How to Approach the Dating Game When You Have Kids

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Once Andrew* found himself suddenly single after the end of his 11-year marriage, he’s been pleasantly surprised at his return to the world of dating.

Soon after separating about 12 months ago, the father-of-two began checking out dating sites. Rather than wanting to plunge straight into something new, he says he was mainly curious, and wanted to know what to expect when he was ready.

But romance, at least of the short-term kind, came quicker than expected when Andrew found himself on a nerve-filled first date organised via Tinder.

“This girl was gorgeous, she was a stunner. I probably thought she was out of my league,” says Andrew.


Still living with his ex-partner and children at the time, Andrew says he sometimes snuck out in the evenings to meet dates, as he made the most of his return to single life. “The first six months I wasn’t really looking for a future partner, I was just making up for a dry spell,” he admits.

He says that juggling the needs of his children and potential love interests hasn’t been a huge challenge so far. Having shared custody of his children – a week on, a week off – has meant that dates have been spaced out accordingly.

“(But) I feel like when you’re seeing someone new, a week between catch-ups is fine. Everyone is busy – they’ve got their own stuff on,” he says.


However Andrew has now entered into a more serious romance, and is considering introducing his partner to his primary school-aged children shortly. It will be the first time he’s done so.

“I don’t want to introduce my kids to anyone who I don’t think is potentially long-term,” he says.

He’s given some thought to the introduction, which may take place in a low-key café, “rather than having a homeground advantage”.

Andrew’s new partner hasn’t had kids yet, and is in her mid-30s. “I don’t know where I’m at in terms of going there again. But she’s known going into this that I’m undecided about that.”


With so many separated parents rejoining the dating pool, online dating coach Bettina Arndt says mistakes are often made.

For starters, she says adding photos of your children to sites such as RSVP, or apps such as Tinder, is “totally inappropriate”.

“It’s a dating site – it’s not about showing off your family. It’s one of the great no-nos.”

She says that many promising relationships can peter out after three or four months, so it pays to wait a while before introducing your new squeeze to the family.

“I strongly believe it’s far better to keep dates completely separate from your family life until it becomes a serious relationship – and even then you need to proceed carefully,” says Arndt.

“It’s just not fair to introduce children to a passing parade of strangers who may or may not have any real part in their lives. For little kids in particular, that’s very confusing.”


Arndt says it’s also crucial to let your kids know that they are always top priority, and that also means not ditching their football match or school concert for a hot date.

She says it’s also a bad idea to have your new partner stay over early in the piece while your kids are home.

Professional matchmaker Yvonne Allen says it’s important to remember that circumstances can vary greatly in each romance, and family set-up.

“Of course children can be at very different ages and stages. There can be children who are very protective of their parents,” she says.


Allen says while it’s exciting to embark on a new romance, it’s also important to remember that your relationship will affect others too.

For this reason, she strongly recommends the go-slow approach.

“So much happens on the web or whatever, that it’s ‘is it on or not on?’ instead of ‘let’s look at how we develop a friendship’,” says Allen.

“Instant chemistry is illusory because when the hormones settle, there’s a whole sense of ‘I don’t love you anymore’.”

While blended families come with plenty of challenges, Allen says there is also a huge potential for joy. And of course usually there’s more than enough love to go around.

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