Make sure you're REALLY ready to do this.
We are fortunate to have had a great blended family with two wonderful boys for almost 20 years now.
Thinking back to when we first started dating (during Dan’s separation), and the challenges we had, we want to share our thoughts here as a way for you to inquire into where you stand on crucial issues. Hopefully, you will be better prepared to move forward. After all dating after your separation or divorce is a very natural next steps for most people.
We think that after your relationship breaks down, you need to invest some time and effort to heal your broken heart. Once you're past the “walking wounded” stage, you're interested in finding a new mate.
Dating is stressful at the best of times, and dating when you have children is especially challenging. Here are six questions to ask yourself before you re-enter the dating world. Once you have some clarity, your stress level regarding dating again will go down significantly.
1. What type of relationship are you looking for?
Are you looking for new friends, a casual date for a Saturday night when the kids are with your ex, or are you hoping to remarry?
Even if you aren’t certain—or you’re open to change from “casual dating” to “committed relationship” with the right person—just know that this question is bound to come up at some point. It'll be raised by you, the person you’re dating, or even by your children.
2. What specific qualities will complement you, your children, and your lifestyle?
You may find “bad boys/girls” attractive, but are those qualities you want around your children?
Also, don’t fall into the trap of wanting someone who is either totally different from your ex or exactly the same as your ex. In both cases, they will always remind you of your ex.
3. When are you going to tell them you're a single parent?
Some people are not interested in having children or dating someone with children, others may not care one way or the other, and becoming part of a family with children is exciting for a lot of people.
We think you’re better off being upfront about it. If you are using an online dating site to meet people, you may want to disclose that on your profile. If you are authentic about your relationship with your children, that's an attractive quality to some people.
4. Are you willing to date another single parent?
He/she need to understand and empathize with your situation, but finding time to spend together becomes a real problem if your custody schedules don’t match.
Or, if you each have three children, how ready are to bring your children into a "Brady Bunch" situation?
5. Are your children ready for you to date again?
Some children are more upset about the divorce than either parent. Some children just need time and support from their parents and friends, while others require professional assistance to adjust with the changes in their family.
If one or more of your children is not coping well, you may consider either delaying starting to date or delay telling them about your dating until your kids have successfully dealt with their emotions. If your children are old enough, and you have excellent lines of communications with them, you can talk to them about the fact that you’re considering (or have already started) dating again.
Be prepared for negative reactions: your children may view your dates as competition for your love and attention, and it will certainly destroy their hopes that you and you ex will get back together.
6. Have you thought about when you should introduce a new love interest to your kids?
Be sure that the relationship is serious on both sides before telling your children. The last thing they need is a revolving door of new “uncles” or “aunts” who will disappear from their lives as suddenly as they appeared.
One of the greatest challenges of single parenting is being able to take care of your needs for love and adult companionship while nurturing your children at the same time. Take your time.
Don’t rush into a new relationship because you fear being alone. When you do meet someone special, take the time for everyone to get to know each other really well before embarking on remarriage or moving in together—for your sake, your new partner’s sake, and for the sake of the children.