Dating can be complicated and especially so when the man has teenage children. In such a relationship, the woman has to contend with normal dating issues, as well as those from the man's earlier life. Women who date a divorced or widowed dad must give serious consideration to every aspect of the relationship and how it would affect everyone concerned. You must know what to expect and whether it is something you want and can deal with. It takes a large amount of selflessness, patience and understanding for such a relationship to work.

The Relationship

Ask questions. Find out everything you can about him as early as possible. For instance, you should know how often he has his children, the type of relationship he has with his ex-wife if he's divorced, what his responsibilities are toward her and whether he wants to remarry eventually.

Take honest stock of your needs and find out what you want in a relationship. According to Christie Hartman in “Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide If He's Right for You,” there is a great possibility of ignoring your needs to fit into your man’s life rather than add to his burdens, which could lead to unhappiness later on. Among other things, find out whether you are comfortable sharing your man’s time with his children, having his ex-wife in a future life with him and whether you are comfortable with the state of the relationship now.

Let things move slowly. Don’t see him too often, meet his children too soon, get intimate right away or move in together. This will give you enough time and space to get to know the man and assess any potential problems, such as his financial status, his ex-wife or partner and his emotional availability. Use this information to decide whether you want a long-term relationship with him.

Meet his children. This should happen when you both advance from dating to an exclusive relationship. It should be as early as possible in the relationship so you have enough time to understand this aspect of your man’s life better before the relationship progresses further.

Be friendly with the teenagers and respect their feelings. Teenagers are suspicious of effusive behavior, so be yourself.

Be flexible when dating a single dad. Expect child-related issues that take priority over your plans. For instance, there may be unexpected family outings when you expected a romantic date. This may happen less often with teenagers.

Tip

  • The behavior and level of involvement of your man's ex-partner in his life may depend on the age of their children. In “Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide If He's Right for You,” the author says that the ex-wives with teenagers up to the age of 16 are usually annoying and over-involved. Those with teenagers aged 17 and over are usually polite or absent.

Tip

  • Stay out of volatile situations with your man's ex-wife.