As a single parent, not only is it challenging to find time to date, dating can also be a tightrope of indecision. Many new questions arise when factoring children into the dating equation, ones you may not have faced when building a relationship in your pre-parenting years. The timing of major relationship milestones each take on new meaning and emotional significance—both for you and your children. Knowing when is too soon to take a next step in a new relationship is not always clear.
But don’t let navigating these new considerations trap your dating life at a standstill. Assessing your and your children’s needs, and having some thoughtful conversations with your partner, will help move your dating timeline in a forward direction.
Jumping Back In: When is too soon to start dating again?
Following a separation or divorce, it may be difficult to decide when is too soon to take that initial leap back into the world of meeting new people, exchanging numbers, and going on first dates. Many circumstances and outside opinions may be weighing in, and weighing on you. Societal “norms,” pressure from family and friends, and whether your kids are prepared will all inevitably impact the decision to take this step. Although you may be ready to move on, your kids may still be reeling from the idea of their parents no longer being together. Discussing with them early on—perhaps even before a first date occurs—what dating means for your life and theirs will ease the transition from a divorce to single life to re-entering a relationship.
Going to the Next Level: When is too soon to have sex with a new partner?
Moving from casual dating to a physical relationship with a new partner may require a departure from what your hormones are dictating when children are part of the picture. Entering into a sexual relationship too soon raises the emotional stakes for you and your partner, and indirectly, your children. Deciding the right time to have sex with someone you are dating can indicate that a relationship is moving into more serious territory. If this is the direction you both are heading, it presents an opportunity to have a broader conversation about your future together and with your children. It is important that your partner understand the implications a more intense relationship will mean for your children, namely that meeting and forming a bond with them may be on the horizon.
Meet the Children: When is too soon to introduce your significant other to your children?
As all parents are often painfully aware, kids say the darnest things, particularly to mom or dad’s new mate. An awkward or troubling interaction may occur when an introduction is made too soon in a relationship or if it comes as a surprise to your children that you’ve been dating someone new. It is often best to appropriately prepare children early on that you’re dating, giving them time to adjust to the idea, and by finding comparisons they will understand. Explaining to your kids the importance of adults having a meaningful companionship, just as it is important for them to have friends and playmates, will help them see your new mate as a welcome addition to your life and theirs.
Balancing children and a significant other may require some uncomfortable and well-timed conversations. But by determining a pace that works for you and your children, you can make sure that the fun and exciting aspects of a new relationship are what lie ahead.