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Need advice on dating single Dad


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First post on this site! :)


I am seeking advice on my current relationship situation ... A little background on my situation: I'm a 37 yr old single female (never married, no kids) and I have been in a relationship with a 41 year old single dad with a 6 year old daughter for about 14 months now. This is my first relationship with someone that has been divorced and with a child, so everything has been quite a learning experience for me! I decided to give the relationship a chance since he is a really good, mature and responsible guy, and I figured that if I want to date someone close to my age, it may be tough to find someone who is not divorced and/or don't have children. He has shared custody with his ex, so the daughter split her time between the two parents. I knew from the get-go that dating a single dad would mean that I will need to accept the fact that he will always put his child before me, and I will also need to accept the fact that the ex will also be in the picture. I was prepared for that and knew what I was getting myself into. I usually see him on nights or weekends when he doesn't have his daughter. He introduced me to his daughter (and ex) about 8 months into our relationship - and since then, I have hang out with them together maybe a handful of times and also gone through a few trips together. I think his daughter likes me and feels comfortable with me being around them. She is a good kid, but sometimes she does have her moments and will not listen and throw tantrums. I also think he gives in way too easily and lets her get away with things - BUT, it's not my place so I take a backseat and let him handle the situation. Aside from that, I think for the most part, things are going well. There are some things that bothers me about him though - one being that he talks about his ex quite frequently - sometimes it's related to the daughter which is totally understandable, but other times, it would be about the things about her personally or memories of something that they have done in the past - which I really don't think I want to know about? (am I being unreasonable here?). I have expressed to him that when he does that, it bothers me and he has tried to stop that but I think he subconsciously just do it without even realizing it, ugh. I have asked him if he is 100% over his ex and he has assured me again and again that he is but I still have my doubts. Also, sometimes I question myself whether or not I can actually go through with this because I have gotten so used to having the freedom of planning things freely and being able to do something impromptu, but now it's a bit tough with the daughter in the picture. And lastly, his ex seems a bit difficult to deal with. She's a bit immature and sometimes make things very difficult on purpose. She has been cordial with me but I definitely do not think she is a good person and is always looking to take advantage of him, and he does give in to her quite easily.


So with all that being said - I think I'd like to be with him and just looking for some words of advice on how I can better deal with this situation and make things better and just overall getting some words of encouragement! Sorry for the long post ... and thank you for listening :)

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Why did they get a divorce? What are some examples of how she takes advantage of him? I don't think you're unreasonable about requesting he not mention her when it has nothing to do with their child. The fact that he continues means he doesn't care how you feel, because obviously he would make efforts to think before he speaks and also stop himself when he realizes what he's in the process of saying.


Sometimes when someone brings up stuff you've asked them not to, it's best to cut the phone call or visit short and give them a taste of what it's like to miss you when they fail to treat you as the special person you are.


Answering those questions might give us more insight to help you. I'd think about if the relationship is more upsetting/frustrating than it is satisfying. After my divorce, I did reject dating one guy from OLD when he shared that he had a 5 year old who he had every weekend and one or two days during weekdays. My kids were leaving the nest and I wanted a companion who had more freedom to date me on my schedule. I eventually met my husband who had one 13 year old and he was able to spend a lot of time with me. I'm glad I didn't settle for what didn't work for me.

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When did he break up with his ex? If it's still a fresh break-up, he may be on the rebound.


Are you both exclusive? If you both have been dating over 8 months, just wondering if there's been a chat about exclusivity.


You like to be with him, but do you like him enough to accept the whole package that comes with him - child and ex-wife (who he may still love)?


Also my words of advice would be... listen to your gut and not your heart on this one. Sure everyone has a definition of "frequent" ... but if your gut is gnawing at you that this guy is stuck in the past when he was with his ex, then it tells you that's prob where his heart still lies.

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In my mind, eight months was too soon to introduce you to his daughter. You mention that she is a good girl, but sometimes throws tantrums. Guess what? That's what young kids do. Every young kid ever. . If the kid has not already, soon she will learn to play one parents against the other. Your BF knows this already and it scares the hell out of him, or it should. I hope the custody agreement is legally binding. Even if it is, the ex could use any thing the daughter tells her against your BF to sue for full custody. And don't say kids won't play the parents against one another. Mine did and my ex believed the worst thing every time. For example, my kid told my ex that I used all of his money to buy groceries one week. The truth was that I used his cash (actual money) but then repaid him later when I sed my card somewhere else. It didn't mean he was a bad kid; he just hoped she's pay him back the money without first calling me all sorts of vile names.

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Curious to hear how long ago they divorced as well.


I'm of a few minds here, but like Lootie Tootie said it really just comes down to your gut. Like, the ex talk? I can see how that would be grating, and can see how it might mean he's still got some thorns to pick out. But I can also see how it might just be who he is. Not super cool that he can't seem to keep a lid on it after you've brought it up, but, then again, maybe it's a lid he needs ajar, since he's raising a kid with her, and so he needs to be with someone who doesn't mind the occasional venting. (Again, all depends on how frequent this is and how recently they split.)


As for the kid? Well, as relevart said: kids throw tantrums, even the best of them. What makes it hard, in your position, is that there is an extended period where really all you can do is take the backseat, let things play out, accept that your role as maybe-partner gives you zero voice in these matters. As you become more involved—if it goes there—you may have more of a voice in things, but even then it's a minor voice, as you seem to understand. Just one of those things that's par for the course with dating someone with a child.


At the end of the day, I think you have to not just "put up" with someone who has a kid and an ex, but for whatever reason like it conceptually. All of it should be a plus, no different, really, from someone liking similar activities than you—and then you figure out if how they are as a parent jibes with who you are as a person, just a piece of the are-we-compatible puzzle that plays out over the first year or so when getting involved with someone.


I'm just saying that because it sounds like you went into this thinking it was a place you had to stretch into, given your age, rather than something that excited you. Yes, as we get into this stage in life there's a chance we'll meet people who are divorced and have kids—I'm 39, childless, never-married, so I'm right there with you—but there are plenty of people our age at all stages of life.


Oh, another question: What do you want, big picture? Kids, marriage? Are you guys lined up on those fronts?

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Well -- it depends on the context. "YEs, daughter has been to Disney, ex and i took her there when she was three." Is not "not being over the ex". The daughter's past is inextricably connected to experiences with the ex. If he said "Ex used to wear her hair like X and i loved it so much." then that's a problem.


I honestly think you met the daughter too soon and you certainly should have not traveled with her. At the 2 year mark, if things are getting serious between you, i could see introducing the daughter, but not taking vacations with her, and NOT meeting the ex at that point unless you would ever pick up the daughter in a pinch if BF was working or you were going on an overnight trip and the ex has a right to know who is with her child.


I do think its a combo of meeting the daughter way too soon because you really made a decision about this guy and the pitfalls of dating a divorced dad of a young child. Dating someone with a young kid is a different ball game.


BTW, there are tons of guys who are in their mid 30s to early 40s who have never married and have no kids.

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I think your gut is trying to tell you something here and you ought to heed it. You seem to understand that yes, the ex is going to be involved in his life but if he's going on about her even when it has nothing to do with their shared child, that can definitely be indicative of a problem. I've regretted not listening to my gut in the past and the fact that you're having nagging doubts really warrants a second look, in my book.


I agree with abitbroken that while it's more common than men in their 30s/40s have kids, it's not this inevitable trait that you must accept. If anything, if I were you, I'd start to be open to men with older kids who are YEARS outside of their divorce and the kid is older so no diapers/tantrums to deal with.

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Best advice: Never discipline or comment on someone else's child. It's none of your business. Next best advice: Stay completely OUT of the relationship between him and his child and him and the child's mother. It's not your call to stick your nose in their business of co-parenting. Never let their co-parenting problems, custody problems, or divorce problems become your problem. If he's doing this, dump him asap. He is not ready to date and completely insensitive to you. It means you are just a pawn/free nanny in their craziness. So if he's making all this stuff your headache, dump him. If you are making it your headache. Just stop and learn boundaries.

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It's not always going to be plain sailing but it will get easier and more settled as time goes on. When i met my husband he already had 3 year old son from a previous relationship (he would have him on weekends). In the beginning I didn't always like that he had to interact with his ex in regards to his son and there were a few fraught occasions, but in time i realized I was being oversensitive about it. There was absolutely nothing to worry about and over time we all became friendly and civil and she is actually really nice. We all get on great. I took some years to form a bond with his son but now (he is 19 years old now) and i absolutely adore him. My husband and I have a daughter together and she adores her big brother too. These things will in time settle and become easier.

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I agree with everyone's responses so far but find it off the mark that he's reminiscing about his previous marriage/relationship with you. This is off key, sorry. That shouldn't be happening. He may not want to be with his ex romantically but he may be going through residual feelings of remorse or guilt. While I'm glad he's comfortable around you, he's not being fair to you by not filtering his thoughts or words.


You didn't go into much detail so it's difficult to tell just how inappropriate his reminiscing was. If it makes you feel uncomfortable and you've already talked about it with him, I'd be inclined to think that there are underlying issues he's not dealing with. I'd spend more time getting to know him as a person before you have your entire heart set on him. He may not be the one for you after all.

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So I would focus on the things you can control - you now know that he has a young child. You know you like being able to plan freely and plan spontaneously -nothing wrong with that except that will be severely curtailed in this relationship and likely for at least the next 12 years. It will get better when she can stay on her own (whenever he decides that is -possibly as soon as 5 or 6 years from now) but you can decide right this minute if you are willing to make that sacrifice. I've lost friends because I am a mom of a young child and said friends couldn't accommodate my restrictions on night time socializing for example despite my offering to accommodate them at other times. For them the planning freely was more important. And since this child might get attached to you if she is not already you can control that decision.


Decide right now if you are ok having his ex in your lives in one way or another for many years to come and especially when their daughter is young.


Also do you want children? Does he want more children? Have that conversation soon too.


When I was your age I also tried to date a few divorced dads - one I dated for a few months until right after his ex girlfriend's daughter was born. I knew it was not for me. I did meet many single never married guys and reconnected with my husband (we'd dated in the past) when we were in our late 30s- both never married no kids. So yes they are out there and this might not be the right situation for you unfortunately.

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