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Interested in dating a single dad? What you should know first

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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.

Here’s what you should know about dating a single dad:

Where to find single, divorced dads to date

You can find single dads dating everywhere:

  • Online dating sites like
  • Matchmaking services
  • Playgrounds
  • School and other kid events
  • Your work
  • Their work
  • Bars 
  • Clubs 
  • Professional events and conferences 
  • Church/temple/mosque 
  • Around the neighborhood 

Dating a man with kids? What to do if he says, ‘My Kids Come First’

Dating sites to find single, 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, and you can get 25% off with promo code WSM25 >>
  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • Video dating

Learn more about eharmony in my review.

Matchmaker sites for finding single, 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, but many people have good experiences meeting quality matches.

8 rules for dating a single mom

Dating as a single dad? Advice for single dads you should know

Meet single 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 marriages 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?” 5 tips for dating after divorce

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.

Divorce rates for second and third marriages

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.

Is it hard for single dads to date?

Since the majority of single dads have their kids the minority of time, it is easier from a scheduling point of view for many single dads to date. That said, some will argue that their high child support obligations mean they have fewer dollars and less time because they have to work so much to pay support. 

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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.

How do single dads cope with dating? What to expect dating a single dad

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.

What a single dad wants in a relationship

David Bakke, single dad of one son in Atlanta, and an online entrepreneur, 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.

Hey single mom— Do you tell your son he’s the man of the house? 16 tips for raising sons

Benefits of dating a single dad

If you're a single mom — and even if you aren't — there are a lot of benefits of dating a single dad:

There are no surprises when it comes to single dads dating

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.

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Single dads are busy — and not-so needy

A guy who makes his kids his priority may not have all the time in the world for you — and since you already have a full life, that can be a great thing. Nothing worse than a bored, needy man demanding all your time and attention.

When a happy single dads makes time for you, you know that will be quality time that he carved out of his dynamic life — a life you can benefit from in countless ways.

Single dads are more likely not to want any more kids

If that is also your goal, then these single dads can be a great fit for single moms.

Benefits of dating a single dad, from real single moms:

  • “They plan activities that include the kids.”
  • “They understand the responsibilities and schedule constraints of being a single parent. It's also good because you can parent vent to them and they understand.”
  • “They understand the unpredictability of raising kids so if something comes up unexpectedly, they don’t get all bent outta shape if you have to reschedule or cancel.”
  • “They have the same single parent dilemmas.”
  • “They are more mature, responsible, and usually more accepting of your personal priorities such as kids/work. They often crave more stable relationships and know how to balance family responsibilities along with the rest of their lives.”
  • “They can relate to the responsibilities of parenting!”
  • “If you’re on the same or a similar custody schedule, you can truly devote your time to each other on your off time to really get to know each other, and he’ll understand when you’re busy during custody time. And then you can slowly introduce your kids to each other when you both feel it’s appropriate. He should also be more understanding when family circumstances arise out of the blue and you need to pivot.”
  • “They don't want all of your time – they have their own commitments and responsibilities and (the good ones) are great about understanding and respecting yours, as well.”
  • “They are presumably busy with kids, job, and extracurriculars so they won’t smother you too soon.”
  • “I think it is more likely they will be your people. Like have very similar wants and needs as a single mother. You go into a relationship wanting compatibility and generally if you are similar-it is more likely to happen.”
  • “I was actually set against dating anymore single dads due to parenting differences, custody schedules and conflicts etc. and then I met the guy I’m currently dating. Single dad, he is so kind, patient, considerate and helpful. I’m thankful for all the shitheads I had to go through to get to this one because I appreciate him so much. He is the epitome of teamwork and I couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

Challenges 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!
  • Because single dads typically have minority time with their kids, they can feel like that time is so precious, and are inflexible about the weekends or days they have parenting time. 

Check out my post on challenges of dating single parents for more.

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How to date a single dad

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!
Is it hard for single dads to date?

Since the majority of single dads have their kids the minority of time, it is easier from a scheduling point of view for many single dads to date. That said, some will argue that their high child support obligations mean they have fewer dollars and less time because they have to work so much to pay support.

Why date a divorced dad?

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.

Is it hard for a single dad to date?

Since the majority of single dads have their kids the minority of time, it is easier from a scheduling point of view for many single dads to date.


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.

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 :)

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.

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.

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

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

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