Dating a Single Dad Problems

Fact Checked by: Debbie Gutfreund, MA

If we had to guess, there are probably two different kinds of people here. Some of you are probably women who are interested in dating a single dad, but you’re worried there might be issues you don’t know about. You’re curious what dating a single dad problems might arise and whether or not you can handle them or if it’s not worth getting involved.

The second group of you are probably single dads who are wondering if there is still hope out there and what issues you might run into that you can hopefully fix to make things easier. If that’s you, we’ve got a much better guide for you with our Online Dating as a Single Dad Guide. We highly recommend you check that out as this guide is going to be focusing on the women who are either in a relationship with a single dad already or are considering it but want to know what to expect or what the pros and cons are.

So ladies, let’s get down to business and discuss the dating a single dad problems that might arise, what you can expect dating a single dad, and the pros and cons of dating a single dad.

single dad with his son outside

Dating a Single Dad Problems – What Are They?

The face that you’re here shows that you’re well aware that dating a single dad is not the same as dating a guy who does not have any kids. If you’re considering getting into a relationship or dating a single dad, we commend you for coming here first to figure out if it’s something that you’re going to be okay with. Too many people these days just dive headfirst into relationships without taking the time to think if it’s really going to be something that works. So, hat’s off to you!

To help you out, we want to start out by pointing out all of the dating a single dad problems that may or may not arise. Here’s the good news; none of them are really that bad, and there are also a lot of pros to dating a single dad as well (that we will cover later in this guide). Here are the three main dating a single dad problems you’re going to encounter and how we recommend dealing with them if you decide to move forward with the relationship.

They’re going to have less free time.

If you don’t have kids of your own, let us tell you this. They are fantastic at consuming all of your food and all of your time. Kids require a lot of time regardless of the age they are. As they get older and into their later teens they do usually become more independent, but there are still time commitments that their dad is going to have to be there for.

So, what does that mean for you? Well, it means that you’re going to have to share your man’s time with their little one. And, to be the spoiler, if they’re a good dad their kid is always going to take priority over you. This isn’t anything against you, but it’s their kid, and they SHOULD take precedence over you.

There are going to be times when you have dates scheduled, and they have to cancel because their kid got sick or got in trouble at school. They may be late to dates because the babysitter was late or they found out they had to do something for their kid’s school. They may have to leave dates early because the babysitter calls and their kid is sick.

These are all things that are going to happen, and you have to be okay with them. You have to be okay with being flexible and understand that your new man is going to have to take care of his kid and that is going to require time even if the mother is still in the picture.

This is one of the dating a single dad problems that will require you to be understanding, patient, and realize that the “problem” is not going to go away for as long as the child is still living at home or still not an adult. If you’re cool with that and are not going to get frustrated with it, then you have nothing to worry about.

They have responsibilities that will have an effect on your relationship.

The second dating a single dad problem we want to talk about is a piggyback off the first one. You’re going to quickly see that they have responsibilities to their child that will have an effect on your relationship. These are going to be time responsibilities, financial responsibilities, and moral responsibilities.

Time responsibilities – These are things that we talked about in the last section. They’re going to have to go to sports games, dance recitals, parent-teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments, and whatever else it is the kids happen to be into. This will take away from the free time they have with you.

Financial responsibilities – Kids are expensive. According to, kids cost well over $200,000 to raise on average! Depending on your man’s financial status, this might impact certain aspects of your relationship. If funds are tight (which they are a lot for single parents), you can bet that his daughter or son’s field trip money is going to get paid before he decides if he can afford to get you something nice.

Moral Responsibilities – Kids watch and learn everything from their parents. This means that a good dad is going to want to be an example for his kid. This means that if you’re a big fan of going out and partying and doing all that kind of stuff, it’s probably not going to fly with the single dad at least while he has his kid. If he has joint custody it might when the kid or kids are away but certainly not when they are around. And if it does seem to fly with him while they are around, you might want to question the quality of the man you are looking to date. No offense to people to party, but we’re just being blunt here. You take on new responsibilities when you become a parent. If you’re not down with that, this is another one of the dating a single dad problems you will have to make a decision on.

There may be an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend still in the picture.

We saved the “best” dating a single dad problem for last. When we say best, we mean the one that can usually cause the most issues. Oh fun, right? Here’s the thing. It takes two people to make a child which means that there is a pretty good chance there is still an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife in the picture.

Are you going to have to meet her or interact with her? It depends. The more serious the relationship gets, the more likely that is to happen. Now, if the two of them are cordial and things ended amicably, then it might not be a big deal at all. You might see her in passing when she drops off the kids or picks them up, but that should be it. If she’s around any more than that, you may want to question if things are really over between the two of them.

But, there is always the chance that things did not end on good terms and she’s going to automatically hate your guts before she even meets you. This is a real possibility and the dating a single dad problem you need to be most prepared for.

Here’s what we recommend you do to find out where things stand. Ask. When the conversation comes up about the kids (because it will, and he’ll want to tell you), you have the right to ask how things stand with the mother. You don’t have the right to judge how things ended or where they stand (at least at this point early in the relationship), but you do have the right to ask and you have the right to decide if you want to stick around and deal with it.

Again, it’s entirely possible that things are smooth between the two and you’ll never see her for a long time. It’s also possible that she is a raging bit…we’ll be nice. Just make sure you have the conversation, and you are okay with what you’re signing up for.

What to Expect Dating a Single Dad

Now that we’ve driven straight through all the negative stuff, we want to talk about things that could be positive. We want to talk about what to expect dating a single dad. The answer is that it’s going to depend on how old the kid is, what kind of living arrangement the kid and the dad and the mom have, and how the dad chooses to handle things.

Things will be way different if the kid is a baby or a toddler as they are going to have more needs to stay alive, but you aren’t going to have to worry about having to meet and deal with a human who is old enough to decide to embrace you or reject you.

Living arrangements will play a big role as well into how things go and what you can expect dating a single dad. If the dad has full custody, then you can expect there to be a lot more things that need to be discussed and worked out. Will you be meeting the kid? Are you ever allowed to stay over? How do dates work? Things like that.

If it’s joint custody, the dad may opt to only go on dates when his kid is with their mother. If this is the case, this will affect your scheduling a bit, but it’s something that you should be able to easily work around. As things get more serious, they may look to introduce you to their kid, but that will be completely up to them and when they think it is right.

If the mom has complete custody, then it’s probably going to be pretty similar to dating a single guy with no kids. That being said, you might want to inquire as to why they have no custody of the child. We’re not here to judge, but we just want you to make sure that you’re okay with everything you’re getting into, and you’re not uncomfortable with the reasons that the dad does not have custody of the child. There are plenty of good reasons that he wouldn’t, but there are also plenty of alarming reasons why he wouldn’t as well. Just do your homework and ask the right questions.

Ultimately what you can expect dating a single dad is going to come down to how the dad decides to play things. It’s his kid, and he knows what is best for them. Don’t try and push what you want to happen onto them especially early in the relationship because you won’t win that battle and it’s not fair to him.

Let him dictate what happens with his kid, but do keep in mind that you have the right to walk away at any point if you don’t like how things are going.

Dating a Single Dad Pros and Cons

The last things we want to talk about today are the pros and cons of dating a single dad. Basically, what are the drawbacks you need to be aware of and what are the perks that you get. Yup, there are actually some great perks you’ll get from most single dads. We say most because there are always some bad apples out there, and we can’t do anything to help them, unfortunately. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

The Cons of Dating a Single Dad

We discussed most of these in the dating a single dad problems section, but let’s reiterate and point out a few more.

  • They’re going to have less free time for you.
  • You’re not going to be the most important person in their life.
  • There may be an ex in the picture who may be a great person or an evil witch. You may have to interact with them at some point.
  • Their child will always come first financially.
  • They’ll have additional responsibilities that men without children won’t have.

The Pros of Dating a Single Dad

And now, here are some of the good things that come from dating a single dad!

  • They’re typically much more responsible, mature, and grown up because they have to be.
  • You’ll get to see their true colors. They always say you can learn a lot about a man by how he treats his mother, but the same is true (if not truer) about his children.
  • Many of them have bigger goals and dreams that are motivated by their children. Even though their kids are the motivation, you’ll get to enjoy the benefits if they succeed.
  • They’re experienced with kids if you ever want to have your own with them someday.
  • If they’re a good father, they’re going to be more morally sound.
  • If they invite you to meet their kids, you get to a lot of fun stuff that you can only do if you have kids!
Photo of author

Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.