Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert in this topic. I have dated one divorced dad (my husband) but I do feel like I’ve had the opportunity to learn from my own mistakes and gained a lot of insight in the process.

  1. You Will Not Come First – At least not all the time. You are starting a relationship with a man who will love his kids more than he cares about you. This is not a negative thing. It is amazing to see a man who really loves his kids and know that he might be able to feel similarly about you some day. Plus, why would you want to date a dad who didn’t care about his kids?
  2. Don’t Step On Toes (or try not to) – I really, really had to learn this one the hard way. I never had ill intentions or wanted to shove my nose in places it didn’t belong, but some times it just never occurred to me that it wasn’t appropriate for me to be a part of certain things. I think everyone’s initial reaction when you are told that you can’t be a part of something is that it hurts and you feel unimportant. When you can gain the perspective that just because you aren’t there for a special moment doesn’t mean that you are not important (and believe me you will get to be there for other special moments without even meaning to!) it will take you a long way. It is always better to ask if you can be a part of something then to apologize later because dad or mom missed out on something they felt was reserved for them.
  3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – I think this could apply to any relationship, but especially when you are dating a divorced dad. PICK YOUR BATTLES. Divorced dads naturally have their guard up in a new relationship. If you are making a big deal about things that he doesn’t feel are a big deal, you will find yourself on the curb pretty quickly.
  4. Give Him Space – This may depend on how long he has been divorced, but if the wounds are still fresh he is going to need extra time to process his feelings for you. And expect him to always be “behind” in the relationship. If you’re ready to say “I love you” he’s probably not even thought that phrase in his head yet.
  5. LISTEN – I spent a lot of time listening the first couple years of my relationship. By closing my own mouth and really hearing the words he spoke, I was able to know what he needed from me as a partner.
  6. Be Your Own Person – I think women especially can fall prey to this in a divorced dad relationship. You all of the sudden are in a relationship where you are not only needed by your partner, but by his children as well. It is easy to get into the habit of spending time at his house, cooking dinner, wiping noses and butts, and just doing “mom” things. Don’t forget #4 – if he thinks things are moving too fast then you may find yourself on the outside just as quickly.
  7. Acknowledge Your Feelings – You will come across a lot of new territory, good and bad. You will feel love, happiness, resentment, sadness, frustration, and a whole slew of other emotions. It is okay to tell your boyfriend how you feel in any of those situations – just remember #3 and choose your words carefully.
  8. Have Patience – My mom used to tease me about not having this gift as a child. I have said to friends and family that God made me a stepmom to learn patience. There will be plenty of times where you feel like it’s just too hard, but if you take a deep breath and give yourself time to reflect, you will have newfound perspective and remember how much you love that man and his family.
  9. Be Flexible – The very first real dinner date that my husband and I went on was with the boys. We had a night scheduled for just the two of us and things didn’t go as planned, so I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Let’s bring them with us.” I love that memory.
  10. It Will Not Be Easy – but it will be SOOOOO worth it! I really feel that a divorced dad brings such an unique perspective to a relationship (and marriage). I can’t imagine my life ending up any other way 🙂