Beginning a new relationship after divorce can be tricky, particularly if there are minor children involved. I find in my divorce practice that some jump into dating fairly quickly to avoid the loneliness that inevitably comes after the break up, while others remain gun shy about entering the world of romance. Whatever your circumstances post-divorce, here are some tips to make the world of dating better for you and your children:
1. Always let your children know they come first, no matter who you are dating. Remain “child-centric” at all times, even when you meet that special person that makes your heart flutter and your stomach do somersaults.
2. Never date anyone who does not respect your relationship with your children or the notion that your children are number one in your life.
3. Don’t introduce your children to anyone you are dating until the relationship becomes serious. Your children do not need to be introduced to a revolving door of love interests. Schedule initial dates on days when your children are with the other parent or hire a baby sitter. Don’t have people who are strangers to your children show up at your house while your children are home. And by all means, vet your date to make sure you are always safe and sound!
4. Depending on the age of your child, do not completely keep him/her in the dark about your dating life. Keep it light until you are sure the new love of your life is really, truly the love of your life before including him or her in serious family matters. Once kids hit their pre-teen years, they do not want to feel that you are carrying on a secret part of your life. Be sure to keep the conversation and amount of information shared age appropriate, in terms of what you tell your children about the new someone in your life.
5. If children are in a position to meet someone you are dating before you get serious, make it simple and initially introduce the new person in your life as a friend. If a bit more is needed, call them a “special friend” or if your children are old enough, tell them it is someone you are casually dating.
6. Be respectful toward your ex when you develop a new relationship. How you behave around your ex will directly impact your children and perhaps how they feel about the new relationship, based upon the other parent’s reaction and behavior. Along the same line, when your ex begins dating, do not inflict any feelings of resentment or jealousy onto your child. Your hurt feelings should never be your child’s burden to bear.
7. Never let your new mate take the place of the other parent’s role as your child’s father or mother.
8. Have fun. You can have fun while still being mindful of your little ones.
9. Trust your instincts and listen to your heart. It will tell you the truth every time. If something does not feel right in the relationship, trust that feeling. Don’t fight your gut instinct about someone you are dating, especially when this new person may impact not only your life, but the lives of your children.
Lastly, slow and steady wins the race in the dating game especially post-divorce when children are involved. That does not mean you shouldn’t go out and have a blast. You should, especially after enduring the pain of divorce.
Happy Valentine’s Day!