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

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If you’re a single dad venturing into the world of dating again, you face unique challenges other bachelors do not — like dating around custody schedules, navigating potential partners’ appetite for men with kids, and eventually introducing your kids to a new partner.

Luckily, we put together some advice on dating for single dads, including: 

How do single dads start dating again? Where do you find dates?

Dating after divorce or a breakup can be equally exciting and terrifying — when you're ready. It's all a part of moving on after divorce, which might also include:

  • Going to therapy
  • Getting your health in check
  • Updating your style/appearance
  • Figuring out how to co-parent successfully
  • Getting your finances in order

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that straight couples are now more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through personal contacts and connections.

Online dating is a legit way to start dating as a single dad in 2022 as long as you take the time to vet potential dates and use the right dating apps and websites

If you’re looking for a serious and long-term relationship, our No. 1 recommendation for online dating is eharmony because: 

  • A- Better Business Bureau rating
  • 100% of members are proven to be real (no catfishing or married people)
  • Free 150-point personality report
  • Apps for iOS and Android
  • Video dating

University of Chicago and Harvard researchers conducted a study of marriages, breakups and divorces by online dating site where the couple met and found that couples who met on eharmony had the: 

  • Highest marriage rate
  • Highest marriage satisfaction rate
  • Lowest breakup and divorce rates

Get 25% off an eharmony membership with code WSM25 >>

Online dating sites for single dads

There are dating sites and apps geared specifically toward single parents, like SingleParentMeet, though more mainstream sites like eharmony, Hinge and Bumble have larger dating pools, which will increase your chances of finding a date, romance, love, sex — whatever you are looking for. (If you’re just looking for something casual, check out our guide to hookup sites and apps). 

If you’re a single dad looking to date online, check out our reviews of popular dating sites:

eharmonyZooskPlenty of Fish
Plenty of FishAdult Friend FinderMatch.com
BumbleOKCupidInternationaldating sites
Spiritual dating sitesCatholic Dating sitesChristian dating apps
Dating.comCoffee Meets Bagel

Matchmaker sites for single dads

If you don’t want to online date, you can hire a matchmaker to set you up on dates with compatible individuals. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that matchmaking is on the rise, especially among professional people looking for long-term commitments. 

However, matchmaking isn’t cheap. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $25,000 in matchmaker fees, according to a New York Times report. Matchmakers typically charge based on a fixed period of time, a guaranteed number of dates, or a combination of the two.

Check out our reviews of two popular matchmaking services: 

Is it hard for single dads to date?

Dating as a single dad can be hard because you may have to plan your dates around your child custody schedule, plus contend with other complications like co-parenting with an ex and potentially introducing kids to a new partner.

Here are some hard parts about dating as a single dad, according to real single dads (and one single woman) on Reddit: 

Reddit comment about hard parts of single dads dating.
Reddit comment about difficult parts of single dads dating.
Reddit comment about women not understanding challenges of single dads dating.
Reddit comment about why single dads dating is hard.
Reddit comment about struggle of dating as a single dad.

This woman who dated a single dad also spelled out some of the things she found hard about dating a single dad: 

How do single dads deal with dating?

Juggling dating as a single dad can be hard, and there are some things that will also be hard for the person you date. Check out the advice we've given women on dating a man with kids.

Successfully dating as a dad often means finding dates who are willing to be flexible and understand that your kids come first, at least in the beginning.

Emyli Lovz, a professional matchmaker and dating coach for men, says single dads should be transparent about having kids so they attract the right partners who are OK with dating someone who has kids. 

“Demonstrate that you're a proud dad on your profile,” Lovz says. 

Lovz put together a video with advice for how to include kids on your profile without showing their faces: 

This dad on Reddit sought advice on dating from other single dads: 

This is what they had to say: 

Advice for single dads dating on Reddit.
Advice for single dads dating single moms on Reddit.
Advice for single dads dating other parents on Reddit.

How do you find time to date?

If you are co-parenting and share custody with your ex, try to schedule dates for the times you aren’t with your kids. Otherwise, you can hire a babysitter or nanny to take care of your kids when you go out.

“You have to manage expectations around your schedule and availability and let the woman you're dating know that while she's important, your kids ultimately come first,” Lovz says. 

She says it’s often easiest to date a single mom who understands your dating challenges, though scheduling dates around two different custody schedules can make your time together even more limited. 

“Connection is about quality time logged, not necessarily in-person hours, so use technology to your advantage when you can't rendez in person,” Lovz says.

What if you feel awkward or rusty?

Lovz says she recommends ripping off the bandaid by going on a lot of dates. She advises single dads to set a goal of 20 low-stakes dates — think coffee, not dinner — in 90 days.

“Meet and compare different partners, shake off the dust, and get back in the groove of dating,” Lovz says. “After all, practice makes perfect!”

One single dad who was apprehensive about dating went on Reddit asking for advice on single dad dating, and he received a lot of great feedback: 

Advice for dating as a single dad if you feel awkward.
Advice for dating as a single dad on Reddit.
Advice for dating as a single dad posted on Reddit.
Advice for starting to date as a single dad on Reddit.
Pros of dating as a single dad on Reddit.
Tips for dating as a single dad on Reddit.

How do you approach sex and sleepovers?

Lovz recommends planning sleepovers for nights your kids aren’t home, at least until you’re more serious. 

She says having sex on the third date is the perfect timeline if you don’t want to rush things but also don’t want to get stuck in the friend zone, though you should follow your partner’s cues and understand what sex means for both of you. 

“Some people believe sex is only for committed relationships, while others believe it is a source of play, fun, and curiosity,” Lovz says.

This Quora user asked for advice on having sex while dating as a single parent.

Should you worry about dating a childless woman?

While women who don’t have children may not understand everything you have to deal with as a parent, that doesn’t mean you can’t successfully date a childless woman. 

Amber Lee, CEO of matchmaking service Select Date Society, says if you are dating a woman without kids, you should try to involve her in your world and be honest about challenges you’re facing.

“If you're dealing with a difficult teenager, don't try to hide what's going on at home,” Lee says. “She will appreciate it if you talk things out with her and even ask her for advice or an outside perspective.”

What red flags should you look out for?

Lovz says these are some red flags single dads should look out for: 

  • Women who don't like kids
  • Gold diggers — Lovz recommends planning more casual first and second dates to weed these women out and not buying gifts before you're in an exclusive relationship
  • Narcissists — watch for “love bombing” (essentially falling too quickly/becoming obsessive), as well as things feeling too good to be true right off the bat
  • Multiple ex-husbands
  • Multiple deceased ex-husbands

These are some more red flags to look out for, according to Quora users: 

  • “​​They are immature, volatile and are just unpredictable.”
  • “When your family members and friends all don’t like your significant other. I can understand if your mum/dad or brother/sister thinks they aren’t good for you. But when a good number of the people you love don’t like this person. Chances are they aren’t good for you.”
  • “Low level of empathy and being inconsiderate of your feelings, emotions and mental health.”
  • “Having no respect for boundaries, always wanting to be with you ALL the time.”
  • “Your partner has cheated in past relationships, what makes you all think you are different?”
  • “They start snapping at you for little things and overreacting, as before, this problems get stronger over time.”
  • “Your personalities really don't fit together naturally and you know it.”
  • “Your hopes of the future and ideologies collide to heavily with each others. At first you will think you can work through this, then it will become apparent just how much you differ from one another.”

When should a dating single dad introduce his kids?

Lee says there is no perfect time for a single dad to introduce his kids to a new partner, though she says it isn’t something you should rush.

“Make sure you are both on the same page with expectations on what roles the other person may play in your kids’ lives and where you see the relationship headed,” Lee says. 

Be upfront: Let kids know what is going on

While all situations are different, kids who are old enough should be kept in the loop about anyone you’re seriously dating. Check out this advice from Reddit about how and when to introduce a partner to your kids: 

How to tell kids about dating as a single dad.
When to tell kids about dating as a single dad.
dvice on Reddit about when to tell kids you're dating as a single dad.
dvice on Reddit about how to tell kids you're dating as a single dad.
Tips on Reddit about when to tell kids you're dating as a single dad.

You don’t have to introduce every woman to your kids

Lovz recommends single dads wait until they’re in a monogamous relationship to avoid kids becoming attached to partners too soon. Check out our advice on when to introduce kids to a new partner.

Advice from single dad on Reddit about when to tell kids you're dating as a single dad.

Bottom Line: How do single dads know they are ready to date again?

According to Lee, these are some signs you might be ready to date again: 

  • You find yourself checking out the opposite sex and thinking about dating again
  • Your friends and family are encouraging you to start dating
  • You've got a good routine down and you can make time for someone in your life
  • Your kids start asking you if you are ever going to get a girlfriend, which is a good sign they are ready for you to move forward
  • You are focused on the future and excited about the next chapter of your life

When you’re ready to find a long-term and serious partner, consider signing up for eharmony, which uses an extensive compatibility questionnaire to pair you with the right people — including women who want to date single dads. 

Use code WSM25 to get 25% off an eharmony membership >>

Is it hard for single dads to date?

Dating as a single dad can be hard because you may have to plan your dates around your child custody schedule, plus contend with other complications like co-parenting with an ex and potentially introducing kids to a new partner.

How do single dads deal with dating?

Successfully dating as a dad often means finding dates who are willing to be flexible and understand that your kids come first.

Leighann Bacher is a writer/editor based in Pittsburgh, Pa. She received her degree in journalism from Kent State University and has since worked for major metropolitan newspapers, marketing firms and city magazines. Leighann was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's '40 Under 40 Honorees' for spearheading a social media campaign to connect people with COVID-19 vaccines and resources. Her greatest joy is spending time with her two kids and dabbling in her creative passions of photography, dance and art.

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