Dads who date

Dads who date (Jose Luis Pelaez/Stone photo, Getty Images / June 4, 2012)

Fatherly advice for anyone dating a guy with kids

Dating a single dad has its perks. He's often more responsible and less selfish than his child-free counterparts, said Christie Hartman, a research psychologist, dating coach and author of "Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide If He's Right for You" (Adams Media). And you have an excuse to see animated movies.

But it also comes with complications. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when your love interest has kids, according to Hartman:

Go slow and leave it up to him to decide it's time to introduce you to the kids, which shouldn't happen until you're moving toward a committed relationship.

Be realistic about his parenting duties and the limits those place on his time and financial freedom. Impromptu weekend trips to the mountains may not be happening.

Once you are in a more serious relationship, allow him to have alone time with his children. They need to bond, and it helps them see you're not taking him away.

Be wary if he doesn't have your back against disrespectful kids. While it's understandable that kids might be hostile at first, you don't want a weak-willed partner who doesn't stand up for you (or himself).

Be wary if he's prioritizing your relationship over his kids. They'll resent him and you, and do you really want to be with someone who isn't a dedicated father?

Be wary if he hasn't introduced you to his kids well into a serious relationship. Compartmentalizing his life might mean he's not ready to move forward. Bring it up nonconfrontationally.

Don't try too hard to make the kids love you. Be a cool friend and show interest in their lives, but give them space, and don't step on their mom's toes.

Consider whether you want kids of your own. Sometime after you've established that it's a serious relationship but before you're madly in love is the sweet spot for asking if he wants more kids. If he says he doesn't, don't expect to change his mind.

If you're looking for a relationship, it's generally best not to date a dad who is still separated because usually he's not finished grieving. There's no rule, but six months after divorce is a safe bet.

Know yourself. 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.E.R.