So, are you dating again? Are you just contemplating dating and don’t know where to begin? Being a single parent is challenging in and of itself, but with dating in the mix the complexity of your situation multiplies ten fold. You are no longer married, and you are trying to make sense of your new lifestyle, while stabilizing your new parental position, professional life, financial affairs, and yes, your love life. You wonder sometimes if you should even consider having a love life and whether it’s worth all the hassle.
Doubts run deep. After all, you feel that you failed in one marriage, you lost a lot of your self confidence in your ability to judge people’s character. You are older now, perhaps in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s. You may not feel as attractive as you used to be during your last experience with the dating scene. Now you have to keep your children in mind when you choose who to date and, more importantly, who to have a committed relationship with, so they will have a positive contribution to your children, not only you. You are a package deal now and you need to remember that, so you will be able to make your relationship choices with your children in mind.
The following tips will help you clarify your expectations of dating and a future mate:
- You have a right to have an active social life, even if you are divorced with children. Just keep your dating and dates separate from the children. It is important to set this boundary in order to protect your children from meeting people and wondering what, if any, role those people have in your children’s lives.
- Avoid inviting a boy/girlfriend to your home, even if you believe that the children are already asleep. Often they wake up and need you. It is not healthy for them to find a stranger in their home.
- Introduce your new significant person to your children only after 3-6 months of dating. Children do get close and attached to people. If you break up the relationship, they will suffer another loss. Save them that grief as much as possible. Only introduce them to a person sharing a committed relationship with you.
- If you are looking for a committed relationship, assess the person’s parenting capabilities and parenting style. It is very helpful to be like-minded when your children are involved. You may think that your future spouse will not “interfere” in your parenting. However in most families, after a couple of years of relationship building, the stepparent is involved in the parenting.
My brochure, Remarriage Points to Ponder, is freely available on my website: remarriedwithchildren.org. It includes questions to ask of your potential significant other when considering a commitment.