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Meet the women who only date dads

Actress Nicole Faraday partly blames her career for her not having had children. ‘I always assumed I would have them one day,’ she says ‘But in my profession, you need to be free to travel at the drop of a hat and can spend months away filming. It isn’t conducive to starting a family.’

Nicole, 45, has had four serious relationships, one lasting a decade, but felt she was never in the right relationship at the right time for kids.

‘Yes, it crosses my mind that while I’d love to be a mum, I might have left it too late,’ she admits. ‘That’s why it would be nice to meet a man with children, if he and they were open for me to forge a relationship with them. I know I’d make a good stepmum.’

You could be forgiven for assuming that, at first glance, a love life revolving around a committed father and his children might have little appeal for attractive, single, career women. But Nicole is one of a growing number of childless women who see stepmotherhood as their last chance for a family.

As a growing number of childless women now see stepmotherhood as their last chance for a family, women who’ve dated single fathers share their experiences – including Nicole Faraday, 45, (pictured), who partly blames her career for her not having had children

Nearly one in five British women now reaches the age of 45 without having had their own children. And while for some that is a positive choice, for many others, missing out on motherhood can be a bitter disappointment.

Which means men who already have kids from a previous relationship have become like catnip on dating sites — to the point where some women will now only date fathers.

Nicole adds: ‘I would be very happy to welcome stepchildren into my life. I feel I’d be a good, positive influence and hopefully a fun, helpful stepmummy, too.’

But is this a healthy, pragmatic approach, or does it risk you beginning a relationship for the wrong reason?

Therapist Dr Sally Baker is cautiously positive, saying that as long as you haven’t been involved in the breakdown of a marriage, forging a relationship with a father — and his kids — can resolve a hankering to be a mother.

‘While I don’t think it should be the sole reason for going into a relationship, the upsides are endless,’ she says. ‘You get to enjoy the children’s company but still give them back at the end of the day. And you’re seen as a bonus because you aren’t replacing anyone; rather, you are bringing new energy into the family dynamic.’

Indeed, a recent survey by dating site Zoosk found that 83 per cent of single women are likely to date a single father.

Respondents viewed such men as emotionally mature, and it emerged that single dads receive 22 per cent more first messages than men without children.

Kelly Myers, 40, (pictured) from Sheffield, who was single for five years before meeting her partner four months ago, claims a single father is usually looking for a more serious partner

Kelly Myers, 40, (pictured) from Sheffield, who was single for five years before meeting her partner four months ago, claims a single father is usually looking for a more serious partner

No wonder, then, that since relocating from London back to her family home in Dorset, Nicole is looking at dating app profiles of men who are fathers.

‘Last year was a wipeout for dating,’ she says. ‘While I’d like to have kids, I know it is unlikely I will fall pregnant now. That’s why I am very open to the idea of meeting a man with children. I like the idea of being a stepmother.

‘As an actress and an aunt, I’ve found kids gravitate to me — I’m good at making up games and playing with them.

‘And if a man mentions his children in a dating profile or in conversation, it tends to make him seem more honest, responsible, caring and family-minded, as opposed to an absentee father who has kids but no interest in being a part of their lives. So it’s like an extra tick.

‘Dads are attractive propositions. It’s like a guy with a cute pet; cute kids work for me, too!’

For scientist Kelly Myers, the evidence of ten years of dating dads tells her it’s the single fathers swimming in the dating pool who are consistently a good bet.

Four months ago, she met her partner in what she describes as a ‘whirlwind’ romance.

Kelly, 40, had been single for the previous five years. Before that, she spent a decade navigating the online dating world in the hope of finding ‘the one’.

Relationship expert Dennie Smith, believes active fatherhood shows a man isn't selfish because he’s used to caring for someone other than himself (file image)

Relationship expert Dennie Smith, believes active fatherhood shows a man isn’t selfish because he’s used to caring for someone other than himself (file image)

‘In the past, because I prefer older men, I’d gone for the bachelor silver foxes — who, I discovered, have no intention of settling down. Then there are the commitment-phobes, who woo you but you never see again after three dates.

‘What I’ve discovered is that if they are a father and are actively involved in their children’s lives, then they are less inclined to mess you around, especially if they have daughters.

‘Dads on the singles scene tend to be old-fashioned true gents: they’ll open doors for you, call you when they say they will and don’t play games.’

Relationship expert Dennie Smith believes active fatherhood shows not only that a man is capable of a meaningful relationship but also that he isn’t selfish because he’s used to caring for someone other than himself.

And, she adds: ‘A single father isn’t just going to be focused on looks. He’s going to be focused on your character because he’s usually looking for a more serious partner, not a casual fling.’

Kelly, who lives in Sheffield, says: ‘I started dating men with kids in my early 20s and 30s. I was focused on my career in biomedical science and my thinking went that if they’ve got them already, they won’t want them from me. Single dads also tend to be more available and more understanding when it comes to my career.’

But she says one of the potential downfalls is that there will usually be a mother in the background.

Kelly (pictured) who started dating men with kids in her early 20s and 30s, said she was thinking they wouldn't want children from her if they already have them

Kelly (pictured) who started dating men with kids in her early 20s and 30s, said she was thinking they wouldn’t want children from her if they already have them 

‘Sometimes it’s not a problem. But for others, they find it hard to accept their ex has moved on. Most mums have been fine, but one referred to me as “dad’s bimbo”, which is as far from the truth as you can get.’

It’s why Kelly says her rule is not to meet her partner’s offspring for at least six months.

‘Younger children need to get their heads around the fact that Dad is in a relationship with someone who isn’t Mum.

‘I had a stepmum when I was growing up and initially it was hard to get to grips with her role in my life. That’s why I’ve got empathy and understanding for children who are meeting their potential stepmum for the first time.

‘One guy I dated for 18 months had a seven-year-old son. I got on well with the guy’s ex, but unfortunately he didn’t, so I tended to be the mediator between them.

‘She liked me because she knew her son was safe and well looked after by me. And I never minded being so focused on any potential stepchildren — the reality was, I’d see them on weekends only.’

But her previous relationship, which lasted a year, was with someone who was a decade older than her. He had two boys and a daughter, aged 23, 21 and 19 — trickier territory, she admits.

Emma Donaldson, 52, (pictured) who lives in Leicester and is single, said the two significant relationships she had in her 20s and 30s were with men who weren't father material

Emma Donaldson, 52, (pictured) who lives in Leicester and is single, said the two significant relationships she had in her 20s and 30s were with men who weren’t father material 

She had to tread carefully to avoid being seen as a rival in the father-daughter relationship.

‘Their father had been divorced for 15 years and essentially brought them up. I wasn’t a stepmum to them; instead, I curated my role so I was more of a friend when I was in their home and in their space.

‘At seven, a child doesn’t know any different, but a young woman in her late teens notices when Dad is taking me out to places he used to go with her. It’s why, if I had to choose, I prefer to date fathers with younger children.

‘Adult children have lots of opinions and, inevitably, these are different to mine. But I’m very happy in my stepmum role. At 40, it’s a lovely option.’

Unlike career-focused Kelly, artist Emma Donaldson, 52, says she spent her 20s waiting for her turn to fall pregnant.

‘I loved being around my girlfriends while they were expecting and having a cuddle with their little ones. I even stopped smoking when I turned 30 to prepare my body for motherhood.

‘Unfortunately, my two significant relationships in my 20s and 30s were with artistic types who had zero sense of responsibility, from never participating around the home to coming and going as they pleased. I wouldn’t trust them with my cats, let alone a baby.’

Emma (pictured) said a single father she met on the dating site Plenty Of Fish was rational and responsible in comparison to her exes

Emma (pictured) said a single father she met on the dating site Plenty Of Fish was rational and responsible in comparison to her exes

Realising neither of these men was father material, Emma was pragmatic about the fact that, as she entered her late 30s, the door to motherhood was closing. ‘After two fairly disastrous relationships, I was resolutely single while I recovered from them. But I was also overweight. These two factors weren’t going to help me fall pregnant.’

When she turned 40, she plucked up the confidence to date a single father and describes it as a revelation.

‘I have to confess I was rather suspicious about men who hadn’t married or had children, in case they had the same lackadaisical approach to life as my exes.’

She met a man on the dating site Plenty Of Fish who had separated from his wife five months earlier.

‘My immediate fear was that, as a single father, his priority would be — quite rightly — their children. And it did occur to me that if he was financially supporting two households, then he might look to me to foot the bill whenever we went out. Yet I couldn’t quite believe how rational and responsible he was. It was such a difference to my exes.

‘He turned up when he said he was going to pop over. Our conversations were always lively and interesting. And while he was a scientist and rather shy, he knew a lot about pop culture and social media thanks to having three children under 18.’

Emma, who lives in Leicester and is now single, says he made clear his commitments to his children up front, as he shared custody with his wife. They had first dibs on his time.

‘I’ve always lived alone, so didn’t mind that we only saw each other one weekend in two and a couple of nights a week,’ says Emma. ‘It suited me down to the ground.’

Emma said her partner went back to his ex after five months, which has left her more wary when dating fathers (file image)

Emma said her partner went back to his ex after five months, which has left her more wary when dating fathers (file image)

Emma met the children after a month of seeing her partner, at his instigation. To her surprise, she enjoyed hanging out with them.

‘We got to do the nice things, like going to the park and shopping together,’ she says.

‘The eldest, a daughter, was approaching adolescence, and because her mum wasn’t well, it fell on my shoulders to talk to her about boys. It was nerve-wracking, but I think I passed muster.

‘And with his two sons, because I don’t have brothers, it was nice to view the world from their perspective. One was autistic and, as I work with autistic people through my artwork, I’d like to think I was of some help to him.

‘I enjoyed the stepmum role more than I thought I would.’

Unfortunately for Emma, the scenario every stepmum dreads materialised: after five months, her partner went back to his ex.

‘He gently explained she had asked him to move home.

‘It took me some time to get over the end of our relationship, and it was hard not seeing his children, too. But I respect his decision. I suspect he put his family’s needs above his own.’

Since then, Emma has briefly dated two other fathers, but is more wary now.

‘I enter into these relationships on my terms only. Yes, dads are responsible and kind, but they are also well-groomed by their exes, and I’m not interested if she is still hovering in the background.

‘The last dad I dated had gone through a traumatic break-up with his ex, but seemed to be over it. We had fun while we saw one another, and I was careful not to meet his children too soon. His eldest was in her teens and, after she sent me a friend request on Facebook, we got chatting.

‘The relationship sadly didn’t survive lockdown and, while we ended on friendly terms, I miss his daughter more than him.’

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