Why and how to find divorced dads to date

A few years ago, I went out a couple of times with a divorced dad whose daughter happens to be the same age as mine. We spent our first date talking about our kids and the challenges of parenting — and realizing we have a lot in common.

For example, we both feel perfectly satisfied having spent our upbringings attending mediocre public schools, running around the neighborhood on weekends, and watching TV on school nights. Yet we stress about getting our kids into the right kindergarten and constantly schlep our unappreciative preschoolers to museums and They Might Be Giants concerts.

“What's up with that?” we both wondered aloud. I liked this guy. But when he started in on his daughter's former ballet career, I was a goner. “That class was the best hour of my entire week,” he said, glowing. “I could not get enough of these 3-year-old girls trying so hard to be little ballerinas. It was the cutest thing in the world.” Awkward silence. It was my turn to speak, but instead I was staring. I was staring not at his gym-toned shoulders or adorable, open smile. I was staring at him.

Ready to start dating? Looking for a serious relationship? Our No. 1 recommendation is eHarmony, which is consistently rated the most trusted dating site, and is designed specifically for those looking for meaningful, long-term connections. A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and claims “Every day, an average of 438 singles marry a match they found on eHarmony.” 3-month free guarantee.

Get started with eHarmony now for free >>

Why date a divorced dad

Most of the men I date are dads, and that is by design. Of course, it's practical to date other parents. Everyone's lifestyle is similar. Because moms and dads tend to be less cool than the general population, there are lower expectations to carry on a conversation about indy film, the hottest dumpling joint or world travel.

But mostly I gravitate toward men who are fathers because of just that — they've gone through that colossal metamorphosis that only parenthood induces. There is a warmth and wholeness that men without children rarely possess.

Good news is that a lot of men want to date single moms (if you're one of them, here is my advice to you).

If you're a mom looking to meet quality men for a relationship, love and marriage (and how to get over your ex already), here is my advice to you.

Thinking of dating again after a long dry spell? Why dating as a single mom is so great, and how to get back out there.

If you're thinking of exploring friends with benefits, here's my advice to you.

What to expect dating a single dad? What do single dads look for?

Elliott Katz, single dad of two daughters in Toronto, and author of Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants: Timeless wisdom on being a man:

As a single dad, I look for someone who will be supportive of my parenting efforts and doesn't see my commitment to my children as taking attention away from her.

I also look for someone who is self-supporting. Few single dads I know are looking for more dependents. I also look for someone who doesn't badmouth her ex. That negativity is a downer.

David Bakke, single dad of one son in Atlanta, and an online entrepreneuer, says:

I don't want to be rushed, as in I'm not dying to get in the sack with a
woman and I'd very much like to get to know you first (this is quite a
departure from my younger days, but it's true).

You having kids would be nice because it would make the interactions with myself and my child that much easier if my kid had someone to bond with, but it's not a requirement. If you don't have kids, you need to be able to be comfortable around them.

Finally, I need complete honesty, as in I don't care if your past is checkered, I just need to know about it. And if you have any extreme
thoughts on anything important, whether it be politics, religion, or
anything else, a heads up would be much appreciated.

Pros of dating a man with kids

There are no surprises dating single dads

Another perk: you know what you're getting. A man's parenting profile is about as transparent of a resume as you'll find. We can spend all day scrutinizing the way a guy dresses, how he orders his food or how long it takes him to text us after sleeping with us for the first time. But the best measure of his character, personality and partnership potential is who he is as a father.

I've met many men whose displays of parenting were aphrodisiacal. One divorced dad charmed me with tales of co-writing children's books with his tween daughter with whom he regularly makes sushi, while another — an artist who took me to his latest exhibit — proudly showed me spots on canvas where he'd invited his son to take liberty with the paintbrush.

Divorced dads do amazing things for their kids — and that's hot

I went out a couple times with a guy struggling with his troubled teenage son who suddenly came to live with him full-time after a decade of being an out-of-state parent. He was reluctant to share details, but I was touched by the glimpse of a tenderhearted man doing his best in an impossible parenting conundrum — alone.

It's these mentions of parental self-doubt, or fighting with exes for shared custody, or pride in a kid's candid insights that showcase what kind of man a guy is — and what it might like to be with him.

While out for dinner with one adoring father a few months back, I confessed that I am a wimp at bedtime, often caving to my kids' stalling antics.

“Not me,” he said. “I say good night, and that's it. I don't care how much they cry.” Impressed, I asked where that steel came from. “I don't give a FUCK,” he said. “That's my time, and they need to go to bed.” Again, I was speechless. I may have uncrossed, then recrossed my legs.

Cons of dating single dads

  • They have kids, so might not have as much time as you may desire
  • There may be drama with his ex
  • Kids are expensive — so he may not have a lot of extra money
  • He may want to take the relationship slow — not a bad thing!

How to date a single dad + tips

PSA: Dads are just like other dudes, except that they have kids that they actually know about!

A few tips for dating single dads that may apply, though of course every dad is unique:

  • Be respectful of his time with his kids. He may be happy to hire a sitter to see you, or he may covet that time with his kids, and you have to work around it. Defer to him.
  • Be mindful that if he doesn't have his kids 50% of the time, that may not be his choice. Family courts aren't fair.
  • He's the parent — not you. If and when you were to blend families, then you can have discussions on parenting styles and compromises. Until then, he decides how the kids will be punished, etc.
  • That said, it is OK for you to respectfully express your feelings about how your time together is managed, and anything in the new family dynamic that bothers you. In other words: He doesn't get any more say in the relationship than you do just because he has kids.
  • Final tip for dating single dads: Have fun!

Where to find divorced dads to date

Dating sites to find divorced dads

Check out a dating app. This is the easiest, cheapest way to get your mojo back, and get a feel for what is happening out there. All you need to do is connect with one cute guy to get that spark going again.

Online dating is one of the best things in the world for single moms — time and money efficient, and you can even do a background check a guy before you go out with him!

Here is my list of the best dating sites and apps for single moms

For finding a serious relationship, a boyfriend or a husband, eHarmony is the leader:

  • Free 150-point personality report
  • Apps for iOS and Android
  • 100% of members are proven to be real (no catfishing or married people!)
  • Free version
  • For paid memberships, eHarmony has one of the lowest prices, with costs starting at $7.90/month.
  • 3-month free guarantee
  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • Video dating

Learn more about eHarmony in my review.

Or get started with a free eHarmony trial now >>

Matchmaker sites for finding divorced dads

There is a reason matchmakers have been in use since the dawn of human sexuality — they work!

Matchmakers tend to be very expensive, with no guarantees. It's Just Lunch is different.

I did a lot of research on It's Just Lunch, and went through the onboarding process, which you can listen to in audio, and read the transcript. I am so impressed — if I weren't in a serious relationship, I'd 100% use this service.

Here is a deep review of It's Just Lunch, which is the largest matchmaking service in the world, and searches its network of literally millions of singles to find you quality dates. Here is what I like about it:

  • It's Just Lunch is 28 years old, reports 3 million first dates (!) and thousands of relationships and marriages
  • Guaranteed number of dates. They quote you a custom price that includes a fixed number of dates over a certain period of time (you can pause your engagement with penalty for any reason — including finding love 😍)
  • Each package 2 free one-on-one personal dating coaching sessions
  • Daters tend to be in their 40s and older, so lots of successful men who have kids and are open to moms with kids and successful careers
  • You are assigned a designated matchmaker who goes through rigorous training, and has years of experience — so their intuition is high!
  • Both parties pay and invest in the service — so everyone is equally invested in finding a quality relationship (and can afford the service)

In this post I lay out the pros and cons of matchmaking experiences, and you can hear for yourself as I go through what you can expect in your first experience with an It's Just Lunch dating specialist.

You can always run a quick background check or reverse phone lookup search on anyone you meet online.

How to pick up cute divorced dads on the playground

Are you hanging out at the playground? Maybe the local pool, or on the sidelines of soccer practice and choir concerts? In other words – you’re spending time being a parent. And where there are parents, there are other parents. And where there are parents, there are single parents. And where there are single parents, there are divorced dads. And some of them are hot.

I’ve noticed a steep spike in the number of good-looking, interesting-seeming fathers without wedding rings at all of the above locations in my neighborhood and the soccer league my kids play in. Part of this scene is that the older kids get, the older marriage are. And statistically, that means more divorce.

Sad? Yes.

A delicious constant supply of fresh meat to your single-mom dating pool? You betcha!

As for me, not gonna lie: I’ve found myself flirting with dads from time to time. The next time you decide — in an effort to stay awake during your son’s flute recital — to peruse the auditorium and spot a cute dude, by himself, with a naked left-ring finger, here’s what to do:

1. Hang out nearby. I mean, don’t be weird. But find a reason to get up in that. Say, encourage your kid to ride the same merry-go-round, or belly up to the same doughnut-and-coffee table after the play. Remember: If you feel awkward as a single parent in a married-parent world, he does, too. You’re doing him a favor.

2. Be friendly. But normal. Don’t be aggressive – dudes hate that. Try smiling. Seriously, that is huge. Just smile at him.

3. Say something about the kids. After all, that is the only thing you definitely have in common at this point. It’s OK if it’s boring. Face it, most talk about kids is mind-numbing. Try: “Where’s your kid go to daycare?” or “Do you rent or own your flute?”

4. Let him know you’re single. After all, at this point you’re not 100% sure he is, too. The most natural way is to talk to your kids about daddy’s house. Kids with married parents don’t have a daddy’s house. “Daddy’s house” is golden code for: “I’m divorced, and I really, really, really hope you are, too.”

Try: “Nope, no ice cream. You’re going to eat dinner soon at daddy’s house,” or “When you’re at daddy’s house I am going to be spending long days in bed with — sorry, what was your name again? — right, with this nice man, Chad.”

5. Embrace the moment. Ok, you’ve established you’re both single parents. AWESOME! Seize on this moment. Within a single second you have confirmed you’re both members of the same secret club with its own language, horrors and, well, more horrors. It’s like you are instantaneous war buddies. Except better, because you didn’t kill anyone and it’s perfectly legal for you to have sex with each other during wartime.

6. Keep smiling.  So now you’re having a really fantastic conversation about retainer fees and visitation schedules that no one else by the swingset could possibly understand. That’s nice. But smiling means flirting. Do that.

7. Stop smiling. The part where he starts to tear up talking about how much he misses his kids? Act sad at those parts.

8. Time to go! You leave first. Old-fashioned, throw-back to The Rules of the 90s. Trust me on this one.

9. Be cool, but direct. “We should hang out sometime.” Smile. But not weird. Exchange phone numbers.

10. Collect your kids. Get out of there before they act like assholes and undo all your handiwork.

Ready to try online dating? Read why you should try eHarmony.

About Emma Johnson

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.

9 Comments

  1. Dave on January 23, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Yes, I’m a single dad 48! Dating is a bit if a challenge you have to find a person who is accommodating to your parenting and work schedule. Have my child 50% of the time and would not trade this for the world. What I have found most easy is a casual thing with very little commitment. I think divorced dada have a bad rap. Like your tips on dating were not all struggling financially and can still date and take care of our child. When I was in my late 20s I liked with a single mom for 3 years and it was an excellent experience her son was 8 or 9 and we shared some great times. My 2 cents is to not pass up and opportunity with a single divorced dad he may be just what you are looking for to fit your busy life. You too should a busy life and not just sitting home at night watching netflix.

    What is most important is does the person match your energy level. If it lasts 2-days, 2-weeks, 2-months, 2-years only time will tell…..go in without your list of expectations and BS. Its a real turn off to see women and there list of expectations and they cannot enjoy the present moment because the check sheet in their head is such of dire importance. Life is not a race….enjoy each day.

  2. Letitia on June 4, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Hey Emma, I appreciate another post from you. I especially appreciated the playground/activity pick-up tips, though the ‘daddy’s house’ reference would not work for someone like myself who is solo-parenting, where the father is not involved. This said, I’m sure there are other things I could say including ‘Are you a single parent?’ after some smile exchanges/ small talk.
    Speaking of dads, I had a guy tell me on a dating site recently that he had to ‘fight hard’ to get 50/50 custody of his 5-yo daughter. This man was still in the separation process. I know Emma that you recommend dating dads who are involved in their children’s lives and that if a man is Not involved/ doesn’t talk about his kids, that is a red flag. I agree with that. This said, the fact that this person is telling me that he ‘fought hard’, I must say, was a bit of a red flag in itself. In other words, if I ever got involved with him, and things didn’t work out, I can expect him to ‘fight hard’ with me too. Eek. I’m not even sure 50/50 custody is ideal for such a young child. Mind you, I’m not a psychologist. Lastly ladies, as you’ll discover on your own, there are quite a few separated men on dating sites, i.e. still officially married. A lot of them seem to think that’s Ok and I’ve had a few try to convince me that it’s Ok, that they’re over their ex, that the divorce is almost complete. I know dating coach Jaquie Sabourin does not recommend dating separated men, for various reasons which she mentions, and I tend to agree with her. I think I’ll check out this Elite Singles site. Maybe they filter for that. Thanks again Emma for another helpful and entertaining post :)

  3. SoonToBeEx on January 2, 2013 at 11:40 am

    So, I’m confused by your first paragraph. How about explaining why you were a “goner.”

    • AH on January 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      I think she’s saying she wanted to bone him then and there

      • Emma on January 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

        ha

    • Kashdoller on May 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Yeah I don’t get that either. Is it a turn on for you to be having a conversation with a man that you should be having with your single mom friends? I’m a full time single father who has his daughter enrolled in everything possible. But you’ll never catch me talking like that.

      • Fe on June 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        Yea I’m not a mom, but that ballerina story… sounds like he was just wanted one thing and one thing only. I have a hard time believing any guy would talk like that without an underlying motive. That’s what guys would say to a woman to get into… you know.

        It’s funny too because that last paragraph about the man who had nerves of steel, even I have to admit that was hot. And at least he seems more honest than ballerina guy. lol.

        • M on July 26, 2018 at 8:05 pm

          You have a hard time believing it because you’re not a parent. Dads are suckers for their daughters. It’s real.

          • Ants on September 2, 2019 at 11:24 pm

            They are (I have 3 kids), but the line about the ballerina’s was manufactured and cheesy as hell. The guy would’ve been the absolute worst to start up a relationship with, thats pick-up artist level bad material – obviously had nothing meaningful to say

Leave a Comment