Dating a man with kids: is it the right choice for you?

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Picture this: You’ve met someone, gone on a date or two. He’s handsome, intelligent, funny, and the chemistry’s definitely there. And then comes the mention of kids, and you have a decision to make – do you want to be dating a man with kids? It’s becoming more and more common, especially with dating in your 30s/40s/50s on the rise, for one or both partners to already have kids. While there’s no shame in deciding either yes or no, it’s still a big decision to make and there are some things to consider.

The pros of dating a man with kids

The general adorableness of kids aside, there are some advantages to dating a guy with kids:

You get to know what kind of person he is

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his kids (and his ex). If he’s a loving, committed father, that’s a major check mark in the great boyfriend material column. And seeing how he deals with his ex – and talks about her to you or his kids – is a great window into how he’ll treat you.

You get to spend time with kids

Although the end product is worth it, it’s no denying that growing a baby is a lot of work. Dating a man with kids means that – if you’re a kid person – you get to spend time with kids without having your sleep schedule completely destroyed.

The time you spend together is special

Like most single parents, his schedule is likely packed, especially if he has primary custody. Which means that he’s not going to take the limited time he has to spend with you lightly. For your part, you can enjoy being a reprieve from his daily life.

The cons of dating a man with kids

While there’s no doubt there are many good things about dating a guy with kids, there are also some significant disadvantages you should consider.

The kids will always come first

And that’s as it should be. If he’s a good dad, his kids will be his #1 priority and you shouldn’t want to date him if they aren’t. This does mean, however, that you have to be okay with taking a back seat pretty much all through your relationship.

Say goodbye to spontaneity

If you’re dating someone with kids, you can pretty much forget about spur-of-the-moment. Dates require babysitters, a weekend away extended family support and/or juggling custody with the ex. Not to mention that privacy will be at a minimum with kids around, making the all-over-each-other stage especially difficult.

You have to deal with the other partner

Regardless of whether he’s divorced or a widower, dating a man with kids means you’re not the only partner in his life. If he’s divorced, you’re going to have to get along with his ex, for the kids’ sake if nothing else, regardless of how difficult or dramatic they are. And if his partner passed away, it can often be even harder competing with a memory than a real live person.

What should you know about dating a guy with kids?

So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons, thought it through, and decided that yes, dating a man with children is something you’re open to. Before you actually take the plunge, however, there are a few things that’s worth keeping in mind.

You’re not going to come first

Once in a while, sure – he does want to keep you, after all. But when you start dating a guy with kids, you sign up to have your weekend away canceled because one of the kids is sick, or him bailing on dinner because a kid needed help with homework. It makes him a great father, but perhaps not the best choice of boyfriend.

Figure out your partner’s relationship with their ex

No matter how you feel about your partner’s ex, they have a permanent connection with him by dint of sharing one or more children with him. While some people are lucky enough to have good relationships with their exes, one thing to take into account while considering whether to date a single dad is the relationship he has with the other parents of his children and whether that’s drama you need in your life.

Don’t expect his kids to love you at first sight

Regardless of whether their parents are single because of death or divorce, kids don’t often take well to having a new person around. It’s not your fault, or anything personal – humans hate change, especially kids, and Dad dating is a big one. Give it time and be respectful of their boundaries, and they’ll come around.

Make sure your role in his kids’ lives is clear

When you start dating a man with kids, it’s important to clearly define the relationship between you and said kids. You’re not there as a replacement parent, but you are potentially an important adult in their lives. It’s important to make sure you and their dad are on the same page when it comes to the part you’ll play.

Dating a man with kids can be tough, but also more than worth it

This special situation does come with its challenges, but it can be deeply rewarding with the right man. As with any relationship, there are pros and cons – but magnified thanks to the extra lives affected if something goes awry. That said, when you’re dating a guy with kids, you’re not just getting a boyfriend, you’re getting a family, too.