How Can You Be in a Relationship With Someone Who Has a Kid?

Dating someone with a kid can be very different from the typical dating scene you’re used to. For them, their priorities will be quite different than yours, so how can you be in a relationship with someone who has a kid?

Here’s how you can be in a relationship with someone who has a kid:

  1. Assess yourself.
  2. Be understanding and patient.
  3. Don’t get jealous.
  4. Avoid previous mistakes.
  5. Help out where you can.
  6. Plan ahead.
  7. Respect their boundaries.
  8. Understand that you might not be their priority.
  9. Let them set the pace.
  10. Be a friend, not a parent.
  11. Include their kid in your plans.
  12. Set personal boundaries and rules.
  13. Communicate your needs.
  14. Know when to walk away.

This list is far from exhaustive, and some things will be unique to your situation only. Regardless, this is a good starting point to learn how to manage a relationship with someone who has a child. Keep reading to find out more!

1. Assess Yourself

Before you start to look outwards to figure out what you need to learn, you first need to look inwards and decide if this is a responsibility you’re willing to take on. Dating someone with a kid can be a massive responsibility, even if they don’t introduce you to their child.

Since they have different priorities and motivations, they might handle relationships differently than you might expect. Some people choose to date only casually to keep their kids as the only priority in their lives.

On the other hand, some people date much more seriously than others since they look at dates as prospective partners who will be in close contact with their kids. People like this are warmer toward you than others, and you’ll have to adjust for this.

Regardless of the parent’s motivation, you’ll have to be prepared to handle a lot more responsibility than you might otherwise. At this point, you’ll have to be honest with yourself. Are you sure you’re ready for the responsibility?

If you are, then it’s fine to proceed. But if you aren’t, you may want to consider walking away before the relationship gets more serious. It’s worth discussing this with your partner and having an honest discussion about the path forward.

2. Be Understanding and Patient

One of the first things you’ll have to learn when dating someone with a kid is that being understanding is key. With understanding comes patience, and both are extremely important to handle the relationship properly.

There’ll be canceled plans and frustration sometimes. Rather than react badly, it’s much better to understand that their child has to take precedence.

With a single parent, the problem might not always be wanting the best for their kids. Bad relationships, marriages, and previous encounters can also play a part in any reluctance on their part, so being patient and giving them time to dispel their misgivings will go a long way.

3. Don’t Get Jealous

No one gives birth alone. Every child has two parents, so if the other parent is still in the child’s life, you must be okay with that. This isn’t the time to get jealous and try to replace them. Regardless of how you feel about the other parent, choosing who has access to their child falls to your partner, not you.

There might be times when you’ll have to make joint decisions or maneuver a situation together, and it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re fine with having the other parent in the picture.

4. Avoid Previous Mistakes

Your partner may have dated people before you. However, if you’re there, it’s clear that they didn’t work out. Talking about the past can be hard, and many people avoid it, but listen and learn if they choose to share that with you.

Look out for things they didn’t like that led to the end of the previous relationship, and do your best to avoid them going forward. At the same time, some people just don’t like to speak about the past, which is fine. Be patient and allow them to speak about it in their own time or not at all.

5. Help Out Where You Can

Acts of service are one of the best ways to express yourself to someone you love. Gifts and intimacy have their place, too but showing someone you care by taking some of the load off their shoulders is a very good way to help them.

Navigating life is difficult enough before you add a kid into the equation. Once children are involved, they can take up so much of your time that you barely have any more for yourself. Helping your partner with a few things that might clear up sometime will give them more breathing room.

The good thing about this is that you can even use that free time to plan an activity together! That said, don’t help just because you want some alone time. It should be a benefit, not a goal.

6. Plan Ahead

Planning your days is one of the best ways to stay organized even outside of a relationship. When dating someone with a child, it can be the difference between failed activities and successful ones.

For example, if you’d like to take them out on a date, it’s important to let them know a day or two in advance so they can plan around it. With a child in the mix, they might need to make provisions for babysitters and feeding to make it, and these need to be sorted out in advance.

7. Respect Their Boundaries

Not every single parent will be fine with you around their kid. In fact, many of them choose not to introduce the people they’re dating to their kids until the relationship gets a lot more serious. The reasons vary, but the choice is theirs to make, and you have to respect that.

Along with this, other boundaries might crop up related to their child. They might not be available on specific nights or want to bring you back home after a date, preferring to go to your place instead.

There are no definite universal rules, so the best way to figure it out is to have honest conversations about boundaries. Boundaries are a healthy way to maintain your own space and lifestyle while navigating a relationship.

8. Understand That You Might Not Be Their Priority

For most parents, their children are the center of their universe regardless of whether they’re in a relationship. If you’ve only dated people without children previously, this can be a shocking change to get used to.

However, once kids get involved, soccer games, band practice, and school runs can take up a lot of time, leaving you feeling neglected. While it’s natural to feel this way, it’s a situation you’ll have to understand and make allowance for. 

Raising a child is a big task, and most people can’t center other people in their lives while doing it. Rather than letting it affect your relationship, look at it as an opportunity to help out when you can and make the day a little easier for your partner.

9. Let Them Set the Pace

You’d never let anyone dictate everything that happens in a  relationship. However, if you’re dating a single parent, it’s important to try your best not to rush them into decisions, especially heavy ones.

It can be frustrating if the relationship progresses slower than you’d like but letting them set the pace is a good way to gain trust and show that you understand. It will also give them the time and comfort to adjust to the new changes in their lives and yours.

Part of allowing your partner to set the pace is also being understanding about how quickly or slowly they allow you to meet their child. Try as much as possible not to force a meeting. Allow them to do it when they’re ready.

Of course, if you’re not happy with the relationship’s direction, you can always have a conversation about it. Understanding should go both ways so communicating how you’re feeling about the state of the relationship is important.

10. Be a Friend, Not a Parent

When you finally meet the child, you need to understand that you are not their parent. While you might get there eventually, you’re not there yet, and it’s important to act accordingly. Instead of trying to be their parent, first, be a friend and role model.

Substitute orders for conversations and guidance. It’s a lot easier to know more about someone when you’re being a friend instead of handing out orders. Understand that there’s an established dynamic between the child and their parents. You’re a friend to them, not a replacement father or mother.

11. Include Their Kid in Your Plans

It might not always be possible but try to include the child in your plans from time to time. Plan a trip to the park or a walk by the lake and ask if they’d be fine with their child coming along. It’s important to get permission first from your partner to ensure they’re okay with the arrangement.

Once you get a positive response, present the idea to the child too and ask if they would be interested. This step is particularly important as it’s sometimes easy to assume the child would be interested.

When planning activities, you should always remember to plan what the child would enjoy, not what you think is fun. Skipping his rule can quickly turn what should have been a fun day out into a sullen, awkward encounter.

12. Set Personal Boundaries and Rules

It can be overwhelming trying to navigate a relationship with both a parent and their child simultaneously. It’s fine to be overwhelmed, but letting that lead to problems isn’t fine. Rather, set personal boundaries and rules to make sure that you keep yourself safe emotionally and mentally while dating.

There’s no hard and fast rule for boundaries, but the first step is usually being honest with yourself and your partner. If you’re uncomfortable with how things are, speak about it and establish boundaries that you’re comfortable with.

Boundaries come in many forms, and one of them might be you not being ready to meet the child of the person you’re dating. If this happens, communicate this with them so they can tell you how they feel about it.

This issue can understandably be a deal-breaker for some people, but others might also be more lenient and give you time. Regardless, it’s best to talk about it first rather than ignore the problem.

13. Communicate Your Needs

I touched on it earlier, but I’d like to reiterate that communicating your needs should always be important to you. It can be easy to slip from being there for your partner to harming yourself by trying to ignore your needs. As necessary as it might sometimes seem to keep your needs on the back burner when there are other things to consider, it’s not sustainable.

While your needs can’t always come first, they’d also not come last all the time. You’ll eventually start to feel resentful and unheard in the relationship. When this happens, the relationship could develop significant problems.

Rather than allowing things to get that bad, be proactive. Try to keep an open communication channel as much as possible so that your needs are always being heard.

14. Know When To Walk Away

If you ever get to a point where you’re no longer happy or satisfied in the relationship, it might be time to walk away. Take a moment to self-assess and be honest with yourself. Do you see the relationship going forward? Are you ready to take things further?

Ask yourself difficult questions and answer them honestly. If you eventually feel like the relationship has run its course, you need to have an open conversation with your partner. Tell them how you’re feeling and let them know that you’d like to separate.

Breakups are hard. However, they are necessary. No matter how much you prepare or try, you might just not be able to handle a relationship with someone that has a child, and that’s fine. You must communicate this rather than dragging it out.

The longer you stay there, the more time you give the kid and their parents to get used to you, and this can make it hurt more if you choose to walk away.

Key Takeaways

Dating someone with a child is a lot different and requires you to be mature and patient to handle it properly. Before getting into it, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re ready to handle everything that comes with it.

When dating a single parent, always consider their child and what they need. Sometimes, you have to step back and understand that the kid takes precedence. Other times, you might need to step in to help.

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I am a father and blogger and recently divorced. I love spending time with my 3 daughters and am still learning how to navigate life as a single dad and ex-husband; a life I didn't choose but have accepted.

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