If you don’t have kids of your own, the thought of dating someone who has a child (or two or three) can seem intimidating but if you initiate the relationship with an open mind, dating a person with children can be a really rewarding experience ― and lots of fun, too.
Zoosk talked to marriage and family therapist, Erica Curtis, about what dating someone with kids entails and how to prepare yourself for the ride. Here are the most important tips:
1. Realize you’ll never be #1. First and foremost, before you start dating someone with kids, realize that you will never be that person’s number one priority. For some, the idea of not being number one is just inconceivable, so if you’re one of those people, then you’re probably a better match for someone who doesn’t have children. But, if you can accept the fact that there will always be someone else who comes first, then you’ll be a-okay.
2. Leave your expectations at the door. As Curtis explains, it’s paramount that you leave your expectations and assumptions at the door. “Whether you expect the best, or the worst, or fall somewhere in between, kids will undoubtedly surprise you. When we are too attached to our own expectations, at best we may feel frustrated, and at worst we may fail to see what the child really needs.”
3. Take it slow and be flexible. Of course, if you’re dating someone with children, you’re going to take it slow, but once you’ve both agreed that you’re ready to be introduced to the apples of their eye, you need to slow up even more and be open for whatever comes next.
“Depending on many factors (age of the child, the emotional life of the child, how long you’ve been dating, how long the parents have been apart, specifics surrounding the separation, etc.), children may respond very differently to being introduced to a new significant someone, and responses may even fluctuate from day to day. Take initiative but take it slow. Try not to personalize difficulties. Be flexible. Adjust accordingly,” says Curtis.
3. Remember this is a learning experience. Even if the person you’re dating has been dating for a while, each person they introduce to their kids opens another opportunity to learn. Curtis says to never forget that this is a learning experience for everyone: “As much as possible embrace the present moment, the rewarding moments and the challenging ones, with compassion for yourself, your partner, and the children.”