by Kimberly Delarosa
When you’re dating a person you like, you fall into this romantic fairytale.
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Navigating the dating realm with a partner that has a child doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you know how to communicate with your partner, this dynamic relationship can flourish into something beautiful. Here are some things to consider when dating a partner who has a child or children:
If you don’t like kids, be honest.
Before you begin to develop feelings for this person, ask yourself if you like kids. “If you don’t like kids, don’t date someone with kids,” says Ashley Pfeiffer, founder of Enjoy Dating Again. “One thing that can make or break a relationship is how you feel about kids.”
You have to understand that if you want to build a life with this person, it includes their child. It might put you in the role of being a parental figure in this child’s life. It might sound far-fetched now however, having this in mind gives you perspective on how you see yourself in this relationship. If you are not a kid person, that is fine as long as you are honest with yourself and the person you’re dating.
Be flexible with your time.
Julia Chamberlain, a licensed mental health counselor, says dating someone with children might impact their physical and emotional availability: “Someone who has children may not be as available as someone who doesn’t have children especially if they’re young and still require childcare. Furthermore, someone who has children may prioritize the emotional connection they share, this will impact their emotional availability.”
There’s no way around it but that their child will come first. Children are unpredictable at times. There might be some emergency that pops up, and they might need to cancel on a date or change plans around. It might be frustrating but remember that they’re a parent first, and as such, their immediate attention will go towards their kid. Don’t take it personally or as a sign that they do not want to date you.
There might be a co-parent involved.
With kids comes the co-parent, and this is something that might be permeant. Certified divorce coach Andrea Javor says that this is standard when it comes to dating someone with kids. “Kids need both parents to get along and be as friendly as possible as co-parents. Your role should be to enhance the relationship between parents.”
Set aside time to talk about the relationship they have with the co-parent and assure them that if they need help, you are available. Don’t expect to be in the decision-making process when it comes to parenting choices, but do be there if they need someone to talk to or even a shoulder to cry on because parenting can be difficult.
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Never rush the introduction.
Meeting their child is a big step and should be done step by step. Javor suggests starting small: “Before you meet, ask your partner to put a picture of the two of you in their home or on their phone. Let the kids ask their questions about you, so they feel like they know something about you ahead of meeting you. This helps kids feel safe.”
Never try to rush the process of meeting their child. Remember that you might be a new person who will be a part of their life so you want to be understanding as well as open to what would be more comfortable for your partner. Just continue to spend time with your partner and when they are ready, they will let you know.
Building a relationship with someone who has children can be a beautiful experience.
Family dynamics have changed over the years, and there are more blended families now more than ever. Nearly 50% of all children in the U.S. are part of some kind of blended family dynamic, whether that’s divorce, marriage, adoption, or foster care. If you have a partner who has a child, know that this person has a lot of love to give and that they are a package deal. And who knows, later down the future, you might add to the family line.
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