5 Signs You're Not Ready to Date a Single Parent

Know when to back off and walk away

Man dating a single parent

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Dating a single parent isn't right for everyone. No matter how much chemistry you share, or how much you value your relationship, there will be times when the kids will interrupt your flow. You'll plan a special outing and—boom—someone gets sick. Or you've had a long day and just want to unwind, only to find the kids ramped up and rowdy. Dating into a larger family has its perks, but it's also a challenge, especially for first-timers.

5 Signs You're Not Ready to Date a Single Parent

It can be hard to know up front whether dating a single parent is right for you. But you'll save yourself and your future dates a lot of heartbreak if you are honest with yourself from the beginning. Here are several reasons why dating a single parent might not be a good fit.

You're Jealous of the Kids

Okay, let's face it. No one really likes sharing their mate. Jealousy is in our nature as human beings. But when you're dating a single parent, being jealous of their kids will get you nowhere. (Well, that's not quite true; it will get you sent out the door—quickly!) While there aren't many dating issues that are black-and-white, this is one of them. If you're jealous of the kids, you're setting your relationship up for failure. There's no gray area here. Being jealous puts the parent in the middle, which leads to more tension than most relationships can handle.

How to Handle It

When you experience jealousy, stop and acknowledge the emotion you're feeling. If, after giving it some thought, you think the issue is worth bringing up with your mate, find some time when the two of you can talk quietly (maybe after the kids are in bed). Come clean about how you're feeling and talk about what you both value in your relationship and why it's important to you. Then, explore how you might be able to share little reminders of how much you each value your relationship in the hectic mix of your everyday lives. 

You're Looking for Spontaneity

If you've never dated a single parent before, you may be used to some degree of spontaneity in your romantic relationships—especially in the beginning. There's just something about being able to drop everything and go off by yourselves that helps to cement your bond. Or maybe you love to travel and can't wait to surprise your partner with tickets to London or Rome. While that's a beautiful gesture, it may not be possible for a single mom or dad who's parenting entirely on their own, with no co-parent, no family nearby, and no backup child care plan.

How to Handle It

If spontaneity is an absolute must, then you probably won't do well dating a single parent.

You Resent Biting Your Tongue About Parenting Issues

Especially early on, you should anticipate biting your tongue a lot. Your mate has been parenting on their own for years already, and they're probably not interested in having you step in and critique their parenting style or discipline tactics.

How to Handle It

You need to be comfortable waiting to be asked before sharing your opinion. (Unless, of course, you're telling your partner that they're doing a great job with their kids!) Remember, too, that even newly married couples who live with their stepchildren often hold off on disciplining one another's kids until they've had sufficient time to earn the right to be a co-disciplinarian.

You Want to Control the Timing

Speaking of time: When you're dating a single parent, you have to respect his or her timing when it comes to introducing the kids and taking your relationship to the next level. One issue that many new couples argue about is showing affection in front of the kids. It can be downright hard to hold off on taking your mate's hand, draping an arm over their shoulder, or kissing them when and how you want—whether the kids might walk in or not.

How to Handle It

Expect to respect your mate's timing. Pushing will make your partner feel caught in the middle of doing what's right for your relationship and what's right for the kids. And that's a position neither of you will want to be in for long.

You Don't Like Kids

This should be a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people (men and women alike) think they'll get over it in time, only to rediscover later that they never wanted to live with or help raise someone else's children. A similar issue is wanting children of your own when your mate has expressed that she or he doesn't want more children.

How to Handle It

If you feel this way, own up to it from the start and avoid investing your time and your heart in a relationship that will fail. While either of you could change your mind down the road, there's no guarantee that you will. And that puts a lot of pressure on both of you.

A Word From Verywell

Only you can truly know if you're up for dating a single parent. While there are a million bonuses that come with dating into a family, there are some challenges that can be hard to overcome—especially if this is your first time at the rodeo. So above all else, be respectful of your mate. If it's time to say goodbye, do so lovingly and without dragging it out or assuming things will change. 

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