Does Dating A Single Dad Mean I Have to Do All the Heavy Lifting?

Are you dating a single dad, having problems, and wondering if you’re doing the right thing? You’re not alone.

Being a single parent comes with significant responsibilities, including child support and managing a relationship with his ex-wife. Even if he has 50/50 custody, a single dad often has a harder time than a single guy balancing his obligations to his work, children, and partner.

Does this mean that you should pass on all single fathers? Or that you should relax your expectations about how much time he can give? The answer may be both. You want to be with a man who is a good father; at the same time, if you find you’re constantly dissatisfied with him, you may need to find a guy who is more available.

In this article, dating coach Evan Marc Katz outlines his expert tips to help you make the right decision in dating a single dad.

I’m 36 and like kids. He’s been divorced for 6 years and has a 7-year-old daughter. He’s told me he prefers to date women with no kids as we have more free time. He has 50/50 custody. 

It’s been nearly two months since we have started dating each other. Because he’s a very involved father, we don’t get to see each other often, which I’m fine with; I wouldn’t even date him if he wasn’t an involved dad. Sometimes a few days will go by, and I wouldn’t hear from him, and it seems lately I’ve been making all of the plans. 

Not sure if he’s just getting lazy or just so busy that me taking over all the planning is one less thing he has to worry about. He looks forward to us spending time together, and we get along great. 

I feel really comfortable with him. Like I can be myself. But I’m not sure I want to be the one taking all the initiative? Is this what it’s like dating a single dad, or is it just THIS single dad?


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Great question, Erin.

Your question isn’t specific to divorced dads, but it is endemic to divorced dads.

Meaning: There are lots of men who will date you but are too passive, lazy, insecure, busy,  or ambivalent to be good boyfriends. There are just MORE who are single dads.

There are lots of men who will date you but are too passive, lazy, insecure, busy or ambivalent to be good boyfriends.

Why? Because single dads have a very valid built-in excuse for why their limited attention is all they can give. You can’t really argue with a guy who says he wants to be a good father.

Having never been a divorced father, I want to tread lightly. But, from my vantage point, if your guy has been divorced for six years and has a 50/50 custody situation with a 7-year-old girl, he and his ex should have a pretty good rhythm that leaves him a reasonable amount of free time on either weekdays, weekends or every other week.

So it’s not that I don’t believe him — or any man — who has important parental obligations that come first, but rather, I believe my own rule about guys: “men do what they want.”

If he wants to call, he’ll call. If he wants to see you, he’ll see you.   If he wants to make plans with you, he’ll make plans with you. If he wants to commit to you, he’ll commit to you.

And if he doesn’t — if you’re the easygoing, patient, “I totally-understand-you’re-a-single-dad” woman who is not getting her relationship needs met, you need to tell him just that.

“Hey, Dan, it’s been fun getting to know you these past few months. I really enjoy our time together and appreciate how important it is for you to be a great father. 


However, I feel like I’m always the one taking the initiative to see you. It’s not like I’m keeping score or anything, but when I have to do all the reaching out, I don’t feel particularly valued or cherished.

Do you think we figure out a way to set up a regular schedule when I can expect to hear from you and see you so that we can both get our needs met?

It’s not an insult. It’s not an attack. It’s an observation about your own feelings that give him an opportunity to either step up or step out.

Chances are, he’ll hear you, acknowledge you, and maybe even try to accommodate you, but I wouldn’t expect much to change. This is who he is. This is what he’s able to offer. It’s up to you, as CEO of your love life, to decide if he’s worth keeping around when you have to do all the heavy lifting. Personally, I think every woman is worthy of a man who makes an active effort to see her and I would hold out for no less.

This is who he is. This is what he’s able to offer.