Dating Men With Kids: Good Or Bad Idea?

So, you’re thinking of dating a single Dad. Maybe you’re a woman with her own children who is worried about integrating families. Maybe you’re a woman who wants her own children and didn’t envision helping to raise someone else’s children. Maybe you’re a woman who didn’t want children at all and you met a single father that you can see a future with. There’s a lot to unpack here, so stick around as I explain to you the good and bad of dating a single dad.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Adan

    I am in my mid thirties. I have dated two men with kids, one seriously. To be honest I do not recommend it. It is better to go with younger men, if you have to choose. Men with kids comes with a lot of baggage, also on top of that, being divorced after kids a lot of times meant they have major issues in the relationship department, which was why their marriage failed after having children.
    On top of that, YOU WILL BE BOTTOM OF THE LIST. After their kids and jobs. They are already not good at relationship to begin with, then when it comes to a time that he is under stress and he has to give up one, that would be you. Due to failed relationships in the past, they don’t consider women as a necessity because they now know you can leave, while his kids and jobs won’t. You will be tested again and again before they let you in, which you don’t deserve.
    Of course there are men who are matured and can handle the delicate situation better, but these men are hard to find in a divorced dad because the reason they divorced a lot of times was because they suck at relationships. It’s possible but rarely.

    I used to think having kids wouldn’t be a huge issue. But it really is.

  2. 2
    Malika

    I ‘m so glad Evan tackled this subject. After a certain age (and that age looms up quite quickly), the chances of him already having kids goes up drastically. If you are already at the age that you no longer flailing around blindly on the dating scene and have decided to consult blogs such as Evan’s, you have pretty much arrived at it!
    A few things sprang out in this podcast. As someone who has a relationship with a dad and is very happy within it, I would like to give my own comments:

    You can’t fully understand parenthood as a non-parent.

    Agree absolutely. You will never know what it’s like to take on such a role until you have had kids yourself. That doesn’t mean you are shut out of this part of his life. Some people think you become an unimportant appendix in this situation. You can give him emotional support and sympathize with the difficulty of the situation. By being his listening ear and partner, you have a very important role. You provide companionship, support and also the chance to siwtch off from being a parent when the kids are with the other parent.

    They don’t own their schedule.

    Unfortunately, this is also true. There will be last minute changes and sometimes plans need to be ditched. What I would watch out for is the magnitude of this, as there are dates who hide behind this fact. They never seem to have more than crumbs of time for you, they are never ‘able’ to make you a priority in the scheduling process. You lower your expectations past what is reasonable, as you argue to yourself that you are dating a dad. Watch out for this. You are also a priority. If he does not treat you as a priority in this situation, you can be sure he wouldn’t have treated you as a priority when he was childless. If you always have to give in to crumbs, I say he is not making enough of an effort, regardless of his situation. The schedule Evan gives is reasonable, you can base your expectatons on this.

    After 40 and no kids as a requirement thins out your dating pool.

    He either doesn’t want them, or there is a reason no one wanted to build a family with him. The reasons could be disagreeable personality, substance abuse, irresponsible with money and such, in which case you do not want to be building a family with him either, unless he has reformed his ways. The reasons could be more benign such as career focus or being a Peter Pan. These guys usually want to date younger women and not be on a strict timeline with someone their own age. At any age, and however high your capital on the dating market, you have to make a trade off. Him already having kids is by far not the worst one you could make. I met my boyfriend’s kids after a year of dating (we consciously decided to take it slow). I thought and still think they are wondeful and spending time with them is a treat. I love my child free life and at the same time I love having them as a part of my life. It is not what I would have ideally chosen, but would now not have it any other way. Maybe your future stepkids will be a lovely bonus in your life too. It is something to think about as you wonder what you can be flexible on.

    Last but not least, do your research. As soon as is tactfully possible, inquire as to whether he wants more kids. If he’s done, take it at face value. If he has had the snip, don’t try to talk him into reversing it. He’s done for a reason, there are plenty of other men who do want kids. Don’t waste your time and look further for the dad of your children.

  3. 3
    Dotty

    You are right. Men with kids suck. They expect you to settle and take whatever crumbs come your way.

  4. 4
    Michelle

    I agree with @Malika’s view here, more balanced perspective. If you have a bad experience with a guy with kids, it’s probably more to do with the guy himself, he’s not really feeling you, or unrealistic expectations. Men with kids will have demands on his time and priorities men without them won’t have. That is true and you will need to be flexible. If he ditches you last minute on the reg, it’s because he’s not feeling you, or he’s hiding behind his kids. I find men with kids who have been married before can also be more thoughtful, patient, mature; being married and a father will make a man grow up with lots of lovely benefits that come with that. I don’t have kids and dated men with kids and have had both experiences; a couple sucked (turns out it’s because the guy sucked and the other because he eventually got back with the mother) and others where I got to have the best of both worlds; my single freedoms and these great kids I got to spend time with. I think it comes down to having realistic expectations; (ie a man with kids will have demands on his time, last minute cancellations, etc vs. non dads) and appreciating the qualities that make him a dedicated dad can also make him a wonderful, caring boyfriend or partner. If a man truly cares for you, he will find a way to make you feel loved and special, despite some of these challenges.

  5. 5
    Adan

    Very practical and true!

  6. 6
    Lucy

    I dated a divorced man with kids who were high school and college age. He was a wonderful father, and had many of the qualities you look for in a man: steady job, priorities straight, not into the bar scene. However, he was also a big extended family person and would ditch me for things like fixing his mother’s boiler. I let it slide a few times, but after a while left the relationship feeling emotionally starved.

  7. 7
    Norm

    @Adan,

    If you’re a mid-thirties woman and still dating, you’re prob not the best at relationships either.

  8. 8
    M

    I’m a mom in my 40’s and am in a serious relationship with a dad in his 40’s. We sometimes have to run around/hide our dates because he doesn’t want to deal with his kid’s drama tantrums about him going out with me. I hate the dishonesty! My kids are very agreeable and have caused him zero problems. Dating single parents in general will always involve some degree of scheduling difficulty, but I would argue that’s true for anyone with any responsibilities. If someone works in healthcare, their work schedule may conflict with yours. If someone has a disabled sibling to care for, that might take over their time.

    I’ve dated other dads and they were perfectly fine. I think it just depends on the dad and the kid(s) / the person and how they choose to manage their responsibilities/priorities, regardless of what those responsibilities may entail. It’s all about the trade offs, too. It annoys me to no end that my man caters to his kid (in my family, my kids know I’m the boss), but he’s otherwise so attentive and caring toward me that he’s made it worth the aggravation/he makes up for it.

  9. 9
    airapparent

    I’ll weigh in here as well. I’m 39, divorced for 5 years, and had made the decision with my ex-husband that we didn’t want children. When I first got divorced, I was 34 and had the opportunity to start over and re-decide on my choice to have kids or not. I decided that I didn’t want biological children but was open to someone I dated having children. I love kids, but just do not want that lifestyle 24/7. Since then, I have dated two men who were single fathers. I really didn’t have any issues with the kids in either one. I found that it was nice to have a schedule and to know ahead of time days/weekends that I could book girls nights or time for myself, knowing he had the kids. Once things got more serious I could opt in or out on the family time. I found the children actually enhanced our relationship and found myself looking forward to proms, graduations, weddings, grand children etc. When the relationships ended it added another level of loss, and I felt terrible for the children it impacted. I think it truly depends on the guy and how he handles himself and prioritizes the relationship he has with you as much as the one he has with his kids (or at least makes it come across that way). I was also fortunate that the ex-wives didn’t cause any issues either. The kids thing does add an extra layer, if you will , because your relationship is no longer just about you but the dynamic between you, your boyfriend, his children, and his ex, and that can be a lot.

  10. 10
    Adan

    @airapparent
    I find a lot of it has to do with if they actually learnt from their divorces/mistakes. Many separated exactly because they are not relationship materials at the time. That being said, if they have learnt from their mistakes and mature up, that is a different story. It is also good to be realistic that the majority of the population don’t change, which is why second marriage have a significantly higher percentage for divorce.
    I still keep an open mind, but due to the experiences I have had, single dads wouldn’t be my top choices if I have other options.

  11. 11
    Kitty

    At 38 I did find the proverbial needle in the haystack: a 40 year old man who was childless and never married but eager to start a family. I didn’t have kids either, and we were both conscious about seeking childless mates. My mother-in-law is my father-in-law’s second wife and she absorbed a lot of stress by raising her stepson and dealing with his highly dysfunctional mother. This made my husband particularly unenthusiastic about dating single parents.

    I only dated one single dad and found it to be an experience I didn’t care to repeat. One of his sons played in a traveling soccer team, and he spent every other weekend traveling out of state. So I’d have gotten every other weekend with him, at most. He wasn’t a bad person he just had a rather immature desire to have sex and companionship with no relationship responsibilities. And who among us, especially when we are stressed and spread thin, doesn’t want to get something for nothing? But I got rid of him.

    Nonetheless, Evan’s advice is relatively sound. Not every single dad is the same, and if you are in your late 30s/early 40s and want kids most childless men your age who want kids will be looking for younger women. Finding a compatible man whose personality, situation and children are compatible with yours will not be easy but it can be done. But don’t waste your time with the single dads who are so stressed by their divorces and other drama that they want a comfortable distraction rather than a commitment.

    And while it is possible for men to learn from their divorces and do the hard self-improvement work of understanding their role in the marital breakdown and how to nip such problems in the bud if they come up again, Adan is right that it is not terribly likely. But they do exist and if you pay close attention to a divorced man (with or without children) they usually quickly reveal if they are irredeemably bitter, emotionally shut down, or defensively selfish. And then you move on. If you have kids a single dad is a much better marital prospect than a childless man. My sister is a single mom and dating a childless man. They are a good match in many ways, but their relationship has kinda hit a dead end because he doesn’t want to be a full time dad and neither of them want to permanently break up.

    When I was dating in my late 30s I encountered more than a few guys who were 43-50 who were looking for women under 35 to start families with. Few were interested in me, but I sometimes wondered when they’d realize that they’d aged out of being marriageable to attractive, intelligent, childless women under 35. And what they’d do with themselves after that.

  12. 12
    Yet Another Guy

    @Kitty

    If a man makes to age 40 without marrying or becoming a father, he will often adopt the attitude that marriage is optional. He is okay with chasing younger women and striking out because he knows persistence is on his side. Eventually, to the chagrin of women his age, he will find a younger woman who says “yes.” I have several old male friends who never married. The played the game this way until they decided that they no longer wanted to play the game.

    By the way, I married a women seven years my junior at age thirty-seven, so I was guilty of what you are saying. Had I not met my ex-wife, I probably would have never married like my a few of my friends.

    The reality is that guys are not as relationship driven as women. That is due to the fact that men and women have different primal needs when it comes to pair bonding. Men are not hairy women and women are not hairless men. Mate date for different reasons than women, especially men who make it out of their twenties without marrying. Men who have aged out of the inexperienced twenty-something stage do not date with the goal of a long-term relationship in mind. They date with the goal of find a sex partner who is fun. As Evan regularly mentions, men look for sex and find love. I know that the male approach to dating confounds a lot of women. They used the word “immature” to describe their lack of understanding when it comes to how men pair bond. Men do not pair bond this way because they are immature. Men pair bond this way because pair bonding for both men and women is primal in nature and a man’s inner caveman is telling him that the best chance he has for the proliferation of his genes is to mate with as many women as possible. Not all men have that option, but those who do exercise their options to the dismay of the women with whom they are involved.

  13. 13
    Jeremy

    Kitty and YAG,
    I disagree with YAG’s assertion that men aren’t driven to seek relationships. Many are. And the contents of men and women’s pie-charts of wants aren’t that different in content. They’re just different in weighting.

    Kitty, your use of the word “immature” when writing about men wanting companionship and sex without commitment caught my eye. It’s not immaturity. In fact, I’d posit that it is immaturity to consider the wants of others as immaturity, rather than simply different than yours. After all, is it not a fair assertion that a man seeking sex and companionship should offer sex and companionship in return? He is not asking for “something for nothing.” Not unless a woman considers her own sex and companionship as being worth something and the man’s worth nothing. And how common is that consideration?

    You wrote about the difficulties women experience with divorced men – bitterness, selfishness, emotional unavailability. And you wrote that few men (in your experience) do the work of overcoming these to become good partners. I think that’s probably true. I’d only add that equally rare is the woman who understands that her paradigm isn’t mature just because it’s hers, and because her girlfriends agree. The work to be done isn’t limited to one gender, nor to divorcees.

  14. 14
    A

    @YAG
    explains why you are divorced…? LOL hey nothing wrong with what you seek but just know you are your friends are just one type of men, and it is not the type that women seek to marry.
    But why are you on Evan’s website if you just wanna have sex and fun? Spend your time on Tinder!!! Evan would be a waste of time for ya! LOL

  15. 15
    Adan

    @Jeremy
    I actually have to disagree with what you said about men seeking help and change after a divorce. It is actually a fact that wayyyyy more women seek help/change/improvement than men. My coach’s client are 98% female. He himself say men are wayyyy less likely to seek change and spiritual growth and he is a man himself. You can also ask Evan, as well as other shrink or psychologists who accept both male and female clients, what their stats are like.

  16. 16
    Jeremy

    I’m aware of the stats, Adan. Aware that women seek help more often than men from professionals, books, etc. But help with what? Do they seek to better understand men so that they can BE better partners to a man, or do they seek help to better obtain what they, the women, want? My observation is the former.

    I’ve observed men flock by the thousands to pickup artistry sites in an effort to learn and grow. They haven’t gotten what they wanted from women in the past, and they’re determined to learn how to better get it in the future. They aren’t learning with the aim of having a happier female partner, they are learning with the aim of themselves being happier.

    And in the end, how different are they from the women you cited, seeking help in their own domains? Sure, men seek help when it comes to sex, and women seek help when it comes to relationships. But each gender is seeking help in getting what they, themselves, want. How many train to actually BE better partners to members of the opposite gender? Not with the goal of getting what they themselves want, but rather to better learn to love a person whose priorities are not the same as their own…

    Consider Kitty’s comment above. The man who wanted sex and companionship was “immature.” He was expecting “something for nothing.” How many women who’ve sought help and advice come out with the conclusion that they need better boundaries, to fix their picker to choose men who better jive with their paradigms? Have we learned anything, really, when all we’ve learned is how best to avoid compromise?

    Women seek help more often than men, agreed. But do they learn to be better PARTNERS as a result of all that help? Or do they just get further mired in their own perspective? I’d love to believe the former. But it’s not my observation.

  17. 17
    Emily, to

    Jeremy
    “Consider Kitty’s comment above. The man who wanted sex and companionship was “immature.” He was expecting “something for nothing.” How many women who’ve sought help and advice come out with the conclusion that they need better boundaries, to fix their picker to choose men who better jive with their paradigms? Have we learned anything, really, when all we’ve learned is how best to avoid compromise?”
    There’s noting to compromise on. It sounds like she wants a relationship. He wants something casual. They are at an impasse.

  18. 18
    Jeremy

    That’s fair, Em. I wouldn’t have suggested otherwise. But the judgment of immaturity where perspectives differed, the notion that she was giving lots but getting nothing… that’s a symptom of an attitude that is highly problematic in relationships. It will, in my experience, raise its head whenever conflict arises. Two people who disagree but respect each other’s opinions can compromise. But a person can’t compromise effectively with a person whose opinion and world view they don’t respect. Some might think the solution is to find someone whose opinion and world view matches yours. And that is good advice, but will only take one so far. Because no ones world view will match yours exactly.

    The most important lesson to learn relationships has nothing to do with spiritual growth. It has to do with learning to accept the views of one’s partner as valid. That their wants are as important as your own. I say, as I’m about to scrub baseboards I don’t even look at.

  19. 19
    jo

    FWIW, I see nothing wrong with seeking advice on how to improve one’s outcomes, if one is spending their own money on it. Sometimes that may involve giving to get, but more and more, people rightly care about whether they would in fact get what they want – and again, there is nothing wrong with that.

    If women see that men are not meeting them halfway in the work of a relationship, then it makes sense that they seek advice on how to find best outcomes in this current status quo. Not to try to change someone else. This is why the most emotionally evolved men have scads of women admiring them. (Genuinely emotionally evolved men – not self-proclaimed ‘nice guys’ – real-life nice men never refer to themselves that way.)

  20. 20
    Jeremy

    @Jo – all people rightly care about what they get. Problem is, if what one wants is a good relationship, one needs to focus equally on the giving. This is rarely taught. Evan focuses on it, but few others do. Relationships are, by definition, two-sided. It reminds me of a speech I once heard by a rabbi, talking about prayer. He said that prayer is a way of developing a relationship with God. I couldn’t help but chuckle. What kind of relationships must that guy have, to think of a completely one-sided paradigm as a “relationship”?

    You wrote, “This is why the most emotionally evolved men have scads of women admiring them.” I wish this were true. It isn’t. It is a big “should” that obscures reality. It’s hard for a woman who has not walked an inch in the shoes of a man to understand men. It’s not impossible, but it takes effort. Specifically, the effort to overcome the “shoulds” one believes and look at reality.

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