If this is not your first go round on the singles-scene rodeo and you’ve edged your way past that awkward phase of night-club hook-ups, you might find that you have snuck into an entirely new dating demographic. It’s one where a tiny checkbox on a website is going to redirect your dating destiny if you give it a click. The one which sends out a flare out that you are ok with accepting a partner with kids.
If you’ve found yourself childless and single somewhere north of your thirties, you’re statistically unlikely to find someone else with the same status. Being ok with someone with little tot or two in tow means that you don’t risk ruling out some perfectly well-adjusted bachelors who just happen to not have found forever with their baby mama. You will open up a pool of single men who once cared for a woman so much that they combined genes and created another small human.
If you are headed down this path, there are some key questions that demand asking. The kind of questions that might ordinarily seem like early-relationship suicide, but if asked and answered give you a whole lot of direction about where things might be headed.
How would you describe your relationship with your child’s mother?
Talking about exes in your early dating days is a red flag. A glowing, lava-like, blistering inferno-coloured flag. On one hand, discussing exes is just asking to unearth the decomposing stench of a relationship that has festered and died. On the other hand you might simply expose a relationship that has suffered the same fate as an accidently neglected indoor house plant, that with a teeny shortage of sunlight and water, has simply failed to thrive.
There’s one reason to address this elephant in the room. If you and the dad make it then you need to have the lowdown on this lady as she’s legit going to be an ongoing part of your life. The baby mama could be anything from your long-lost soul sister who you’d willing share tequila shots and Netflix binges right through to someone who will paint you as the most evil stepmother this side of Disney. Best to know where she falls on that spectrum.
Do you want more kids?
By definition a dad’s done this parenting thing. He either loves being a parent with every molecule of his being or he’s come up a bit gun-shy after the experience. It’s not a first-date question, but one to casually canvass once you aren’t too far in.
Regardless of whether your ovaries are screeching for offspring or shrivelling in fear, you need this answer. The beauty of it is that he has a realistic, full-bodily-fluids, unromantic view of what childbirth and child-rearing entails and if he’s up for that again, then you have a serious dad on your hands. He gets it.
If you are a bit meh when it comes to kids, and he’s not up for another go-round, then you have the perfect union – something likely to be punctuated with the conveniently scheduled insertion of offspring in your life, with known, planned, kid-free periods.
What do you expect from me?
This is a question for the advanced players on the dad-dating spectrum. The answer is often to be found in the detail of the custody arrangements. If this is the standard every-other-weekend paternal arrangement then you can look forward to fortnightly freedom – date nights, Sunday sleep-ins and control of the TV remote. If you have weak and intermittent maternal urges, this is everything you could ever want. An excuse to stock the fridge, guilt-free, with chicken nuggets and cookies’n’cream ice cream. A living, breathing reason to go to amusement parks and buy oversized popcorn.
If the baby-mama is not in a place, chemically or mentally, that permits responsible parenting, you might find there’s a lot less of the theme park and a lot more of school lunches and the relentless focus on laundry and balanced meals. Still, this might mean you’ve snared a maternal-esque experience without the inconvenience of childbirth and stretchmarks.
Being open to dating a Dad opens your world to men that have the propensity for unconditional love. The good ones will entertain your tough questions. Ask them.
Kylie McGregor was deposited kicking and screaming into singledom in her 40s and then relentlessly blogged about every rookie error she committed in navigating the online dating experience. Entirely lacking a single shred of maternal instinct the dating gods decided it was best to send a single dad her way. She traded stilettos for the suburbs, not without some soul-searching along the way.