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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  1. 21
    Emily, to

    “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. ”
    I don’t think it’s immature. It’s fine if both parties are on the same page and both want casual. But if one wants more, that can get tricky. Some people will coast if they are getting what they want even know they are aware the other person wants more. And that is selfish

  2. 22

    Jeremy, your statement is extremely confusing and self conflicting:

    “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.”-so you observed women seek help to be better partners to a man

    “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.”-so you observe women do NOT seek to be better partners.

    What exactly is your observation?

  3. 23

    Two other points:

    1) I do like your notion of “true” emotional maturity. For example, an emotionally-immature woman might consider her list of what constitutes the “work of the relationship,” and judge how much of it a man is willing to do. An emotionally-mature woman, to contrast, understands that she doesn’t set the list of what constitutes the “work of the relationship” by herself. An important point, missed too often.

    2) Your statement about real-life nice men never referring to themselves as such is a half-truth IMO. The men who refer to themselves as “nice” when talking about dating are generally the men who lack other qualities that women find more arousing. They aren’t conventionally attractive. Aren’t high status. Aren’t super gregarious. They use the word “nice” because that’s all they think they have. Doesn’t mean they aren’t actually nice. Some likely are, some likely aren’t. What it does generally mean, though, is that when they give courtship efforts to any given woman, she’ll be less likely to want to reciprocate. Because she isn’t attractive. And so she’ll find his desire for reciprocation odious. Because she doesn’t want to reciprocate. Not because he’s giving to get. We ALL give to get. The question is only whether the person to whom we’re giving wants to give back. When they do, “giving-to-get” is called “courtship.” And it tends to be looked upon favorably by most women. Because, as you wrote above, “people rightly care about whether they would, if fact, get what they want – and again, there is nothing wrong with that.”

    I really wish this pop-culture trope of the so-called “nice-guy” would disappear. It is such bullshit.

  4. 24

    The first paragraph was a typo, Adan. Should have read, “my observation is the latter.” I have not at all observed women seeking help to be better partners to a man. Wish I had. Of course, I’ve not observed many men learning to be better partners either.

  5. 25

    Jeremy wrote: ‘You wrote, “This is why the most emotionally evolved men have scads of women admiring them.” I wish this were true. It isn’t.’

    Well, it’s true for me. 🙂 And as I’m an average jo, I’m assuming it’s true for many other women. I’ve worked all my life with men and boys in STEM jobs and other activities, so have come to know nice (emotionally evolved) and not-nice men, and to have the greatest affection and appreciation for the former. (Maybe Emily, who avoids STEM I think, has a different experience though?)

    You also wrote: ‘I really wish this pop-culture trope of the so-called “nice-guy” would disappear. It is such bullshit.’

    I agree. This pop-culture trope adds nothing of substance to considering not just partners, but men in general in any type of relationship, including family and work relationships. It is meaningless. It means more to describe a man as: kind, decent, considerate, honest, generous, funny.

  6. 26

    I agree, Jo. Would be nice if everyone was an average Jo, like you and like me. Of course, neither of us is average. But you know what I mean.

  7. 27

    Ok, let me clarify a few points:

    1. It’s not emotionally immature to “want” something for nothing. It is immature to “expect” something for nothing. You might get a streak of good luck for a little bit, but in the long run life doesn’t work that way.

    2. Let me explain the situation which led me to describe this man as “wanting something for nothing”. If you recall he was involved in his son’s traveling sports team which meant he’d be out of state every other weekend. That means that (at most) I’d get sex and companionship with him
    4 days per month out of 30 or 31. That’s not a relationship, especially not a relationship that a marriage-minded woman would want.

    When we talked about setting up dates I asked him which weekends he had the kids and his schedule for picking them up from school, driving them to their lessons etc. He told me that he didn’t have a schedule and that he just drove over to his kids’ house whenever they asked him to. So even on the weekends when he was in town I wouldn’t have had even the semblance of a guarantee that he’d carve out a certain amount of time for me.

    So, he wanted me to have sex with him and hang out maybe once or twice a month. My needs were nowhere on his priorities’ list. And it may not exactly be immature for a man to WANT sex and companionship when it is convenient for him and not to have to think about the woman at all when he’s not with her. But to believe that this was a likely outcome, or one that most single women would want when this man was 42 years old? Yes I would call that immature.

    So I let him drift away and I met my husband who is a better man in every single way.


    “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?”

    Well clients in the sex industry are overwhelmingly male. But that’s more about men being willing to pay for relations with their preferred sex (male or female) rather than women’s sexuality being more valuable.

    A woman’s time however, IS more valuable than a man’s in the dating realm if the woman is of childbearing age and wants a family. Every day a woman spends with a man who isn’t right for is a day of her very finite fertility down the drain. I’m not blaming men for that. I’m just saying that a woman has every reason to drop a man that minute she knows that he’s not her future husband. I think men and women shouldn’t waste time in dead-end relationships, but women suffer more when they do.

    “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..”

    When I was single a married woman told me that the best things she ever did to improve her marriage where to make love more often and criticize less. I put it into practice and found it be very effective advice in dating as well as marriage.

  8. 28
    Emily, to

    ” I’ve worked all my life with men and boys in STEM jobs and other activities, so have come to know nice (emotionally evolved) and not-nice men, and to have the greatest affection and appreciation for the former. (Maybe Emily, who avoids STEM I think, has a different experience though?)”
    I don’t know if I can comment on STEM men being emotionally evolved. I didn’t get to know my former co-workers on that level. I can remember 2 engineers who were both very pleasant and fun to talk to and joke with … but they were very habitual. A big risk would have been going to a different restaurant for lunch (no exaggeration). And then there were others on the less social end who were very awkward socially. Like a Mark Zuckerberg personality. I have a hard time imagining the latter personality type as being emotionally evolved because even basic interactions with them are so uncomfortable. But what do I know? Maybe they are different with their spouses.

  9. 29

    Well, what does “emotionally-evolved” even mean, Emily? I think it means different things to different people, right? I mean, evolution is just a natural selection of the creatures best adapted to their environment. So what’s the environment? To revert back to archetypes for a moment (strictly for demonstrative purposes, not to pigeon-hole people), a woman who is a Guardian-type personality (concrete-oriented, rule-following, adopts her personality based on externally-derived societal values) will consider a man “emotionally evolved”….if he thinks the same way she does. If he adopts the role of husband, father, breadwinner – the role she sees as the sort of man she wants to marry. If he focuses on being sociable, giving to his community, acquiescing to authority figures and expert advice.

    Whereas the Idealist-type woman wouldn’t consider such a man to be emotionally-evolved at all, believing (as such a woman would,) that an evolved man would be his own man, would think his own thoughts, would be authentic and original. And….would just so happen to believe in all the same ideals that the woman in question does.

    Whatever the woman’s personality, she will consider a man to be emotionally-evolved based on her own view of how a man should be. Heh. And should THAT indicate his evolution, or should evolution be his comfort with HIMSELF? Again, depends on our definition of evolution. If evolution is a selection for best adaptation to a given environment, and if the environment is a marriage with a woman, her opinion has to matter. I think all women would agree. They’d just often think less about the fact that their own evolution must be the mirror image, their adaptation to the man’s ideals….

  10. 30

    I understand what you’re saying, Kitty, and I think I understand the emotions too. But I have to say that I disagree with some of what you wrote in your comment 27.

    It sounds like this man wanted to see you when he was available, the 4 days per month. That was what he was willing to give you, and that was all he wanted to receive from you. Maybe I’m wrong here – maybe he wanted you to do all sorts of things for him while he was away, and then only spend time with you 4 days per month? In that case, I’d totally agree that he wanted something for nothing. But here, it sounds like he wanted no more FROM you than he was willing to give TO you. I’d totally agree that you and he were incompatible. But he wasn’t asking for something for nothing, you and he simply wanted DIFFERENT exchanges. This isn’t just a semantic difference, it’s a sea-change in thinking. Because the latter attitude allows a couple to split amicably, recognizing incompatible but equally-valid wants. The former attitude takes on a tone of superiority, which is incompatible with good relationships. Because 2 people’s attitudes will never match exactly, compromises will always have to be made. And how can one happily compromise with a person whose priorities matter less than one’s own?

    I agree that women who want biological children are working against a ticking clock. I agree that they shouldn’t waste their time on men who aren’t certain about marriage and children. But the moment a woman takes the attitude that her time is more valuable than a man’s – her time, her sexuality, her company, whatever – that is the moment she ceases being a quality relationship partner to that man. The way you felt when the man you dated put everything ahead of you in your relationship and left you with 4 days per month? That indicated that he considered his wants as more important than yours. Consider how that made you feel about him. That’s exactly how men feel about women who think their time, their sexuality, their priorities, are more important than men’s. Always second fiddle….or more likely, last fiddle.

    If you’re incompatible, you break up. Not because you are better or worse than him, not because your time is more valuable than his, but because you simply aren’t compatible. And when you do stay in a relationship, your time and his are of the same value. Because if you start thinking of your priorities as more important……shouldn’t he start doing the same? And then where would the relationship be, eh?

    “Make love more, criticize less” is an excellent beginning. Though, of course, it begs the question, “More than what, less than what?” THAT’s the question. More than your own priorities, less than your own priorities. Because your own priorities need to matter as much less to you as you hope his priorities will matter less to him.

  11. 31
    Emily, to

    “Whereas the Idealist-type woman wouldn’t consider such a man to be emotionally-evolved at all, believing (as such a woman would,) that an evolved man would be his own man, would think his own thoughts, would be authentic and original. And….would just so happen to believe in all the same ideals that the woman in question does.”
    Nah. That’s not what evolved means to me as an idealist. It’s two things. One, is the person capable of an honest conversation after an argument or misunderstanding or if something is bothering him? Or does he act like he doesn’t know what you’re talking about when you broach the topic (an infuriating means of deflection, because you’ll never be able to discuss anything)? Does he get belligerent? Does he simply shake his head and say nothing? Or can he really listen and at the very least acknowledge the other side? Can he articulate what is bothering him? Two, if you discuss love languages, can he provide yours and is he capable of articulating what he wants?

  12. 32

    Jer, Emily: I didn’t mean ’emotionally evolved’ in a Darwinian sense. I meant that as we mature, we evolve in how we understand ourselves and relate to others. Also, it’s not a male-female thing, nor is it exclusive to LTRs. Actually the literature in this area, while not very old, is in pretty consistent agreement that there are four main components of emotional intelligence or EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social management – not necessarily managing in a traditional sense, but knowing how to conduct oneself wisely around others for optimal outcomes. These seem reasonable to me as ways to assess how ’emotionally involved’ someone is, and like I wrote earlier, those who are highly so are much sought after.

    Jer, btw, it’s very kind for you to say I’m not average (unless you meant, ‘jo is significantly below average’), but I took a joke IQ test online and came out with a score of 102, which is pretty darn average. Of course, it was based on taste in music, 😉 so probably not very valid. I think the real IQ test is based on how well you can manipulate numbers, shapes, logic puzzles, etc., but not sure.

  13. 33

    I am 43, divorced for 9 years, and have never wanted kids. I had dated what felt like every single man in my area for the better part of the 9 years. Exhausting? You know it.

    While my focus was on men who did not have or want kids, I also knew that narrowed the field. Over the years, the things that worked for me were to date men who had a great co-parenting relationship with the ex. Also, I needed the kids to be double digit ages (no diapers, pls and ty!)

    Welp. A year ago, I got engaged to an amazing man with two teenage daughters who I absolutely adore. He reminds me every single day that I’m the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to him. We both have busy careers and social lives. I never feel like I come last.

    The best advice I can ever give is to link Evan’s Don’t Do Anything article to the Home Screen of your phone. And read it often. Men are pretty straightforward in their communication, and the ones who play games can be put in the “no thanks” pile.

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