Hopping on the Merry-Go-Round
Dating someone with kids when you don't have any, whether you want them or not, can be like opening the door to a whole new universe.
You probably suspect this already, but parenting is not for the weak of heart. Single Parenting is at least ten-fold this challenge, so as the dating partner of a single parent, keep in mind that your boyfriend/girlfriend has an extra layer of stress that child-free adults don't have. Since some people handle stress better than others, the way that this stress impacts your relationship primarily depends on your dating partner, but your behavior can also have an impact.
Helpful Things for the Child-Free Dating Partner to Know:
1. Your dating partner is probably more than ready for some adult time. This is awesome news for you, because it means that he/she will be very into and protective of your date time. Ain't nobody messing with my date time!
2. Your date probably won't introduce you for a while (if they have their head screwed on straight) because after a divorce, kids are pretty sensitive about having a parent date someone other than their other parent. That's not to say that you wouldn't hit it off--but there's an "eh" way and a best way to introduce this issue. One of the good thing about waiting is that it allows everyone to get used to the whole idea, and for you to be able to learn some stuff about the kid(s) from your date.
3. We'd be lying if we said that the munchkins didn't come first, when push comes to shove. It doesn't happen that often, but kids do get sick, and recitals and school events sometimes collide with that concert you're dying to take your date to.
4. Once you've met the offspring, do not--REPEAT--do not, criticize the little buggers. This would be a mistake. Even though we parents occasionally rag about our kids, we are ridiculously protective and sensitive of them if anyone else dares to cast judgement.
5. Allow your date to parent her/his own kids. Even though you think it would make your date feel better to assist with any necessary discipline, it's not your job. Your job at this point is simple: enjoy and your dating partner and be a friendly adult visitor to the kids. You can ask your honey if there is anything you could do to support them if they're going through a rough situation, but let them take the lead.
6. Understand that if you're dating someone with kids, it may take them a few minutes to decompress after arriving for your date or meeting you. Cocktails and a hug work wonders, or put on some nice music and give them a minute to recalibrate.
7. Most men and women who have had children tend to know themselves better, are more patient, and less apt to sweat the small stuff. And they are very appreciative of your grown up attention.
8. Don't be surprised if your dating partner's friends all have kids and their eyes glaze over when they hear you aren't a parent. You can get their attention back real quickly if you let it drop that you just came back from an impromptu long weekend in Mexico. Bam!