My fiance and I started dating four years ago when his son was just two years old. I won’t lie — it was a bit of an adjustment for all of us. On our first date, he asked me if I thought it was strange that I was out drinking with a dude that had a kid, and I was honest with him and said yes. This was a first for me, and I had a lot of learning to do.
My misconceptions were wrong. Every single-parent household has a different backstory, and I won’t lie: I had some negative assumptions. I generally thought people that had children out of wedlock were irresponsible and that couples should try harder to stick together for the kids. I can’t help but laugh about that now. It’s no one’s business what two people decide to do when they find out about a pregnancy, and the best thing for a child is two happy parents, even if they aren’t together.
I need to give my dad way more credit. When I started getting serious with my now-fiance, I was really nervous about what my family would think. My mom was totally cool with it, but my dad is generally a pretty socially conservative guy, and I wasn’t sure he would give my new boyfriend a chance. I went for a nice walk with my dad and opened up to him about my feelings. He just smiled and said any man that can be a good father must be a decent guy.
It’s okay to put myself first sometimes. I got a lot of advice when my fiance and I started dating — well, more warnings than advice. People told me I would always come last and there would always be “another woman” in the picture. I haven’t found this to be the case in my situation at all. My guy is a dedicated father, but he’s also totally dedicated to me. I made it clear from the beginning that I understood his situation, but he’d have to put in the extra hours if he wanted to keep me around.
My decision about having children of my own is much easier. Having my fiance’s mini-me in my life for the past four years has been fun, frustrating, rewarding, and impossible at times. I feel very fortunate that I get to experience watching my fiance father a child before we even determine if that’s the right decision for us as a couple. As of now, I’m not sure I want to dedicate my life to having a family. I’m perfectly content with the one we have now.
His friends are here to stay. My fiance was very young when he found out he was going to have a son. He wasn’t prepared for it, but he made the best of the situation. Some of his friends dropped out of his life, but some of them were right there as he experienced milestones most 22-year-olds don’t reach. Because of that, they’re a big presence in our life. At first I found them to be a little intimidating. His friends are solid, protective, and made it very clear that they were “keeping their eyes on me.” Luckily, I passed the test and I’m proud to say we’re all very good friends now.
Family members can be cruel. Dating a guy with a kid opened my eyes to a lot of things in the beginning, specifically what can happen to close relationships when someone does something that society deems inappropriate or “out of order.” I was amazed by some of the stories he told me about family members that turned their backs on him and spread hurtful gossip.
I’m good with boundaries. Over time, I learned my place in relation to my fiance and his son. Obviously, I’m not his biological parent, so serious stuff falls to my partner. I’ve learned to mind my own business when it comes to certain situations and to be secure enough in my relationship to know my fiance can handle things without my input.
People still don’t know how to broach the subject. When I meet someone for the first time and they eventually find out I’m getting married to a man that has a son, I can practically feel the curiosity emanating from them. The funny thing is, people are rarely up-front with me about the questions they obviously want to ask. I’m more than happy to share my experience with anyone who is curious and I don’t find it offensive in the least bit!
Honesty is key. Dating a guy with a young child isn’t always a walk in the park. I had to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to move to another state with my fiancee, I might not be able to afford to attend every activity my child-free friends participate in, and I’ll always have to check with someone else before planning a weekend getaway. All of that is easy to overcome as long as everyone involved is willing to be honest and open. So far, it’s worked out for me, and I’d recommend to anyone that has a little extra love in her heart to consider giving the single father a chance.
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