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Dating Dads

No doubt, children impact on your love-life—especially if you don’t have one. Jonathan Young talks to some single dads who were somewhat apprehensive about dating.

Once you’re a single dad, custodial or otherwise, the prospect of finding a new partner takes on a completely new dimension. 

We’ve been following the journeys of a couple of our Christchurch dads, and discovered there can sometimes be more problems than there are available women.

Allan is a single dad to his 12-year-old daughter.  He’s always been Sinead’s main caregiver, and has been separated for nearly seven years.  Only this year has Allan found the confidence and the time to start pursuing a new relationship.

“I had a huge struggle through the family court, and that didn’t help.  It made me reluctant to get into a new relationship because I was always scrutinising my life and wondering what affect everything I did might have on the outcome of the court case”.

Having not been on a ‘date’ since before his marriage, some 15 years earlier, Allan was nervous, to say the least, about entering the ‘meat market’. 

“It’s fair to say I didn’t even know where to look… or how.  After a couple of friends had found partners through internet dating, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go”.

Even this proved to be a revelation. 

“I found that it was perfectly acceptable for women on a dating site to state that their children were their first priority, but for a man to do it didn’t go down so well.  I found lots of profiles of women that I would have liked to talk to, but they weren’t interested in a full-time dad”.

“When I eventually got to the actual ‘date’ part I wasn’t sure what to tell Sinead.  I didn’t want to lie to her about where I was going, but at the same time I didn’t want her to feel threatened, or to get excited about getting a new mum”.

There’s also the question of when to introduce a new partner to your children.  None of the dads we talked to had and hard and fast rules about this.

“It’s hard to know, because you don’t want to introduce them to everyone if you’re seeing different people once or twice, but then you don’t want them to think that relationships start off all serious either”.

“Yeah, it’s really hard,” agrees Jamie, a 30 year old single dad, “’Cause at the same time you don’t wanna find a woman you really like, only to find out that the kids hate or the other way around”.

There’s also the prospect of becoming step-dad to your potential love interest’s children.

“At my age, I find that most women either already have kids, want them right now, or aren’t interested in kids at all”, said Jamie.  “It’s not just a matter of impressing the woman, you also have to impress her kids and her parents, and deal with the kids real dad!”

Time is also a factor.  Many ‘shared care’ dads work during the week and then have their children from Friday night until Monday morning.  This poses a problem for many of the normal social events where they might find a potential partner.

“I guess a lot of time the only adults I associate with apart from work and family are my kids’ friends’ parents.  It hasn’t gone much further than exchanging glances though,” jokes Jamie – who says his pick up lines could do with some work.

“Dating is like fish and chips.  If you don’t place an order there is no chance that you’re gonna get fed.  I haven’t even made it into the shop yet, but I guess there’s no point standing outside and complaining about being hungry!”

Next: Special Needs – Special Children

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