Right off the bat, there are many reasons why it’s not ideal to date someone with a child. After all, it’s not just the fact that you have to make it work with the person you’re dating and the child that comes along with him or her, but you also have to deal with the ex who is the other parent to that child. The good news is that millions of men and women make it work, which is proof that it is possible. Still, even though it can work in many cases, do you want to risk the odds? For some of you, the risk is worth it; for others, it’s not.
Prior to meeting this new person, did you know that you wanted kids? The most promising and successful scenario in dating someone with a child involves you knowing – with no doubts or hesitations – that you want kids. As long as you start with this crucial building block – wholeheartedly wanting to be a parent – you can get to know and date that new person, and the relationship may actually work out or even morph into the kind of union you’ve always wanted. If you are on the fence about wanting kids, forcing yourself into a pre-established family adds so many pressures, and it’s not necessarily worth the hassle unless you live somewhere where there are truly few to no other dating options.
Do you have a significant part of your personality that is nurturing? News flash: A significant portion of the population are not nurturers by nature and won’t make good, nurturing parents. I’m thinking of workaholics, angry/bitter-prone personalities, and impulsive, always-looking-for-the-party personalities. These types typically don’t have a significant part of their personalities that is nurturing. These men and women can and often do have children, but they usually find another partner to do the nurturing or they don’t care that much about their kids’ emotional needs. How do you know if you’re a nurturing personality? You have patience with children; you enjoy taking care of things, including children, plants, pets or people in need; you enjoy cooking for others; and you gladly take care of the people you care about when they’re sick.
Are you a flexible, easygoing personality, or do you veer toward a more “Type A” personality? Think about dating someone with a child this way: You are walking into a pretty complex situation that is already created. Sure, you as an addition to that will change the dynamic and you can help to become a part of it, but you need to a very flexible person to make the situation work with a new partner and a child who’s not yours (yet). If you tend to be more of a take-charge, shot-calling personality, dating someone with a child is going to be challenging and you may not be happy because so many of the interpersonal dynamics and daily practices have already been set up.
Are you someone who gets in a fair number of fights or arguments with people, whether strangers or people you know well? If you have a history of getting confrontational or getting into arguments with others, dating someone with a child may not be a good idea. Your personality style causes you to say directly how you feel, whether positive or negative, and you stand your ground when things get stressful. The concern with dating someone who has a child is that you are essentially walking smack-dab in the middle of a situation that is pretty stressful. If you are an argument-prone personality, understand that walking into a complex set of relationships may cause more arguments than you’ve ever had before.
Quick advice to help you know for sure whether this move is right for you:
The best thing you can do to figure out if you can happily date someone with a child is to do more of what you’re doing right now: reading about the issue. Read as much as you can online and in books about blended families, and you will hear a lot of stories that can help you make the decision. In addition, talk to anyone you know at work or in your social life who has dated or married into a preexisting family and ask them to tell you what the experience – especially in the beginning – was like for them. If you are smart and research the issue well, you will make a good decision. On the other hand, making an impulsive decision and getting in too deep too quickly could lead to intense problems later. Choose carefully!
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve