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He broke off one relationship because her dream of a downtown condo didn't fit with his need for a yard and swing set."I think sometimes the women I dated didn't realize that single dads still have parenting obligations that, for me, came first," said Ruyter, now 36, who maintains the blog "Memoirs of a Single Dad" (memoirsofasingledad.com) and recently self-published the book "Memoirs of a Dating Dad."Changing landscape As fathers grow more engaged in child rearing, and courts more willing to grant them custody, single dads increasingly are dating with kids in tow — in heart if not in hand.As a single dad wading back into the dating pool, Daniel Ruyter was surprised how many women lost interest when he revealed, always in the first conversation, that he had a son."At first I took it personally," said the Orlando, Fla., information technology analyst, who was 32 when he divorced and got joint custody of his then 5-year-old son."I found it very arbitrary that before they got to know me, they had decided against me."But as Ruyter cycled through "close to 100" first dates and a few long-term girlfriends (a scheduling feat, considering half his week was devoted to his son), his romantic standards heightened in ways they may not have pre-fatherhood.A single father's love life is a balancing act, with a lot of time spent mediating from the middle, Brott said.A common mistake men make is to neglect to have regular conversations with the new girlfriend to explain why he makes choices favoring the children. While kids remain the priority, don't ignore the needs of the relationship, Fisher said.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.

Once you are in a more serious relationship, allow him to have alone time with his children.

A tough hurdle is when your kids dislike your new love interest.

As you determine the source of the hostility, be patient and constantly reaffirm your love for your kids, Fisher said.

If your girlfriend has an important family wedding she wants you to attend, that takes precedence over a kid's hockey game, she said."Life is meant to be lived," Fisher said, "and in the end, your kids want you to be happy."[email protected] advice for anyone dating a guy with kids Dating a single dad has its perks. 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.

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). Be realistic about his parenting duties and the limits those place on his time and financial freedom.

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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).

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  1. (This is especially so on school nights and school mornings.) A Tennessee parenting plan allocates final decision-making authority between the parents on topics such as education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing.