How To Date a Divorced Dad: Brave New Dating Girl

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Ask SingleDad is the Single Parent Dating Advice section for the Divorced Dad. Our Q&A Article on SingleDad this Month Comes From a Single woman who started dating a Divorced Dad and wants to know more about the road ahead. Read more.

How To Date a Divorced Dad: Brave New Dating
Girl

Ask SingleDad is the Single
Parent Dating Advice section for the Divorced Dad. Our Q&A Article on
SingleDad this Month Comes From a Single woman who started dating a Divorced
Dad and wants to know more about the road ahead. Read our advice to her.

How To Date a
Divorced Dad: Brave New Dating Girl

I stumbled across your singledad.com looking for resources
to help me navigate my brave new world: dating a divorced dad of 3 (3, 10 and
15). I’m single with no kids and 95% of the men I’ve dated haven’t ever been
married and were without children.

The upside to this new relationship is that we seem to
have found that undeniable magical combination of mutual physical chemistry,
adoration and admiration and fell in love really quickly. The downside is that
I’m sliding through learning about what it’s like to date a divorced man and
the impacts of his "divorce guilt" towards the kids, his juggling the kids and
a new job that involves travel as well as general life transition post divorce
(they have been divorced for a year). Not to mention that we live about 75
minutes apart.

How To Date a
Divorced Dad: The "Fade Away"Effect

We’ve been dating for about three months now. While he was
the one to initiate the divorce, he has been transparent about his lingering
effects of feeling like he failed his previous relationship and generally his
family. I’ve been weathering cycles of his pulling back, his fear over loving
again, and his feeling of guilt and fears of hurting and negatively impacting
me given how starkly different the complexities in our lives are. And the truth
is that it has been hard on me. He’s said things like he’s amazed that I even
talk to him and that I should probably run like hell. He’s also shared many
other feelings, which is in part why I’m choosing to weather this.

Given cycles of "rubber banding" and my lack of
experience dating divorced dads, had I listened to conventional single wisdom
I’d have ending this by now, assuming that he just wasn’t that into me. But
I’ve been guided by my instincts and seeing his heart clearly. I’m glad to read
your column, which I feel, reinforces what he’s been telling me.

ask

The Comeback

That said, there are some behaviors that confuse and baffle
me. He’ll withdrawal but then when he reemerges things happen like this weekend
when I met his two youngest kids. I was surprised that he suggested it
considering his recent withdrawal and the fact that I hadn’t asked to meet them
yet. I assumed that would come much further down the road. Since his divorce
he’s only dated other single mothers and I’m the only person he’s allowed to
meet his kids. Now that I’ve met them I’m not sure what to expect in terms of
his "two steps forward, one step back" cadence with our relationship.
And I’m not sure if his desire to have them meet me came from a place of
simplifying logistics (he can see me more often) and/or what baring this has on
his feelings and intentions towards building a relationship with me.

Space, Distance and Patience

Slowly I’m learning about the space he needs to live life
and to adjust as well as an appreciation for the flexibility that is required
(avoiding feeling stood up when he cancels at the last minute because something
came up with the kids as well as fielding the long-ish distance
logistics). My approach has simply been to understand that his life is
busier and more complicated than mine at the moment and to give him room while
trying to maintain my own boundaries. It’s been hard for me to navigate knowing
what to expect given that I don’t have a full appreciation of the demands of
parenthood. The expectations I’d have of a childless man don’t entirely seem to
apply here.

While my instincts have served me well so far (and
information overload usually doesn’t help) I feel like I need a better grip on
what I don’t know to help me better anticipate and field the challenges that
come up without second guessing things. I also need a better idea of what I’m
getting into so that I can know whether the reality is something I can accept
in the long run. Can you make suggestions for a short recommended reading list
or other online content that deals with what to expect and how to navigate:

  • dating a man who’s already divorced
  • his cycle of rubber-banding
  • red flags suggestions for how to
    work through them andsorting through issues should prompt me to run for
    the hills
  • integration into the lives of his
    kids (things I can do to avoid making them hate and resent me and hopefully
    like and trust me)
  • establishing, communicating and
    maintaining my own boundaries while still being flexible in this

Signed,

Brave New Dating Girl

ask

Dear Brave New Dating
Girl,

Thank you for sending us your questions regarding dating a
Divorced Dad. Like many of our female viewers on SingleDad, it never seems to
surprise our staff how much we men differ from our counter parts and all we
both want is the same thing… Love & Happiness.

Let’s breakdown your topics that you listed and address each
of them individually, Cool?

The Good News, Bad
News on Dating a Divorced Dad

There is a reason why you discovered the incredible
chemistry between you and your Divorced Dad. Men of this stage of their lives
offer far more emotional depth, adventure and diversity than the selfish men
who have never made the emotional commitment to marriage, family and career…
Yes, I said it and I own it!!

These men may have failed at marriage, but they are at a
stage of humility and responsibility in their lives and they want to rebuild
themselves as good fathers and role models to their children of divorce by
making the best of a challenging situation. Along the way, someone like you
walks into their lives: A career woman who has lost some years in a long term
relationship with a "Man-Boy" who never decided to take you or his career
serious enough. You decided to finally drop him out of your life and go forward
alone because more of the same "rescuing and dragging" your stale relationship
drove you to a point that made you reflect on your future. Enough, right?

How To Date a
Divorced Dad

Now here is the Good/ Bad news of your situation. Please
take this advice with my sincerest hope that you will take my words with hope,
direction and confidence.

Your boyfriend has crossed the 12-14 month mark of being divorced and that is important because
most men at this stage make a conscious decision to move on or stay in a "Guilt
Funk" for a very long time. At this point with your man, you will continue to
see small episodes of "guilt spats" with him, but they will disappear in relation
to his emotional commitment to you. When a man is able to put "the story" of his past into
perspective, the guilt subsides. However, what is most important for me to tell
you are to avoid the pitfalls when your man goes through these guilt spats. Do
not "rescue or Fix" the situation for him. Be a generous listener and offer him
verbal support only. And I will
explain why.

dad

Victim / Make Life
Happen Again Man

Getting past the first year for divorced dads is very
important for personal, emotional stability. Some Divorced Dads take longer,
and some never emotionally recover from the guilt completely and ruin future
relationships with past-unresolved guilt. However, I think you man is at the
stage where he is going to make a distinction on which man he wants to be:

Victim Man

The passive aggressive comment that you had mentioned is a
simple way for a Divorced Dad to "get off the hook" with you. This does not
work in the long run. You need to call him out and "re-state" the silly phrase
or comment that he may use to get out of a fix. The " I don’t know why you
would want to stick around with me" type of comment gets old with a woman and
you need to let him know that is a "Victim Man" comment and it is a temporary,
short term solution to the deeper problem of intimacy and honesty in a
relationship.

I especially worry about the "rubber band" comment you made
about your boyfriends behavior. It can be a touchy subject, but important to
share your feelings to him when he disappears for a while and then comes back
without explaining. This "Fade Away" behavior is normal and it can mean a
variety of things when dating a Divorced Dad:

1. He is really busy and doesn’t find the time or courtesy
to tell you

2. His way of controlling his pace and distance in the
relationship

3.Inability to communicate

Overall, I think you should share how it makes you feel when
he does that and offer him the opportunity to explain why he does it. If he
just needs space, then give it to him. I have seen this behavior minimize once
the Divorced Dad finds a level of high trust, confidence and vulnerability in
the relationship and that takes time. You are in good shape for only dating for
three months. You should see some improvement after the sixth month and going
forward…

Anytime this situation happens, remind yourself and your
boyfriend that you are here to support him, but you cannot rescue or fix the
situation. He will respect you for it.

date

Make Life Happen
Again Man

This is where I see your man going in the right direction.
New Job, new direction, and a new commitment in his family priorities; these
are all good signs that you entered his life at the right time. Now, he is
early in this stage so that is going to require a lot of patience on your part
and don’t be surprised that your man has a few setbacks. Overall, he has
decided to move forward in his life and he wants you to be part of the journey.
Enjoy the ride.

Does this guarantee a long-term commitment? I can’t say for
sure, however, you seem to have caught you Divorced Dad at a good time. The
sign that he wants you to meet his children is positive, but you also got to
keep the distance between the two of you in perspective.

I dated a woman for over 2 years and it was a 1-hour,
one-way drive to her doorstep. I asked myself "Why?" every time I reached her
driveway…. This can be a deal breaker, but for now, I recommend you seeing how
things work out and try to stay in the present. That means don’t wander your
thoughts making assumptions about the future. Try to appreciate what is
directly in front of you and what you are experiencing. You are only three
months into this and I think you have a lot of positive things going for you.

In Summary

My final recommendation is for you and your boyfriend to
take the "5 Love Languages Quiz" online. I think that it is important for both
of you to know what makes your heart "full" and happy. Right now, you are three
months into this relationship and the "honeymoon" period is full of blind eyes
between the two of you. You need to know what makes your man feel loved and the
same goes for him. He needs to know what makes you feel safe, trusted and
secure in a relationship. You will be surprised how often this is overlooked in
establishing a solid lasting relationship.

Good Luck and keep me posted.

Are You Dating
a Divorced Dad? Ask SingleDad

SingleDad wants to help you understand Single Parent Dating
from a Man’s perspective. If you are a Single Woman dating a divorced dad and
have a question, or a Divorced Dad seeking dating advice, send us an email
to: Dating@SingleDad.com Your
question will be posted to our readers and we will maintain your privacy.

Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”