How to go about dating a single dad (long)

posted 3 years ago in Relationships
Post # 18
8 posts
  • Wedding: July 2018

In all honesty, I’ve been the child in this situation and it was not fun. My father was the single parent and my dad’s new girlfriend who was also a single parent came into our lives and expressed that she did not want to come 2nd between myself and my father. I was 6 years old at the time. Fast forward to my teenage years and it became a constant battle with my stepmom to get me in trouble for every little thing so my dad wouldn’t love me as much. 

So what happened? My senior year of high school once I turned 18 I left my parents house and they were not in my life until a few years ago. I’m currently 26 years old…We are slowly trying to get past this horrible childhood that I had of constantly being in trouble for little things like I did not wipe the mirrors the right way and constant fights in the middle of the night between my dad and stepmom about how my A- on my last test should be punishable according to my stepmom. I think my stepmom wanted me out of the house then we can all have a better relationship. It sucked to give my dad an ultimatum “It’s either your new wife or me”. When he chose his wife, I did not talk to them during my whole college years and didn’t even invite them to my graduation. 

This stuff can really break apart a family. I would be very careful, coming from the child’s point of view, to get involved if you are already sure you are not happy with the situation. 

Post # 19
5578 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2017

samanthasmama :  

This is great advice, while my fiances daughter is 18, not 7, I do things to make her feel special and grab things when I’m out that she would like.

I think that bonding would help the 7 year old feel more secure.

Post # 20
2514 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Frankly I’m not sure why he dated you in the first place when you made it clear to him that you didn’t know if you wanted kids. 

That sounds harsh, but it’s true. You and his daughter are dealing with the same issues, jealousy, and she’s 7 so it’s acceptable in her case. 

I am a single mother and my fiance has dealt with many of the same things you’re talking about in this post. You’re clearly not ready to be able to handle these so I would recommend seriously considering if you want to be in this relationship. 

My son is my world and he comes FIRST. Period. If I had to chose between him and a date night I would chose him 100% of the time.

Post # 21
2569 posts
Sugar bee

I don’t have kids and I haven’t been in your shoes. But I do think his reasons for canceling dates sound 100% normal and it sounds like he is just being a good parent. It really wouldn’t be okay for him to make his daughter’s coach wait around for him to come back if he left to get you and the game ended a few mins later… that is NOT the coach’s job. Whereas, you don’t need to be watched and making you wait a little while isn’t the end of the world… and you could get an Uber if necessary. I think he’s totally in the right. You canceling on him to spend time with friends when he’d made plans for childcare to have a date night seems very rude and totally different. It honestly sounds to me like you’re being pretty immature about the whole thing. And you say his daughter doesn’t like you — do you like her?Yes, she’s being childish about him kissing you, etc. — but she’s a CHILD. Do you make an effort to spend time with her and do nice things with her? If you’re moving in it’s pretty important that you make an effort with her, and if you’re not willing to do that I don’t know that this relationship can survive. 

Post # 22
47256 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I just think your expectations are not realistic. I’m not blaming you, but I am saying beause you are not a parent, you have no idea what is appropriate. I was a single parent before I met Darling Husband and I can tell you even now, my kids will always come first. Would you really want to be with a man who didn’t priorize his children?

Thinking that he could leave a 7 yr old at T ball practice, having no idea when the practice would end is simply not realistic. What would you expect the coach to do with her if the practice ended and he was left there alone? You are an adult. You can wait 30 minutes on your own. She can’t.

Post # 23
2098 posts
Buzzing bee

balloffire :  So I’ll play evil stepmom and give you some of my situation.

I also did not like feeling like priority #2. It sucked. It was annoying. I felt like I was bringing my baggage free self into the equation and I actually felt slighted (by who.. God? The Universe? lol) that I FINALLY found the perfect man and he had a kid. LIKE UGHHHHH. I carried around this secret for what felt like forever. This deep, dark place where I resented the attention. I resented having to alter my life every week. Resenting having to pretend like I cared about the school project or the small milestones. I felt terrible, because I’m a nice and good person. I love my husband with every fiber of my being, and it felt like I was failing myself to feel this way towards his child.

Finally, I just told my husband that I felt that way, and that I knew it wasn’t pretty. I was actually sobbing when I told him because I felt so ashamed to have those thoughts and to express them. Like, “hey honey you know that kid you have…. yeah I’m kind of not digging it at the moment KTHXBYE”. I struggled for a year before I just let it out that I felt jealous, and like 3rd man in line after his kid and his ex-wife. I HATED the nights we had his kid because, like you, everything was PERFECT… until his kid showed up. My husband, God bless him, is the most selfless man ever and just took me in his arms and understood how hard it was on me. To come “second” all the time, to give up the chance to give him his first child, or be his first wife. He let me cry, and from that moment on we have been brutally honest with one another about our feelings. When I was telling one of my friends about this (also a stepmom) she mirrored almost the exact same story, but said she just blurted out to her husband one night, “I hate your daughter!!!”. It’s not pretty, step parenting can ignite some ugly, ugly behavior.


After that, I delved into step parenting books, forums, OTHER step moms and finally did some counseling on the topic. He was/is the most incredible man I had ever met. And his kid was a good kid, too! Likeable, funny, affectionate… all the things stepparents dream about. The best thing therapy helped me to realize is that you’re allowed to run the gamut of emotions. We RALLY behind parents who struggle and have bad days, but villainize it when step parents do this. When a mom says, “I need a break” it is acceptable. When a stepmom says it, she must not be ready/serious/ jealous, etc.

 With all due respect to the mothers who have chimed in and kids of divorce who have offered advice, they really cannot speak to what it actually is to be a stepmom. You are not a monster for feeling jealous. At all. If I met a step parent that told me they never once were ever jealous I’d know for a fact they were flat out a liar. Jealousy is a perfectly normal and human emotion. You’re watching the person you love most in this world devote their time, attention, affection, money and energy into another person that you have no biological tie to. If anyone tells you you’re a bad person for feeling like you’re being left out, tell them to go kick rocks.

In addition to that, it is your BF’s job to foster the relationship between you and his daughter. Another pp hit the nail on the head when she said that it is about nourishing the relationship. He needs to stand in the gap and be the one to help guide her and you together. Yes, it will take effort on your part. Yes, it will take time.

Just keep in mind that all the things you are feeling ARE COMPLETELY NORMAL. Step parenting is not for everyone. I would go so far as to say there were definitely times that it was NOT for me, but I decided my husband was worth it and so I fought through it with a good support system of other stepmoms and SO MUCH COMMUNICATION with my husband lol. We seriously do a “check in” about once a week to make sure we are all on the same page, we are all feeling loved/appreciated/HEARD. It’s a must for me.

Post # 25
6913 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

balloffire :  I’m going to answer this honestly, because I was in your shoes….

You need to love her like your own and bond with her personally before you get over this. 

Right now, you’re being VERY immature.  OF COURSE HE’S GOING TO PUT HIS DAUGHTER BEFORE YOU.  He will do that because his daughter is a young girl that depends on him.  She will still be there even if you’re not.  He wasn’t going to leave her practice because then you would have a 7-yr-old sitting there alone if her practice wrapped up before he got back.

When she sits in between you guys, put your arm around her and make her feel like she still has a place there…  That could be all she’s looking for, to be part of the relationship you’re creating with him.  Spend some one-on-one time with her.  Find things interests to use to bond with her.  If she’s jealous, give her nothing to be jealous about.

It honestly took me about 3 years to feel like a solid part of the family and comfortable to have a full mother-role in my stepson’s life, and I have a similar situtation to you… the relationship with the biological mom is amicable.  Not just amicable, but pretty good.  Being a stepmom is hard, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Post # 26
6913 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

balloffire :  I do want to add what fromatoz :  said was right.  Your feelings are normal, but if you want to stay with him, you need to work hard to get past this.  I also started diving into books, forums, all of the above when I felt jealous.  I never told my now Darling Husband I was jealous, but I worked my butt off to get over it because I knew this kid was doing nothing wrong and I really had a great situation.

Post # 27
18 posts
  • Wedding: June 2017

Honestly, it doesn’t sound like you are ready to be a mom/step-mom, but you’ve acknowledged that. It doesn’t mean that this relationship won’t/can’t work out, but you and your boyfriend need to have some serious talks and set some serious boundaries in your relationship, and come to an agreement on what his expectations of you and your expectations of him and his kid are. While his daughter does need to come first, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t deserving of respect and courtesy.

Before I became a parent, I dated a guy that was recently divorced and had two kids. He cancelled dates quite often, the problem was that he didn’t just cancel them, he just didn’t show up. He didn’t call or text to let me know, didn’t respond to my calls or texts, he just didn’t show up. I would never question him if something with his kids came up, but there was no excuse for not even sending a text. And it happened so many times. I wished him well and said goodbye.

Soon after that, I became a single foster parent and took in a little boy with special needs. Early on, I started dating a guy when I met at work. A few dates in, he told me that he had no desire to be a parent. He was of the impression that if things got serious between us then I would just send my son back to DSHS and we would live happily ever after. I wished him well and said goodbye and have since adopted that little boy, and added a little girl to the bunch as well.

Four years ago I met my now fiance, we’ve been dating for two years, and getting married next month. Would it be easier if there were no kids involved? Definitely. But that’s not an option. It is HARD on a good day — I have a special needs kiddo and a threenager — this would be hard on any couple. But, we have worked hard to make it work. We’ve done family counseling, a few different programs that address parenting my son’s specific disabilities, premarital counseling, and so on. We designate date nights where we get 5-10 minutes to talk about cute things the kids did, and then no more kid talk. You and his kid can both be his priority. My kids adore my fiance, I think my 10 year old was more excited about our engagement then we were (he said now he has a forever daddy) — he will still try to wedge his way in between us on the couch — it’s normal, it’s attention seeking, and that’s a boundary you need to set.

I think you guys need to start asking some serious questions and having some serious talks before you move forward. It sounds like you all spend time together, and you give them their space when it’s his week…but is that what he wants? How are him and his daughter interpreting you going shopping while they spend time together? Do you do things with just her? My fiance takes my son out to do “manly” things…take her out to do girl things, go get your nails done, take her out for ice cream or shopping, just the two of you. You need to build a bond with her, and that’s hard to do when she’s fighting for daddy’s attention. If you are offended by her sitting between you guys on the couch, set a boundary and explain to her what the expectations are. Also, I read a study recently that even though kids will turn up their nose at kissing, that they are generally happier when their parents show affection in front of them. I wish you luck, its definitely not easy, but not impossible either.

Post # 28
4246 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

Have you spent time with the daughter yourself?  Have you taken her to the zoo or shopping or on a walk?  Have you gone to her t-ball games?  Have you attended things such as dance recitals or karate competitions?  Does she see you are actively involved and interested in her life?  If not, then it’s high time you change that.  I see a pattern of her saying she wants to watch a movie with Dad and you going shopping and not spending time with her.  Think of how that makes her feel.  I know you feel slighted when she forces her way between you two but think of HER feelings.  She sees Dad making some serious commitments to another woman who isn’t her mom.  This girl IS his life because she is his daughter.  His responsibility.  I’m sorry you are upset but he is doing the right thing here.

This is also going very fast.  You are planning on moving in with him and it has been a year.  She very obviously feels like you don’t care about her and I don’t think you are helping the situation.  Your expectations for him to always put you first are ridiculous.

If you don’t want to deal with this then this isn’t the relationship you should be in.

Post # 29
6863 posts
Busy Beekeeper

I had to run to a meeting earlier and admit I haven’t read all of the responses but am offering some additions to those I did read.

I would like to add support to the Bee who suggested it’s too soon to move in. You have not been together very long. He may be ready but his daughter isn’t. If you are in this for the long haul that should matter to you. I didn’t even let my Fiance spend the night when my kids were home until we were engaged–and my children are older. My XH is an ass and it wasn’t worth the potential issues. Just because things are fine with his ex now doesn’t mean they always will be.

Parenting is hard. Parenting with an ex is harder. Parenting as a step is even harder than that. There may be times when your Boyfriend or Best Friend and his ex disagree about something. What if you disagree with him and agree with his ex? What if all three of you have very different views? Ultimately yours is the least considered. That sucks. You may end up parenting this child more than her father does and have less input. 

She may be fine with you one week and hate you the next. While that can be true in any parenting situation it’s harder as a step. The ex may be fine with you next week and talking crap about you to the child the next. Little you can do about it. 

Are you ready for the responsibilities of being a mother without all of the rewards? You may or may not be acknowledged at the school play. You may end up being the person who sews the patches on the uniform, bakes the cookies for the bake sale, who stays up all night with the vomiting child but not the person who is acknowledged on Mother’s Day. 

Every time you add a child to the equation the pie gets re-divided. Think ahead to summer camp, travel soccer, college expenses, etc. How are expenses handled in his divorce agreement? 

This is a hard thing to do when you really, really want it and you don’t sound so sure. You have some serious soul-searching ahead of you. Good luck. 

Post # 30
1040 posts
Bumble bee

fromatoz : I’m so glad I read this! The EXACT same thing happened. Ugh. So glad I am not alone….. 

OP- Everyone made good points, but one small thing I want to bring attention to so it could be avoided in the future…. you cancelled a date that the Boyfriend or Best Friend planned and had somebody else take time out of their day to watch the daughter and you don’t honestly don’t see how rude that is?  All because you weren’t feeling #1? It doesn’t matter if that person was a family member, you gave limited notice and essentially messed up two people’s plans. You don’t know if the mother had to cancel plans or rearrange her schedule to allow for this date. So in the future please keep that in mind. 

Stepparenting is hard. I thought I was going to be a Summer parent only and my stepson moved in. He is the best teenager anyone could ask for, and I still felt overwhelmed and put out that I had to change my lifestyle to accommodate him. And the real kicker is that his mother is not involved AT ALL. So add guilt to that list too. 

At 7 it is going to be easier to create a bond then at 16. Try having fun group dates and don’t run away when she is over! If your Boyfriend or Best Friend is going to have daddy and me time, have them go out! That way there isn’t a clear divide in the house. House should be safe. Your Bf needs to start setting clear boundaries when it comes to her pushing you apart, but you need to be mindful of your interactions as well. And understand that you won’t be #1 all the time, but as long as he isn’t completely putting you on the backburner, it sounds like he is doing the best he can. I don’t think you should move in just yet, though I do think you should be staying over there while she is there for the next couple months to figure out if you could handle it full time. 


Best of luck! And try singles counseling  before couples counseling. I think you need to get yourself figured out on this situation before bringing him along. 

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