Dating a single dad especially one who’s very involved in his kids’ lives isn’t the same as dating a regular guy.

Single dads are their own demographic. Whether they had the kids out of wedlock or they are divorced, they’ve been there, done that, but they’re also starting all over again. And like all singles they’re still figuring it all out too. They are entering the dating pool again, this time with kids and they are trying to figure out how that works.

“Depending on the children’s ages and on how much of the time your date has them at home, their presence can change your experience a lot,” explains Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) a psychotherapist. “A single parent is not as free to do whatever he or she wants, and must consider the children first. If you don’t have children of your own, you may not understand some of your date’s concerns and issues.”

Below are some tips to help you navigate the relationship.

Be Supportive

Gone are the days when dating a single dad meant shipping the kids off the boarding school. Be supportive and understanding if he suddenly changes plans with you because something came up. He may have his kid(s) full time or part time depending on the situation with the child’s mother, take the times with him as you can. If you can’t understand and be supportive of his commitment to his kids, then maybe you should not be dating a single dad.

Don’t try to be the new mum

Don’t try to get the kids to call you mum or any of that even as a bid to secure the man. You are not a replacement mum even if their mum is late. You need to allow the kids dictate how they see you and how close they want to be.

Know that the ex is likely still involved

In dating a single dad, you have to know that his kid(s) mother will always be in the picture. They need to be in contact because of the child, be it when a child is sick or planning birthday parties and so on. If this makes you uncomfortable, speak to your man to try to calm your unease by making these communications more transparent. If that doesn’t assuage your fears, then you may want to move on.

READ ALSO: Ways To Show Your Girlfriend That You Care

He’s more than just a Dad

He’s a man first. Being a single dad may be a big part of his life, it is not all there is to it. Don’t get too comfortable pandering to the part of him that’s a dad while leaving out the individual. Make efforts to know the individual as well.

Don’t pressure a single dad to commit

While you should never pressure any man to commit, a single dad should receive even more of the same consideration. Don’t think because he has kids, the next logical thing to do should be to settle down. Your relationship with him has to make sense, that is, work for him and his family. He has to do so at his own pace.

Give him space

Don’t expect him to change things around immediately you show up. Know that he already has a system in place before you. You are the unknown in this equation. It’s not a bad thing, you just have to give him time to solve the equation. Give him time and space to do this. Work with the times he has available, especially if he already has weekends crossed out for his kids and make the most of those times.

Don’t fall too soon for him

If he just got divorced, he most likely needs time to deal with that. He may be sad, full of anger, guilt or just distrustful depending on how the marriage ended.

If he has a baby mama, there’re chances they still do ‘drive bys’, you don’t want to go falling in love with a man who is still getting intimate on the side with his baby mama. That’s a whole lot of hurt for you. Guard your heart with a single dad while communicating to be sure both of you are on the same page before you fall all in.

Being with a single father can be rewarding and fun. If he’s serious about being in his kids’ lives, you’re seeing a glimpse of how he could be with potential kids you both may have and there’s nothing sexier! He takes family and responsibilities serious and has a lot of love to give. They also come as a package deal so be ready to deal with that. Most of all, be open minded and enjoy the relationship while looking out for whatever the future brings.