Dating a divorced dad is complicated. I’d also say it can make you feel sad, frustrated, infuriated and can possibly drive a person nuts, at times. Why? Because there are so many different relationships going on at the same time, and some or all can be intense and sensitive and complex. Let’s look at the dynamics:
- You and the guy. You have to ask yourself, how serious is our relationship? Am I pushing too much to be around his kids when he isn’t ready? Or, is he forcing this too much before his kids are ready? Is he afraid of his ex-wife, so is he going to try to hide the relationship? Remember that men hate conflict and the easier you make things for them, the happier they are. Not saying you should let him step on you, but rather remember that he has an ex-wife and he has to make it work for his kids. He therefore might not stick up for you as much as you’d like.
- The guy and his kids. Maybe the kids are angry with their father for leaving their mother. Or, maybe they are very dependent on him because the mom is out of the picture. Or, maybe the kids are protective of him because they don’t want to see him get hurt.
- The kids and you. Did you and the kids hit it off right away? Or was it forced? Maybe they see you as a threat to some hopes of their parents reconciling, even if that is an unrealistic possibility. Or, maybe they treats you like a friend, desperately trying to get your approval. Or, maybe they feel they can’t be nice to you because that is being disloyal to their mom.
- The ex-wife and the guy. How is their relationship? Hostile, angry and bitter? Or, are both over the divorce and friendly? Is the ex-wife with someone or alone? That could make a difference, too. Does he fear her?
- The ex-wife and you. Will she be jealous of you or be artificially sweet? Or, is she genuinely OK with it and looking to be friends with you for the benefit of her kids?
- The ex-wife and the kids. Are they close? Are they secretly making fun of you behind your back in a caddy, mean girl kind of way? Or, are the kids always trying to sell you to their mom, saying how nice you are and that dad is really happy?
All of these relationships have a huge impact on what happens when you are dating a divorced dad and what your relationship will be like.
Timing is also key. If you are the first girlfriend of a divorced dad, it might be more difficult to be accepted. You have a better chance of things going smoothly if the divorce has been final for awhile.
Although every relationship and situation is different, here are 5 ways that will help you to be happier dating a divorced dad:
- Don’t take things personally. If the kids are making things difficult for you, remember that is has NOTHING to do with YOU, and everything to do with their feelings. I know it isn’t easy, but try to remember that.
- Don’t push. Give him time. Give the kids time. Let everyone get comfortable. Let them actually come to you.
- Put yourself in the kids’ shoes. Try to imagine how the kids are feeling. Remember that all kids want first and foremost the love of their parents, and for their parents to love each other. Obviously the latter isn’t happening anymore, so now they just want their parents to get along. What they really do not want is for their dad to have a girlfriend. They can be insecure and want his attention. No offense but they don’t want you. That doesn’t mean they won’t come to love and fully accept you, it just means they will probably fight it at the beginning.
- Be supportive and understanding of your guy. I feel sorry for a divorced dad in the respect that it isn’t easy to balance kids, an ex-wife and a girlfriend. Many many women vying for his attention can get tricky and exhausting.
- When frustrated, ask yourself, “Does this really matter?” Let’s say you planned to sleep at your boyfriend’s place and his kids threw a fit and said “no way!” Do you end up getting angry and stomping out of there? NO! Just be nice, say you understand, go home and try again another time. Like I said before, kids need time. No need to make a big deal out of it. Sleep in your own bed and be patient.
I understand that you can’t wait forever for his kids to accept you. And only you can decide when to throw in the towel. But I truly believe that with time and with the right attitude, kids really come around, and you can end up having a wonderful relationship.