If you’re considering being in a serious relationship with a single parent, then you’re far more open and understanding than most people. For a lot of singles out there, finding out someone they’re interested in comes with a mini-me is a reason to run, but it shouldn’t be! As far as baggage goes, there are men that come with far worse things than a cute little kid — like a terrible baby mama. Just kidding!
So, this guy has a kid—at least you know he’s responsible and knows how to love someone other than himself! Just keep in mind that there are some important yet unspoken protocols when it comes to dating a single dad. The guy probably won’t tell you because, well, he only wants to parent one person in his life. So we’ll put you on instead. Don’t do any of these things when dating a single dad.
Expect this to be run of the mill
Go into this situation understanding that it will be unlike any other relationship you have had, and most of the things you could usually do in the past—you may need to consult your boyfriend on because he has a kid to take into account.
Tell the kid who you are
It’s up to the dad to tell his child that you are his girlfriend, and what it means to have a girlfriend.
Buy lots of things for the child
You may want to spoil the child, but your boyfriend probably worked hard to teach his kid that presents are earned, or for special occasions.
Buy practical things for the child
Even if you found some equipment, book or product that is supposed to make parenting easier, your boyfriend probably doesn’t want you partaking in the parenting at all. You’re his girlfriend; not his child’s new mom. This could just make things complicated for the kid’s biological mom.
Your boyfriend can’t just hop on a plane because you found a good deal at a hotel. He has to coordinate babysitters, write out detailed instructions for them, and make sure his child doesn’t have some important event he wants his dad at that weekend.
Fail to take care of yourself
Your boyfriend wants his child to be around good role models. If you fail to go to regular doctors appointments, eat healthy, exercise, and have lots of hangovers—you get the picture—your boyfriend won’t want you around his child, and then he just can’t see you.
Keep immature friends
You may still have friends who are a little wild/ You certainly shouldn’t bring them around your boyfriend’s partner—even when they are behaving themselves—and you probably shouldn’t even bring them around your boyfriend. He’s very sensitive about the people who enter his child’s circle.
Insist on meeting the mother
Being cool with someone’s ex is one thing; trying to befriend somebody’s baby mama is another. That is something usually reserved for the women single dads end up marrying.
Try to help the mother
Do not step on her toes. You may feel the urge to try to help with the child to show you’re just part of the team, but the only people she wants on the team are her and the father…at least for now.
Even if you get a key to his place, you can’t go over there, sneak into his room, and wait for him in edible underwear. You never know when his child may walk in.
Fail to respect his clock
The single dad probably can’t go to your friend’s party at 10 pm…he can probably only lock down a babysitter until 9 or 10 at the latest. Be willing to have a date night at his place, with the child, or at least early so he can get a babysitter.
Expect things to move at a normal pace
If this guy didn’t have a child, then maybe it would be normal to have the, “What are we?” conversation three months into dating. But men with children move at a much slower pace; they cannot risk getting serious with someone, letting their child get attached to that person, and realizing that person is all wrong for them.
Be frivolous with birth control
I mean, you had to know this one was coming. Your single dad boyfriend doesn’t want you to say, “Oh darn. I forgot to take my pill yesterday. Oh well.”
Force the child to like you
Who knows why kids like some people and don’t like others? But one thing is for certain; children often don’t like it when an adult forces them to spend time with or speak to them. If the child isn’t sure about you, let him take his time.
Plan anything elaborate
You may want to plan a date night that includes a five-course meal and a private musician, but that could make a single dad uncomfortable. Kids can’t sit through five-course meals, and they love to play with things they shouldn’t (like expensive instruments). Don’t set your boyfriend’s child up to fail.