Are My Kids Keeping Me From Finding Love?

kids keeping mom from finding new love

I fall into the majority of divorced women with a degree who are looking on line, but with children. Dating with children changes the rules of the game entirely. For both men and women. As a single person without children you are open to possibilities, open to long distance relationships even, but when the kids are around then we have to change our mindset to realizing that we are Teflon until the kids are out of the house, that the Brady Bunch was just a fantasy TV sitcom, and that living a life of dating without the kids makes us live two lives, one with kids and one without. Soon enough you’re going to resent one of them, if not both, and the idea of bringing your children along for dates is not really something acceptable.

So you can talk about what your dating life as a single man was like –you wanted a woman who you could have children with, so you probably didn’t date women with children and if you did you soon found out that they needed to be thrown back. That’s how I feel, that every man I meet will never really date me for a serious relationship because I have children, and especially if he has his too, then it’s like he can understand but he also doesn’t want to pick up someone else’s slack. Perhaps you can recommend a different resource…or you can explain how your comments apply when it comes to dating with children.

Try it with your wife…pretend the kids were not yours, and you were dating her…how would that change everything? —Joy


Thanks for your email, as it reveals both some truths and blind spots.

Truth: it’s a lot easier to date if you don’t have kids.

People without children don’t have much of a concept of what it’s like to be tethered to home for feeding, napping, school, and extracurricular activities. Your life isn’t entirely your own.

The thing is: this isn’t news to anybody.

If you are confident, self-aware, have a high emotional IQ, a low tolerance for being mistreated and understand the opposite sex, you’re going to do well in relationships.

This just reveals your blind spot — you keep on choosing men without kids. And because you keep choosing men without kids, you’ve come to the conclusion that the Brady Bunch life is a fantasy. Hate to tell you, sweetie, but the reason that the Brady Bunch is NOT a fantasy is because both Mike and Carol HAD kids.

To be fair, you almost figure this out by the end of your email: “If he has (kids) too, then it’s like he can understand but he doesn’t want to pick up someone else’s slack.”

Pick up someone else’s slack?

He has his kids to raise. You have your kids to raise. He doesn’t have to pick up your slack. He has to understand that, as a parent, you need a little slack, because you don’t control your own schedule.

The tone of your email suggests that because I am a single guy who found love with a childless woman that my advice is invalid to you. That’s not remotely true.

Everyone likes to think her situation is particularly unique. It’s not.

Once people hit their mid-40s, tons of guys become available because that’s when the married-with-kids guys who got married in their 20s are divorcing, so suddenly you can date your peers again.

Advice for women over 50 is almost identical to advice for women under 50.

Advice for women who want kids is almost identical to advice for women who don’t.

If you are confident, self-aware, have a high emotional IQ, a low tolerance for being mistreated and understand the opposite sex, you’re going to do well in relationships.

That has nothing to do with kids or age or anything. If you understand 40-year-old men, you pretty much understand 60-year-old men. Men don’t change. But circumstances do. Which brings me to something that I’ve been sitting on for a few months and wanted to share here with you. It’s an update from my friend, Lori Gottlieb, author of “Marry Him,” my favorite relationship book. Writes Lori:

I’ve been dating someone for about six months. I guess I should change my Facebook “status” to “in a relationship” at some point, so I can stop being considered a “toxic maximizer” every time some guy asks me out. You should write a column about how once people hit their mid-40s, tons of guys become available because that’s when the married-with-kids guys who got married in their 20s are divorcing, so suddenly you can date your peers again. In my late 30s, I didn’t want divorced with kids, but once I had a kid and reached my mid-40s, divorced with kids was exactly what I wanted. So he’s 47 with 14-year-old twin girls. And then, of course, in the past year, all of these opportunities came about due to the demographic shift of an influx of 40-something men with kids getting divorced and not wanting to date women in their 30s who don’t have — but want — kids. They don’t want to go back to diapers at that age. And then there’s the financial investment of starting a second family. For all those reasons (not to mention, of course, my “charm”… ahem), I’m what these divorced-with-kids 40-something guys seem to be looking for. Fodder for your blog, perhaps?

Yes, Lori, it is fodder for my blog.

And it’s also my answer to your question, Joy.

Choose men with kids who “get” what you’re going through and you’ll be that much closer to developing a Brady Bunch family of your own.

Join our conversation (131 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    I think what Joy meant by “pick up someone else’s slack” , is that some men fear they will be called on to chip in financially to help a woman raise her kids. They might worry that her ex is a deadbeat Dad or whatever. They might be challenged enough being financially responsible for their own kids, if they have any. Even if these fears are unfounded, it could be enough for some guys to avoid serious relationships with women who have kids.

  2. 2

    It’s about widening the net and not seeing yourself as a second class citizen in the dating world.   
    I know a few mothers who did marry men without kids, so it can happen but don’t restrict yourself to just those men.   And the women were very unapologetic (as they should be) about having children. Don’t drop your standards or make excuses for poor treatment cos you have children.   By standards I don’t mean superficial things like status and looks, but his character and ability to sustain a loving relationship. With you and your children.

  3. 3

    I recently married a man (5 months ago) with two kids.   I have three kids of my own although two are grown and out of the house.   It’s a juggling act for sure but we make it work.   When we met, he was glad that I had kids and I was glad that he had kids because we both understood that we have no control over our schedules at times and it made us both that much more understanding.   The other thing that my husband found attractive about dating me was that I had no desire to have more kids.   We knew that “having kids together” was never going to be an issue.  That made us both happy.   It’s working beautifully.  

    1. 3.1


      I’m so happy for you. I’m about to have my 3 child (at 30) and recently separated so not divorced but pretty much the same!! Great to see some faith in still finding someone to spend your life with!! All the best!

  4. 4

    “Choose men with kids who “get” what you’re going through and you’ll be that much closer to developing a Brady Bunch family of your own.”
    I agree, or a single man who wants to be a family.
    You come as a package.
    If what you want is to be in a committed relationship, that’s the deal he is taking on.
    “I think what Joy meant by “pick up someone else’s slack” , is that some men fear they will be called on to chip in financially to help a woman raise her kids.”
    I got that impression that was what Amy mean’t to.  What do you think Evan.
    Of course he will be expected to do that if they decide to get married., it comes with the territory of being a step dad. They come as a package. Don’t know how it works in the uk, but that is how it works here in uk. My step dad willingly took on that role.
    If you take on a woman with kids and are living with them of, you are taking on the role of the commitment to help raise them together as a family and part of that is financially raising them together. If   a man doesn’t want to do that is doesn’t want to. Pick one who does.

  5. 5
    Jackie H.

    I agree…hmm…interesting about options opening up for women in their ’40s as men who married in their ’20s will be divorcing by then…may have to share that with a friend…lol…

  6. 6

    31 yo, single mom here.   Evan, I think your viewpoint is spot on.   Dating IS harder as a single parent.   Not only are there scheduling conflicts but a lot of men who are older and divorced with kid(s) tend to be more cautious about entering relationships than they were before going through that experience. I have found that this requires I be careful to let the man lead, mirror, etc. so that I’m not coming across as pushing for anything.   This definitely tends to bring out the best in a man- so it’s a good thing.   I also think single dad’s move a little slower in establishing a relationship- which can be frustrating, but I think ultimately it helps to ensure the relationship is a sound one, if it does develop.   
    It’s been a bumpy road dating as a single mom, but I almost exclusively date other single parents and have had no dearth of men to date.   After 2 years of consistently online dating, I’ve met a really good man and father.   We are taking it slow, and I’m glad for that.
    My advice to other single mom’s dating is to be cool, take it slow, don’t push, and a man who has been put through the ringer of divorce and single-parenthood will really really appreciate it.

    1. 6.1

      you’re pretty much in the perfect demographic for the men in their 40’s who are newly divorced. They all want women in their 30s. If you aren’t interested in having more children you are exactly what they want. Once you are a single mother in your 40’s that window closes fast.

  7. 7

    Evan, I think you and I had this conversation once when we had a phone consultation, and I told you that felt my kids were a liability in dating. Your advice was: some will, some won’t, but you can’t generalize and say NO men over 45 who have raised kids of their own will want to get involved with a over 50 year old woman with 2 kids still at home. I have found this to be true, and not all guys are squeamish about dating me, as a single mom, and those that are just aren’t worth my time. What I have found is that men who don’t have a problem with my kids are understanding and accepting and agree that the kids MUST come first, and I now put it right on my dating profile that I have kids, this isn’t going to change, and if it might be a problem to look elsewhere. That weeds out a lot of people who might not be so wild about having to compete with a someone’s kids. Another thing that I have observed is that if he has kids and you have kids, it’s best to work out a schedule so that his parenting time and your own  coincides, so that when you have the time to be together, it is understood that you will not have the kids that weekend. This can be a challenge, but not so hard if both parties are willing to work on it.   I think that if there is genuine respect and feeling there, the kids won’t be an issue at all, and eventually, if you decide to make it to the more committed stage, they will  add to  the relationship in ways that you just cannot predict. Those who aren’t up to the challenge are missing out on something pretty cool, IMO.

  8. 8

    Want to add that, yes, the part about men in their mid-to-late 40s coming back on the market in large numbers is absolutely correct, as is the fact that most of them prefer someone with kids to someone with no kids. This is for two reasons, actually: one, they want someone that is understanding about their own commitments as fathers, and two, they don’t want any more kids. At least, this is what they’ve told me.

  9. 9

    As a mid 40s guy without kids, here are some of my thoughts. I have no problem dating a woman with kids as long as she follows some basic common courtesies:
    1. Let me know her schedule as to which days/nights she is available to be together. I have no problem seeing her on a Tuesday and Friday if she cant get a babysitter for Saturday. But let me know upfront so I can plan my own week. Don’t leave me hanging all the time as to when I will see her. Make plans on the week in advance. I will accommodate. I know things arise last minute with kids but you show know a basic setup for the week.
    2. If a woman can see me every other weekend that’s fine. But don’t give me a hard time if I happen to have plans with my friends on one of the Saturdays she is available.
    3. When she is with me, shed Mom mode and be woman mode. Ditch the sweatpants and big boring underwear and wear nice jeans and something sexy.
    4. Don’t expect me to pay for everything just because “you are a single mom” and I don’t have any kids therefore I probably have more disposable income. While probably true, don’t make her choice to have kids be a free pass for freebies all the time.
    If a girl can follow those beliefs then it shows she is trying to work with the situation and I have no problem getting into a relationship with her whatsoever.

  10. 10

    If as a woman with kids my only free time for dating was tues and fri, I would keep those open for whichever man took the lead and asked and made plans first. As I prefer active energy   from a man rather than passive which feels much more attractive to me.   I wouldn’t be available every week just for one person who just wanted to casually date me. It feels best to me if the man moves it forward and   I’d pick the one who was making the most effort, actively   took the lead asking me what day he could take me out next week first and wanted to treat me the way I wanted to be treated. That way I get the best man for me who wants to and is actively able to lead a relationship.
      I want to be romanced on a date not paying for men and, or myself by going dutch that would feel like friendship/mates, what I do with my girlfriends   to me not romance. So would not go on a date like that,, as it wouldn’t real feel like a date, more like we had both decided we just wanted to be buddies and hang out like two buddies together. Not got much time   or room in my life for single male buddies in my life personally though.

    1. 10.1

      I disagree with Rose. Most men after 50 are not interested in picking up the tab every time. As a single successful woman in her 50’s, I don’t “expect” anything. A “real” date is not defined by who opens the wallet.

  11. 11

    Rose @10,
    So you want the guy  to plan dates for Tuesdays and Fridays, pay for all of them and otherwise “treat you like you want to be treated”. What exactly are you bringing to the table, cupcake?

    1. 11.1

      sorry, but I feel like this entitled attitude is so common among st single parents in the dating world. isn’t Evan’s advice to offer to split the bill with every intent to do so but to be gracious if the man pays, not expecting it?

    2. 11.2

      Please do not think all single moms are so selfish. I am as disgusted by this sense of entitlement as you are. I always offer to go Dutch, which some men actually seem to find offensive. If the man feels strongly that he wants to pay I back off and don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m always GRATEFUL when someone picks up the check, but I certainly don’t expect or demand it.

  12. 12

    Sounds reasonable to me.

  13. 13

    My advice to women with children who are dating would be to make it clear that you are not looking for someone to finance your children’s upbringing, but that you are simply looking for a partner instead.   Accepting another person’s children as his/her own is something that comes with time and it should happen naturally.   It isn’t something you can force.   Men can get very cautious with women that want them to quickly accept their children as their own because they fear that these women see them as nothing more than a financial resource.   Many men don’t like to be financially objectified, just like many women do not like to be sexually objectified.  

    Of course, this advice doesn’t apply if that IS something you’re looking for.   However, if you’re a smart, strong, and successful woman, I can’t imagine that would be the case.

  14. 14

    Funnily enough, as a 41 year old woman with a 13 and a 9 year old I found those dads in their forties disappeared in droves when they found out how old my kids were. It literally became a game to see how long we could correspond before they asked how old my kids were and then to see how quickly they disappeared. It made me laugh, albeit in a wry way. It seemed many of these men had kids in their early 20’s and by the time they hit the dating scene their kids were grown and gone. Can’t say that I blame them for not wanting to start   over again. After much patience I have found a wonderful man my age who’s kids are a little younger than mine. Perfect in so many ways. After 7 months we were starting to hang out more as a blended group and talk more frequently about adventures that involve all of us being together. This whole time I have let him lead and have mirrored his actions at every turn. So far, so good. 🙂

  15. 15

    My awesomeness wonderful presence and essence John me. 🙂
    And my yummy cupecakeness, which everyone wants a peice of 😀

  16. 16

    John #9
    I take issue with a couple of things you said, and I have to say that your attitude will not cut it for a lot of single moms:
    1st: If you make plans for a Saturday night with your buddies, knowing that it is one of the nights I have free, and you do it frequently, and don’t follow it up with a Sunday date, or offer to go out on Friday, I would be inclined to say adios, because it conveys a lack of respect for my situation.I can be totally accommodating and understanding for a once in a while thing as long as the guy makes an effort to make it up to me.
    2nd: I agree that the woman should make an effort to shed the mom mode and dress nice for dates. As a single mom, I don’t wear “sweatpants and big boring underwear” and I don’t know why any single mom would either.   If that’s the single mom experience you have had, then you are not looking in the right place, lol.
    3rd: In the beginning of dating I do expect the guy to pay mostly for dates, but I am OK with chipping in, i.e., leaving a tip, buying coffee on a Sunday morning, surprising my guy with concert tickets, I would think that anyone in the dating game would too.
    4th: I work, have my own income, and feel that in dating, it should be a mutual exchange of resources to really have a great time. However, at one point, when I was in grad school and a single mom, my bf at the time offered to pay for more of the share of dates, and I tried as much as possible to treat in kind, but I just didn’t have the income. He generously paid for presents for my kids, and never held it against me. I think it is up to the guy, but if you go in with that attitude knowing the situation, then perhaps that is not going to be a good match for you, no matter how hot she is.

  17. 17

    Chance in #13– “Men can get very cautious with women that want them to quickly accept their children as their own because they fear that these women see them as nothing more than a financial resource.   Many men don’t like to be financially objectified, just like many women do not like to be sexually objectified. ”
    Spot on there.
    So is John in #11. What are you bringing to the table, Rose? That’s a deal-breaker attitude from any woman but especially from a single mother. If I’m expected to pay the way and make the plans and out compete other men for the best plans and generally tolerate that sort of entitled attitude, I might as well pursue childless women with more flexible schedules.

  18. 18

    And Frimmel hits the head on the nail for John’s post. He feels like single mothers somehow have to pay their way as compared to women without children. I don’t have children but have dated single dads. I would expect any man I am dating to treat me as well I should be treated regardless of who has kids. If Frimmel and John have that attitude, maybe they should stick to women without kids. Or understand that women want to be treated well by men they are dating period.

  19. 19

    I suspect Rose is bringing a delicious rose cupcake to the table.
    Made of all those enticing feminine ingredients…..really enjoying herself, being receptive to her mans efforts to please her etc
    I have no concerns for the men in her life, being with a feminine woman who respects and allow her man to lead……..they know how lucky they are.
    I have more concern for the rose cupcake on the table with all those devouring eyes on her.

  20. 20

    Kim @16
    “.I can be totally accommodating and understanding for a once in a while thing as long as the guy makes an effort to make it up to me.”
    Let me get this straight. I may already have plans with my friends on an occasional Saturday and on those times that I do, I have to make it up to you somehow? What are you doing to make up to me when you cant see me 2 Saturdays every month? Its that kind of attitude that makes you undateable to a single guy without kids.
    For example, I have plans in June to go away with my guy friends for a weekend. In July I am going  to an out of town wedding. Those plans are set. Lets say I meet you or another single Mom in May. Lets say those weekends coincide with your available weekend. You mean to say that I will need to somehow make it up to you as if I did something wrong? Meanwhile, all the other days of the week and other Saturdays that you couldn’t make it  is perfectly fine and you don’t have to make anything up to me? That’s serious entitlement and that’s exactly the point of my posting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *