How ‘Marketable’ Are Single Fathers?

With Father’s Day approaching, I thought it prudent to ask “How marketable are single dads in the dating world?” or “What is their Dating Quotient?” (DQ)

The answer is “that depends.”

Before I explain what “that depends” means, I have to mention that single fathers tend to be even more oblivious than most men in terms of comprehending where they stand in the dating scene. Since single fathers were married (or in a relationship) long enough to produce a child, their decision to start dating (usually following a divorce or the death of a spouse) often comes after years “on the sidelines.” Often the actual decision to begin the search for a new relationship comes after months (or sometimes even years) of deliberation.

So how marketable is a single dad? There are two primary variables that go into determining his DQ: his age and whether he is inclined to have more children.

At LunchDates, the dating service I ran for 23 years, single fathers under the age of 30 were very difficult to match, IF they wanted to meet women in their 20s. The unfortunate reality for these guys is that many younger single women today are intensely pursuing careers. Most eventually want their own children, and they have little interest in becoming stepmothers at this stage of their life.

Of course we could have matched younger single dads with younger single moms, but relatively few of the latter have the time, energy, or “wherewithal” to join a personal dating service or even to try an online one.

When I interviewed a single father in his 20s, I usually tried to persuade him to meet slightly older women. If he were willing, his DQ would immediately and dramatically rise. But if he insisted on meeting younger women, I would have to caution him to be very patient.

Of course there are many more single and divorced women with children in their 30s and 40s, so there is a much larger pool of available women for single dads as they age. Basically the older a single father is, the easier he is to match.

Somewhere in the mid to late 30s having a child actually turns from a minus (in terms of one’s DQ) to a plus for men! Most women over 35 who are looking to meet men in the late-30s to the mid-50s reach the point where they strongly prefer meeting previously married men.

These women believe that if a man is in his 40s (or older) and has never been married “there is probably something wrong with him.” (In many, but not all, cases they are right.) And, of course, if a man is over 40 and previously married, there is a good chance he has already fathered a child or two.

That leads to the other important criteria in determining the DQ of a single dad: whether he is willing to have more children. Let me offer the following examples of three single fathers:

• Man A — (Call him Andrew.) Andrew is over 40, divorced, and already has one or two children. He says he loves kids, and he is flexible about meeting women with children, having more children, or even adopting children. Andrew is also willing to meet women a few years younger or older than him. (The willingness to adopt is considered a major plus, especially by childless women over 40.) Andrew has a very high DQ and is very much in demand. Whether he joins a personal dating service, an online one, or just puts out the word that he is now ready to start dating, his chances of meeting someone are extremely high. This guy is a “catch,” and it matters little how tall he is, how handsome he is, or even how much money he earns. Actually, in 2009, if he maintains a positive attitude, has some money saved, and perhaps owns his own home, he still has a high DQ, even if he is between jobs or working only part time.

• Man B — (Call him Bob.) Like Andrew, Bob is over 40, divorced, and already has children. Bob strongly prefers meeting a woman in her early to mid 30s. He is open to having more children, but it is not a major priority for him, and he definitely is not interested in adopting a child. He is willing to meet a woman with children, as long as she is in his preferred age range (that is, considerably younger than him). There are a lot of “Bob’s” out there, and his chances of meeting a woman in the dating world are only fair. And if Bob’s career is not flourishing, his DQ drops significantly.

• Man C — (Call him Carl, and unfortunately I really did meet and interview quite a number of “Carls.”) Like Andrew and Bob, Carl is over 40, divorced, and has one or two children. Carl is certain he does not want any more children and he would not even consider adopting a child. He also does not want to be bothered meeting any women with children, and he really prefers meeting women under 35. Carl joins dating services, places ads online, goes to singles functions, and very rarely connects with a woman, once he explains his situation and preferences. Basically, narcissistic Carl has a VERY low DQ. What is most ironic is that Carl also has no idea why he is so unsuccessful in his efforts to meet a woman or sustain a relationship. Even if his career is prospering, he still has a low DQ.

Overall, the highest percentages of people who joined my dating service and met someone were, in fact, divorced or widowed moms and dads. That is because we often (when allowed) matched up single mothers with single fathers.

And very often they clicked. After all, they had the most in common, having shared the triumphs and tragedies of parenthood. Just by having children and then going through a divorce and/or the death of a spouse, they had experienced similar highs and lows.

It is hoped that many of these single dads are now in happy relationships, perhaps remarried, or perhaps not. But here’s hoping they will have a happy Father’s Day.

It is too bad that the Carls of this world probably won’t.

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