Does Dating a Divorced Dad Change My Commitment Timeline?

Does Dating a Divorced Dad Change My Commitment Timeline

Thank you for all of your clear and concise thoughts over the last few years. I have definitely taken things to heart: look for boyfriend behavior; there is a natural timeline where commitment should come by month three, “I love you” around 6 months, living together at 18, engaged at 2-3 years; men do what they want, and so many other pearls.

Where I am stuck, is that this advice seems to be geared towards men who are childless and never divorced. I can’t help but wonder if any of these things change if a woman is dating a divorced dad.

I have been dating a wonderful man for about four months now. We’ve known each other almost 20 years prior to dating, and the transition to an amorous relationship was easy and natural. He’s a fantastic and committed single dad who has his 5-year-old son 50% of the time; he and his ex-divorced several years ago. She has struggled with addiction, thus making co-parenting a bit of a struggle at times. I can’t help but feel like her loss is my gain. He’s truly wonderful; he’s kind, thoughtful, treats me with so much respect. We talk daily (if he has his son it’s usually by text, otherwise we chat by phone in the evenings), he makes it a point to see me once a week and we always have so much fun together. When we are together things are easy and fun, just as they should be! He is great at communicating his feelings to me, and although we’ve never had the “relationship talk” I’ve never felt the need to have it because he shows all the signs of a great boyfriend.

However, we’re at the four month mark, and I’m starting to get a bit antsy and curious about a few things. First of all, I want more time with him (more than once a week); I understand that he wants to be very cautious about bringing people into his son’s life, and that means there’s less time for he and I to spend together. However, I want a serious relationship that is continuously growing. I want a boyfriend that is able to invest in a serious relationship with me. I think he wants that too, but I don’t know if 4 months is too early to expect that of him because he needs to move slower than a childless man. So, is that timeline trajectory applicable to dating a single father or should it be tweaked?

Overall, he’s wonderful. He shares intimate details of his life, he’s a great communicator and makes me feel really cared for. I feel safe and happy with him; when we’re together it feels like I’ve come home. I have learned so much about what it means to be in a giving relationship in these four months, and he has been such a remarkable teacher of that. But, I want more at this point, and I don’t know if it’s a simple case of needing to be more patient to let things grow organically….or if I just need to see things as they are and say that my needs aren’t being met and re-evaluate. I would love your thoughts on this. You always shoot straight from the hip!

Thanks so much,

Thanks for the kind words, Anne. Glad to hear you’ve found yourself in a relationship with a wonderful man. I think it’s always instructive for women to hear from other women that, despite all the frustrations you’ve had with dating and relationships prior to today, you don’t believe that “men” are the problem, and that, in fact, in this one instance, your boyfriend’s ex-wife was the weak link. This is far more common than we see here — specifically because most of the questions I post are from women complaining about men. On a blog catered towards men, you’d hear a lot more about selfish, volatile, emotionally unstable or unavailable women. But that’s another story for another day.

I’m glad you asked this question, however, because it’s extremely common — and I’ve been dealing with it regularly in my Love U Community, which is filled with fortysomething single moms. And while I may not have written explicitly about this before, and may not have it as a core part of my curriculum, what I’m about to share with you is 100% consistent with other things I’ve said over the years.

While you couldn’t possibly know if you have what it takes to last 40 years as a couple, you should know if he wants more than this.

    1. Make sure that your boyfriend wants to get married. This isn’t about whether he wants to marry you; that information will take a few years to suss out. But you should both pay attention to his profile (which plainly states his intentions) and pay attention to his words. In short, men who like fantasy football talk about fantasy football. And men (and women) who want to get married generally talk about getting married. You shouldn’t have to worry. You shouldn’t have to pry. The big thing is to know that you’re in a long-term relationship with someone who also sees the end game as marriage. If you do not know this, then ask him. His answer will dictate what happens next. In your particular case, while you couldn’t possibly know if you have what it takes to last 40 years as a couple, you should know if he wants more than this.
    2. Single parents — with jobs, multiple kids, shared custody and unreliable exes — are often doing the best that they can…but that does not mean that their best is good enough for you. I think these relationships work best when two individuals have supportive exes and can coordinate their weeks/weekends/schedules to see each other frequently. Otherwise, you’re right: all the best communication skills and purest intentions in the world don’t change the fact that you have a once a week guy on your hands.

You’re a couple looking for a solution and a good boyfriend wants to make his girlfriend happy.

    3. You need to have an adult conversation. It’s not fear-based. It’s not an ultimatum. It’s not anything deeper than “what do you want for dinner?” You have a question. You need an answer. You have two separate questions: First, “do you ever want to get married again?” If he says yes, then go to the follow-up: “I appreciate the demands on your schedule, but I love you and would love to know how to get more quality time with you. I know you make the best effort you can via text, I know you don’t want to integrate me with your child, however it’s hard to feel like our relationship is escalating when we only see each other once a week. What do you think?” It may be a tough question, but you’re not attacking him or making him wrong. You’re a couple looking for a solution and a good boyfriend wants to make his girlfriend happy.

I can’t tell you what will happen, but I can assure you that there are millions of single moms and dads navigating this space with worse relationship partners. I can also assure you that there are millions more who have found a way to make things work in a second marriage, so if this guy can’t give you what you need, don’t be afraid of looking elsewhere for a man who can.

Please come back and let us know what transpires, okay?

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  1. 1

    Ah, this is fascinating.   I too am dating a perfect-for-me man who is a divorced dad I’ve been friends with for decades.   He has allowed me to forge an affectionate relationship with his kids but has emphasized to them that I’m a high school buddy.   (I’m amazed the sixth grader didn’t catch on when I joined them for a weekend vacation with other families last summer, and I’m a little nervous both kids will feel we’ve been dishonest with them once they figure it out.   We’ve scrupulously avoided lying, but the omission is pretty misleading…)   My boyfriend’s ex is sober and reliable if not particularly interested in being accommodating, so our challenges with making time for each other are more about being a long-distance relationship than about parenting responsibilities.   We went from dating other people to monogamous pretty much from the first date; the other milestones are well behind that “natural timeline.”   It occurs to me that I should have one of these talks with my SO not because I’m excited to get married again but because I know he’s open to the idea and I should probably be careful that I’m not stringing him along.

  2. 2

    Evan’s right, WE try our best and still, it often falls short- sooooo difficult to balance !   Please don’t take it personally IF your bf can’t do any better AT THIS TIME in his life; personally, the needs of my child AND my responsibility as a parent come first- I only get “one shot” at this and I’m going to do my best.   There have been times I’ve had to say to a guy ” I wish I could, but this is my reality right now; it will change, with time…”   In other words, the younger the child (obviously), the more attention and care they require, as they get into HS and college/whatever, then time commitments change and free up! (if all goes well, ha ha).

    Hopefully, a mutually satisfying arrangement can be figured out, but, sometimes…’s all a matter of timing.



    1. 2.1

      I giggled at the fact that you think your time will be freed more as the children age. I thought so too when my (5) girls were little. No, they need much more parenting, and the parenting tasks take longer as they grow older. The schedules are fuller BC they can now be involved in activities too. I have three teens in the house and two elementary age children. I had so much more time for everything when the girls were little, and I couldn’t have been more wrong in how I thought things would be as they got older.

  3. 3

    Hi Evan,


    Would you mind clarifying something for me. You don’t have to if you feel it will have negative effects; because you and I both know how easily people come in and turn a positive thread into something negative and argumentative, I will understand if you wish not to explain here.


    I’m a huge fan of your methodology, but your advice that women who want to get married should dump guys who don’t want to get married has me perplexed. Not because I do not understand why you are advising that course of action, but because it doesn’t flow (to me) with the rest of your ideology of tolerance.


    You advice women to tolerate men who watch porn, men who still talk to ex’s, men who want sex early on, men who on rare occasions visit strip clubs for a friends bachelor party, etc. In each case, you tell women to judge his over-all character not his lone action that she personally finds “negative”.   Because a man can be a good boyfriend/husband and still do things that she personally doesn’t like.


    I don’t understand what makes marriage different. If the man is being good to the woman and says he wants to be with her long-term, yet if she wants a definite proposal within 3 years, but he wants to continue living with her, but not marry her, you advise she should dump him.


    If she feels like that is something she can not live without, than I do agree dump him and find someone who makes you happy, instead of being unhappy with someone. But, it just seems petty to me. People divorce all the time, there is no guarantee that the marriage will last, plus, many people complain that with dating the problem is not quantity, but quality.


    People are always complaining about how hard it is to find a good partner, so why advise dumping a man who does not want to get married, but advice tolerating a guy who watches the occasional porno? Both men would treat her good and be faithful, marriage is just a title, and divorce can be crushing.


    Of course I am not talking about a man who while courting her, lies and says he wants to get married, and then strings her along for years; I’m talking about a guy who honestly upfront says he probably doesn’t want to get married.


    Anyway, since I admire your morals and values, and your wisdom and experience by far exceeds mine, I’m sure I just missed something.



    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I appreciate your lengthy and respectful question; I’m just baffled by what doesn’t make sense. This has nothing to do with tolerance. This has to do with different life goals.

      Man says he wants children. Woman doesn’t. Relationship should end right there. They want different things. Why prolong it for 3 years?

      Same thing with marriage. If a woman wants marriage and a man doesn’t, it would be foolish to invest 3 years hoping that he changes his mind. It’s a much better bet to find a man who DOES want to get married – there are plenty of ’em.

      All the variables you mentioned – the possibility that a man can be a great boyfriend, the possibility that marriages fail – are all irrelevant. It’s no different than saying to the man who wants kids, “Well, maybe your kid will do drug, or maybe there’ll be a custody battle.” People who want kids should exclusively date those who want kids. People who want to get married should exclusively date those who want to get married.

      I suspect you see marriage as an OPTIONAL thing, but for many of us, it’s a mandatory dealbreaker thing.

      1. 3.1.1



        What confused me was the venom many of the female comments had for subjects such as: guys who thought other women were more beautiful than his girlfriend, or the guy who watched the occasional porn. To all the angry commenters, all those issues are deal-breakers, yet you explained how they were not, his actions toward her were more important. He can watch porn and still be a good boyfriend. I guess I just see a man being a good boyfriend and still not wanting marriage being in the same boat; but I acknowledge that I still have much growing to do. I’ll just continue to listen and learn.


        Since you hate answering questions here, I will not continue to badger you, it was already kind enough for you to answer my original question.


        Thank You for responding. (^_^)



        1. Evan Marc Katz

          “I guess I just see a man being a good boyfriend and still not wanting marriage being in the same boat.”

          A guy CAN be a good boyfriend without wanting marriage. But if SHE wants marriage, it doesn’t matter that he’s a great boyfriend; he’s ultimately a waste of her time.

  4. 4

    Great answer Evan. I dated a guy two years ago whose divorce was almost final.   We had a great time together but it was only once a week.   He was very committed to his children, as he should have been. But I wanted a real full-time boyfriend. I ended up staying in it a little too long, ironically because part of why I loved him was because he was such a conscientious dad.   After 8+ months I realized he didn’t really have time for me, and he likely wouldn’t  anytime soon. With a heavy heart I ended things, knowing I had to put myself first.   Now I am so glad I did. Two years later, he is still “almost” divorced! I think in some cases, a divorced or nearly divorced guy will use his “divorced dad” status to avoid commitment and just maintain a “warm body” in his life.   I don’t blame the guy for this, because I allowed myself to be that warm body until I acknowledged that was probably all I would ever be.   All the more reason to come out and ask the man if he wants to remarry someday. After my experience I would, like Anne, be asking this question after 3 or 4 months.

    1. 4.1

      Good for you Sara. I took 18 months to accept this and move on.

  5. 5

    I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this. When I think about past relationships, I feel like there were some where I was more a part of their life (meaning I did more with their friends and family than they did with   mine, did more of the things they wanted to do, etc) and others where they were more a part of my life. Obviously, my best relationships were when we were pretty much equally involved in each other’s lives. I bring this up because this man has 50% custody of his 5 year old, who is and should be his priority, and given the issues with his ex, it’s quite possible he could end up with full custody. So… I’m just wondering if she has really considered the dynamics of this.

    1. 5.1

      KK said: “meaning I did more with their friends and family than they did with   mine, did more of the things they wanted to do

      My ex was like this.   She was very much a “mommy’s and daddy’s girl”. We spent at least one to two days each week with her parents and sometimes her brother.   We rarely spent time with any of my family.   Like once a year maybe.   While this wasn’t the deal-breaker for me, it was sometimes irritating.

  6. 6

    I’ve read Evan’s blog for several years, and the advice is sport on. 6 years ago i was in the same boat, dating a man who was just divorced with two children (50%) of the time. We dated for three months, the whole see each other once a week communicate by text thing. i knew he wasn’t ready, and it fizzled after 3 months. One year later I hadn’t found anyone i connected with more. I sent him a casual email- we dated the same way again. He still wasn’t ready for me to meet his children, as a result (he is a cop) he was either working or had his kids so we could still only still each other once a week. i ended it after three months and kept on looking and dating quite happily.


    Around New Year i sent him a tipsy text saying Happy New Year. He responded with a ‘ sweet message ending with i know what you want – can we just date?.. i took that to mean this was the third time round of the same thing. But this time, after a lot of learning from Evan and applying those philosophies i thought, ‘hell why not, no obligation, no expectation’. I’ll just have some fun with him, go out for nice dinners once a week, know its not going anywhere and keep looking. i figured either he’d step up or I’d meet someone else.

    Both of those things happened. When we started on the third time round i told him exactly that ‘no obligations, no expectations, we can both date other people, let’s just have fun’. i no longer expected or asked about meeting his kids, or viewed him as anything other than a fun short term prospect.

    Long story short- he started to act different over time, after a month or so he was calling , TWICE   A DAY’. I was astounded. He started to look at me differently- the kind of look you see when someone is about to tell you   ‘I love you’. I had completely stopped thinking of him as a serious prospect so i really was more bemused that encouraged. And around the same time, i met another great guy on a trip and invited him to visit. After trying to be discrete about why i wasn’t available that weekend I told him. H was devastated. At that point he told me to not have the guy visit and be his GF instead. He told me he was falling in love with me and surely i knew. I had no clue, after our history i had assumed this would be another round of the same. After much thinking i went ahead with the visit. The new guy was great, had no kids, was very interested, had already introduced me to his friends etc. All the things Evan tells you show someone is interested.

    To close the story, all weekend it felt wrong. When the new guy left i called him and told him I would talk to him. We went away for that weekend and he make an absolute commitment. He told me he loved me. I met his children the next weekend.

    We have been together ever since and married last September. I am a stepmom to his two children and, though that has its own challenges, we are completely happy and i expect will share the rest of our lives together. Now i have no doubt of this man’s love for me.

    We have since talked openly about those times, Round 1 he was just divorced and clearly not ready for anything serious, Round 2 he explains he was so unsure about me meeting his kids- he thought that was way too much for me and I’d ran a mile at the thought of all that baggage. Of course he didn’t explain that at the time, and to be honest, I think he wasn’t ready. Not sure if Evan said this- but a man has to be ready, willing, able and available. Even though i knew he was potentially a great man for me from the early days, it took him to Round 3 to realize i was everything he wanted and hoped for. After his divorce he told me he never thought he’d marry again, it took almost three years for him to be open to that idea in his own head.

    Although i think my situation is the exception rather than the rule, i.e. I tell my Gf’s i do not advocate this as a way of finding your life partner or spouse, maybe one of many ways but certainly the odds of success in breaking up and reconnecting are, i think very low, I’m sharing this story to show that   a man can change over time, but that time can be long and completely out of sync with what you are looking for. I would advocate that if you find a man that you think is perfect and he cant/won’t step up, keep looking, but if you don’t meet the next perfect guy, it may be worth giving the first guy another chance.

    1. 6.1

      Like I said in my earlier reply, “…  sometimes…’s all a matter of timing.”


  7. 7

    Dating a divorced dad is no picnic, for a single childless women. He has already done his most important and memorable milestone, life ‘firsts’ with some one else.   He has his kids and made his dreams come true via the traditional and respectable route. His life is ‘all set’ with children and eventual grandchildren, that come with blood ties and soul ties and legal ties, for the rest of his days on earth.   You would be- an outsider.   You are living with a man – who supports another women and children.   You are not getting the same deal that the ex wife did and will- including a chunk of his paycheck until kids are 18.   If they are younger, you will hear that the ‘kids come first” so you are in last place.   You will have daily reminders of this. In addition, the kids feel loyalty to their moms, and are often ‘chilly’ or just polite enough to step parents out of obligatory loyalty. You are putting him first but he’s not putting you first. He can’t. It’s not a 50/50 deal. More like 80/20? You get a relationship – sort of? I guess, as one gets older, and the single child free bachelors become fewer, this is a reality for women who want a partner? You need to decide if it is better to be alone living your own life, or waiting longer, or trying to ‘blend’ into another woman’s family.

    1. 7.1
      Emily, the original


      There are plenty of divorced dads (my friend’s dad was one) who make it very clear the woman in his life is more important than his kids. Her dad even told her that when she was a child: If it came down to it, he would chose her stepmother.

      1. 7.1.1

        If any man said to me I was more important than his kids, I would run for the hills.

        1. Lola

          An awesome answer. Someone who dared to bring a helpless child onto this world yet makes a girlfriend his priority. When people have children, the children should be their priority  until they are 18 as children are  dependent on their parents. But I would never date a single dad for that reason. That is why I think that relationships should be 50/50 work from both partners, which can be achieved only if they are playing at the same level field. Single fathers should be dating single mothers, childless people should date other chičdless people. As far as I am concerned, everyone should date who the hell they want to date, but this is my opinion.

        2. Lillian Lim


    2. 7.2

      Exactly what I was thinking before reading your comment.

      1. 7.2.1

        If a man is divorced and has a child and remarries. There is nothing wrong with having your marriage me the priority. In any marriage you are one. The child benefits from a strong relationship like that. By saying he put his marriage first doesn’t mean the child doesn’t matter. But is everyone thinking each person is more or less important.
        Obviously the statement isn’t referring to leaving the child behind.
        I’m 24 and I dont think you understand that if the parent isn’t happy it will effect the child for the rest of its life. My stepdad and stepmom made all decisions together showed me how to communicate when you. Didn’t agree. There’s no competition of how can put their child on the highest pedestal. Happy mom/ dad; happy child.
        No this doesn’t concern every single situation so don’t come with that.

    3. 7.3


      By the time you are in your mid-30s and older, when it comes to the men of your own age who have never been married or had children, there is usually a good reason why, ie. they often have commitment or emotional issues.

      On the other hand, divorced dads often know how to be kind, caring, selfless and responsible due to having others’ lives in their hands.

      The world is not so black and white.

  8. 8

    Lurking, as a divorced dad myself I really disagree with the generalizations you are making here about divorced dads.   I have 2 great kids who I am dedicated and live in my house 50% of nights.   I have an ex-wife with whom I have a child support arrangement (with both of us contributing) and with whom I co-parent the kids (mostly via kids-focused to the point texts and e-mail).     But my “household” and my family consists of my kids and me only.   That leaves a heck of lot open for a relationship (and I’m in a great one actually) and an opportunity to do things right in that department this time around and for someone to be the love of my life– and also expansion of that family.   That person will / does:

    – get romanced and courted by me

    – share my bed, be a source of passion, etc.

    – be my #1 partner, supporter and me to them– a source of mutual vulnerability

    – have a full fledged opportunity to be a bonus mom to my kids (as time goes on)

    – be someone with whom I share fun trips, dinners, activities, etc. — someone I make a lifetime of memories with

    Maybe not a picnic, but certainly something I know my fiance is very happy to part of.   And I don’t think my situation is the exception out there– I think it’s becoming more the norm.   I think we should assume other divorced dads out there on the dating market have just as much to give.

    1. 8.1

      I don’t know if it’s “more the norm” just yet….The ex-wife’s state of emotional health and happiness is of great importance in this scenario, so good for you guys!

      May I respectfully ask if your finance has or wishes to have kids of her “own”?

      Best of luck to you both-

      1. 8.1.1

        Actually, my ex-wife is not in a great state of emotional health and happiness (as far as I can tell), but to be fair she does hide it from the kids.   The key however is that I’m committed to not let any of this stuff impact my ability to meet needs of my partner and kids.   Letting her have an impact “on my household” is a choice and in my own control.

        My fiancé does have a child of her own and we may have more together.   But my philosophy on these things was no different when I was on the dating market and open to a new partner who did not have kids.

        I really think the expectation should be that divorced dads out there have full households to build and “as much to give” as other guys out there.

        1. sophia

          Thanks for the info!

          I think the key – and challenge, in ANY life situation – is to keep an open mind and “collect data” , since every person and every situation is unique, usually with moving parts, to boot!

          Quite the challenge, indeed….

          ps. Kudos to you, Scott, for taking control of what impacts your household, hopefully you’ll always be able to….!

    2. 8.2

      There is nothing wrong with you or what you have to offer as long as you and your future mate are at the same level-playing field. If she has no children or commitments to her ex-husband and has only children and commitments with you, then she is receiving much less than you. She will be putting you first whereas you will not be able to put her first all the time, if ever, since your child should be your priority. Whereas she will be sharing you with your children and ex wife, you will not be sharing her.  She will be focused only on you and your mutual children and you will have to share that focus with your other children and ex-wife.

      And if you find a childless woman who is willing to be your partner, it is all good. But it is wrong and selfish to think that childless women should not disregard you for  already being a father.

      I am not calling you selfish or assuming anything bad about you. I actually liked your post and wanted to share with you how I think. But for the sake of everyone to have their needs met in a relationship, it may be  better to be given as much as you offer yourself. It is only fair.


    3. 8.3

      I was dating someone long distance nearly for 10months. We both find each other comfortable. We shared about our personal issues and family issues. He showed compassion and so did I. He just recently divorced, I know how draining it was for his custody battle. That was 2months after I know him. He has 4 kids, the eldest is 16 and the youngest is 8. He’s broke. His house goes to his ex, and all his money. All matters to him was his access to his kids.  
      Now, even though he struggled so much about this, I don’t hesitate to lend an ear to him and embrace his vulnerability. I am very compassionate kind of person. I understand him how hard he went through. I tried to make him a good company. Make him happy. Make him smile. Lift up his spirit.  
      We created our own relationship. We become intimate. We become so closed to each other like we’ve known for a long time.  
      We both are living in a place where we both came from different countries. We work abroad. He work in a ship. Every after a month he need to go back to his country for holiday for one month. Whenever he is in his country, I understand that he have to give his full energy to his 4kids. We chatted consistently everyday and skype once a week. I consider that 100%. I have no issues with that becaue I am a parent myself. I have one son too.  
      So, to make it short. Time come that the ship that was being built need to sail already. Now,he have no choice but to leave the country to sail and to be destined to the North Pole. And that would be very hard for both of us because one thing is for sure, he isn’t financially stable at the moment and he can’t afford to travel to my place to see me. Plus, he is dealing with his alimony , 50% of his income will goes to his ex, plus the 4kids needs.
      This sounds awful. But he was just being realistic, he broke up with me yesterday because, he is finding it so hard to cope up and long distance relationship do not work for him. Then, he can’t make much time for us whenever he is back to his country, plus the awful time zone difference. Also, once he need to be back to the ship, he has to work 13hrs whenever he is in control room working.  
      He wish me good, and told me I am always special to him and to hold dear the memories that we had. Our relationship was just so great together. But maybe we are just not mean’t to be. It’s hard. When you say goodbye to a person that mean so much for you. He always regret that the situation could not be different for us.  
      I have no choice. I have to move on. Because nobody else knows what tomorrow will bring. I love him, and he does love me too. But love ain’t enough to keep it going.
      Maybe time will come that our path will cross again. It is actually breaking my heart at the moment, especially when thinking all the memories we had was just so wonderful.

    4. 8.4

      kudos..def my goal of a man in life  

  9. 9
    GoWithThe Flow


    Evan’s advice is spot on, and it is good to find out this information early into the relationship.   I would like to add that just because a divorced man says he would remarry, it doesn’t mean he is anywhere near being emotionally and practically ready to do so.

    I once dated a recently divorced (it was acrimonious) dad of two teenagers that I initially had very high hopes for.   I asked early on (I believe it was date #3) if he would ever want to remarry and without hesitation he said yes. We usually went out twice a week, talked on the phone most evenings when we weren’t together, spent a few weekends away, and he invited me to spend the holidays with his parents, sister and her family, and his kids were present.

    Several months in, I realized that the relationship wasn’t escalating.   My boyfriend wasn’t including me in plans he had with his kids, while he had had a significant amount of interaction with my college aged son.   And I wasn’t expecting a lot to begin with, maybe just to meet up with them for dinner or a movie, or to be invited to attend one of his kids’ sports event.   After eight months, I asked my BF if he was going to include me in any events with his kids and he replied, ‘I just can’t do that” but didn’t give any specifics.

    I walked away from the relationship after that, although according to the friends (a married couple) who set us up, he was surprised I ended it.   I don’t know why because early on in the relationship, I had told him I wanted to get married and after he said he wasn’t willing to move things to the next level, I flat out told him that I didn’t want to be a perpetual girlfriend, I wanted a husband and a family unit.

    Looking back, I should have paid attention earlier to the fact he had his life compartmentalized and wasn’t integrating me into it.   But I think I put too much stock into him having told me that he wanted to remarry, when in reality his actions were saying “but not to you.”   Lesson learned:   make sure words are backed up by behavior!

    1. 9.1

      @Go- I struggle with the “I shoulda paid more attention to…”   It’s so easy to reflect back on something and identify it as a bad omen but observing something and trying to predict its signfiicance for the future is nearly futile.   Like Evan says, you have to invest the time to find out and there is no way to circumvent the investment (unless it’s really glaring).     Other advice that I like is- once you observe a red flag, give it a definite time period of x months and guard your emotional investment.   If they don’t come around in that time period, bail.   No need for ultimatums.


      -ignored too many glaring warnings

      1. 9.1.1
        GoWithThe Flow


        “Other advice that I like is- once you observe a red flag, give it a definite time period of x months and guard your emotional investment.   If they don’t come around in that time period, bail.”

        That is so true.   I knew after 3 months that we were in a set routine where the relationship wasn’t escalating.   I could have bailed anytime after then and I would have been available to date other men who were emotionally or functionally available to actually be in a relationship that really led to marriage.   I think my exBF liked the idea of remarrying as a idealized goal like it’s my ideal goal to have a beach house.   A nice goal to strive for that I am incapable of achieving any time soon if ever, due to “stuff.”

  10. 10

    Anne, you may be interested in my experience with this. In less than a month of meeting, my now husband was trying to spend every available evening with me and he called every day, even on vacation with his kids. He has 50-50 custody of two. They weren’t as young as five but one is autistic so equally as dependent as a five year old.

    He introduced me to them at the 2 month mark. It went so well we spent all day, the four of us, and soon I spent most of his child-free time with him and much of his child custody time as well. We began functioning as a full time couple with or without kids present.

    Everyone’s timeline is different but I would say your bf’s not needing to see you more than once a week at four months is noteworthy. I highly recommend you follow Evan’s advice. A huge part of marriage is being able to work out these feelings and issues together so give it a try.

    If your boyfriend wants more time with you and a future with you he may be afraid to scare you off if you see the nitty-gritty of parenthood/troubled ex-wife issues too soon. You can tell him you’re ready to explore that part of his life and face it together.
    Or it could be a sign that his sex drive is considerably lower than yours.
    Or it could be that he is simply happy with things as they currently are and plans never to change it up.

    Those are all key data points you will need in either moving the relationship forward or discovering you are not the best partners for each other after all.

    So, bottom line, I would say the presence of children does not give the man (or woman) a free pass not to behave like a full partner in a relationship. He can set the rules for his son’s childhood (“junior never will see me with another woman!” etc) but you have the power to set the rules for your own life and you deserve a full partner as much as anyone else does.   If he intends to spend the next 16 years disappearing 50% of the time I would recommend you opt out.

    (FWIW We’ve been married 3 years now)




  11. 11

    Evan, I would appreciate more posts om dating men with kids. There are so many dilemmas!!!

    1. 11.1

      Hello  .If you want to know about dating men with kids, this is what you should know.

      His children will be his priority and not you, which is how it is supposed to be since they are dependent on him. You will be sharing his focus with his ex-wife too. If you marry him, you will have only one priority and family and he will have 2 families=2 priorities.  You will be receiving much less than you are giving.

      And keep in mind that dating them is not such a problem as being long-life partners with them.


      Please learn from those who have been through this and then decide.

      Take care.

  12. 12

    As a single mum with a roughly 60/40 split of childcare with my ex I can honestly say making time for more than one “date night” a week is not a problem when you really like someone. Assuming the children are older than 3 then you have even your childcare evenings free to have your partner over for dinner. Before you yell “what about the children waking up”, I’m fairly sure you would have no problem having a friend over for dinner so it is really a non-issue if they wake up and find you having dinner with your “friend”. You are also fortunate to have 3 additional nights a week with no child care commitments where you can go out on dates.


    i feel children or no-children, any guy who is only seeing you once a week after 4 months is not making time for you. I suggest having the adult conversation with him. He can either step-up or step out.

    As a commited single mum I have found time to date and now co-habit with my current partner. We discussed our ideas on marriage early on (both open to it) and we are now looking to get married next year. It needn’t be that hard to make time when you really want to.

  13. 13

    I reverse this as a divorced woman with 50/50 timeshare with my ex husband. My children are also non driving teenagers now. I have the time available to date (obviously) and invest in a man on the weeks when I don’t have the children. On the weeks when I do have the kids, there is always time that I can break away once there’s been some positive movement on the man’s part. What I mean is on my hustle weeks when I have the kids, I’ll invest time running to make a quick lunch in between work, meeting early for coffee and meeting for a late dinner (after I’ve had dinner with my kids) or if they’re willing to meet me by a nearby movie theater, park/nature trail, etc. however we choose to spend time together that keeps me close to home and isn’t ALL weekend long.

    Being career and family oriented, I know how life can function while being a divorced parent with responsibilities. Therefore, when I note that a man in a comparable situation (particularly if they have comparable time share) are NOT making an effort to see me more than once per week that is a red flag. This to me means he’s juggling multiple women or is just looking for a periodic warm body. With that, I feel completely comfortable and confident in plainly asking what their relationship goals are. I’ve heard a variety from ‘not looking for anything remotely serious’ to ‘yes, I want to get married within 1-2 years once I’ve met a woman that I connect with’.



  14. 14

    It seems that this guy is the one who has all the control in the relationship, and you are the one who wants more, which gives him even more control. Besides all of that, which gives him additional control is his role of a father, which places you on the  halt  and at his mercy whether or not he wants to include you in his life. You, on the other hand, are passive and waiting for his approval. This is not the same level-playing field at all. I am not saying that he should be the only one who is pursuing, but this arrangement is not appealing to me. And you are right, he will always be in control. You may end up on his 3rd place after his children and ex-wife. I would rather date a guy with a similar family situation to mine.It is only fair.

    1. 14.1

      I split with my current boyfriend after almost 3 years together because he wasn’t over his divorce, he has a daughter and he has her 3 weekends out of 4 and two nights a week, I have two children and they go to their dads every other weekend, we were still spending weekends apart when we both had our children, which I couldn’t understand, he dotes on her, which was lovely, but he told me to my face she came first which is nice for her but hurt me.They went on holiday together without us after spending Christmas apart too so I ended it.   We split for 2 years talking on the dating website occasionally then got back together a few months ago – things have sort of changed, we are engaged now but we are constantly arguing about these weekends apart, he says the only way we can be together all the time is to live together…which is great but we both own our own houses we we would   have to sell both and buy one together – how long is that going to take? He only lives around 15 miles away why can’t we just be together for a few hours on a sat? He thinks I’m being unreasonable and I want it all now, which I do u don’t see why we have to wait.   When I’ve not got my boys I go to his but then I’m with his child so it’s not time on our own.   He comes on the evenings (2 to 3 nights) when he’s not got his child. I don’t know whether to walk away again he seems uninterested in my feelings.   But we are engaged so it could change?! Why’s it never easy?!   In those 2 years apart it was constant dating – so hard.

  15. 15

    These are sadly unsurprising posts. Man spends too much time with his kids – not a keeper. Man depressed because he doesn’t spend enough time with his kids – problematic, not a keeper. Man doesn’t want to risk everything he owns for another round at the marriage roulette table – not a keeper.

    Message: woman want the legal and financial security of marriage (and don’t like men who avoid the legal and financial liability of marriage, and its ugly feminist stepsister, divorce) and to be his sole focus of attention. Perhaps the egoism and narcissism of this female perspective is why men in America have less and less interest in this outdated, biased institution.

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