I was chatting with my pal Nora a while back about dating and how things change when the men she meets are fathers, not just bachelors, and she proposed writing a little guide for us single dads and the nuances of dating from a woman’s perspective. This is it, with the names changed to protect the privacy of the men mentioned. Enjoy.
Dating after the age of thirty-five (let alone after the age of forty) is an interesting endeavor. Most of the men I’ve met over the past four years have been divorced and the majority are dads. More than once I’ve been asked, “Is being a dad a dating deal-breaker”?
Dave and I were recently discussing this exact topic and he asked if I would be willing to share my reply to him with the readers of his blog. Agree or disagree, here’s my perspective – as a woman without children of her own.
Being a dad does not, in my book, make a man un-datable.
That said, how a man talks about his role as parent can play a key role in determining if he is “second date worthy”.
Within the course of two weeks I went on first dates with two very different dads…
• One lunch.
• One and a half hours.
• One topic: His daughter.
It was too much.
At the end of the meal I knew all about her….her favorite restaurant, her summer job, her search for the perfect college, upcoming events she is looking forward to, the boy she has a crush on and oh, so much more.
What did I know about him? He makes a good living or has entirely too much credit (he mentioned several very expensive items he has purchased for his daughter), and he has a daughter who IS his life.
• He adores his children.
• He is proud of them and loves them with all his heart.
• They are adorable (he showed me a photo on his phone).
While he told me a bit about his children, he also demonstrated an ability to talk about business, pop-culture, politics, religion, … and himself.
What had been planned as a dinner date (I was thinking two hours, tops) transitioned to dinner and drinks with the conversation flowing for five hours.
He was interesting and insightful…..definitely “second date worthy”.
Both men love their kids – that’s clear. The biggest difference relates to how much of their personality and life is defined by being a dad.
I understand the majority of men I will meet in this post-forty dating world will be someone’s ex-husband and most likely someone’s dad. In my humble opinion, these roles alone do not determine whether or not someone is dateable. Dateability of a single parent is not a yes or no question….it’s a matter of how the role of parent plays out in their life…is it their whole identity, or is it clear they also see themselves as friend, worker, lover, individual, and more.
In addition to the Gils and Samuels of the world there are the dads who have completely extricated themselves from the lives of their children, those who want a date to meet their kids inside of three weeks, and those who want to have another baby as soon as possible to “start fresh” (yes, a man has actually expressed this to me on a first date)… all of those are stories for another time.
There you have it – agree or disagree – this is my insight into the land of dating dads … from the perspective of a woman with a large and fabulous family, two insanely cute dogs, and no children of her own.
— Nora Burns (@NoraBurns on Twitter)
Hey! Thanks for sharing, very interesting topic! haha I’m a separated co-parent, single mama or whatever you want to call it (!?!) myself and am now in the space of pondering such things.
I am actually really excited to find a blog not only written by a dad who has experience in the world of separation, but whoâs into attachment parenting too! Cool, look forward to hearing more ! ï C
You don’t have kids, but if you want to have kids, date a Gil and run away from the Samuels of the world. Someone who is devoted to his kids is going to make a much better partner in the long run, because he’ll likewise be devoted to you and being a family man. The Gils of the world, who prioritize their families over anything else, are rare. With our workaholic culture, men tend to get caught up in making most of their meaning from work or other public pursuits Of course, you don’t know that yet, because your life changes when you have a baby. When you do need a partner, the Samuels of the world might not look so interesting. Grab a Gil!
A couple of warnings: beware of the “ex”, if their relationship is “rocky”, it will affect both of you AND the children. And beware of the dad looking for “help”, all of a sudden you may end up being their maid, second mother and spouse all at the same time.
It takes a grounded man to admit that he was part of the problem in the divorce (or the marriage), and that their child’s welfare is primordial, with that said; there is no rule as to what would be “enough engagement” in the life of a child. A child needs to know that their parents both love him/her and that they are human too.
I have to ask, Alex, what does “their child’s welfare is
primordial” actually mean? Sounds like you’re talking from experience too, care to share a bit more about your own experiences?
It’s been nearly three years since I sent Dave my insights on dating dads. Earlier this week I was talking with a friend about this very topic and decided to go back and re-read what I wrote! Turns out, three years and all-too-may dates later, my opinion on dating dads hasn’t changed all that much.
I continue to avoid extremes — men who chose to move away from their children and are not actively involved in their lives as well as men who are incapable of talking about anything other than their children (Gil). Men who talk lovingly about their children AND also engage in conversation about current events, religion, politics, theater, hobbies, etc — that’s the sweet spot.
To Alex’s point, there are a fair number of men who appear to be looking for a woman to step into the role of babysitter and/or step-mom, but they are fairly easy to spot and those are also men who it is easy to say no to when it comes to a second date. Furthermore, anyone who is divorced (with kids or without) who isn’t willing to accept at least some role/responsibility for the dissolution of the marriage is not someone I would recommend getting involved with. We all have our flaws and have all made mistakes —- failing to learn from them is the biggest mistake of all IMHO.
Imagine I’ll take another look back at this ~2016…..