There's no rule, but six months after divorce is a safe bet. If you like to party a lot, or insist on leisurely Sunday brunch, or if you'll feel slighted to not be included in everything, save everyone heartache and don't date a dad.— A. I receive lots of emails from women, many without children, asking questions about dating single dads.As a single dad wading back into the dating pool, Daniel Ruyter was surprised how many women lost interest when he revealed, always in the first conversation, that he had a son."At first I took it personally," said the Orlando, Fla., information technology analyst, who was 32 when he divorced and got joint custody of his then 5-year-old son."I found it very arbitrary that before they got to know me, they had decided against me."But as Ruyter cycled through "close to 100" first dates and a few long-term girlfriends (a scheduling feat, considering half his week was devoted to his son), his romantic standards heightened in ways they may not have pre-fatherhood.Brott's children were "furious" at him, he said, when he broke off a two-year relationship without consulting them first.The moral, he said: Keep everyone's expectations low.They may just be hurt and angry that their parents' relationship is over, in which case they may need counseling, she said.
"I think sometimes the women I dated didn't realize that single dads still have parenting obligations that, for me, came first," said Ruyter, now 36, who maintains the blog "Memoirs of a Single Dad" (memoirsofasingledad.com) and recently self-published the book "Memoirs of a Dating Dad."Changing landscape As fathers grow more engaged in child rearing, and courts more willing to grant them custody, single dads increasingly are dating with kids in tow — in heart if not in hand.Sometimes the kids will love a new girlfriend until she moves in or you get engaged, because you've dashed their hope that their parents will get back together.But they may also become attached to her, which creates different challenges.Single moms, in contrast, preferred dating men without kids to reduce complications.Single fathers have a tendency, more than single moms, to "feel incomplete" without a partner in the house, so they risk rushing into a new relationship that may not be right, said single dad Armin Brott, author of several books on fatherhood including "The Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting Without a Partner" (Abbeville).