Dating with Kids (From Someone Without Them)

I think it must be a combination of my age and physical location in the country because as of late, a lot of the men I’ve come across on the dating scene have children. I’m okay with that, but as I’m seeing other people my age complain on social media about blended families/relationships, it seems like there are some details getting lost in translation. From my personal experiences and wholly anecdotal evidence, here’s some advice if you’re going to date someone who has a kid(s).

It Ain’t About (Just) You

I know. I KNOW. I am someone who likes to think that the world wholly revolves around my sweet ass, but guess what? If you’re S/O has a kid, that’s going to be a thing of the past. And it should be. Prior to even knowing about your existence, your S/O brought another life into this world. Assuming they are involved with the child, they’re very likely putting a lot of time and effort and money into the tiny human. Keeping that in mind, You have to be ready to split your time in a way you’ve likely never had to before.

That’s not to say personal time is a no go; like any relationship, you are going to need time with just the two of you. However, it might not be the whole weekend, or maybe it’s not the weekend you initially planned because the child is with him/her that weekend. Even though the child isn’t yours, your time isn’t going to be your own anymore.

Jealousy’s Gotta Go

As we all know, it takes two to tango, so having a S/O with a kid means having a S/O who is likely still involved with an ex in some capacity. They are clearly no longer together, but if you’re typical M.O. for ex interactions is that they shouldn’t be happening at all, you’re gonna need to get over that right quick & in a hurry. And that is hard, really hard, but it’s a fine balance of supporting your person and not interfering. As your relationship progresses, your relationship with your S/O’s ex should too, but that takes time and patience, leading to my next point…

Stay In Your Lane

Just like it’s not all about you, there are other people involved in your decision-making now. Prime example: When is it time to meet the little one? Welp, in my opinion, that isn’t a decision you get to make. Personally, I don’t want to meet the kid til I know we’re pretty serious. After having a platonic friend’s kid ask me, “Are you sleeping with my dad?” the first time I met her, I realized quickly how jaded your child becomes if every person you’re remotely talking to is introduced. Maybe your S/O has other ideas, but I don’t think it’s your call alone about how/when/where you get to meet them.

Likewise, things like discipline or rewards are a balance. You might want to be a fun person in the child’s life, but you shouldn’t derail the parenting that’s happening. Especially if there’s co-parenting (and probably even more so if there isn’t), your role needs to fit into that relationship without disturbing what’s already in place. I know personally I don’t like when someone give my cat a swat on the butt, even if he’s being an ass; I imagine I’d lose it if someone tried to discipline my kid without talking to me first.

It May Not Work

The first time I was dating someone with a kid I was 22, graduating from college, and about to move from NY to TX for the first time. His child was home in NY, as was his entire family and her mom and her mom’s family. We all knew each other from high school, and while I really cared about him, I couldn’t allow him to even think about coming to TX when she was a toddler at home. We parted amicably, and he’s now happily married and expecting another baby.

Maybe it’s a naive way of thinking, but I would not have been able to live with myself if I’d asked him to up and move across the country for me when his daughter was back home. I recognize that there are different circumstances in every relationship, but that wouldn’t have worked. I don’t blame him or her; it’s about timing and feasibility and all other outside factors. No relationship is easy; kids just add another layer.

Communication is Key…Like Major Key

If there’s nothing else to take away from this, it’s that y’all have to talk about expectations early and often. Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, but when it’s bigger than just the two of you, it becomes even more vital. What do you each need? What’s the role of the ex? How do you each interact with them (or do you both do it)? What do you do when the kid misbehaves? What happens if it’s not working? These all seem straightforward, but they’re conversations that you may have never thought about if you’ve never been in that situation before.

So there it is. Maybe I know nothing. I’ve never gotten to the point in a relationship of living together–with or without kids–which certainly changes dynamics. However, given that a lot of the men I’m meeting have kids, plus seeing lots of griping on social media from people already trying to blend families, these seemed like some solid reminders. Any thoughts?

Til next time,

MK

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