Before I dip my head, shoulders, knees and toes into this pool, let me say, first and foremost, dating as a single parent is hard. I know, I’m a certified genius right? Well, not exactly. But I’ve had dozens of clients put themselves back out there as a single parent without thinking through some vital questions. How will I find the time? How do I integrate my child? And, specific to this article, can I date someone that doesn’t have kids?
First and foremost: What is your preference? That your partner does or does not have kids? People see this in different ways. Some parents don’t want to co-mingle their kids with other kids. Some parents prefer that their partner has kids because they don’t feel as though a non-parent will understand the complications of being a single parent (schedule, sick days, etc.). Again, what is your preference and what are your hangups on either side of the coin? If you don’t think through this before getting into it with someone, you will be addressing it in flight and if it all crashes down, there will be casualties.
Second: Do they want to have kids of their own and do you want any more kids? Pretty simple questions here.
- Do they want to have kids? If not, why and are they okay being with someone who has kids? If they just aren’t the kids type, that won’t bode well for your future and don’t let them sell you with the notion that they didn’t want kids “but you’re different.” If they don’t want any of their own but state without reservations that they’re okay if someone else has kids, this can be smooth without issue. But you must be sure it is without reservations. You understand the commitment kids require and there’s no faking it. If they do want kids of their own and you don’t want any more, obviously this is a non-starter. And I do mean non-starter. Do not get caught in the premise that you like each other so much that they’re willing to put aside that desire. Even if they think they are, it will hit them down the road and things will end badly.
- Do you want any more kids? If you do and they don’t want kids, this can be an issue though I would note, if you find that they are a really good step parent to your children, you may find your need to have another child can change. I say this because when someone has had a child in a relationship that didn’t last, their desire to have another one can be tied to wanting an emotional attachment to another partner in the deep way that kids can bring. And again, if there is a strong bond between your child and your new significant other, I have seen several people change their mind on whether they wanted another kid, without reservations. None of this is hard to figure out but make sure you walk down this mental road.
Third: What is their lifestyle? In a black and white sense, are they responsible or somewhat reckless? Would their routine rub off negatively on you and/or your child and your current lifestyle? This is something parents tend not to think through because they meet the person in an environment that is wholly different than their day-to-day parenting world. What’s common here is to fall into the fun initially, like it, like the person and try and balance the plates as their relationship continues. Eventually it ends because the plates fall enough to expose real cracks. And, as alluded to, it can negatively affect your kids and, depending on their age, affect how your kids see you. Know that other person up front and don’t mish mash the reality of their routine with the realities of your commitments and values!
Fourth: What is their schedule versus yours? This is directly tied to the first three issues raised and what you prefer in a partner and a relationship. Meaning, if you’re touchy-feely and/or want that best friend in a partner and lover that you will see everyday and expect you will get that with someone without kids, you may be disappointed. This can be especially true if they don’t want their own kids–even if they’re okay with you having them. If you are, however, the kind that is okay with going out but also having your own family time with or without them, it may be okay that their schedule is more open than yours. In this case, however, you have to address this in the short and long term, and I highly recommend you think down that road at the beginning.
None of the four focus areas above are new equations. They’re merely snuggled nicely into one place for you to chew on.
- Dating With Kids: When Do I Introduce My New Partner To The Kids?
- Co-Parenting and Dating: Why He Won’t Introduce You To His Kids
- Can You Love Without Losing Yourself?
- Meet The Children?