Soap operas, Novelas, Dramas – call them what you want they strike a chord. I don’t watch them very often but when I do it’s because the story is so compelling I can’t put it down. One thing you may not realize about me is that I am a big sucker for South Korean dramas. Not to lump a whole race into some kind of stereotype but for some reason they know how to weave a story. I cry all the time when I’m watching a Korean drama. This particular one is an oldie. Translated into English it’s called Single Dad in Love. I wish I could get these subtitled in digital or video format. The Synopsis of the story is:
The love story of a single dad, Kang Poong Ho, who raises his 7 year old son alone after being abandoned by his first love, Yoon So Yi. By day he works as a pest exterminator and by night he is a martial artist. Jeon Ha Ri, is a medical student from a wealthy family who falls for Poong Ho. She secretly teaches Poong Ho’s son, San, how to play the piano. Poong Ho’s first love is also his son’s mother who is a cold and proud woman who left her family to study abroad as a pianist. She was sponsored by Jeon Ki Suk who happens to be her fiancée and Ha Ri’s father.
By Day, a pest exterminator, by Night, a Mixed Martial Artist. – That part makes me laugh because us women should be ashamed of ourselves that we are so easily swayed by some sweaty ripped muscles. Anyway I digress.
I’m currently enamored by a single dad who works with his hands by day and washes loads of his kid’s laundry by night. I can’t imagine Kang Poong Ho in the above drama having time for laundry with all that martial arts training he’s doing at night. The single dad I’m dating I call Ironman. He has primary custody of his children between the ages of 2 and 15. Whenever somebod asks what I like about him, the first thing on the list of things I say is that “from what I’ve seen, he is a very good dad.”
The Symbol of the Single Dad
Dating a single dad that has primary custody of his children is a unique experience and provides a rare glimpse for single mothers to observe what it must be like for anyone to date a single mom today. Single dads with primary custody used to be rare but nowadays it’s becoming more and more acceptable and more prevalent. I think it’s unfortunate that we stereotype single dads as either deadbeat dads or barely involved parents. From my own dating experiences I have had the opportunity to meet many single dads who have 50/50 custody or who have primary custody of their children. On the many nights that Ironman and I are on the phone together, there isn’t a shortage of “demands” from the kids and constant reminders to go to bed. It’s the same at my house. It almost feels like there is a real sense of empathy for my life in dating Ironman since we tend to have experienced the same things as parents and divorcees. It helps that we are flexible when it comes to dating in Dallas.
Benefits to dating a single dad with primary custody
They are busy – They live their own lives and they have to manage a household, kids, chores and themselves. They don’t constantly need your attention and have a great understanding of why your time is limited. This also means that if they can carve out time for you, that means you are pretty special to them.
Their visitation schedule is similar to most single moms – If they have a visitation schedule, it’s pretty much in line with yours as a single mom if you have primary custody. In Texas, standard visitation is that the non-custodial parent has the 1st/3rd and 5th weekend and 30 – 42 days in the summer. So on dates that you are available, they are also available. Single moms may take summer vacations while the kids are away as well as single dads.
They are actively involved in their kid’s lives – I’m not saying that non-custodial parents aren’t involved but as the custodial dad they are naturally more involved. This is a no brainer since they are taking care of the school activities, the doctor appointments and the extracurricular activities so they are more involved and knowledgeable about what’s going on in their kid’s lives. They have things to talk about with you related to the kids and it’s easy to relate on that level along with balancing careers and hobbies. Another thing I admire is that he actively encourages the kids spend time with their mom and even try to do things together such as have birthday parties together or attend school events together. This reminds me of an article put out by a firm in Florida that talked about a topic called parental alienation. Directly from the article they warn parents,
“While you may not like what we’re about to suggest, it helps to consider it. You cannot keep your child completely away from your spouse; you must respect his/her right to be a parent. Your spouse may have been a terrible marital partner, but may have it in him or her to be a loving father/mother. By discounting this possibility, you deprive your child of love, care and guidance.”
You can read the rest of their article about child custody law for more information.
Their struggle is similar – They can empathize with you as a single mom or parent struggling to either make ends meet or have some resemblance of a life.
There are also some things to consider when dating a single dad that has primary custody because it can be challenging. Time is a precious commodity in their lives and being able to set healthy boundaries and communicate well are going to be key in making this kind of dating relationship work. For single dads that are custodial parents, their time is limited along with their money and resources. Flexibility is important. Here are some things to consider:
They are not casual daters – Many of these kinds of single dads are not “casual daters.” They’ve gotten wiser, have been through marriage or a long term relationship and with kids just have too much at stake. Their bachelor pads are more like fun houses than a sex den. These single dads are typically not playing passive-aggressive games, they are not just in it for sex and they are looking for qualities that have long term potential. They have kids and so the possibility of crazy showing up on their doorstep or blowing up their phone typically means there is a chance kids might ask questions.
Brutal Honesty – When I first dated Ironman he advised me that it would be Dutch Treat. Basically I’d pay for myself. Knowing that he was a single dad with primary custody and may have limited funds I understood this reality right off the bat and had no problem with this kind of arrangement. Even now, I sometimes pay for things because it’s a good tradeoff and balance realizing his time is precious as well as mine. They also don’t like to waste anyone’s time. If the chemistry is not there they will let you know.
Careful thought and consideration – this is not a dating relationship that does anything fast. Nothing is rushed. Sex, commitment, meeting kids or even deciding on how to go to a party together requires both parties to have synchronization, communication, and patience. Ironman and I have not had intimate relations yet because we are determining things such as checking for STD’s, our feelings on pregnancy (between us we have 6 kids – I don’t want anymore) and birth control, monogamy and even feelings. I have not brought up about exclusive dating but the more I think about it, the more likely I will ask for that before we decide to have intimate relations with each other. That is new battleground for me. Yes, we are talking about feelings. If you can’t get to a point to talk about emotions and you are jumping right into it the intricacies and the little details of what you like and don’t like may not become apparent to either of you and then you are just staying with a person that is not the right fit for you.
They’ve been burned – they are carrying around baggage from the ghosts of relationships past. Their kids are daily reminders of that. I’ve been burned as well so I carry around my own baggage and build mini forts and landmines with my baggage sometimes. Also sometimes you will hear “ex” horror stories. The other day he had the kid’s laundry after they spent a weekend at their mom’s house. The dirty laundry came back with a pair of her bra and panties in it. I was made aware of this by Ironman as we had this 15 minute conversation about her underwear. Did I get jealous? No because whether it was intentionally put there or not, it was nothing to devote time to. The proverbial “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Dat!” So put up with what you want to put up with and be angry at legit things to be angry about.
My personal challenges in dating a single dad with primary custody
For me personally I have adjusted to this dating relationship well. We have gotten to a point where we’ve been honest about our sordid pasts that we can begin to not hold each other to them. That was a big deal and very difficult for me. I enjoy overhearing the background noise of the kids while he attempts to talk to me on the phone. We have spoken every day for the last month and we have seen each other at least once a week and have plans to spend more time together as summer visits start. We made our intentions clear that after 6 months we would revisit where we are and take a closer look. While that is not a hard and fast guideline it is an establishment of structure. It gives me something to look forward to. We are definitely not at a point where we are going to introduce children. That is the one topic that we hold the highest degree of importance as it should be. This is a lot of progress for me individually. Many times I have not gotten past date 1. The typical guy I have dated usually has older kids or kids arelady out of the house so Ironman doesn’t fit the profile of who I usually date. However I have found his personal experience with kids close to my own kid’s age to be one of his most attractive features and the thing that connects us.
What have you encountered when dating a single dad with primary custody? Are you a single dad with primary custody? How do you manage a personal life with full time dad responsibilities?