How to go about dating a single dad (long)

posted 4 months ago in Relationships
Post # 45
4469 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

balloffire :  The first step is realizing that this relationship isn’t about just you and your boyfriend, which it sounds like you are finally realizing.  It’s also good that you are going to sporting events and all that stuff, that is a good place to start too.  Find out what her interests are.  Make a conscious effort to spend some quality time with her, and the more she sees your conscious effort the better it will be.

Post # 46
4294 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

balloffire :  I don’t have any kids of my own either… You can grow into it.

I honeslty think that you need to stop looking at this as who puts whom first or second.  This is an issue between the blending of the family.  If it’s not you coming into the family, it will be another woman down the road.

If you are truly ready for this, to work towards being a part of their family, here are a few things I suggest…

1. First, talk to your SO about including you when his DD is visiting so it’s no longer just “daddy/daughter time” but time with all of you.  This would be that you need to make an effort to not stay in your room while she’s visiting or not going to hang out with friends.  In fact, when I first moved in with my now-DH and SS, I would tell people I couldn’t go out because we had him over.  Sure, they will still need daddy/daughter time, but it doesn’t have to be all the time.

2. When you spend more time with them, really try to pinpoint things that both you and her would be interested in.  Keep them in mind, and maybe after a few times hanging out you can say, “Oh, I know you love _____________, maybe we can do this some time.”  This will show her you’re paying attention and you’re interested in spending more time with her.

3. Father’s Day is coming up.  I recommend you “secretly” plan on surprising her father… after all, her father is your common interest.  Brainstorm some things to get him that are bonding activities for the 3 of you, such as card games (my SS is 9, and he’s a HUGE fan of the Oregon Trail card game and playing Uno with us).  Or even a movie night set (popcorn, soda, movie, blanket you can all snuggle under) so when he opens it you can all have a movie night.  This “secret” between you and her will make her feel like you’re a team.

4. Eventually, actually bring her out to do stuff.  Keep an eye out for kids activities at the local library or community activities she might be interested in. Plan a picnic. Bring her to the park one day when you SO is doing chores or just trying to relax.  Go to her t-ball games and practices.  She will appreciate any support, any extra effort you put towards being a family, and any effort you put towards hanging out with her.


I don’t know if it will come very easy, but it sounds like you’re in the right mindset about taking your relationship with your SO slow…. you can take this slow too, but don’t show interest and retract.  By trying to form this relationship with her, you are committing to her.

Best of luck, Bee.

Post # 47
483 posts
Helper bee

My FI’s kids were around the same age as your BF’s little girl when we first got together (8 & 10). He also had 50/50 custody. I knew going into it that his kids were the most important thing in his life so I embraced them as a package deal. I guess I’m lucky because they were always very excepting of me from the get. From the beginning I spent a lot of time with them, with my FI AND one on one. I think the alone time is what really allowed us to bond. I would take them to the mall, movies, pool, park, etc. and play board games and hide & seek with them at home while FI was working. It was never uncomfortable or awkward. Also, their mother was already remarried by the time I was in the picture, so I think they really just wanted their dad to be happy. I think the best thing you can do is focus on building a relationship with his daughter. Seeing as you’re already a year in, it probably won’t be easy, but you need to earn her trust. Do things to show her that you care about HER. Spend as much one on one time with her as you can. Hopefully your relationship will grow and she will open up to you more. You get annoyed at his attention towards his daughter and how it affects your relationship with him and kids pick up on these things. You need to show her that you love and care about her too!

Post # 48
7871 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

balloffire :  Just coming in late, but I’d just like to point out that these disruptions (like t-ball practice), aren’t stepparent problems, they’re parent problems. I’m a bio mum, not a stepmum, and we have the same issues. I’ve been stranded while DH has been looking after one of our kids. When your kids are dependent, the priorities for most things go:

child > partner > friends.

Now this works both ways – if you move in or marry, or are simply around there a lot, there will be times where you prioritise her ahead ahead of him also. That’s just how it is when dependent kids are involved.

Post # 49
2141 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

balloffire :  I wouldnt move in unless you are ready for her to be a permanent part of your life and for you to love her as your own daughter. Otherwise, it’s very selfish of you. Her whole world fell apart a year ago and you’re about to change her world again by moving in only to possibly move out again if you guys break up? 

In regards to your second points,would you really want to be with a guy who would leave a sick child and go out for drinks with you? With a guy who would leave a 7 year old unattended by the roadside? 

I’m sorry but you sound incredibly childish. You’re having the same feelings as a 7 year old but unlike her you’re the adult here and it’s up to you and your partner to create the kind of dynamic where you guys are a FAMILY. Not up to a child.

Post # 50
2141 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Also the thing is that in any dynamic where a young child is involved, the child’s needs have to come first. Whether it’s your own child or a child you’re babysitting, you can’t leave a child screaming while you have sex or leave a child hungry while you go out to dinner, or leave a child needing attention while you snuggle on the couch. Snuggle time on the couch is for when the child is happy and entertained. And if the child comes and sits next to you, give her a hug too. 

Don’t look at it like “he puts you second and you put him first.” instead try also putting the needs of his child first, before your own and before him. Because that’s literally the only way it can ever work. If you can’t put his child’s needs before your own without questionning it, then you’re not cut out for this relationship. When you have your own child it’ll be the same. My son also pulls us apart and gets in between us to cuddle. It’s the normal behaviour of a child who wants to be included. 

Post # 52
785 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

Bizarre title for this post. 

You’re CLEARLY not ready to move in and be a step mom if you titled this as being your concern. “Dating” the father. You have way bigger concerns than that!

You shouldn’t move in until your 100% committed to them both. For life. It’s cruel to her to be temporary in her life. Don’t move in until you completely feel comfortable with her and her with you. Right now you absolutely aren’t there. Put her first. Don’t do that to her. What are you guys thinking?? 

Post # 54
6100 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

balloffire :  You’ve gotten some good advice so far. I think at this point you need to hold off on moving in, and have a long hard think about where you see your future going. You do not need to move in and continue this realtionship if you do not ever see yourself wanting to be a parent or will be able to make a concious effort to love this child like she’s your child. Kids need consistancy and moving in, only to give it a year and decide it’s too hard and break up….that’s not good. This man has a 7 year old child. He has MINIMUM of 10-11 more years of her being in the home before she goes to college….and even at that point that doesn’t mean she dissapears. She will always come first, and she should. That doesn’t mean you should always take the back burner. He needs to find a balance between your relationship and that of his child.

While her NEEDS should always come first, there needs to be respect there as well. Having been a child of divorce and remarriage, I know how it feels. That being said, being upset or jealous over your dad having a new girlfriend doesn’t give her the right to be rude or disrepsectful to an adult.

As for the “ewww” when y’all kiss. She’s 7. Even if it were her mom and dad kissing each other, she’d probably still think that way. To a 7 year old, kissing is gross.

If you want to make this work, and are committed to opening your heart and putting in the work to love this child – you need to be more involved.

Stop dissapearing when she’s over. If you want her to see you as a permanant place in her life, don’t run upstairs or go shopping all day when she’s there. There’s nothing wrong with them having some dad/daughter time without you – but if you plan on living there it’s your house too. Starting making movie night a family thing. Make an effort to try and do things with just you and her – take her shopping, to lunch, out for a pedicure. Show her that you want to be an active part in her life.

I’m curious to know how old you are? I don’t say this to be rude, but when reading your initial post I felt like I was reading something a 22 year old was writing. I feel like any adult with life experience, even if you don’t have your own kids, understands that a parent will always put their kids first. However, I wouldn’t expect someone super young to “get” that – because when you’re 22 you tend to be a lot more self absorbed…and that’s ok when you’re young.

Post # 55
1244 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

My DH’s daughter is 30.  She comes first, always will.  I told him that when we got married.  I will never, ever try to come between a man and his child. 

Post # 56
975 posts
Busy bee

My husband was a single dad when I met him. He had a young son.  I understand so much of what you are saying.  The child will always come first…and that’s how it should be.  One of the things I loved most about my husband before we married is how much devotion he had to his child. So yes, I was always #2 but that didn’t mean he didn’t love and care about me either, just in a different way. The connection a parent has to their child will always be first and foremost, especially if they are a single parent.  I have always accepted that my stepson would be first in his dad’s life, especially during the younger years.  I was totally ok with that, even during times when he could be difficult.  I have a great relationship with my stepson. I always loved him and was there for him from day one and I was always there to support his dad.  My husband is a fabulous guy, I truly never really felt like I was #2 in his life…I know for sure he would move heaven and earth for me and he has always been there for me and loves me more than anyone else ever have.  We got married about four years after we started dating and then we had a child of our own.  I love my daughter more than anything in the world. If anything were to ever happen to my husband or we couldn’t be together anymore, my kids will ALWAYS be number one in my life, no question!! But with that said, if someone really loves you, they will make time for you and include you in their life, but don’t ask a single dad to put you first.  At this time in his life, he can’t.  If you love him, just be there for him and try to understand that a 7 year old is having a difficult time adjusting to her parents being separated and her dad dating someone else.  Time, patience, and understanding are key here.

Post # 57
4993 posts
Honey bee

fromatoz :  

I am not in OP’s place  but if I was , your post would be SO useful and helpful and heartening without being   foolishly hopeful.  

Post # 58
2070 posts
Buzzing bee

I second PP about not venting to non-step parents about your step children.

There are some great “support groups” on Facebook which I recommend 100%


I’ve been where you are, I know how frustrating it is when you have something planned and a kid thing comes up and everything has to change. 


I know how frustrating it is that you will make so many sacrifices for a child that most of the time wishes you weren’t there.


It does get easier but your man needs to back you 1000%


I have two stepchildren. My stepson is 9 and my stepdaughter is 6. We never had any issues with my stepson but my stepdaughter was VERY jealous. She used to try and stop us kissing and holding hands etc. My husband would be firm “No, Daddy and Dannielle are holding hands, you can hold daddies other hand” etc. 


I also make sure that I encourage my husband to spend time with the kids alone but I do the same. Sometimes I take my stepdaughter to get our nails done or when I see my friends with kids, it’s so important to bond with them individually. 


I recommend you and your man read a book called “stepmonster”, it really opened my husbands eyes to some of the feelings I was having. 


Also, look up something called nachokid theory. It’s great if you are willing to continue with the relationship.


Being a stepmother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Anyone not in the same position has so damn idea what you are going through.. but, it can be so rewarding, it really can.


If you ever want to PM me feel free! 

Leave a comment

Get our weekly roundup of the best of Weddingbee.
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.

Find Amazing Vendors