their children’s lives even better.
The long road ahead for single dads
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t date. The world can be hard on our sanity at the best of times. Looking for companionship is only natural for many people and as a single dad, you’re no different.
We’re going to explore the challenges that single dads looking to get back out there face and how you can make sure that you make the experience as easy as possible for you, your former partner, and, most importantly, your kids.
Table Of Contents
- Why Can Dating Be Hard For A Single Dad?
- Dating For Single Dads – Our Top 5 Tips
- (1) You Don’t Need To Wait
- (2) Finding Time For Just You Is Important
- (3) Keep Things Separate Until You’re Sure
- (4) Find Out What You Need For Happiness
- (5)Have An Open Conversation With Your Former Partner
- In Conclusion…
Why Can Dating Be Hard For A Single Dad?
I’m sure some readers will be thinking “how can dating be easy for a single dad?”, but we promise that there are ways to make the process a little easier. Identifying the biggest challenges is the easiest way to make your plan. Having a plan is the first step to making the journey to a new romance as smooth as possible.
Being Ready To Move On
It’s OK to say that you miss your ex. No one expects people to move on instantly after a breakup. In fact, it can be harder when there are kids involved.
If you don’t give yourself time to heal after a break-up, you can make bad (or even spiteful) decisions. Maybe that might have been fine when you were younger, but now you have kids to take care of.
Finding Time For Dates
As a single dad, you might feel that your life is just work, kids, sleep, work, kids, sleep… In fact, that’s what a lot of you found when we were researching for our previous article on this topic – work is a real obstacle to getting back into dating.
After a while, it can become difficult to keep up with the routine and doesn’t leave a lot of time for hobbies (unless your kids are also into them!), meeting up with your friends, or dates.
If you share kid time with the mother of your child(ren), you might find that you only have time free when potential dates are busy. It’s tough.
Knowing When To Introduce Your Kids
Oh, this is a big one. Your kids are your life. Sometimes we need to give up things we love so that they can be happy. And that can mean having to take relationships very slowly to make sure you can trust a new person with your flesh and blood.
Having a revolving door of potential step-mums can be embarrassing at best and deeply upsetting for children, especially if they are still adapting to mum and dad not being together.
Managing The Relationship With Mum
When we’re young, breakups can get very ugly and cause a great deal of stress to everyone involved. Kids don’t make this process any easier. In fact, it will probably make it harder.
Just like you might feel jealous seeing your ex and children with someone new, they may possibly not like the idea of you moving on. This makes it all the more difficult when trying to co-parent and (at least) present a united front for your kids.
Dating and Single Dads – Our Top 5 Tips
It’s not easy, but we have some top tips for making the process as easy as possible. These may not apply to all dads who are trying to get back into dating, but you might just find a solution to a problem that you are struggling with right now.
1. You Don’t Need To Wait
After a messy breakup, there is a cloud of judgement that hangs over both men and women. You don’t want to appear to be moving on too quickly for seeming cold and uncaring. There is societal pressure on separated couples to almost mourn their lost relationship.
Do I Need To Wait Before I Can Date Again?
You don’t need to do that. If you are ready to get back out there, you are ready to get back out there. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do it. You’re a single man now; time permitting, nothing is stopping you from trying to find someone else to spend your life with.
By the same reasoning, that doesn’t mean you need to start dating straight away either. You are in control of what you do and you can spend as little or as much time single as you like. One reader even said:
I just want to raise my children and not seek a relationship. Am I normal? I don’t think I have the capacity in my mind to invest in one.
Can’t be any clearer than that.
2. Finding Time For Just You Is Important
Finding free time as a single dad can be really difficult, especially if you don’t have joint custody. Life can quickly become a loop of working and caring for your family. Dating for single dads can already seem an uphill battle, but now you have to fit it in around your hectic timetable.
That’s why finding time for you is more important than ever. Even if it’s only for an hour a week, you need to find a way to get time for yourself and a potential date. Enlisting the help of family members or babysitters to help could be a real lifesaver for dads short on time!
How Can I Meet Someone When I Have No Free Time?
You need to find a method that works for you. Right now, the boom in online dating sites and online communication methods means it’s easier than ever.
This also means you can “vet” your dates a bit more before meeting them – especially useful for people who don’t want to have the difficult “I have kids – is that a problem?” chat.
Use technology to your advantage and keep yourself on the dating scene (even if only through a dating website!)
3. Keep Things Separate Until You’re Sure
The question of introducing your kids to a new partner is really difficult. Research from 2013 found that instability (such as separated parents) had negative effects on children. This is can be stopped with effective emotional support, however.
The more we introduce temporary people into our children’s lives (like short term partners), the more insecure their surroundings are. Only introduce some if you know they are staying around for a long time. This, of course, can be its own challenge – trying to explain to a new partner that they might not be around for long!
How Can I Know If Someone Will Stick Around?
You can’t, really. You just need to trust your gut. Remember, relationships end. A lot of successful kids have come from separated families. You just need to make the best decisions you can and hope that everything works out.
Meeting someone new can be difficult for kids – make sure you know what you’re doing
Take your time and think about when your kids are ready to meet someone new. You could even ask older children for advice – would they want to meet someone?
4. Find Out What You Need For Happiness
Most of us have felt the pain of a breakup. It turns out that thinking about our former partners sets off the pain receptors in our brain. Breaks don’t just seem to hurt; the brain genuinely experiences pain.
That’s why you need to find what makes you happy. Your brain is currently literally suffering, so you need to find what makes you happy. This could be enjoying the little things. One reader told us that he now takes more time to do finger painting, visit parks, and generally just spend time with his kids when he has his kids.
Being a single dad could mean more quality time with your kids
What If Being In A Relationship Makes Me Happy?
Finding a new partner is usually high on the list of things that people think will improve their lives. You need to find someone who makes you happy and that means being picky. You have more life experience now, so you know who you should avoid. Find some who gives you what you need!
The most important thing is to keep your mind busy. Find someone you enjoy being with and take each day as it comes.
5. Have An Open Conversation With Your Former Partner
This can be the hardest one. But it’s probably the most important piece of advice (from your kids’ point of view).
Keeping an open conversation and decent relationship with your ex will help your kids out massively. We know that stable environments help kids. If you can keep a stable relationship with your ex, your kids will benefit. They see that mum and dad are still capable of being civil, so they are less likely to be upset.
This is also an important step for when you are ready to move on. Dating and single dads is an already difficult mix – you need to think about your kids’ safety and happiness. Now think how your ex feels.
Openness about people who you will be bringing into your children’s lives is important. You don’t owe your ex anything, but you both need to work as a team. Make your life easier by sharing plans and avoiding surprises.
Dating for single dads isn’t easy at all. It requires a lot of patience, planning, and tiredness. You will have busy weeks, especially if you have your kids on weekends.
As a single dad, you have the opportunity to focus on your kids. When your mind isn’t doing too well, you have them to rely on. Take the appropriate time to heal. Make the most of family time. Try to use a negative in the best way.
Remember, it’s not easy. Even if you had an amicable breakup, there are still challenges ahead. Take each day as it comes and think about what’s best for you and your children.