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New Partners: How it Feels to Date a Separated Dad

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 13 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Separated Dad Dating Kids Children

Whether you’re a parent yourself or not, the dating scene can be tricky. And from the point of view of a woman who wants to start dating a separated dad, it can be a complete minefield. If you want to make a success of a relationship, it’s worth thinking about whether you’re really ready to in effect take on another woman’s children, even if it’s probably going to be a part-time venture!

The Not-Sure-I-Should-Be-Doing This Separated Dad

One thing you can be faced with when you start to date a recently-separated dad is their guilt. It doesn’t matter if the separation from their child’s mother was amicable, her ‘fault’ or down to his own misdemeanours, there will always be an element of guilt where the kids are involved. Take Fiona for example.

Fiona’s Experience with dating a Separated Dad

“I met John, a recently separated dad on a dating site a few years ago. He’d separated from his wife a few months previously, due to her own adultery and he was clearly finding it hard to cope with this, despite putting on a show of bravado.

“John saw his kids every weekend, in fact when we first started dating, he was staying at the former matrimonial home overnight most weekends, as he had been forced to rent a small flat so that his wife and children were able to carry on in the house without too much upheaval. The arrangement worked as well as can be expected, but there was bitterness on her part that he had found a girlfriend – even though she had first – and she wasn’t happy that he was now seeing me on one of the nights that she had been going out with her new love.”

Meeting the Children of a Separated dad

Fiona met John’s children quite early on in the relationship, which surprised her, as most separated dads are reluctant to involve the kids straight away. “I went to his flat one evening, when he’d been allowed to have the girls overnight, and I was introduced as ‘Daddy’s friend’ which I was fine with, as I was really aware of not wanting to confuse the children. We seemed to get along OK, although when one of them started to play up, I felt very reluctant to say anything as there was no way I wanted to get involved in any arguments about discipline so early on!”

When he’s Just Not Really Ready

The relationship went on for a few months, but Fiona was convinced that there was something wrong.“John was constantly fretting about his wife, her feelings, and the kids. I didn’t complain as I knew it had been hard for him, but he seemed very reluctant to actually tell people that we were dating. He went to every effort to make sure the children knew we were ‘just friends’ even though his eldest has asked if I was his girlfriend, he didn’t want to meet my friends or family or introduce me to his, all the time we were dating.

“I tried not to put any pressure on him, didn’t complain about his constant fretting or the times that his wife put a spanner in the works when we were supposed to go out. I listened to him moan about her, and worry about whether she was looking after the girls properly. I even tried to encourage him to have the girls stay with him more often so that he got to spend quality time with them away from the marital home, and the influence of his ex, who seemed to blame him for everything despite her affair, and rely on him for absolutely everything.

It all Goes Wrong

“After a while it became obvious that he just wasn’t ready for a relationship, and he broke it off, deciding that the time wasn’t right, he wanted to concentrate on his kids and that he just wanted to be friends. I was upset but I hadn’t really spent much time with the girls so at least there was no real bonding there, and he didn’t have to explain why we weren’t seeing each other anymore.

“They were lovely kids, and because I didn’t have any children of my own, I had entertained ideas of maybe forging a closer relationship with them and befriending them. It wasn’t to be though – although we limped along as friends for a little while, we became distant. He managed to come to terms with being a separated dad eventually, and started up a new relationship and even have another baby. The girls are both doing really well and by all accounts get on famously with their new step mum, but only because he’s dealt with his guilt and waited until he was in the right frame of mind to get involved with a woman again. I wish him well!”

Fiona is now dating another separated dad, but this time he's been separated for a long time! She gets on very well with his son and it's all worked out very well. Fiona's advice? "Make sure that any separated dad you date is actually ready for a relationship, because if he has doubts and doesn't think he should be dating, it will end in tears!"

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Janet - Your Question:
I find these stories really surprising.In every case there somehow a new woman is expected to take on some guys past kids.Can I just say can people in the UK not learn to work on their marriages.In other cultures we all do that.It is not at all nice for children to have to be shuttled between parents and new and strange partners.And no most woman should not have to take on baggage and problems of another guy.One man on here seems intent on boasting his partner is 18years younger.that says it all.So as an older bacon he's expecting her to go chasing him and his kids and put up with his unemployment.His partner must be desperate.As a womb can she not find a man who has a bit more dignity and respect for woman kind!Children from divorced /broken families don't always have good experiences of their childhood.ImAnd there also needs to be some recognition that in the UK the leading cause of the family breakdown is now the 45 year old male seeking a younger madam.The male midlife crises.It is costing the UK thousands and children's and families.

Our Response:
Many thanks for your interesting comments and perceptions, I'm sure they will interest our readers.
SeparatedDads - 9-Aug-16 @ 10:19 AM
I find these stories really surprising.In every case there somehow a new woman is expected to take on some guys past kids.Can I just say can people in the UK not learn to work on their marriages. In other cultures we all do that.It is not at all nice for children to have to be shuttled between parents and new and strange partners. And no most woman should not have to take on baggage and problems of another guy.One man on here seems intent on boasting his partner is 18years younger...that says it all....So as an older bacon he's expecting her to go chasing him and his kids and put up with his unemployment.His partner must be desperate.As a womb can she not find a man who has a bit more dignity and respect for woman kind! Children from divorced /broken families don't always have good experiences of their childhood.ImAnd there also needs to be some recognition that in the UK the leading cause of the family breakdown is now the 45 year old male seeking a younger madam.The male midlife crises.It is costing the UK thousands and children's and families.
Janet - 8-Aug-16 @ 9:06 AM
Adriaan - Your Question:
We've been divorced since 2005 and she took, with my consent (and an agreement in place for the kids to SKYPE, write and visit me in SA at least twice a year) the 2 kids (then aged 5 and 3yrs) to NZ that same year. That was the last time I saw them. Not helping or allowing me to be involved in the kids' live. Now they need passports/citizenship to travel to the US. I do not want to sign again before I can get to see them. Is there some law that can help me enforce her to let me see the kids on a regular basis or get them returned to SA on a permanent basis?

Our Response:
You would have to seek advice from an international family law solicitor here as we are a UK-based site with knowledge of only UK family law.
SeparatedDads - 4-May-16 @ 2:01 PM
We've been divorced since 2005 and she took, with my consent (and an agreement in place for the kids to SKYPE, write and visit me in SA at least twice a year) the 2 kids (then aged 5 and 3yrs)to NZ that same year. That was the last time i saw them. Not helping or allowing me to be involved in the kids' live. Now they need passports/citizenship to travel to the US. I do not want to sign again before i can get to see them. Is there some law that can help me enforce her to let me see the kids on a regular basis or get them returned to SA on a permanent basis?
Adriaan - 4-May-16 @ 8:18 AM
HI, after some advice, me and my ex have a voluntary arrangement regarding maintenance payments. i just wanted to know if im within my rights to stop the payments if she is dating another guy, and can i stop him moving in with my kids.....
francis - 16-Jun-15 @ 8:56 PM
I need some advice! My fiancé has a near 2 year old daughter with his ex and she recently moved to england with the child (we live in Scotland) what rights does he have to see his daughter? he wants to take her back up here to scotland to see her grandparents and that for 2 weeks in tje summer and every second christmas and new year, are we allowed? thanks!
stephgibsx - 2-Mar-15 @ 11:07 PM
My partner has recently found out he s the father to a year old baby with his ex wife. He has now decided to pursue her for joint custody. He stays with me and advised he will have the child at mine, I do not want anything to do with his ex or the child. How likely is he to get awarded joint custody when his home address is mine and I categorically do not want involved? I've suggested he gets his own place, perhaps my feelings will change in the future but this has came as a shock. Please help.
advice? - 26-Jan-14 @ 9:22 AM
Hi, very interesting story. I am a separated dad and have 3 chidren. Shortly after moving out of the marital home I started dating my current partner (18 yrs younger than me ;-) ) She was aware of the situation and although the children knew about her I didn't introduce them to her until 4 months into the relation ship (in contrary to theri mum who has introduced at least a dozen men in the past 3 years to them - my son actually walked in on mum and 'a strange man' one morning). I couldn't give my new partner enough praise on how she has dealt with the ups and downs in the relationship, divorce and financial matters, unemployment and my children. She has accepted them as her own and they absolutely adore my partner. Sometimes it does work out perfectly but as the writer said both persons involved need to be in the right frame of mind.
HPD - 29-Mar-12 @ 2:01 PM
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