Four Things To Consider When Dating A Single Dad

Updated March 20, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Dating itself can be complicated and tricky enough. There are so many factors that can go into whether or not two individuals will be compatible enough to date and maintain a healthy, loving, and long-lasting relationship. Whenever you’re dating, it can be important to recognize your standards, what you want out of a relationship, and the things you will and will not stand for. As complex and intricate as dating can be, new elements are added when you find yourself dating a single dad. Dating a single dad is not for everyone, and it’s neither inherently good nor bad. Some people may find that their interests and passions align with certain single dads, while others may be more incompatible. If you’re not sure what to know, consider, or expect when dating a single dad, that’s OK too. There is always room to learn, and there’s always room for growth.

Dating a single parent? Talk about it with a therapist

What to consider when you’re dating a single dad

There are certain caveats and realities which can come along with dating a single dad. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a successful relationship with a father. However, there are still various details which you may want to be aware of. Full awareness of what you’re getting yourself into can be a positive thing for both you and your partner in the short term and long term. Only you can determine whether dating a single dad is something you’re up to. The following considerations may need to be taken into account before jumping into a relationship with a single father:  

#1 The kids come first

If you’re dating a single dad, there’s a high chance that their children will come first in their life. Some people view this negatively, but parents must prioritize children who are dependent upon them. The relationship that kids have with their parents largely determine how they grow up and what type of adults they become. 

A single dad who puts their children first can be just one mark of good character. If you’re dating someone who does not prioritize the wellbeing of their children, it could be a red flag. Although you may not always be the priority in the relationship, this doesn’t mean that the single dad in your life cannot or will not make an ideal partner. In fact, you can still have a healthy relationship with them, spend one-on-one time together, and otherwise be a happy couple. 

#2 they may be co-parenting with their ex

Unless the other parent of a single dad’s children has passed away or is otherwise out of the picture, there is a very real possibility that they will co-parent with them. There’s no telling how the other parent of your partner’s children may react to your relationship with their ex or interaction with their children. Ideally, this is a matter you can discuss with your significant other; however, it can be important to be aware that co-parenting is very common in situations with single dads. No matter how the mother acts, try to do your best to maintain a cordial disposition, especially in front of a single dad’s children.

#3 It can be a learning experience

When you’re dating a single dad, you’re going to have a front-row seat to their lives with their children. Seeing how your significant other interacts with their kids can be very eye-opening. You may learn a lot about what it’s like to be around children and how to interact with them. Furthermore, you can gain an understanding of the type of father your significant other would be if you decided to have kids together later on down the line. Dating a single dad can be an informative experience that teaches you about life, love, and relationships with others.

#4 Friends and family may have interesting reactions

Friends, family, and other people in your inner circle may have interesting reactions; this is certainly a factor you may want to consider and be prepared for. There can still be somewhat of a stigma associated with dating a dad with kids from a previous relationship. Remember that feedback from other people doesn’t have to determine the trajectory of your dating life and relationships. You know what the right fit for you is better than any outsider can. If you’re in a positive place in your relationship with a single dad, don’t feel like that has to change simply because others don’t understand it. Of course, if your family members or friends point out red flags that they observe, like abuse, it can be essential to hear what they have to say. 

What are most single dads looking for in a relationship?

Knowing and understanding what most single dads are looking for when dating can be a helpful starting point. Right off the bat, this can allow you to determine what you need to consider and ultimately if you want to enter into a relationship with someone who has children. Here are three traits single dads often look for:

  • Compatibility: This may seem obvious, but when a single dad is dating, they will be looking for someone who is compatible with them and most likely able to get along with their children as well. Issues regarding new dating partners are one of the leading stressors for single dads in present times. Each father is different, as are children; if you find yourself in a situation where you’re interested in starting a relationship with a single dad, understanding the importance of compatibility with them and their children can make a difference and save you a lot of trouble.
  • Character: When a single dad begins dating you, you will likely be introduced to their children at one point or another. Children are very impressionable, especially in their formative years, and what they are exposed to can certainly impact them. This impact occurs for better or for worse, which is why most single dads want both to win at single parenting and to date someone of character. Having upstanding morals and values makes a difference, especially when you’re around children who are observing your behavior. Being a person of character doesn’t mean that you’ll never have a bad day or make mistakes; character speaks to who you are and what’s important to you on a deeper level.
  • Authenticity: When a single dad is ready to date, they generally want a partner who is honest and straightforward with their intentions. In many ways, this goes back to being an individual of character; the ability to articulate how you feel and be yourself are traits that most single dads value. Furthermore, many children can tell when someone is being insincere and putting on airs. Your levels of authenticity can largely impact the quality of relationship you have with your partner and their children.

Final words on dating a single dad

While there are general rules that can come with dating a single dad, it can be important not to lump all single fathers into one box. Each dad has their own thoughts, parenting style, personality, and so much more. Each of these factors can impact what it’s like to date them. Not all single dads are the same, and this is another important detail to be aware of. One single dad may be a perfect match for you, whereas another may not be compatible with your needs, lifestyle, personality, and preferences. When you’re in a relationship, time can be the ultimate factor that allows you to determine whether things last for the long haul.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Dating a single parent? Talk about it with a therapist

Online counseling with Regain

Rough patches can be inevitable regardless of whether you’re dating a single dad or someone without children. Depending on the nature of the issues you and your significant other face, you may find seeking therapy to be helpful. Children inherently add a new dynamic to any relationship, and there may be periods of adjustment. Working with a therapist who specializes in relationship matters can benefit you and your partner. Depending on each of your schedules, you both may not be able to make it to a therapist’s office every week at the same time; this becomes much more likely when your significant other has children to look after and care for. With Regain, you can meet with a therapist from the comfort of your home and get the support and care you each need. Therapy has helped many couples overcome various issues and go on to maintain healthy and fulfilling relationships.

The efficacy of online counseling

Couples therapy has been found to be effective for a variety of issues. According to research, about 70-75% of those participating in emotionally focused couples counseling (EFT) move from “significant distress” to recovery in 10-12 sessions. Further, 90% show significant improvement. Online therapy has been shown to be just as helpful as face-to-face interventions. One study found that couples therapy delivered via videoconferencing was a feasible alternative to face-to-face interventions and improved couples’ relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time.


Choosing who to date is a personal decision that no one else can make for you. Although dating a single dad can come with obstacles that other relationships might not have, it can also have upsides that are unique to the situation. Several factors determine whether a relationship will last long-term, and it can be important to be honest with yourself and your partner throughout your dating journey. Online therapy can provide support for single dads as well as those who are dating single parents. Having the right support and tools can help ensure that you each have an enriching experience despite any setbacks. 

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