Calling all single dads..I need your advice.
August 8, 2014 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm crushing on a single dad, how do I go about this?

So, here's the story. He's a bar manager/bartender in a classy establishment around the corner from my office building. A couple weeks ago I was there with a coworker for happy hour and we struck up a conversation with him about the music he was playing. I was attracted and he was very friendly, but you know, thats his job. It was slow so he sort of 'hung-out' with us, conversing about a variety of topics. I told him I like the place (its a newish place) and I'd probably be back again.

Since I pass this place everyday I noticed he wasn't there for a week or so. I went in yesterday to meet a friend and I arrived first, and my crush was working. He said "oh hey!!!" when he saw me, so I know he remembered me. I said "hey, haven't seen you in here for awhile, did you go on vacation?" He says, "Not exactly..I have an 8 year old daughter and her grandma--my mom--watches her while I work. And my mom took a vacation, so I needed to be around." "So you had a staycation with your kid" I said. "Yeah" he chuckled "you could put it that way". (I didn't want to pry any further so I don't know the deal with his ex and why she isn't around. Maybe he's a widower? Maybe she just wants nothing to do with her kid? No idea.) There was more friendly banter until my friend arrived.

Anyway, I totally like this guy and have no issues with him having a child. In fact it kinda makes him more attractive. But I've never dated a single dad before, or even been around any. I imagine he is a very different type of man than I'm used to. Not only that, but I mostly do online dating where, for obvious reasons, one knows people's availability and interest. I'm not totally sure this guy is interested in me or even dating in general.

So any advice on how to attract him? I'm scared of being too bold in this situation, since its new territory.
posted by hellameangirl to Human Relations (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You say "Hey, do you want to go on a date?"

And he either says "Sure, what did you have in mind?" or he says "I'm not really dating at the moment", or maybe he is taken by surprise and says something totally awkward and you ever so graciously make sure he knows it's no big deal and laugh it off and move on and discuss the local sports team.

Either way nobody will die of this.
posted by emilyw at 12:36 PM on August 8, 2014 [13 favorites]

Just ask him out, or slip him your phone number. If he goes for it, bear in mind that firming up plans will take him a little extra time and effort, since he has to arrange childcare. Other than that, the process of attracting/dating a single dad is no different than for any other normal human person. There will be other issues/questions/concerns down the line if things get serious, but that's for a different AskMe.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:36 PM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't know a single guy who wouldn't be thrilled if you returned now and said: "You know, I really enjoyed talking to you. Would you like to go out to dinner sometime?"
posted by humboldt32 at 12:36 PM on August 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I don't know a single guy who wouldn't be thrilled if you returned now and said: "You know, I really enjoyed talking to you. Would you like to go out to dinner sometime?"

Extra points for making it clear that it's your treat.
posted by John Borrowman at 12:41 PM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I didn't want to pry any further so I don't know the deal with his ex and why she isn't around. Maybe he's a widower? Maybe she just wants nothing to do with her kid? No idea.

Or the more obvious reason: she had to work that week and it was his turn to take time off. Assuming that the mother is the default person who is responsible for the kid unless she's dead or horrible is a good way to be pissed off all the time when you're dating a father. So that's my first tip. Don't make assumptions about the mom, especially not negative assumptions. Don't act as though him being responsible for his kid is a favor he's doing the mom or the result of her shittiness. Instead, embrace the idea that both parents are 100% responsible for their shared child and attempt to cultivate positive feelings towards the child's mother.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:44 PM on August 8, 2014 [39 favorites]

Yeah, definitely "she wants nothing to do with the kid" should not be the default conclusion from"dad had to watch his daughter." More likely, it was his parenting time and he is responsible for finding childcare or staying home during his parenting time. That's very normal.

Also, other reasons he might potentially not be interested: he has a girlfriend, he's just friendly/flirting because that's what bartenders do to get business and tips.

So sure hang out some more and ask him out, but definitely don't make assumptions and definitely don't treat him like "a different kind of guy" because he has a child.
posted by celtalitha at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Feel free to ask him out and see what he says. But having a kid doesn't mean he's a single dad:
He could have a wife and not wear a ring, and it was his turn to stay home with his daughter.
He could have a committed partner of either gender who is the child's co-parent and it was his turn to stay home with his daughter.
He could have a partner/significant other who is not the child's co-parent and it was his turn to stay home with his daughter.
posted by amaire at 1:04 PM on August 8, 2014 [12 favorites]

I disagree with those above, do not ask him out. That puts him on the spot, at work, which is kind of crappy. Even if he is receptive to your advances he might be caught off guard and not know how to react.

"You know, I really enjoyed talking to you. Give me a call if you'd like to hang out sometime" and slip him your number. You can have your number pre-written to slide to him, or write it on a napkin to seem spur-of-the-moment. Alternatively, you could even write the quoted part instead of saying it (if you are shy or something).

Giving him your number gives him time to think it over and contact you when it is convenient for him.
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:10 PM on August 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

(Not that this is too similar, but) way back in college, I had my heart broken by a cute barista who turned out to be equally--if not more!--flirty with every other female customer. My tunnel vision on that issue had not considered whether he was friendly with me in a specific way or in a general sense.

So pay attention to how he treats other patrons. Especially other patrons who match your general description (youngish, professional + gender, aesthetics, etc.). If he's exactly as friendly with them, pass. If he's definitely extra-friendly and there's a twinkle in his eye when he talks to you, specifically (and get coworker to verify), start to flirt back.

It also never hurts to do your hair, put on some lipstick (or whatever combination makes you feel fab and attractive) and place yourself in his general line of vision. Be as friendly as ever. If enough clues accumulate, and after you've gathered more information (such as: confirming he's single), then make your move. And re: the kid, don't act like it's any big deal. And know that he will (or should) prioritize her over his social life, and that's nothing you should take personally.
posted by magdalemon at 1:11 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with the advice that asking people out at work is generally bad behavior. I've been in that situation, and it can get awkward. People in his position are paid to be friendly, and since you work around the corner, there's a very compelling business reason for him to give you special attention and make his bar your regular bar.

It's much smoother to put the ball in his court with your number. Another strategy would be to ask him about whether he's single, what his relationship with his child's mother is, or something less direct so he can politely deflect if his interest is mostly professional.

And yeah, don't assume mom is out of the picture. My grandma and Dad watched me when I was a kid because my mom was the bread winner and worked long hours with a hellish commute. There are a lot of possibilities here.
posted by ohisee at 1:24 PM on August 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Knowing a couple of single dads myself (it seems to be that time of our season), if you do proceed in a dating situation with him, don't press too hard on meeting the daughter. Every single dad I know has different ideas about when/how/IF a new partner should meet the kids. If he brings it up, cool. But don't push.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:29 PM on August 8, 2014

The above answers are great. As a single dad, I hope you'll take the next step with him and I hope you'll report back to us on how it went. I could use some vicarious fun.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:32 PM on August 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I suggest smiling, compliments and light (not creepy) touching. See where that gets you. At some point, ask him out if he doesn't ask you out.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:37 PM on August 8, 2014

"Don't make assumptions about the mom, especially not negative assumptions."
Whoa, since that got so many likes, I feel I need to clarify. I never said I assume the child's mother must be horrible or shitty. My best friend was raised by her dad and I have another friend raised by her grandparents + father. Not everyone is cut-out for motherhood and some opt out, just like there are many men who aren't around for their kids. It doesn't mean I'm looking down on them, there are many types of families out there. I'm just trying to figure this guy out, and since I don't have an online profile of him in front of me, I'm just going off of what he has told me. Him telling me that he and his mother are raising his daughter tells me the child's mom is not really in the picture. If she was in the picture, I don't know why he couldn't just add "...and my (wife/partner/ex) had to work". I mean he's already giving me very personal info, why not slip that in too?
posted by hellameangirl at 2:24 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I suggest smiling, compliments and light (not creepy) touching.

Don't touch someone who is working as a manner of flirting. It's inappropriate. They're in their workplace, where they should expect not to be touched by strangers, even well-meaning ones who want to date them.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:24 PM on August 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm trying to parse out your question because it seems like you're not seeing this whole thing clearly.

He's in the hospitality business and was being friendly to you. That's his job. People in service industry positions get hit on a lot, so you'd be fine asking him to go out some time, sure.

I guess I find the question off because you're jumping to an awful lot of conclusions.

You don't know if he's single or divorced or married or gay or straight. And I would ask, why do you think he's more attractive because he has a child? Why do you think having a kid makes him very different than other men? Having a kid doesn't make you suddenly more mature or smarter or different; it makes you a parent.

Not everyone is cut-out for motherhood and some opt out... Wait, what? Where are you getting this from??

And along the off-kilter thinking in your question, when parents take a week off work to be with our kids, it's called being a parent. It's not a staycation.

I think if you want to go out with him, ask him out. But I would stop the line of thinking that his being a parent makes him more attractive, and that there's a crappy mother/ex in the picture. You're projecting way too much here.
posted by kinetic at 2:26 PM on August 8, 2014 [7 favorites]

Gosh, you're getting a hard time on here!

Whilst I think it's true that people in the hospitality industry can be flirty for tips and stuff, there are also people in the hospitality industry that are *extra* friendly towards people they are interested in.

I think the best way to approach the situation is to keep going for drinks there, make more eye contact with him, smile - see if he smiles back, watch his body language, see if he really IS giving you special treatment and then, if you really think he is, just ask him if he'd be interested in getting a drink with you somewhere other than his bar.

the worst he can do is turn you down and then you find a new place to grab a quick drink after work :)
posted by JenThePro at 2:42 PM on August 8, 2014

"He's in the hospitality business and was being friendly to you. That's his job."
Yes I know, I said that in the first part of my question.

"You don't know if he's single or divorced or married or gay or straight." Or he could be a widower. I have no idea. Like I said above as well. No idea. Just speculating for now.

"Why do you think he's more attractive because he has a child?" because it seems like he cares about her. Caring about other people are attractive to me. I don't see a lot of that in Los Angeles.

"Not everyone is cut-out for motherhood and some opt out... Wait, what? Where are you getting this from??" Personal experience, like I said I know people who had moms leave. It happens.
posted by hellameangirl at 2:46 PM on August 8, 2014

[hellameangirl, you don't need to respond to every comment, best to hang back and let people answer the original question]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2014

The point of that last statement is that there is NOTHING you have described here to imply that the mother actually has "opted out" so it's a really weird thing to even include in your thought process.
posted by celtalitha at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Edit: I'm a single mother and if my ex has the kids for the weekend and he wants to go somewhere he either gets a babysitter or doesn't go; I am not the backup person for his time, and I'm the custodial parent. It would be super bizarre and passive-aggressive if he told someone "I can't go because my ex isn't available to watch the kids." It would be totally normal for him to say "I can't go because I'm watching my kids/don't have a babysitter." Bringing up the mom would be the weird/super personal thing here. The reason everyone (including at least a couple single moms here) are jumping all over you for this detail is because it implies some assumptions, or "speculations" as you call them, that are unusual and a little problematic. Dating a single parent is like dating anyone else with the caveat of more limited availability AND the fact that you must always, always, alwaysalways respect the family and the existing relationships and you can NOT make assumptions or try to change them. There are literally like a hundred questions here on metafilter from people dating single parents and complaining about their parenting, their ex, etcetera etcetera and most of them show that this person doesn't really "get" the concept.
posted by celtalitha at 3:02 PM on August 8, 2014

Personal experience, like I said I know people who had moms leave. It happens.

Me too!
I also know people who have had dads leave, who've had healthy joint custody arrangements, and fathers who would refer unselfconsciously to having to watch their kids while in a committed/monogamous relationship with the mother/co-parent without feeling the need to explicitly state they're still together. Because that's the assumption.

Your past experience isn't necessarily his present. Even if he's not with the parent of the child, he still might not be in the situation you've slotted him into.

My other life experience is: don't ask out bartenders, they're usually not into it, even if they've given what seems like personal information. Doesn't matter if they're single parents or single or not.
posted by RainyJay at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2014

I'm just going to add to the chorus of those who are saying that it is inappropriate to hit on someone who is working, especially someone who is working in an industry where friendliness and/or flirting directly impacts their income (through tips). I put myself through college working as a waitress, then cocktail waitress, then bartender, and, my god, I do not miss having to deal with those people who mistook my friendliness for my being interested in them and/or wanting to date them. To me, and to the bulk of my co-workers, those people were customers only, not friends, not potential friends, not a dating pool. Don't get me wrong, some people I worked with did date customers, but they were in the minority. Most of us were outgoing people in general, but by the end of our shifts, we were sick of having to be friendly and only wanted to go off and complain to one another about customers and their ridiculous demands.

Anyway, as far as this guy is concerned: Come at this from the other side and ask yourself, when he has been so friendly and all, why he hasn't asked you for your number. The obvious answer is that he's not interested. The less obvious answer is that he is not allowed to date customers without putting his job in jeopardy. Maybe it's both.

Also, it's weird, but I reread your question and according to you, he never actually said he was a single dad. He just said he had to watch his daughter when his usual babysitter (his mother) couldn't. Maybe his wife/husband/partner has a better paying, more demanding job and he had to take the time off because she/he couldn't. But that's just me speculating on his personal life as much as you have been.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2014

Okay, so I walked away and thought about this a little more. Here's my further take:

Enjoy this friendliness. Here's a person who is nice and fun and polite and friendly. And it's his job to be. Kind of like a therapist who you're paying to help. They're there for you, but you're not going to the movies with them on their day off or going to dinner at their house, right? Same thing.

Just enjoy it for what it is and recognize it for what it isn't.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 4:03 PM on August 8, 2014

Yeah, I'm feeling pretty foolish now. I got all excited because there seemed to be a spark there and I haven't felt that in almost a year now,..but he is probably just good at his job. I think its best I try to get over this crush. Thank you everyone for taking the time to answer.
posted by hellameangirl at 4:22 PM on August 8, 2014

Ask him. What is the worst that can happen - he says 'no thanks'? How you do it is up to you, but take a risk, live life, deal with the consequences.

As for not asking him because he is working - really? If this is really a problem in your society (and I seriously doubt it is), then stake out the joint or otherwise find out when he finishes, and 'bump into him' as he leaves.
posted by GeeEmm at 4:33 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

What in the everloving heck is happening in here?

I think you give him your number. Bartenders get numbers all the time. Maybe he will call and maybe he won't. But give him your number. Why not? You like him and are interested. See if he is available. Who knows? He may very well be.
posted by sockermom at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

I think you should give him your number, too. It might not work out, but worst thing that could happen is that you feel too embarrassed to ever go to the bar again. Oh well. There are other bars. Or, you suck up your embarrassment and go back and pretend like nothing ever happened. He's a professional, he'll probably treat you well.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:41 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Aw, I don't think you should totally give up on it! Just be realistic that you don't know his situation, so you should at least test the waters a little. There's really no harm in giving him your number and letting him make the call.
posted by ohisee at 7:18 PM on August 8, 2014

Holy shit people.

OP, I'd do some more chatting at the bar and see if anything develops. Maybe he'll invite you to a non-bar social event? Or maybe you'll get even stronger vibes, in which case, if I were you, I'd ask him out. Just give the acquaintanceship awhile to grow before you assume it's a love connection.

(I don't think you're wrong to wonder where the mother is if he said he and the grandmother raise the girl. He could have phrased it awkwardly/inaccurately but it's not on you to know that! Doesn't mean you're anti-mom or shocked and awed the mother isn't the primary caregiver.)
posted by stoneandstar at 8:40 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah this thread kind of spun out of control IMO. I'm married to a guy who I met when his kid was 8. We met online so it was clearer that he was at least up for dating, but the only way you can get past that is to ask. If he's just being default friendly bartender then you are probably not the first person to ask him out, and he can handle it. If you do go out, he will probably not want to involve you with his kid for a good long time, and he may have a more limited schedule. Otherwise there isn't a lot of difference from dating anyone else, you see how it goes.
posted by bluedeans at 6:27 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Give him your number and pray for the best

Or send a friend to do the talking for you
posted by Kwadeng at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2014

I would just slip him my number. If he says no thanks or doesn't call, it's not the end of the world. You can still drink there.
posted by frecklefaerie at 2:06 PM on August 9, 2014

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