After a divorce, you may be busy settling into your new life. You may live in a new place and be forced to get a job (or a better-paying one). If you have kids, you may be busy trying to help them adjust to a life in which their parents live in two separate households.
After a while, though, you may feel lonely. If you were married a long time, you may have gotten used to having someone around and being in a relationship. You may have some free time on your hands, so is it time to consider dating?
Maybe. Experts say to wait at least six months after the divorce before you start dating again, although many are ready to date sooner. You will find dating this time around to be more challenging with kids involved. While you do not have to live the rest of your life alone simply because you have children, you should take some things into consideration. When should they meet your boyfriend or girlfriend? How do you get them to accept your new romance? What if your child has negative feelings?
It is normal for children to have trouble accepting a new relationship. They may think you are trying to replace the other parent. They may think you want to replace them. There is bound to be some feelings of jealousy or even anger.
Your child’s feelings will depend on their age as well as the actions you take. You should never rush things. Take things slow and your children will (hopefully) eventually warm up to your new love interest. If you are a parent who is ready to date after divorce, here are some rules to consider.
Reassure Your Child
Children are bound to be insecure when their mother or father is dating someone new. The kids may still be adjusting to the divorce and now they have to deal with the fact that they may have a new parent in the future. Let your children know that they will always be your main priority, no matter who you are dating. Explain your reasons for dating and reassure them that you will not replace them. Allow them to express their feelings and do not get upset if they feel negatively about you dating.
Limit Who You Introduce to Your Child
Your child should not meet every person you date because they may get attached to the person. Reserve the introductions for people with whom you desire to have a long-term relationship. Explain that not all relationships will lead to marriage. Do not pressure either party to meet each other. Take your time and wait until both your child and love interest are ready.
Keep the First Meeting Fun
Do not meet at a place where your child will feel uncomfortable, like your partner’s house. Choose a park or other child-friendly place where your child will feel relaxed. Do not expect miracles. While it would no doubt be wonderful if your partner and child hit it off and got along with each other, expect that your child may not like your boyfriend or girlfriend. That is OK. Relationships need time to develop. If there is too much pressure, there is bound to be animosity and negativity.
Keep in Mind That Each Child is Different
Not all children will react the same to a new relationship. Your younger son may be ready to meet your new love interest, while your teen daughter may be more cautious. You will need to be more concrete with younger children, while older children will appreciate you being more abstract.
Be Careful When Having Sleepovers
Children want to model their parents’ behavior. If your teen knows that your boyfriend is spending the night, they will think that kind of behavior is OK for their relationships, as well. If you do want to sleep together, reserve those nights for when the children are not around. Experts say to wait until marriage.
Do Not Allow Discipline From the Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Only two people should be disciplining your children — you and the other parent. It is not your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s responsibility to discipline your children when they do bad things. This will only cause tension in the relationship. If your child has had reservations about your relationship, they certainly will when the person who is not their father or mother is suddenly trying to act like their parent. Even if you get married, the new stepmother or stepfather should butt out and leave the punishment to the parents.
Deal With Negative Feelings
Your child may be secretly hoping that you and the other parent will reunite and live happily ever after. While that does happen on occasion, the chances are slim. When you start dating, your child may see your new love interest as a threat. He or she may be jealous. Encourage your child to express their feelings and figure out why they feel that way. Do not try to make your child choose your partner over their father or mother. Have your child spend time with your partner and show him or her that your boyfriend or girlfriend is really a nice person who is important to you.
Seek Legal Help
Dating after divorce can be a challenging experience, especially if you have young children. While older children are more likely to understand your reasons for wanting to find love again, younger kids may feel insecure and jealous.
Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you move on after divorce. Whether you need legal or emotional guidance, he can assist you. Schedule a consultation today by calling our office at (954) 346-6464.