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How To Date Someone Who Doesn’t Have Kids When You Have Them

There are over a hundred million articles about how to date someone with kids.  Certainly, those of us without kids get it that parenting is a full-time role and that kids come first.  We understand the need to wait to meet your kids, and we also understand that you’ll always need quality time with your child.

We understand that our role might be more like a fun aunt/uncle, coach, tutor, mentor, shopping buddy, or cheerleader than an extra parent.  We know that we will enjoy the outdoors with your kids, helping them with homework, cooking for them, and teaching them new things. We know that we should leave all disciplinary duties to the biological parents, and we know how to be patient, respectful, and light-hearted while getting to know your kid(s).

However, don’t divorced parents need to think about how to date someone who doesn’t have kids?  We have a perspective as well.

Empathy, Please 

Divorced and separated parents are dating more frequently because of instant connections through social media and dating apps.  Everyone is time stressed, and two divorced parents might have even fewer nights of the week to get together.  Those of us without kids can be somewhat of a catch because our schedules are more flexible.

If you are a divorced parent dating someone who is not a parent, try to remember your life before kids.  Imagine what it would be like for your former self before kids to coordinate and have fun with your divorced, parenting self.   Then, you might have more of a picture of how those of us without kids feel when we are dating you.

We most likely have a larger travel schedule and budget than you, and we might place a high priority on entertainment, travel, and possibly volunteerism.  You might not have the spare weeks or weekends that we have, and we will miss you when we are in New Zealand or Tahiti. Or, if we choose to accompany you to Disneyland or the nearest beach, remember that we are doing this because we love you and your child, not because this was our top vacation destination.  If we are there on vacation with you, make us a priority too.   Don’t ignore us and send cute vacation pictures of your kid to your ex frequently.  Don’t expect us to understand fights with your exes either because remember…we don’t have kids.  When we are are done with our exes, we are done.

Vacations are awesome when you don’t have kids, and we could be dating people without kids or with grown kids. However, we love you and we sometimes choose your child’s sports game or your child’s theater production over a weekend trip.  You are an amazing person, and your kid(s) are amazing too.  We want time with you. Realize that we really must love you quite a lot instead of analyzing what we are not doing right in our extremely complicated, occasionally lonely, role.

You may have baggage around different exes who you introduced too soon to your kids or exes who were not supportive or even jealous of the time you spent with your kids.  But, we might have baggage surrounding other divorced parents we have dated or stories we have heard from our friends.  We also might have baggage after deeply attaching to a child who wasn’t ours, and then simply never seeing that child again after a breakup. Perhaps, we can learn from each other’s experiences and find balance.

Types of Divorced Parents

A person without kids might observe a variety of parenting situations including neglectful parents, over-involved parents, dysfunctional parents, and healthy parents.  Some parents are neglectful, self-centered, and anxious to have fun like they did before they had kids.  Though these types might seem like a better match for a person without kids, their lack of ethics will eventually be a huge turn-off.

Other parents are in over-drive, as if they are competing in a contest to win helicopter parent of the year.  Maybe they are trying to make up for an ex who isn’t involved, but there is hardly a spare moment in their lives for quality time with someone else.

And, the worst of the worst are the parents with dramatic, vengeful exes.  If you can run from that type of situation—run fast. Chances are good that those two have unresolved issues, and you don’t want to be in the middle of that hurricane.  Some exes are sick enough to lie to their exes, lie to their kids, lie on social media, lie in court, lie to CPS all for revenge and control. Did I mention that you should consider running and thanking your lucky stars that you don’t have to deal with a with a deeply disturbed person for decades?  I get a bit of vomit in the back of my throat just thinking about it.

Are there any ideal situations for dating someone who has a child?  Yes, of course, there are balanced, loving divorced parents. After an appropriate amount of time, maybe your significant other introduces you in a respectful way to their child. You enjoy pleasant moments with your significant other and his/her kid(s).  Sometimes, your significant other’s ex is remarried, friendly, and in rare cases even pleased with the value that you add to their child’s life.  Sometimes, you immediately adore your significant other’s child and feel that you are blessed to know a new person who reminds you of the person who you already love.

Ways it Can Work Out Beautifully

If you are someone like me who never wanted to physically have kids, maybe dating a divorced parent allows you to see and experience some of the joy and laughter of having children.  Maybe you feel like you have a sweet role in a child’s life that you never expected to play.  Maybe you love and are loved in return.  Maybe memories are fuller and brighter because of your significant other’s child.  You might get a glimpse of the love good parents must feel for their kids.

But, even in the best of circumstances, why not have some empathy for those of us without kids?

Our stress levels might be lower because we only have to carry ourselves through this world, and yet we sometimes completely fall in love with someone with kids.  We want to play a supportive role in your life and in theirs.  Don’t forget to tell us you love us and wish you could spend more time with us. Do not throw us into the middle of chaos right away.  Show us fun moments with your kids.  Remind us that you realize your children will grow up and make a life of their own, and you will have more time for better travel with us and time to binge watch Netflix shows with us.  Don’t just tell us that we are a priority, show us that we are.  We get it that you have more responsibilities than us, but we don’t get it when there isn’t any time for love.

Don’t forget to tell us that you understand our perspective because you do.  You were once you without kids.  Think about what you would have needed to be in a relationship with a divorced parent.

How to date someone that has kids when you have them
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Tricia Barker

Tricia Barker experienced a profound near-death experience during her senior year of college, and this experience guided her to teach overseas, in public schools, and at the college level. National Geographic and A&E’s I Survived: Beyond and Back covered Tricia’s story. Currently, Tricia teaches English and Creative Writing at a beautiful community college in Fort Worth, Texas. Tricia’s memoir in-progress, Healed, chronicles the moment of her accident, her near-death experience, and other moments of trauma that affect many women. The book focuses on being of service to the world as one way to heal from trauma. Tricia’s poetry has been featured in The Binnacle, The Paterson Literary Review, and The Midwest Quarterly.

4 Comments

  1. Its not hard to tell you dont have kids. Your world revolves around your feelings and yourself . A life of a Good parents with kids revolves around everyone else.Maybe your not ready to be in a relationship full of a little more responsibility and a few less margaritas?

    1. I hate to break it to you but there are many childless adults such as myself who are more caring than someone who is a parent. A life of a good parent doesn’t necessarily mean it revolves around everyone else–just your child (which’s fine). Everyone else would include grandma, aunt betty, etc. Ideally, the person should be caring if they have kids but you’d be surprised how often that doesn’t happen. The point is this, just because of someones’ parental status doesn’t mean the relationship is all about them–children or not it’s about EVERYONE. This includes the childfree significant other and I don’t think some single parents understand this. For example, we are considerate of your time because of having children and understand that we won’t see you more than once a week. Once a week is actually fine with me but if weeks turn to months since I’ve been on a date with you due to children then how’s that making a healthy relationship? I’ve had this happen to me and then all of a sudden the parent gets mad that I can’t be available just because they are and expect me to drop all plans for them. Respect for people’s time works both ways. Also, keep this in mind..if we’re not your number one priority then the single parents shouldn’t complain when we won’t make them a number one priority either. I’m not saying that we should always be a priority over your children but it’s not fair to prioritize them first, yourself second, and our relationship last because lets be honest..it’s not just about the children being first but I’ve experienced the parent also putting themselves first. They said they understood when I confronted them about it but their actions spoke louder than words. Sorry I’ve gone off on a rant here but this is what I’ve experienced from dating a single parent and witnessed others do the same with poor results. Tristan, I hope that you can understand where we’re coming from when we speak like this.

      1. Amen sister! I am so far from being “all about myself” as Tristan suggested. In my dating life I have listened and counseled men who wanted to talk about their “crazy” exes far too much. I’ve helped other people’s kids with their homework while the dad watches a game or engaged in a hobby. I’ve spent my hard-earned money on other people’s kids while the dad somewhat selfishly spent his money on himself. I’ve calmed a hot-tempered boyfriend down and taught him how to be kinder to his sensitive kid, so I still stand by this article though I might change a few things in it now and soften the tone a bit. Blended families are tough, and a brilliant, spiritual psychologist put it best when she said that ‘Kids actually don’t come first. A love relationship and a relationship with kids are completely different relationships with different roles and yet equally important.” Obviously, a sick kid takes priority over a date night. However, a sick boyfriend/girlfriend/stepmother/stepfather also has priority in that moment. There are ways to include the boyfriend/girlfriend in decisions and make them a part of your life if you have a child.

  2. This was an amazing article, I have spent so much time trying to find something that captures the perspective of a person on the other end of these kid of relationships and I really appreciate you for writing this in such an honest and loving way. Thank you!!

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