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Single moms, in contrast, preferred dating men without kids to reduce complications.

Single fathers have a tendency, more than single moms, to "feel incomplete" without a partner in the house, so they risk rushing into a new relationship that may not be right, said single dad Armin Brott, author of several books on fatherhood including "The Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting Without a Partner" (Abbeville).

Some 2.8 million single dads live with their kids, up 27 percent from 10 years ago and nearly double the number in 1990, according to Matthew Weinshenker, assistant sociology professor at Fordham University, who analyzed 2010 census data.

(The number likely includes many joint custody arrangements.) While single dads face many of the same dating challenges as single moms, there are some differences: In a survey of 100 single fathers, the vast majority preferred to date women with children, thinking she would be more selfless and understanding of his commitment as a father, said Ellie Slott Fisher, who conducted the survey as research for her book "Dating for Dads: The Single Father's Guide to Dating Well Without Parenting Poorly" (Bantam).

Brott's children were "furious" at him, he said, when he broke off a two-year relationship without consulting them first.

The moral, he said: Keep everyone's expectations low.

Impromptu weekend trips to the mountains may not be happening.

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

Or they may notice that dad's new girlfriend becomes nasty as soon as he leaves the room, in which case dad might do well to take their concerns seriously.

"Every kid I interviewed, at least those 10 and older, told me a story about how their dad had this person stay over and they were supposed to believe she was sleeping in a separate room," Fisher said.

Leave the sneaking around to teens, she said, and don't have a girlfriend sleep over while your kids are over, particularly when the relationship is casual and short-term.

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.

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