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11 Things to Consider When Dating Someone With Older Children

Does Your Partner Have Children from Another Marriage?

I think it’s time to discuss a super important aspect of dating that many people tend to ignore: dating someone with children from a previous relationship might be overwhelming at times.

However, it can also be a wonderful experience, even if you don’t have your own kids. If you’re getting involved with a single father or mother and wondering how you should navigate the relationship, you will find here a complete guide on how to tackle the situation.

First, you’ll have to reevaluate what to expect from them, what role you would be available and open to taking into the children’s lives, and potential red flags you should look out for.

Inappropriate Friendship With A Married Man boundaries you must have children
Photo by Inside Creative House at Shutterstock

Here’s what you should know:

Before you get into a serious relationship with someone with kids, you might want to ask yourself if you’re truly ready to take on the responsibility and be honest with yourself.

If so, you should expect them to prioritize their children, especially at first. As time goes by, you will likely become part of the family, but for the moment, you might have to accept the fact that you’ll come second.

Also, you can slowly ease yourself into the kid’s life right after you and your partner have gotten serious. You will realize it could take some time for them to adjust to you.

Decide what you want from the relationship.

You should know what to expect before letting things get serious, right? So you should start by being honest with yourself. Know from the start what you truly want, and make sure you anticipate the relationship.

Also, ask yourself if you intend to pursue and commit to a lifelong relationship with the father or if you’re only interested in something casual.

Consider that they might still be grieving their last partner.

It’s totally normal for him to mourn his last relationship. If they’ve recently become a widow, a divorcee, or even a parent out of wedlock, they might still be grieving their past relationship while you’re dating.

And that’s perfectly normal. Also, if you’re dating a man, it’s worth noting that men are more likely than women to hide their feelings, so you wouldn’t want to assume that everything is fine just because he says it is.

If you’re committed to a long-term relationship, you could invite him to openly discuss his loss. You can use these conversations as opportunities to assess how well he is actually coping with things.

Accept second place in the beginning.

Sometimes, you might expect to feel like a third wheel. It’s very important to embrace early on the fact that their child will be their number one priority and that you have to be flexible when you’re scheduling your own quality time with them.

Also, realize that alone time will probably be limited, and this solely depends on how young their kids are and what the current custody situation is.

Realize that you’re beginning more than one relationship.

You want to be prepared to have a healthy relationship with the kid and his ex. If you wish for your current relationship to last, then it’s highly reasonable to expect to also have one with the children and maybe even the mother or father.

If they passed away or are largely absent from your life, they will still have some sort of presence in both your partner’s and the children’s minds.

Stay flexible

A relationship with a single parent also comes with tons of variables. It’s worth noting that you might need to become more flexible than you would normally be in a relationship with someone without kids.

Also, you need to understand that the father’s relationship with the mother could potentially change over time, for better or worse. You could also appreciate the fact that the kids’s thoughts and feelings could differ, too. You might deal with stress and challenges along the way, so buckle up. But if you ask me, it’s all worth it!

Realize that you’re not sharing “firsts.”

The father or mother already has some relationship milestones that you might not have lived yet. If you also hope that one day you’re going to marry them and have children of your own, accept that the father or mother has already done these things once.

In such cases, you probably need to think about how important it is for you to live these steps together as mutual “firsts” or if the only thing that really matters is for you to live them with that special someone.

worst mistakes couples make after a fight children
Photo by Tyler Olson at Shutterstock

Keep one on the red flags.

This might be a brand new experience for you, so it’s very important to keep an eye out for all the other red flags. At first, I knew that being a parent sounded impressive and mature, but single parents have red flags like anyone else.

If they ever use their children as the main excuse to neglect you, or if they prioritize you over their children, then this is the sign to run. Here are other red flags you might want to look out for:

  • You might have to accept that you’re going to be the third wheel for a while.
  • As a general rule, you should know that being on good terms with the other parent is actually a green flag. However, if they seem too close, they might not be over each other.
  • If they complain too much about the other parent, they might have to go through more healing before actually dating someone else.
  • If they pressure you into taking responsibility for their children, run.

Reevaluate the expectations.

After you carefully thought everything through, you might go through a process of reassessing your needs. Based on that, you can ask yourself if you expect your needs to be fulfilled in such circumstances. Then, you should decide if you want to walk away or continue dating.

Ask the father or the mother what they need out of the relationship.

Ask what they expect of you. Talk about your own needs. It’s better to know from the start what they expect from your relationship together, as well as from your future relationship with their child.

Communicate your expectations with the partner.

Define your boundaries before getting way too serious. You should resist the urge to please. Also, avoid taking on more responsibility than you can deal with.

Clearly define yourself as a source of great support for them, the parent, and not a parent yourself. If you establish boundaries early on, you will avoid getting into a role you’re not ready to take on.

Because of these pre-learned gender roles, widowers, males, and female divorcees might lack the needed parental skills to deal with raising children all by themselves.

To compensate, your partner might hope you will step in and fill the role of the father or mother. However, if you are not ready for that, you should make it clear that their duty is to learn those skills themselves and not expect you to replace the missing parent.

Take the relationship slowly.

Getting way too serious too fast could have major ramifications for the kids. You could be dating casually or be already madly in love, but either way, you have to avoid rushing into a relationship.

Also, if you’re looking for ways to enhance your communication with your partner, you need to read “Couples Communication Workbook” by Myranda Thrussell.

If you found this article useful, we also recommend reading: The 5 Signs of a Boring Marriage. What Do Experts Say?

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