Is it really possible to date if you have kids?
I'm a divorced dad of two beautiful kids (young teens). I got divorced in 2010 and have shared custody with my ex-wife. In 2013, I met Beth (not her real name) a tall, caring, silly, loving, sensitive, and beautiful woman. We hit it off instantly and for the next 4.5 years we were together. Beth had no kids, nor did she want to have any of her own, but said she was open to dating someone with children. We got along really well and had great chemistry. We laughed a lot, had many of the same interests, and enjoyed each other's company. We traveled together. I felt a real connection with her. Something I had not felt with anyone else.
There was one problem with the relationship from the start, though. I do have kids, which made scheduling time for each other challenging. She felt we could only see each other when I was available. And to a certain extent that was true. It bothered her more and more as our relationship grew. When I had my kids with me, Beth and I did do things together with them, but that was not all the time. We got into a routine of seeing each other once or twice during the week and then on Saturday afternoons until Sunday night. At first this schedule seemed to work, but we both wanted more. My solution to this was to move in together. However this solution created a whole host of other problems. We would need space for my kids. Beth hadn't lived with anyone since college. So not only would she be living with someone for the first time in years, he came with two other people (two days a week). The prospect of this really scared her and she just couldn't do it. There were lots of discussions, but no reassurances on my part swayed her decision. This is what ended the relationship. Beth said she wished she had met me 15 years earlier, before I had kids, or five years in the future when my kids were more adult. I was left heartbroken. I really loved her. The question is: Can we really date and raise kids at the same time? And how do you successfully blend your new relationship with children from a previous one?
– Traveling with Children
I'm so sorry it didn't work out with Beth. The breakup sounds awful, and I understand why it's left you pessimistic about your romantic future.
But I promise you: It is possible for single parents to date and fall in love. It can be frustrating and messy, and it requires finding a partner who's patient and open to change. Because when you have kids, change happens all of the time.
The problem with Beth was that as much as she wanted to be open to dating someone with kids, she was never really up for it. If she'd understood what it meant to be with a single dad sharing custody, she wouldn't have been surprised that she wasn't your first priority. She would have known that she'd be scheduling around you, at least until those kids were grown up and on their own. That's part of the deal.
She also would have known that one of the best-case scenarios for the relationship was to live together – all of you in the same place. She couldn't swing that, but ... other people can.
You can grieve this breakup – sometimes it takes a while to process the loss – but please consider a date or two when you have the energy and time alone. It might remind you that Beth only speaks for Beth. She represents more than four years of your life, but she's just one person.
Readers? Can you tell some stories about dating with kids and how it can work?
"Been there done that. Its gets better. You will find someone that will want the same things you do. For the record, the kids may not have been the problem. 'Beth' may not have wanted to live with anyone, period." – OhEdith