Online Dating as a Single Dad

Dating can be difficult enough, right? Let alone with all the competition there seems to be in the dating world. The normal thing to do now is online dating, but how does online dating work when you are a single dad? What are the things you need to know and look out for when dating as a single father?

With so many variables you need to consider, your children and your lifestyle and routine, how would an outsider fit into that routine and jive with your family’s dynamic? How do you know when they are the right person to introduce to your children? How are your children going to respond to this new person who obviously isn’t their mom?

Today we are going to share with you some of the important issues single dads face with when it comes to online dating as a single parent. We will give you sound advice on how to deal with finding the right person and communicating with your children.

#1 Take Your Time

In such a fast-paced world of instant mac ‘n’ cheese and Uber food delivery, taking your time is the last thing you want to do, right? Our time is so precious, and we always wish we had more of it. We often find ourselves wondering why there couldn’t be more hours in the day? When it comes to getting back out there and online dating as a single dad, you need to really practice patience and take your time.

#2 It’s Going to Be Tough

Whether you recently had your heart broken, or you were the heart breaker, it can be difficult to move on with your new dating life. If you recently divorced and parented children together, the dynamic of what some may view as baggage can be tough to try and bring into a new relationship. You may meet someone you really like, and don’t be surprised if your children or child hates them, this is normal. If it doesn’t feel a bit like an uphill battle most of the way, you’re doing something wrong.

Do not lose hope though, you can meet someone, and you can start fresh, but at the end of the day you are still a father first and foremost. If you become discouraged, remember it takes time to meet the right person, and focus on the whole reason why you are online dating in the first place. Whether you want a second chance at love, someone who can be a great mother figure to your young children, or simply companionship because you have older children, it will be a challenge to meet the right person who is going to love your children just as much as you do. It is a challenge, but it’s not impossible.

#3 Make Sure You’re Ready

You are the only one who knows exactly how you feel. As men it is difficult to be so open about our feelings, sometimes even with ourselves. We need to really take into consideration out heart situation. Can we truly handle having another leading lady in our life right now? If the answer to that question is no, then you need to take more time to heal and step back for a minute. Maybe online dating should be placed onto the back burner until you are truly ready to move on.

If you are ready, then remember to take baby steps. We get it, you’ve been there already, right? You’ve been in a serious committed relationship, or you’ve been married and divorced, or perhaps you are a widower, and you are ready to jump back into the saddle and get out there, just remember to be doing it for the right reasons. Those old feelings could come up at any point in time and hit you like a ton of bricks if you aren’t truly ready.

#4 Beware of Rebounds

Okay so you need to get back out there but be careful of rebounds. As men we tend to be overly enthusiastic about the first woman we meet who is interested in us after a breakup. It’s something new and fresh, so we think it’s just a fun time, until it’s not and somebody gets hurt, or your tires are slashed one morning when you are leaving for work… yeah, that happened.

When women know you have kids, they instantly think of you as this more mature, responsible person, after all you were able to keep tiny humans alive, right? Women who date men who have kids instantly believe these men are looking for something serious and not out looking for a fling. Beware of this mentality women have when first getting to know them. Communicate that you are taking your time getting to know potential matches, as you have more variables to consider in your life than simply just yourself.

#5 Be Sure and Don’t Overdo It

When it comes to online dating as a single dad you need to choose wisely and make sure you don’t serial date. You don’t want to date a plethora of women only to find out it was a huge waste of time and have nothing to show for it in the end because none of them were worthy enough to keep around. The serial dating mindset will get you nowhere.

#6 Are They Worth the Date?

You’ve been online dating for two week and you’ve been having a great conversation with this one chick. She seems great, but she’s not sure how she feels about dating someone with kids. Sound familiar?

Your time is so precious, between work and being a single dad, there’s no much leftover. If you are serious about meeting someone and building a connection, then they need to be serious about dating someone with kids as well. Don’t waste your time on someone who might not be worth it (no matter how attractive they seem), save the date for someone else who is worth it.

#7 Who Are You Calling a Hoe?

Maybe the idea of even being eligible to be called a man-hoe by your buddies seems cool, if that’s you, this article isn’t for you. Being a serial dater is a great way to really confuse your children and possibly get yourself an STD. Women are already going to have the idea in their minds that you’re a good guy because you’re a dad, don’t take advantage of that.

With such limited time and resources, you need to be sure the person you are going to meet up with on a date is not only worth the date, but knows you aren’t some man-hoe and you aren’t looking for a woman who is either. More is not necessarily when it comes to online dating, it’s just more, and that may be more of a bad thing than a good thing.

#8 May I Introduce You…

Introducing your children to your revolving door of women is a terrible idea. You will scar them for life if you introduce them to a new woman every week or so. Your children are not dumb, even if they are young, they see what you are doing.

Introducing your children to an endless array of “daddies’ friends” will cause them to develop a negative mindset towards relationships, and those thoughts will affect their ability to have healthy relationships throughout their adult life. Children need stability, and if you are recently separated or divorced, introducing your child to a new person can be extremely confusing to them.

#9 No Sleepovers

It’s 7am and your children wake up to find your latest online date leaving the house in the same clothing she was wearing last night. Yep, it’s the walk of shame, but it’s even more shameful when your date slept over at your place and you have children. Again, children see and hear everything, they are not stupid. Unless you are so serious with this person you’ve discussed marriage, there should never be sleepovers when your kids are home and sleeping in the next room.

#10 Put a Ring on It

If you are going to marry this woman and you know without a shadow of a doubt she is the right one for you and for your family, then go ahead and lock-it-down. This is the only circumstance in which it is okay for you to have adult sleepovers in your home when your children are present.

#11 Communicate

Be sure to explain to your children the seriousness of your relationship with this new boo of yours so they understand the situation better. Communication should not be a one-way dialog either, allow your children to give their opinion and feedback. Communicate with them throughout the duration of the relationship (if serious) so they feel they are a part of the loop, and not being left out or forgotten.

For relationships that are less serious and not heading to the alter anytime soon, do not have this partner stay the night at your home when your children will be there, or could possibly show up in the morning. You aren’t hiding the relationship from them, but you are protecting your children. You wouldn’t want your child to develop a complex and have issues with promiscuity when they get older, or if they are currently in their adolescent to teen years.

#12 Honesty is the Best Policy. Be Honest with Yourself First and Foremost

One of the golden rules is that honesty is the best policy. You need to be honest with your children, yourself, and your partner.

Self-awareness is one of the most difficult things for human beings to grasp. We sometimes like to just hang out in our limbic system and feel things, rather than moving to the next step of rationally thinking about things. When you are in a fun, new relationship you tend to hangout in your brain’s limbic system for days, weeks, months, sometimes even years.

If you are a single dad trying to do the online dating thing, you need to get real with how you truly feel about this new crush of yours. Is it merely a physical attraction that won’t really amount to much more? Or, is it something special? Do you see an ability for her to be a good mother-type figure to your children? You need to be honest and think about it rationally.

# 13 Proactively Talk to Your Kids

When it comes to taking your online dating offline and out into the real world, your children will be upset if you do not discuss with them what your intentions are beforehand. To a child this sort of hurt would be like finding out their best friend threw a slumber party over the weekend and they weren’t invited. Not good.

Always include your children in conversations about where you see your relationship going with your new partner. Try not to over communicate to a point it is weird, they are children after all, so they don’t need every little detail. You also need to stand your ground and be sure to communicate that although you will take their feelings into serious consideration, they are not calling the shots. Some younger children can be possessive over their parent, especially if a stranger is introduced into the equation.

#14 Discuss with Your Partner

The two of you are creating this new team, and for that team to work you need to allow your partner to be looped in on the conversations you have with your children concerning them. We don’t recommend sitting them in on the actual conversation you have with your children, but they should know what was said. Even if the details of the conversation are difficult to share or you worry it may hurt their feelings, we recommend you are open and honest with them about it, so they know what they are up against. If possible, devise a plan to work on any areas of concern.

Your children will most likely feel intimidated if your new partner is around while you try to have private conversations with them about how they feel about daddies’ new friend. If you have multiple children, then try speaking with them separately to get a better gauge of where they are regarding your new relationship. Group conversations will sometimes leave more timid children from sharing how they truly feel.

#15 The Ex Factor

Okay so you found an incredible woman you want to build a relationship with, and possibly even a life together… and in walks your ex. When it comes to online dating as a single dad, you must take into consideration the relationship you have with your ex. Nobody likes baby mama drama, and you shouldn’t put anyone through that.

#16 Family Dynamics

We all have ex’s, but not all of our exes are the mother of our children. This sort of ex relationship is much more significant than any other because you share the special bond of creating a child and parenting that child with this person. Your new partner will naturally always feel left out of that connection.

If you know your ex (baby mama) is completely crazy, then you need to tread carefully when handling the situation of your new relationship and children with that person. Don’t hide it but be aware of the sensitivity you will need to have around the subject. Also, don’t get your kids stuck in the middle of things between you and their mother, talk to the children’s mother separately. If your children are around it may be difficult to have a serious adult conversation about the subject. Let your new partner know what to expect as well, so she is not blindsided by your crazy baby mama.

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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.