Fannie joins us from Feminists for Choice:

Dear Fannie,

I’m a 32 year old straight woman, and I’m interested in a relationship with a man who has a child. He’s a really great guy, but I’m finding it complicated trying to negotiate time we can spend together. He has partial custody of his child, and I love the kid; he really likes me and we always have a great time together. But most of the time that this guy and I can spend together, we’re usually not alone. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy spending time with both of them, it’s just that we expend so much energy just trying to schedule around and plan around the kid, it’s exhausting. In addition, I feel that I will always come second. I’m not suggesting that he shouldn’t put his kid first, but in terms of dating him it’s putting a strain on our relationship. Is it even worth it to pursue this guy?

Dating a Dad

Dear DAD,

Relationships with single parents always brings complexity to the table. Usually when singles get together, especially younger couples with no children, it’s easy to take things casually at first and move into deeper levels of intimacy, trust, and commitment. But in your situation, DAD, a certain amount of commitment is being asked of you upfront. While it may not be explicit, your Single Father is likely looking for someone who can one day, down the road, be a mother to his kid.

Depending on the situation you might not be the main parent, seeing how he has partial custody of his kid, the birth mother is likely participating in child care, but inevitably Baby Daddy isn’t just looking for a casual fling. Also considering how many of your dates involve spending time with Single Father and his child is a clear signal that your compatibility with the kid is important to him.

So, your question if it is worth the effort to get to date this guy. Well let me first present some silver lining to the fact that he’s a single father:

* He’s clearly invested and involved in his kid’s life seeing how he has partial custody, which suggests that he is responsible, grounded, and a decent guy.

* Given that he is no longer with the birth mother of his child, it would suggest that he has some relationship experience under his belt, and therefor maybe likely to be in tune with what he wants in a relationship and with what kind of a person. There are not enough words for how helpful it is to have a partner who is straightforward and knows what he/she wants.

* He’s probably more risk-averse and financially stable than if he was a single bachelor, shooting the shit. Assuming that he has a monthly childcare payment to make, it’s more likely that he will hold a steady job, not be erratically spending money on random shit, nor be carrying obscene amounts of debt from a spur of the moment purchase of a sports car.

* The fact that he’s even carved out the time to spend with you at all, as crowded and measely as it might be, shows that he’s very interested in you. Raising a child alone, no matter how resourceful the parent, or docile the child, is a full time job, and one that is not likely to leave you with much free time. The fact that he wants to spend what sparing free time he has with you says mountains to how he feels about you.

But do any of these points answer your question? No. Only you can do that. Is it worth getting to know this guy better? Worth the time and energy involved with managing both your busy schedules to see each other? If you’re not willing to invest a little time and energy into your relationship, then chances are that you are not that interested in this guy. Or at least not as much as he is into you. Think about it. Before he even calls you up to set up a date, he’s already got a number of a babysitter or called his ex to see if she can watch the kid. He’s done a multitude of Dad duties before he can even think of spending time with you.

All these things are part of the price of admission. As Dan Savage says, it’s the cost to ride the ride. Whether two tickets or twenty minutes arranging schedules, these are the costs to date him. And make no mistake, these are not the kinds of things that will eventually just go away. If he’s around your age, his kid is probably relatively young, and no one’s headed off to college in the near future. So if you’re gonna date him, get used to the dad-and-kid combo date and agonizing over your datebooks. But if you’re more concerned over the time you “expend” arranging time to spend together than what this guy’s feelings are for you… then I think you might have answered your own question.

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