What It’s Like Dating A Dude With Kids When You Don’t Want Any

I don’t want kids. It’s not that I don’t like them, they’re just not for me. My sister has two and I have a few friends who have some, but it’s just not my scene. But despite this, I dated a man who had kids—two of them, to be exact—and it wasn’t just a lesson in patience, but a lesson in steering clear of guys with kids forever.

  1. You’ll never be a priority. If you’re someone who needs to be a priority at all times, never date a guy with kids. It’s not just that the kids will always be their number one priority, but everything involving them will be a priority too. Can’t go away for the weekend spur of the moment because someone has swim class and two birthdays! Can’t have a sleepover during school vacation because you moan too loud! Can’t hold hands because we don’t want to confuse her! Can’t talk right now because I need to talk my kid down from her breakdown over not being able to watch Frozen for the hundredth time this week! It’s annoying, to say the least.
  2. There will always be drama. Even if the guy and his ex are on the best of terms and she’s the loveliest human being on the planet, there will always be arguments about who’s supposed to have the kids when and for how long. And most of the time, that drama revolves around one parent trying to pawn the kids off on the other at the last minute, pleading that they need a break. What follows are arguments where one or both parents play the martyr.
  3. You’ll be sucked into that drama nine times out of 10. As much as I tried to keep my relationship separate from the drama that would occasionally arise, it was impossible. On more than a couple occasions, my partner and I would be packed and ready to head out of town for a few days and his ex would show up with his youngest daughter or call, begging him to take her. Although I stayed out of it and would go into the bedroom and shut the door behind me, I would inevitably hear my name being tossed around, as I was the one to blame for him not being able to take his daughter. It was messy and ugly and made his daughter less than thrilled to have me in her life, as I was clearly a source of turmoil.
  4. It bizarrely feels like a competition. Although there should never be a competition between a daughter and a man’s girlfriend because it’s obvious who would win if there were, it did sometimes feel like there was one. If I sat too close to him, she’d sit even closer. If I kissed him, after it was explained to her that we were getting married and it was serious, she’d climb up on his lap (she was five) and wrap herself around him, staring me down in a way that said, “He’s mine and I was here first.” I thought it was in my head, but even my partner admitted that it seemed that way, too.
  5. You’ll be forced to do things you don’t want to do. If your idea of hell on earth is watching a 60-minute-long play full of a bunch of 5-year-olds who don’t know which end is up or down running around in circles, then don’t date a guy with kids. You have no idea how much crap like that you’ll be forced to go to and when you politely decline, the drama that will follow. It’s safer to throw yourself in front of a bus to avoid such a thing than deal with your partner, the kid, and his ex all chastising you for not wanting to attend.
  6. You’ll try to buy their affection. When you don’t know how to relate to kids—and I don’t— you’ll resort to other means of trying to get them to like you. For me, that came in the form of gifts. When I was out with the younger one and she pointed out something she liked, I’d buy it for her. When I was out with the older one, who wasn’t much younger than me, we’d go to fancy restaurants and get the most expensive bottles of wine. I knew what I was doing and felt foolish, but it was the only way I thought I could get them to like me, since relating on a human level was impossible. Also, there was a bit of a language barrier there in that they’re French and my French leaves much to be desired.
  7. You unfairly blame the kids for things. There were so many times where things didn’t go as I hoped or plans fell apart because of my partner’s kids and/or issues with his ex that it just became easiest to blame the kids for everything. It definitely wasn’t right, and although I never vocally blamed them, choosing to just turn my back on situations than voice my thoughts, kids aren’t stupid; I’m sure my animosity was felt.
  8. You end up resenting the kids and your partner. Was it wrong of me, a woman who doesn’t want kids, to date someone who had two, then even marry him? Hell yeah, it was. It was very wrong and irresponsible of both him and me to think it could work but we still tried. And every time there was a kid-related fiasco, and there were many, I found myself seething and regretting the day I ever met him. I resented him for sweeping me off my feet, making me fall in love with him, then inconveniencing me with his kids—at least that’s how I saw it then. I see it differently now.
  9. You make lots of mistakes. To say I made mistakes, would be an understatement. I made a lot of mistakes when it came to being the girlfriend of a guy with two kids, then the wife of a guy with two kids. If we didn’t live half the year in New York and half in Paris, I would have made even more mistakes, but luckily for them and for me, we didn’t have to spend that much time with each other. And my husband, knowing how uncomfortable they made me, did his best to make the most of an awkward situation – a situation that, looking back, I wish I had never put him in, but I was too selfish in love to let him go.
  10. It will probably re-confirm your stance on not wanting kids. Actually, it won’t “probably” re-confirm your stance, it will definitely re-confirm it. Any modicum of desire that hid within me that secretly craved to have a child died during those three years. And it’s never coming back.
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.