Here is a simple thing that I never really thought I’d have to spell out:
If you start (non-casually) dating someone with kids, be aware that you will be a part of those kid’s lives, and will have to take on familial responsibilities. If you’re not interested in that, don’t start dating someone with kids (and definitely don’t get so serious that you move in with them).
If you are the person with kids and are (more than casually) dating someone who actively refuses and avoids taking on or helping with familial responsibilities, it’s time to DTMFA. That person is not dating you, they are only interested in a part of the totality that is you. Continuing to date them does a disservice to your kids.
To clarify: I’m not advocating that you introduce someone to your kids/introduce yourself to their kids as “your new parent”. Dear FSM, no! In this age of blended (and sometimes thoroughly run through the mixer) families, it’s important to not try to be a “replacement”
When I say familial responsibilities I mean things like “helping pick the kids up from school/daycare if you have to work late” or “helping make sure the kids brush their teeth”. Things like that. They’re responsibilities that are usually taken on by parents, but aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even good friends of the family can do those things as well. Hence, familial responsibilities.
Yeah, casual dating is a different story. I’m not advocating that you should introduce children to everyone you’re dating. Some relationships only last a few dates. Some last only a few weeks. While there’s nothing wrong with a short-term relationship, forming attachments to people who then just up and disappear can be really upsetting.
But again, if you’re looking to step up on that escalator (or even have more than a casual relationship), all the people in that relationship have to be engaged with the kids and making sure they’re taken care of. The kids are a price of admission, and if it’s not freely paid that speaks ill of both the parent and the person(s) dating that parent.