New Relationships: What a new girlfriend needs

Just because you’re a single dad doesn’t mean you have to be single. But dating again after a relationship break down can be tricky for all concerned – especially your kids. Dan Roberts looks into how to help them accept a new woman in their life...

Young woman reading a book.

Having been a single dad for nine years, I know only too well how tricky it can be to combine a rewarding love life with the needs of your children. It’s only natural that, after a healthy period of mourning for your old relationship, you should start dating again. 

It’s also natural that your kids should find this difficult, perhaps resenting new girlfriends because they’re not their mum; that the new girlfriends should have some issues about taking on a man with kids and an ex; and that your child's mother should worry about new women entering her children’s life. 

In short, it’s a potential minefield. To help you negotiate it safely, I asked Relate counsellor Mo Kurimbokus for advice – and spoke to some single dads to see how they juggle kids, new partners and their child's mum. 

WHAT A GIRLFRIEND NEEDS

The last person who may struggle with this situation is your new partner, especially if she doesn’t have kids herself. "If your relationship is really solid, the fact that you have kids needn’t be a problem," advises Mo. "Some women may accept them easily and treat them as their own." 

"For others it may be more difficult, depending on the issues they have – they might want a man who gives them all his attention, not one they have to share with his kids." 

  • Be honest with any potential new partners about your situation. Without trying to put them off, make it clear how important your kids are to you and how much time you spend with them. That way they are entering the relationship with their eyes open.
  • Don’t expect her to plunge straight into a hands-on parenting role. If she doesn’t have much experience of kids, that can be daunting. Take it slowly, perhaps starting with an hour in the park, then gradually build the time she spends with them. 

A DAD'S STORY

"I’ve seen a few women since I split from my long-term partner. Some have been fine with the situation but one really hated it – she said she couldn’t share me with my kids, so we broke up. Then my kids got really attached to another one, so it was rough on them when we split." 

"Basically, I always put my kids first, so anyone who takes me on gets them too. I think that is hard for a lot of women, but my kids are a much bigger priority for me than a girlfriend." - John Davies

New Relationships continued...

New Relationships: What your child's mum needs

New Relationships: What your kids need

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Comments

  • Guest
    Sue Guyatt Monday, 25 September 2017

    Disillusioned new girlfriend

    I appeal to all Dads about to begin dating after separation from their child(s) mother. It was for me, as a new girlfriend of a separated father, a rollercoaster of emotional challenges, ranging from the highs of sharing father/child experiences through the trauma of the father suffering denied contact to the personal gut-wrenching abandonment of me to "keep the mother happy." Please don't use your new girlfriend as your comfort blanket to alleviate your own feelings of loss. Care for her feelings too.

  • Guest
    Martyn Newbold Friday, 13 October 2017

    New Girlfriend wants changes

    Evening,

    I have now been with my partner for 7months and very quickly we got very close and it felt like an instant connection. Before we met she was aware i had a little girl of 2yrs old so i was honest from the start with her.
    After a few months i felt that maybe she should meet my little girl but didnt exactly go the way i think she expected as my daughter is very shy and she cried a lot. Ever since that day it has been a whole load of issues and almost like she gave up at 1st hurdle. I have tried on 5 furthet occasions to connect them but my partner isnt interested and i now feel its like im having to juggle who i speak to 1st and generally feel very uncomfortable about it all. My arrangement with my daughters mother is i see my daughter once a week on a Sunday, yes as a proud loving dad i would see her every day if i could but that is the condition and i will stick to that till it changes. The big problem i have now is that my partner wants me to reduce that time down to 3times a month so she can spend more time with me. I love both of them i really do but i dont want to lose anytime with either of them and now im stuck in a rut. I offered to amend a sunday to a Thursday to help but no she wants weekends not just a saturday. Has anyone ever had a problem like this and if so can you give me an opinion please?

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Guest Monday, 12 November 2018

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