Isle of Man

Cribb: Single dads have little value in dating world

January 12, 2011

Robert Cribb

Consider this overwhelming bit of dating discrimination.

Nearly 70 per cent of childless Canadian women seeking love on the massive dating website eHarmony decline to even be matched with men who have children.

Not even an introduction, thanks. Nothing to see there.

The modern single dad, it seems, is a seriously damaged good.

Even in an age when marriages face even odds of failure, men with children re-enter the open market devalued to the point of being unworthy of even discount rack consideration.

“Children add an extra layer of challenge to dating,” says Dr. Gian Gonzaga, senior director of research and development for eHarmony Labs. “The concern women have is that they can never be the only person in his life because there is a child who is going to take some of his attention.”

Turn the tables and you'll find the Canadian men of eHarmony, while hardly tripping over themselves to meet mommies, are more open to the idea.

EHarmony membership data, compiled for the Star by the California-based online dating company, shows 63 per cent decline matches with single moms.

Karen, a 31-year-old Torontonian who has been dating a single dad for the past year, says it never would have started in the first place had she known he had a child.

Because his ex-wife and child live in the U.S., she didn't learn about the child until two months into the relationship.

“I had decided years ago that kids are baggage and I didn't want to date a guy with kids. I had already fallen for him . . . If I didn't love him I would have given up a long time ago.”

The stresses between him and his ex-wife, including an order that the child never meet his girlfriend, have convinced her that if this relationship doesn't work out, “I will never, ever date a man with kids ever again. I don't care if I die alone.”

That said, as a woman who wants kids, she concedes one important advantage to dating a man with a child: “I know what he will be like with our children. That's definitely an upside.”

Kids are not a deal breaker for Aubrie DeSylva, a 28-year-old Torontonian who has dated single dads.

“Watching a man parent his children pulls on my heart strings. The relationship I have with my father is a deeply loving and dynamic bond. To (see) relationships reflective of similar breadth and depth takes my breath away.”

In fact, if a man in his late 30s or older doesn't have kids, it raises concerns, she says.

“If a prospective suitor in this age bracket doesn't have kids, there's usually a very, very, very good reason.”

Patti Henry, a psychotherapist and author of The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing tells her female clients to look for signs when they consider dating a single father.

“If he's protective of his children by not wanting the woman to meet his kids for like six months, green flag. If he gets his emotional needs met by other adults . . . and not his children, green flag. If he is wise with his children when they screw up . . . green flag.”

Mitch, a 39-year-old single dad pal who has triggered a parade of fleeing women by mentioning his child, offers this self-defence for dating fathers: “What these women fail to consider is that the act of fatherhood makes any man kinder, more patient, loving and far less selfish. We're just better guys and better partners for being dads. Why isn't that part of the equation?"

Amen brother.

Robert Cribb welcomes questions, comments and suggestions at


Ontario Family Court is has law in theory but in practice, men have no legal rights and women get anything they want. For separated fathers, most will only get to see their children if the mother consents as long as they pay and increasingly the moment a father meets a new woman, all hell breaks loose and litigation aimed at destroying his new relationship and to prevent the children from knowing the new lady. For this we can thank the underbelly of the judiciary for "Sheffield orders" and "Power orders" that put loving fathers in jail for just being fathers and asking the court to enforce a child's right to a relationship with their father.