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Dating a Single Dad/ 50% custody -- How to date someone unavailable?

datingsingledads's picture

Have been dating a single dad for three months now who has 50 % custody and a very busy career. Refuses to change anything about the agreement regardless of how much he says he loves me and sometimes the schedule changes to seeing his son two weekends in a row instead of every other weekend. I am expected to sit home and "just deal with it." I still haven't met the son- I am concerned about mtg the son if he has no interest in ever changing this situation. I need more time and availability from someone. When I asked him what his priority was between me or his son- his answer was "both." The son is young- I don't see much hope for this situation unless something changed in his agreement. How do single dads really remarry if they aren't willing to dedicate the time it takes for new relatonships? If their priority is always going to be their young child,  then how do they expect to settle down with someone else? Relationships need time- more time than "50%" Do you believe relationships can be successful with a single dad with a 50% custody agreement situation where the schedule sometimes changes to numerous weekends in a row seeing the child and not the new GF? Would like to know if you have ever seen this successfully work and how others do it. Additionally, how is this fair to someone new who really needs more time with a partner in the beginning? Is 50% of time really even emotionally available or fair to someone you are thinking about marrying? How do these relationships ever even get off the ground if the guy isn't even willing to make changes to his agreement to make room for someone new. The only way I can see this working is if he is with another single Mom or divorced mom with kids or someone who is emotionally unavailable and is fine with breadcrumbs and seeing someone half the time. These men demand exclusivity yet leave you on your own for half the time! It's not fair.. 

Survivingstephell's picture

Find a man with no baggage then.  Plenty of Stepmoms on here with that very complaint and struggle and marriage did nothing to make it better, in many cases making it much worse.  

Find someone you don't have to change to fit your wants.  No brainer I'd say.  Love can NOT conquer all.  

Rainydaze777's picture

Hi- I was literally just you.

I ended up leaving- trust me, you will NEVER come first, ever. You'll have one broken promise after another and he'll make you feel worthless because any of your needs, wants or opinions will be disregarded and you'll be made to feel like a bad person and you'll start turning into a person you don't like- resentful, self esteem slowly deteriorates, bitter, jealous, constantly outraged about how nothing you want matters and your feelings don't count.

When I first came to this website I thought maybe everyone was being a bit melodramatic by telling me to run and get the hell out.

Well I learned that they were all 100 % correct- I ended up leaving for my sanity.

Now it's my turn to say RUN- get out, I know it's hard, my heart is broken into a million little pieces and my wedding was supposed to be next month- but I had to leave him even though he was the great love of my life. No amount of love is worth it, and after a while he'll probably start treating you like sh*t because he'll be sick of you annoying him with your feelings about everything. 

datingsingledads's picture

he already is.. and says I have way too many feelings, and he is sick of it. and that i knew this from the beginning. and his son needs him. and hes not changing a thing. 

Aniki-Moderator's picture

He says he's sick of it?? Definitely time to get out of this relationship. 

SecondNoMore's picture

I found this site when I was in a similar situation to you: dating a man with a child for the first time. You sound very much like me, which is to say you probably shouldn't be with a guy with a child. The guy you're with needs someone with kids or someone who is willing to take a backseat to his child; that's the only way it will work. I stayed in the relationship for over a year and was so turned off by everything about the experience that I refused to even meet the son. I knew myself well enough to know I was going to resent the kid simply for his existence because it prevented me from having a normal dating life with my boyfriend. For the record, the guy I was dating was not 50/50, slightly less, and it was still miserable. If you want a normal courtship - dates, dinners, spontaneity, weekend trips - look elsewhere. Also the ex is a whole other story. It is not natural if you don't bring your own baggage to the relationship (I've never been married or had children) to have a boyfriend in constant contact with an ex. 

I told my ex boyfriend five months in to the relationship (after he threw a joint birthday party with his ex for the son) that it would never work with me taking a backseat to the kid in the long-term and he surprisingly agreed and said he understood and felt he could do that. I went on and on about establishing boundaries with the ex and he agreed. None of it mattered and he couldn't do either, so I finally broke it off. You probably should, too. There are women with the patience to deal with this, but I was not one of them. 

One other thing I always recommend when dating divorced men, regardless of whether they have kids: make sure you are not the first serious relationship after the divorce. Those rarely go well. Divorced men rarely understand just how damaged they are until they try to build a relationship again. Time is irrelevant; they need to have been serious with someone else.

For the record, I don't think marriages have a shot in hell at working unless both partners can put the other one first but there are some people so afraid of being alone that they'll settle for ANYTHING. It seems too early for you to be demanding to be put first, but you are correct that a guy in his situation probably doesn't have the time or energy to date you the way you want. I dropped out during the dating stage but people on here have gone much further and their experiences all told me it would never get better. Good luck.



Aniki-Moderator's picture

What would you do if he had full custody and the child was there EVERY DAY??

I don't think a man with children is the right man for you. It's been a few short weeks. Find a man without children.

still learning's picture

My 23 yr old daughter dated a as she said, "hot single dad" and a whole month was about all she could stand. It was always the kid and his mother that came first, drama, duty, and he was always broke. My daughter was expected to play along and be last on the totem pole. Luckily my daughter is way too selfish to be in a relationship like that and dumped him.  

A life hitched to this guy and his kid sounds like it would be pretty miserable for you.  It's all about what he wants, but what about you?  Be free little birdie and go find another uncaged bird to soar with. Dump the turkey!  

caitlinj's picture

Your daughter is smart. I remember the day my ex's water was turned off at his house for not paying his bill. Now I know why he wanted me to move in with him because I have a very good job and plenty of money saved. Thinking back his kids had tons of toys and electronics and were in baseball, karate, soccer, gymnastics, cub scouts, and they would go out to eat several times a week at places that were not cheap and they took several vacations out of town and he would shop for groceries at the most expensive stores yet your arent paying your water bill?

Rainydaze777's picture

It's such a miserable experience.

I was with my guy for 2 years- his daughter recently came back into the picture and I didn't last long either; had to get out of that.

FuriousStepmum's picture

That's just it though, its not selfish of your daughter to expect to come before her bf's ex wife.  Not one bit selfish.

caitlinj's picture

Get out now. It will only get worse. I thought things would get better with my BF but 2 years later he is still rarely available for any time together and is more broke financially than ever before. The final straw was he was pressuring me to move in with him but then I found out his financial situation (not good). That coupled with the fact that we rarely spent anytime together unless I drove 40 minutes to his place regularly. Also I got to know his kids and he began to rely on me to babysit and nanny them for free on my one day off. I work very hard and at first it was fun but it began to feel like using. I paid for his kids lunches (he never paid me back) I didn't mind helping occasionally but judging by how little I saw him unless I put in the effort it didn't feel good. Plus his kids began to become poorly behaved over time and it became not fun anymore. The final straw I guess was I took a trip to the caribbean to be in my friends wedding.  I wanted him to go so bad because it was all other couples plus I wanted to spend time with him. It wouldve been so romantic. He couldnt go because of his kids which I understood but it still sucked having to be alone but to top it off he acted like he did me this big favor by picking me up from the airport when I got home after a week out of the country.  When I brought up how little we spend time together he would get so annoyed and kept bringing up how he picked me up from the airport that time. Run for the hills!

TrueNorth77's picture

Oh Geez. Several things:

1) You should never even think about, or be talking about, marrying a man with kids unless you have spent a LOT of time with those kids, and feel you can handle all that it entails. This also means having to deal with BM’s shenanigans. 3 months of dating him and dealing with him not being available is just the tip of the Iceberg! Trust me, there is a whole lot of other crap you haven’t even dealt with yet. 

2) You haven’t even met the kid yet- this kid could be the devil’s spawn. Your BF could totally spoil him and let him do what he wants, and when you see it all happen and have to deal with this brat every day, you may want to stab yourself in the eye with a rusty nail. Your BF may also expect you to watch him all the time, when you have no interest in doing so. Issues ensue.

3) It’s way too soon to have the kinds of issues you are having. He’s saying he wants you to meet his kid and get married “right now”, but he ALREADY (only 3 months in) doesn’t want to compromise or make you a priority. Your relationship won’t work, period. The only way it works with my SO who has 63% custody is he makes sure he has time for me, and compromises on things to make sure I’m happy. Your SO won’t do that. Which is fine, because I suspect once you meet his kid and get a taste of how things REALLY are with a kid involved, you won’t want to be a part of this at all. It’s worse once you meet the kid, who demands his attention and interrupts your time together. 

Last, you said:

The only way I can see this working is if he is with another single Mom or divorced mom with kids or someone who is emotionally unavailable and is fine with breadcrumbs and seeing someone half the time. 

You answered your own question. This is not your person. 

notsobad's picture

You are only 3 months in!

This is the honeymoon phase of the relationship when things are supposed to be rosey and lovey dovey and everything will work out in the end!

Consider yourself lucky that this guy has shown you who he is and where you will be fitting into his life right from the very beginning! Do not try to sugar coat it and think anything will change. It won't!

Not all relationships with single dads or single moms are like this. There are people out there who will put you and the relationship first. There are people out there who can and do parent their children. This guy is not one of them. Get out now!

datingsingledads's picture

I guess my question is how can he really put the relationship first if he has fifty percent custody? What would putting the relationship first even look like? Would it mean changing the agreement? He says he gave more days to the ex wife but so far I have yet to actually see any of these days. And when there are two weeks in a row to see me he guilts me and makes me feel bad saying I’m robbing time away from his son even though he’s the one who made that schedule! I really want to know how anything can be lovey Dovey with a single dad in the beginning which basically leaves you alone half the time. How do other people have a lovey dovey period when they are constantly being abandoned and left alone on Weeknd’s. It’s very hard to have consistent good feelings when someone is constantly leaving you and there are unnatural constraints on your relationship 

Rainydaze777's picture

Get used to it if you stay- it's not going to change; seriously.

You habe two choices- deal with it or leave.

notsobad's picture

This particular man can't have a relationship! At least not with you.

Have you heard the saying "He's just not that into you" from Sex and the City? That's what this is. He's just not that into you!

If he were, he would make time for you. He wouldn't make you feel guilty or bad, he'd make you feel loved and wanted.

It is possible to put a relationship first, even with 50/50 custody. Just like it's possible to put a relationship first with a demanding job or full time university and a job.

If he wanted to be with you, he'd find a way. He'd get a sitter for his son and take you out after spending a full day with his son. He'd spend his kidless weekend with you, doing whatever makes you happy. He'd let you know that yes he loves his son but he wouldn't be telling you that you are robbing him of time with his son!

This simply isn't the right man for you! He might be the right man for someone else, let him find her.

You need to find a man who makes time for you. Who doesn't make you feel bad or guilty. He may or may not have kids, but it won't matter. If he wants to be with you he will find a way!

thinkthrice's picture

change your screen name by putting "stopped" in front of it.  Unless you have masochistic tendencies.

datingsingledads's picture

I have proposed more of an open relat on thefifty percent of the time he is unavailable so it is more fair to me he says no or “ok then he’s going to do the same and will get a babysitter those nights to date” amazing how he can get a babysitter suddenly if he can date others but not when he’s actually w me. Just my two cents- why it is such a crazy idea to be non exclusive w someone who is unavailable fifty percent of the time? It would be way more fair to the other person who is left sitting home alone every sat night and weekend. His reply is to get some friends and deal w it. Don’t see why I have to put my life on hold the times he can’t see me for his son. Really seems selfish and unfair. He says it’s all or nothing and if I don’t like it then leave. 

Rainydaze777's picture

Lol- I literally just said that as you were typing this- you'll either have deal with or leave

SecondNoMore's picture

There is not a normal courtship with a guy in his situation. All of those relationships you may have seen where your friends get to date some guy and go on dates and have drinks and sleep in and take off for a weekend? Not happening. He has other priorities. If you're single and have no kids, these guys are for hook-ups only, in my opinion. You will not like what life looks like with him.

Plus, honestly it sounds like he's just looking for a woman to help take care of his kid... That might be why he's pushing so hard. I say hook-up only or move on.

Livingoutloud's picture

Why do you think all your free time must be spent with a man? When this one isn’t available, you must have a different man? don’t you have girlfriends or hobbies or family? Even married people spend time apart doing other things. Why do you need a man to fill up all your free time? 

elkclan's picture

Sorry - a man with 50% custody and who takes it seriously is apparently not the person for you. When I was first dating my SO, we had to skip days, a couple of times more than a week because of our sometimes overlapping sometimes conflicting custody schedules. Because I have a child too, I understood. I wanted to spend every minute with him, but I couldn't because I was not ready to introduce him to my child. Same for him. 

I had two dates with my guy and then only saw him once in two weeks because of work and because of kids. That's just the way it goes. 

We introduced our kids a few months in. We were really lucky it worked out. 

The way that people with kids find someone new is that they find people who understand. It isn't taking a backseat and it's not being a lower priority.  Minor children NEED their parents. If it is your time you have to be there. Someone who demands a change asking you to have less time with your child is not making YOU a priority. If my partner had ever asked me to do that, well, we wouldn't be together now. 

The fact that you don't want to meet this kid doesn't bode well. You should be eager to meet his child at this point, he should be the one deciding if the kid is ready or not. That you aren't eager is a big red flag about how you'll feel going forward. 

It's ok if you're not cut out for this. Better that you get away and not be a crappy SM to this kid. Find someone with no kids. 


easypeasy123's picture

while our situations aren't analogous i'll share something that might be insightful -  when i first started dating my partner; he wanted me to meet his son right away as well. he also sent me lots of pictures when they were together.  when we discussed it more; he did intellectually agree with waitiing; and i ultimately didn't meet his young son until about 6 months of dating; bu the constant insistance and pictures were about him feeling like i was rejected a part of him because i didn't want to meet his child. i thought that was kindof interesting. since i don't have my own kids, i can't fully relate; but i imagine that even if you know its not a good idea; there's some element that makes you feel like you haven't trully shared yourself with your patner if they haven't met your children. i'd say; still don't rush it; but maybe this gives some insight into why your partner might be acting a certain way.  

ndc's picture

My SO has 2 young kids and 50/50 custody.  When we started seeing each other, he wasn't always available, but when he was, he was 100% available and I was top priority. That was good enough for me. I'm a homebody and have other things to do, so I didn't need to be with him at all times.  Once I met the kids, we would spend time together during his parenting time as well.  Also, he and his ex have a good relationship, so they'll swap days to facilitate vacations and special events.

It is possible for a guy with kids to make you a priority, but you're never going to have all his attention all the time. If you're having issues in the "honeymoon period," this is not the relationship for you.

georgina29's picture

I'm married to a man now who never has time for me and doesn't seem to want to nor want to, at least not very much. Even on the weekends when his ex wife (bio mom) could have the kids he would rather have his kids to himself and do down time with them since he has them all week for normal life activites. I mean enough is enough. It's not like his kids are well behaved, which makes them not enjoyable to be around a lot of the time, plus he always wants his mother(MIL) there as well a lot of the time which is weird in itself. We get about two-four hours a week of alone time together when bio mom has them and let's just say it isn't exactly quality time. When we are alone most of the time he is either distant mentally, doesn't seem interested in me physically, or is on his phone with his mom or kids. It's like he is somewhere else. I'm beginning to wonder if he even is attracted to me or even cares about me other than what I can do for him, his kids and his bills. A man I work with recently asked me out. I'm not a cheater so Im not going obviously. But it put a thought in my head about how nice it was to have a man express his attraction to me and want to genuinely spend time with me and get to know me for once.

Rainydaze777's picture

I know how you feel- mine was distant, distracted,  not interested in me anymore as soon as his daughter came back and it was so horrible to feel that way.

I started a online dating profile after I left him and I currently have 67 messages in the inbox- I'm not ready for  another relationship or even dating really- I just did it because.

Its nice to know there are other men out there that want to talk to me and spend time with me

SteppedOut's picture

It does sound like he's interested in what you can do for him/them. You deserve more! 

Get to the bottom of it, hell, flat out ask - why are you married to me if you have zero interest in me?

Please don't spend your entire life like this. 

Steppedonnomore's picture

He has told you, "It’s all or nothing and if I don’t like it then leave." 

From what you've written you don't like it.  So........ 

Areyou's picture

Date him on the side and open yourself up To meeting new people. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spend time with friends and have fun. See him when you have free time but don’t make him your priority.

marblefawn's picture

Are you crazy even wasting your time with a guy who's talking marriage after three months? How can you even take him seriously? He sounds like a whack job.

Anyone talking marriage after three months is unsafe. And to drag his kid into his relationship with someone he hardly knows is abusive.

Get off this site, dump him and go find someone sane!

Old sm's picture

Stop making excuses for staying in this relationship.  Listen to the above posters.  We have all experienced this and it never comes to a good end.  Get out of this now while you can and find someone who doesn't have the baggage.  If you stay, it WILL get worse; you will NEVER come first.

still learning's picture

I think it's a bit unfair to call OP clingy and needy.  I know I was accused of the same thing, plus jealousy, when DH and I were first married and ss who was 29 yrs old wanted daddee time and to move in.  The fact is there is no way to know what you're in for when you enter a relationship w/someone who has children, especially if you don't. 

OP, you sound a lot like my own dd23.  She briefly dated a single dad but she ended it for many of the same things you're having issues with.  50% of her time was overrun by his kid, he was constantly texting/fighting the mother, drama all the time, dd was expected to contribute monitarily since the guy was always broke due to child support, thankfully my dd just couldn't handle it.  Did I call her clingy or needy because that relationship was not filling HER needs? Nope. I praised her for getting out of a situation that was not right for her, that would always put her last.  Do you have a mom, sister, female friend who you can talk to about the relationship, someone who can see past all the pheramones and LOOOOVE?  

Realisticly you could make this relationship work but both of you would have to sacrifice so much that neither would be happy and divorce would be on the horizon.  

Livingoutloud's picture

I think OP appears needy  because she demands that the father sees his son less (less than 50%) because she doesn’t want to spend even every other weekend alone. Or can’t stay alone even one day after vacation. I think demanding all that after 3 months is needy. Realizing that something isn’t working and leaving is not needy 

still learning's picture

I can see your viewpoint and would have the same opinion if someone demanded I change my custody schedule for them.  See my kids less so I can spend more time with you, sorry not gonna happen, that's from my viewpoint as a parent.  I'm listening to her and assuming she is a young woman who has her whole life ahead of her. No kids, pretty good life on her own and she's looking for someone to share it with. Unfortunatley she's fallen in love with someone who has a lifestyle that is completely incompatible with hers, her needs will never be met by this man and she will always be wanting more and feeling "needy". 

I posted before how my daughter was in a similar situation with a single dad and her needs were never considered, she came last after her bf, BM and skid so I feel a motherly protectiveness for OP and hope she will see how unhealthy this dynamic is for her. Sometimes you've just gotta cut your losses and move along.  

BornFree's picture

before you let yourself fall madly and deeply...take a good hard look at what the reality of your life will be.  It must be very hard for you.  When  you’ve not had your own kids, the parenting thing is even more out there!  I’m with someone who has his kids EVERY own are 16&18, so I’ve been there done that...and I still find it very very hard to feel anything remotely close to my own.  They are great kids, but biology rules- and kids can be hard to like (even well behaved ones).  

I feel odd come the weekend- as we are connected all week, then his kids show up.  I only stop by for a few hours on a Saturday evening....but it’s not ‘we’’s very challenging!  I would suggest you try to enjoy your time with him when you are together,  and make yourself busy when not with him...socialize, go out with and enjoy life.  Not speaking of ‘time’ and his child arrangement while doing your own thing, may make him realize you are not going to just be available when it suits him....

You cannot expect him to make changes or demand that he see his kid less....perhaps he will realize what he wants when you are not catering to his schedule, and adjust things as time goes on.  You are very new to the dynamic- and to think or talk about marriage or adjusting things is very premature.  Perhaps pulling back and seeing how things roll out is the best thing- you need to really experience and know if this step kid thing is something you can really live with.

Im over a year in- and it is not easy....I’m working on not feeling ‘alone’ on the rest of the weekend myself.

Rags's picture

Don’t even try.  Keep it simple.  If he can’t invest in the relationship and make you and the relationship the only top priority..... move on and enjoy watching this man and his prior relationship breeding experiments fade in your rear view mirror.

Kids are the top relationship responsibility but never displace the adult relationship as priority.  Regardless of kid biology.

Take care of you.