Entering into a relationship with a single or divorced parent is not for the faint of heart and it’s certainly nothing like the movies make it out to be. There will be heartwarming moments, but there will also be times where you’ll want to put on your track shoes and run like hell in the opposite direction. Your partner and their kids will forever be a package deal, so before you go diving into a relationship with a single parent, here are some harsh truths you’ll need to understand.
You’ll never be first
And that’s how it should be; however, that doesn’t make it an easy pill to swallow. Children don’t ask to be born and in a healthy parent-child relationship, the needs of the child will always come first. As the girlfriend of a man with kids, this means that your needs and wants will often have to take a backseat within the relationship.
For a while it will feel like your relationship is a secret
Most responsible parents do not want to parade romantic partners in and out of their children’s lives, which means you probably won’t be introduced to his kids until things are serious. The timeline really depends on the guy and where his head is at, but whether it takes six weeks or six months, it’s not the most comfortable position to be in.
The children may dislike you
Children often have this innate desire to see their parents together, so don’t take it personally if they’re a bit standoffish at first. Often times, this issue will resolve over time, but in some cases, it won’t. Some kids never get over the fact that their parents are not together. Sadly, this mindset causes children to cast dad’s new girlfriend as the villain.
There will definitely be some canceled plans
Kids come with their share of emergencies and last-minute needs, which means that sometimes, date nights will have to be canceled or rescheduled.
He has to communicate with his ex
They’re raising a child (or children) together so they will need to maintain some form of communication to make sure that their child’s needs are being met. If your guy is not communicating with his co-parent, you may want to do a little investigating into why because that’s a major red flag.
There may be tension between you and the ex
It’s absurd and insulting to assume that every woman is sitting somewhere pining over the father of her children or plotting to destroy his life. That bitter baby mama narrative is played out and tired. However, co-parenting relationships are complex and even the most reasonable of co-parents find themselves struggling when new romantic partners are added to the equation.
You may not be invited to everything
You may not immediately receive invitations to Thanksgiving dinner or Memorial Day barbecues if you haven’t met the kids yet. Though it’s not personal, it can certainly feel that way.
Holidays may look a little (or a lot) different than you imagined
Every blended family handles the holidays differently. And once you’re introduced to the kids, you may find that the way your partner and his co-parent execute the holidays is much different from what you imagined. Try to have an open mind.
You will be frustrated at times
Being part of a blended family comes with its own set of unique challenges, which can come with temporary moments of frustration. It’s natural to feel this way and you should not beat yourself up about it. What’s most important is how you conduct yourself during these moments.
Spontaneity might fall flat
Last-minute weekend getaways or spur-of-the-moment plans may pose a challenge for single parents whose schedules often revolve around the schedules of their children.
Guilt may be the third party in your relationship
Many divorced fathers carry a ton lot of guilt for playing a role in their breaking apart. The phenomenon is known as Divorced Dad Guilt and has a tendency to manifest in some toxic ways that will cause you to question everything about your relationship.
You’ll fantasize about dating someone with a less complicated life
And that’s perfectly okay. Some days, you’ll want out and others, you’ll feel like you’re in it for the long haul. However, should you ever decide it’s too much and choose to bail, don’t feel bad about it. Dating a partner with children is certainly not for everyone.